The Cancel Culture: Take Me On – Giles Lennox

Welcome to Take Me On! This is a Bubble regular in which all pupils are encouraged to write a piece on a controversial topic in which they argue for their point of view. The idea is a person with the opposite view responds to the piece. I hope that this will encourage more debate in the school and a greater awareness not only on wider issues in our society but that people -shockingly- may have different view to you and the best way to respond is to engage in a discussion.

The ‘Cancel Culture’. A term you may or may not have heard of before, but I can guarantee every one of you reading this article will have seen it in practice. The rough definition of it is when someone (or something) voices (or has voiced) a controversial opinion and then is quickly ‘cancelled/ boycotted’ by society. The most common examples are usually found online, where people on the internet dig up old tweets by celebrities and then create a story over it. I have decided to write this as recently I have seen frequent examples of this, including recent RS discussions on whether we should REWRITE the ‘bad bits’ of the Bible which as some may be able to attest, gets me rather angry. In this article, I would like to highlight the negative impact of the cancel culture and then give my opinion on why it is so damaging; whilst offering an alternate way of dealing with these incidents.

               Why is this such a dangerous idea to adopt? Essentially, we start to hastily censor each other without considering context and other factors. I am not advertising that we stop critiquing what people say because, sometimes, people say disgusting things. What I am proposing is that we stop, challenge the person on their view and then engage in a discussion where we try with and create something with said person. Failing that, if their actions warrant it, we impose some sort of social punishment. By ‘cancelling’ everything we see, and disagree with, with so quickly, we start to completely censor society, picking out the bad things and leaving everything we agree with, placing ourselves in a ‘Bubble’ (excuse the pun) filled only with positive ideas. There are always going to be things that people say that offend and upset us. That is life unfortunately and we can’t change that. Wouldn’t it be better if we could acknowledge these instances and use them as a means of progressing society, highlighting areas that need to be tackled, rather than just banning them all together? The ‘Cancel Culture’ threatens to limit our ability to discuss the problems in the world, what I am proposing is an actual constructive solution. I fear that we are becoming a society that is too quick to take offense, too ready to jump to conclusions. We are constantly taught throughout our upbringing to not be rash, consider all the information we have at our disposal, question and discuss things, yet the ‘Cancel Culture’ runs parallel to all of that.

               I have seen multiple cases of this. People have made calls to destroy Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square due to his ‘racist’ ideas. It is important to realise that he held the views of his time but even still to cancel him completely would completely disregard the actions he performed in the service of his county which is what he got the statue for anyway. I am completely open to critiquing these views but feel that jumping to the rapid conclusion is incredibly unproductive. Rather than topple the statue why not use it not only to celebrate the things that he did for the country but use it also as a focal point for highlighting how far we have come as a progressive society. Going back to my earlier point, if we start cancelling these figures in history and in the modern day, essentially, we create an idealised version of the past and present which is ethically wrong. We need to discuss these ideas, not cancel them.  By engaging in such debate, we can seek to resolve solutions positively or at least in a justified way. However, it is not just regarding the critique of historical figures. A few years ago, the term ‘Brainstorm’ was banned in Tunbridge Wells as it was deemed to be offensive to the mentally ill and people with epilepsy, despite organisations representing these groups arguing against the ban. It is examples like this one that extenuates my point that in the cultures desire to make society more PC it risks going too far, to the point where it becomes pernickety. I have written controversial articles before. A simple expression like ‘James Bond shouldn’t be a woman’ could’ve landed me the title ‘sexist’ or ‘misogynist’  but through expressing my opinion – and being challenged on it by Mrs O’Callaghan-, we created a positive discussion, one in which I am sure both sides learnt from each other. Why can’t this be something that we try and apply on a far wider basis?

Nelson’s column, is he really worth cancelling?

To conclude, I realise that this culture remains firmly in the minority of society. Yet my concern is its influence. Its ability to instantly label a person a ‘racist’ or ‘misogynist’ that is particularly concerning however. It is this that is my main problem with the ‘Cancel Culture’. I agree that people should be criticised for what they say and do but only after a debate occurs that takes everything into perspective before people are allowed to suddenly go online and ruin a person’s life within seconds. I realise it is not always possible to discuss these issues but I fear that this culture encourages people to make rash, hasty and uninformed decisions without considering the full weight of the accusations they use and it is for this reason that I would like to officially CANCEL THE CANCEL CULTURE but not before I am challenged on my view by someone who disagrees.

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