Christian musings on cancel culture

Christian musings on cancel culture February 18, 2021

Cancel culture is its own form of judicial system.  Therefore, a person can be publicly shamed without judge or jury . . . guilty until proven innocent.

I’ve been waiting for a moment of inspiration this week to prepare my articles.  I normally post a couple times each week.  However, my inspiration and my time has been severely limited.  In the last couple weeks, about fourteen people have become sick in our extended family.  Some have tested positive.  I have experienced a wide range of symptoms as well.  Consider this editorial to be my article for this week.  Look for more about the Gifts of the Spirit next week.  And please pray for us and anyone you know facing this sickness.  It’s real.

Now to the business at hand.  There seems to be an amazing amount of news to draw from for a post about ethics and society.  However, there is a story that could be forgotten amidst our current weather tragedies.  It’s the story of what we’re doing with our First Amendment rights as a culture.  Unfortunately, it’s not a pretty story.  Also unfortunately, we may look back on this time some day in the future and realize it was the greatest story of our time.

There are plenty of items in the news, almost on a weekly basis, to remind us of this ongoing saga.  For the most part, these sub-stories have to do with individuals who are facing the ever burgeoning “cancel culture.”  Most often we see the cancel culture at work silencing someone or some company through censorship.  Also, we often see the big tech social media outlets establishing themselves as the cancel culture public watchdogs.

Psychology Today defines cancel culture

In an article in Psychology Today, Uptal Dholakia defines this social phenomenon in our time.

“Social canceling is the collective public rejection of a person, group, or organization for a perceived transgression that spreads through social media and is marked by strong negative emotional reactions and the pursuit of visible punitive actions.”[1]

Dr. Dholakia points out that there is no judge, jury, or formal courtroom setting for cancel culture.  The canceler makes accusations and defames someone.  Therefore, people suffer shame and often lose their viable place in society simply because someone else views them in a negative light.

Therefore, Dr. Dholakia proposes that because the ones who are cancelling others are acting based on their own political ideology, “every canceling campaign is necessarily grounded in bias.”[2]

Now let’s think about this for a minute.  We assume the “perpetrator” is acting out of bias.  Perhaps the perpetrator tweeted some things that are not politically correct.  Don’t we have a responsibility to cancel that person?  Dr. Dholaki says no.  We are acting on our own political bias if we are refusing to allow that person to be voice in society.

Cancel culture is itself biased.  This is the ugly truth and it is clouding our understanding of our First Amendment.

In recent weeks, there have been a number of celebrities in the crosshairs of the cancel culture.  If you don’t follow certain news sources, you probably don’t know.

Elon Musk & Signal vs. Facebook

Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, recently started promoting Signal as an app with more freedom than Facebook.[3]  As I dug deeper, I discovered that Elon Musk removed his personal Facebook, along with the pages for his companies Tesla and SpaceX.  He did so in 2018!

Speculation swirls about how private your information is or isn’t on Facebook, so Elon recommends Signal.  What probably muddies the waters is that Elon Musk often speaks out as a capitalist, a stance that seems to be at odds with cancel culture.

Although Elon Musk may or may not get the press for sparring with Facebook, another celebrity has made quite a few waves.

Gina Carano vs. Disney+

Gina Carano who has been a star in the Disney+ series The Mandalorian has been in the spotlight.

Gina-Carano
Gage Skidmore | Gina Carano speaking at the 2015 San Diego Comic Con International | creative commons | 07.11.15

Some have reported that Gina made some politically charged tweets.  She compared the way cancel culture is treating Republicans to the way Nazis treated the Jews.  Certainly, she crossed a line.  If that’s all there is, then punishment needs to take place.  In fact, Disney+ fired Gina.  She supposedly found out from social media first.

However, remember that cancel culture is its own form of judicial system.  Therefore, a person can be publicly shamed without judge or jury . . . guilty until proven innocent.

Fox News reported Gina’s actual tweet, although her original post has long been taken down.

“Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors . . . even by children.  Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews.  How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”[4]

I want to say for the record, that we cannot understand physical persecution in America at this point in history, so I can’t speak to that . . .

On the other hand, ideologically I believe we are witnessing some eerie similarities between our cancel culture and historical cultures within countries where totalitarian regimes have arisen.

Kevin Sorbo vs. Facebook

Although I don’t believe I ever saw the show, Kevin Sorbo seems to be best known for his role in the TV series Hercules.  He has become a Christian, and is known as a Conservative voice.

This last week, his Facebook account was deleted, he claims without any prior notice.[5]  Apparently, both Kevin and Facebook have issued statements and press releases, but the issue has not been resolved.

censorship

In a nutshell, we’re experiencing widespread censorship.  We may not think it’s the same as other times in history because we’re not witnessing book burnings at large bonfires.  Perhaps we think it’s not the same because the government doesn’t seem to be the censor.

The problem I fear is that we are yielding more and more in the realm of freedom of speech because these open social networks are no longer open.  If big tech social networks can tell us what we can and can’t say today . . . then what can the government tell us tomorrow?

Your petitions and memes are not going to help the situation.  I’ve given you three examples of worldwide recognized personalities who have been caught in the crosshairs.  The truth is, they are only the most recent victims of cancel culture.  There are plenty of others.

Censorship already is and will continue to be one of the defining issues of this era in American history.

cancel culture is nothing new

I’m not speaking out for Conservatism.  To this point, my article hasn’t been about Christianity either.  However, I think we can glean something from a Scriptural vignette if we look at it again through the lens of cancel culture.

In Acts 3-4 Peter and John enter the Temple to pray.  At the gate a lame beggar asks for alms.  God miraculously heals him.  Everyone is astonished.  Peter takes the opportunity to preach in the name of Jesus.

The Temple officials bring Peter and John in for questioning.  The officials have an issue, not necessarily with the miracle or with the motivational speech, but with the name of Jesus (Acts 4.1-2, 13, 17-18).

Bear in mind, this is a mockery of the judicial system.  There are no grounds for this arrest and the threats.  It is purely socio-politically motivated.  Many who are sitting on the Sanhedrin are the same ones who sat on the council when they tried Jesus.  They do not want the message of Jesus to be spread because that will hurt their power base.

Furthermore, the Sanhedrin’s final decision is socio-politically motivated.  They fear all the people who believe in what the Apostles are doing and proclaiming (Acts 4.21-22).

They’re biased.  The Sanhedrin are the self-proclaimed watchdogs.  They represent the best interests of Israel . . . or so they believe.  Not really, they always represent the best interests of the Temple cult during that time period, but that is a topic for another article.

In effect, this vignette of the Apostles and the Sanhedrin is very similar to the bias of cancel culture in America.  The canceler thinks he/they represent the greater good of our culture, but they really only reflect their own political ideology.


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notes:

[1] Uptal M. Dholakia, “What Is Cancel Culture?,” Psychology Today (July 27, 2020), accessed February 18, 2021, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-science-behind-behavior/202007/what-is-cancel-culture
[2] Ibid.
[3] Rae Hodge, “What is Signal? Everything you need to know about Elon Musk’s app recommendation,” CNET (January 28, 2021), accessed February 18, 2021, https://www.cnet.com/how-to/what-is-signal-everything-you-need-to-know-about-elon-musks-app-recommendation/
[4] Nate Day, “Gina Carano faces backlash for social media posts, ‘not currently employed’ by ‘Star Wars,'” Fox News (February 11, 2021), accessed February 18, 2021, https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/gina-carano-backlash-social-media-posts-not-currently-employed-star-wars
[5] Tyler McCarthy, “Kevin Sorbo says Facebook hasn’t told him why his page was deleted, compares situation to ‘Seinfeld’ episode,” Fox News (February 16, 2021), accessed February 18, https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/kevin-sorbo-facebook-page-deleted-seinfeld-episode

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