The Rise Of Cancel Culture, Other Social Media Phenomena

 

There really is no limit to what people will take offence to in the ‘woke’ culture we live in today. However, before I proceed, I must point out that this article is only vaguely related to computer tips, but it will have some reference to social media, so that’s something of a link anyway.

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Mock Flags At Your Peril

I would probably describe myself as anti-woke if indeed such a condition exists, so naturally, I’m drawn to stories about cancel culture, wokeness, and other phenomena related to social justice. In fact, only today I came across a much-redacted story on BBC News where a morning show presenter, Charlie Stayt, commented on the size of the flags behind a government minister he was interviewing at the time. His comments were seen by many as snide and sarcastic, thus producing a barrage of complaints to the BBC Complaints department — yes, they really do have one of those — and a later statement from the BBC saying that he and his morning show partner had been given a good talking to. Later, his partner in crime, Naga Munchetty, felt obliged to apologise for liking offensive Tweets relating to the flag incident, but try as I might I cannot find the offensive Tweets she referred to. And that brings me to the real point– how can one judge for oneself today when so many news stories are often mere sound bites, usually taken out of context, with ALL of the critical details omitted, simply to suit a targeted audience? It now transpires that the pair have indeed been cancelled because they were replaced by another pair of presenters on their Saturday show, so by anyone’s standards, they have indeed been cancelled.

I’d better point out here that many Brits feel that Auntie BBC is toeing the government line of placing the national flag in prominent positions for TV interviews and has now become overly jingoistic. So, why don’t we just cancel the Union Jack flag altogether, seeing as patriotism is seen as a heinous crime by some?

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We All Know What Opinions Are Like

A teacher, Alexander Price, in North Wales has been struck off the teachers’ register for airing his opinions on his not so anonymous blog about the school he teaches at. In other words, he’s been cancelled.

In one article, titled The Problem With Prom, Mr Price called the event “a shallow, vacuous affair, about nothing more than who has spent the most on looking nice”. He said girls often ended up looking like a cross between “Eastern European prostitutes and trans-human Kardashian clones”.

He also compared the headmaster to a character from The Lord Of The Rings — Grima Wormtongue to be precise — and for this and other scribblings, he’s effectively been cancelled by the local teaching authority which described his writing as offensive and tantamount to professional misconduct. The question here is whether the teacher should lose his job because his comments were deemed as inconvenient to the school in question, or that perhaps a more conciliatory approach was called for. Either way, he’s receiving a great deal of support on his social media channels because he refuses to be silenced.

Expressing an opinion today can be a tricky business, especially if you air that opinion publicly on social media. Some opinions will get you cancelled indefinitely, as has happened to several high-profile figures recently, with some social media companies using their power to cancel that person from their platforms until further notice. Of course, opinions should not be confused with aggressive, violent, and racist posts which should not be tolerated. But the lines are now blurred and what’s acceptable to some, isn’t to others. Or maybe it’s simply inconvenient to others because it’s not on track with their personal agenda.

Let’s Cancel History

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The world is full of monuments and depending on your point of view, they are either offensive or in keeping with the history and culture of that nation. We’ll never forget Saddam Hussein’s statue being toppled, or those statues of Hitler, Mussolini, and other tyrants who simply wouldn’t be tolerated today, for good reason. The same goes for slave trader statues, the subject of which was the focus of many of the BLM riots last summer. These incidents then led to calls to topple Winston Churchill’s statue outside the Palace of Westminster, London and I remember wondering why the mob didn’t insist on digging up his body as happened to Oliver Cromwell in 1661. Dead people can’t be cancelled any further than they already are, but their history and the part they played in it cannot be eradicated just because it’s inconvenient to a particular group of society. In fact, redacting the history that we don’t like or agree with is tantamount to censorship. Is that what we want? Which brings me to the subject of banning printed material…

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A Question Of Context

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Until further notice, teachers in the area will not be able to include on their curriculum Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Theodore Taylor’s The Cay and Mildred D. Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

Schools in Burbank, California.

I have to admit that I haven’t read any of the above books, except Of Mice and Men, which puts me in a weak position to comment or criticise. It’s true that To Kill a Mockingbird is told through a white person’s lens, was written in the 1950s and yes, I have seen the film. Many would say that Tom Robinson, the innocent black man accused of rape, isn’t given enough perspective in the story and that Atticus Finch is merely playing the role of a white saviour. Is that enough reason to take the moral high ground and deny children the right to critical thinking? In my opinion, it’s a worrying trend.

Shame On You!

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It seems to me that public shaming is now de rigueur and although the “Me Too” movement should take credit for enabling women to come forward, a dangerous precedent has been set. Only the other day I came across (through word of mouth) an incident where a girl posted on Instagram that she had been sexually assaulted by a man while sleeping over at a friend’s house after a night out. This social media post quickly went viral and eventually reached the man’s employer, resulting in his suspension. The girl in question is not a work colleague and the incident didn’t take place at either of their places of work. I only mention that as a simple fact and not in relation to the seriousness of the alleged incident by the way. When I heard about this at dinner one night, my position was that the man had been effectively found guilty before he even had a chance to explain his innocence or otherwise argue his case. My position was soundly disagreed with by the millennial of the household and when questioned about the means and reasoning of the shaming, I wasn’t in the slightest bit surprised to hear, “Well, that’s the way we do things nowadays.”

If you haven’t been cancelled, you’re cancelled.

Chris Hardwick, the presenter of AMC’s Talking Dead, faced a similar public shaming when an ex-girlfriend wrote an essay about an abusive relationship she had had with a man. She didn’t name him, but it was deduced that it was indeed he that she was referring to, resulting in his suspension from numerous shows. Again, guilty until proven innocent, but on this occasion, AMC’s investigation resulted in his reinstatement some months later.

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The court of public opinion in the age of social media is very powerful, but that doesn’t mean it’s the judge and jury, surely?

When Cancel Culture Becomes Dangerous

Caroline Flack, the presenter of Love Island, was about to be prosecuted for assaulting her boyfriend but took her own life following months of attacks, personal jibes, ridicule, and cancelling that in the end became too much for her to bear.

She is one of many victims of cancel culture and other social media phenomena, but will their deaths act as a warning to those who fail to think before they act?

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