{ "media_type": "text", "post_content": "Is anyone else feeling very uneasy about this rise in cancel culture? I think it’s a byproduct of my anxiety because I don’t have really controversial opinions or post polarizing things, but I lay awake at night wondering if someone will stumble upon a photo of my Halloween costume from middle school that was incidentally culturally appropriative and I’ll get fired. Seems like there are no second chances these days if someone feels offended.", "post_id": "5ef556af4070f9001a130f89", "reply_count": 24, "vote_count": 8, "bowl_id": "552d1d24dc1c586b09d2d052", "bowl_name": "Law", "feed_type": "crowd" }
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Is anyone else feeling very uneasy about this rise in cancel culture? I think it’s a byproduct of my anxiety because I don’t have really controversial opinions or post polarizing things, but I lay awake at night wondering if someone will stumble upon a photo of my Halloween costume from middle school that was incidentally culturally appropriative and I’ll get fired. Seems like there are no second chances these days if someone feels offended.

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I worry about how it seems to judge past actions based off of standards and issues of today and is being applied to people in their youth. Like I remember dressing up as my favorite Disney Princess: Pocahontas, when I was a kid. There was zero discussion about that being offensive back then, and also kids want to dress as princesses. It also seems to be applied pretty oddly. A regular person can be cancelled for wearing a sombrero and a mustache at a college party, but celebs wear Native American headdresses and other appropriating stuff to Coachella ever year...?

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I don’t think that’s why there is a difference in who is cancelled though. Native American tribes have continually stated that they find it offensive when people wear headdresses and have asked people not to in recent years But it’s easier to bully and cancel private figures or people the cancel culture people disagree with politically than it is to cancel celebs that fit within their political views. You also have to see these celebs cry and beg for forgiveness so people feel more sympathy for them, but if you ruin the life of a stranger you get to forget about it and not worry what happened to them, despite it harming a private figure with limited means far more than a powerful celeb.

People seem to be missing the point of cancel culture. It rests on the marginalized versus privileged divide. If you were marginalized, it was impossible for you not to learn very quickly growing up all the shitty things people did to marginalize you, your people, and other marginalized folks. Whereas if you were privileged, you often overlooked it and may have participated in it without even taking the time to figure out if it was appropriate to do so. For example, to use the Pocahontas Princess example mentioned above, imagine you were Native American. You would’ve learned and connected with your people’s story of how Europeans came, slaughtered your ancestors (mere generations ago), stole land, and then misappropriate culture almost to mock you, from using your culture as a mascot for a football team, to a characature of your people in a Disney movie, to party dresses, etc., like vultures playing with scraps after the “prey” has already been slaughtered and used. You would know this, whether you wanted to or not, because it’s part of you and your history, and seeing the cultural misappropriation would hurt you back then just as much as it hurts you now. The only difference is back then, people weren’t in a position to be able to check others’ privilege (including privilege of throwing on Native American dress without a thought) and force them to stop or at least think twice about it. But those privileged people still had an opportunity (and often easily accessible one) to check their own privilege. Everyone learned about Christopher Columbus. Don’t tell me that lesson was skipped when you were younger. You knew Europeans came, fought, took land, and it’s no coincidence Native Americans are quarantined in their designated portions of land. You could’ve cared about that before putting on a Native American dress, but you didn’t. You threw it on without a thought. You chose not to work to check your privilege even though it wasn’t that hard to do. All you had to do was care about the negative things that happened to Native Americans when learning about it.

So it doesn’t matter much that other people have taken a lot of effort now to teach you what you yourself should’ve learned on your own back then. It’s that you had a good opportunity to learn it back then and didn’t, and you caused damage by that and deserve punishment. And separately it says a lot about who you are as a person, even now, that you grew up without checking privilege. If my lawyer learned of a key fact only after it was too late in the case, I wouldn’t blame the case. I’d blame my lawyer for being too shitty and not figuring it out when it mattered, would fire the lawyer, and get a new one.

Edit: and please please please don’t say we’re using “current standards” to judge “past actions.” That just doubles down on your privilege and the entire problem. The standards were always the same. It’s just that you got away with not meeting them back then. Now you can’t.

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And your response is exactly why we need cancel culture. Your response is basically “well, it would’ve taken some work to care and not be a shitty person.” And on top of it you actually ask to be excused for that. I don’t get how you’re missing the point unless you really do believe you have a right to be shitty without backlash. That’s why people cancel, cause we really don’t have time to go over why not being a shitty person is the right thing to do.

No one is asking to cancel people because they don’t know for example about genocides in Armenia, Rwanda, Bosnia, etc. and so many other bad things that happened in the world. So people aren’t expected to be all knowing and perfect, because in your everyday life, given your disconnect with the less-known troubles in the world, you likely aren’t actively participating in the detriment of those other people. Most people in the US aren’t walking around wearing a characature of an Armenian. But when the history and problems are literally on your own land, in your own immediate history, and you actively participate in the determinant, there’s no excusing it as “well how should I have known.” In that case, it’s not you unable to or having a really hard time to know it. It’s you not caring enough when it was right in front of you. You can’t sit here and wear blackface and go “well I didn’t know it was bad” when the country’s entire history was plagued with slavery and racism, including the use of blackface.

Again, cancel culture won’t cancel you if you were a kid or if there really was some reasonable excuse for not knowing what you were doing. But if you’re an adult and the only excuse you have is “I didn’t care to look down and see the problem that was right under my nose cause I was enjoying the privilege of looking up,” then maybe you should worry, and actively take steps to learn and ACT positively to show you’ve changed.

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I must say that this holier than thou attitude some people like to take is astonishing. I do hope that those who like to sit in judgment and lecture others on their “privilege” have lived perfect pure lives and don’t cry and whine when they get “canceled” and lose their jobs because someone somewhere dug up a post or a picture from 20 years ago that someone out there finds “offensive” as if intent and context don’t matter. Also, don’t be surprised if the people cancelling you are themselves hypocrites. This “woke” leftist posturing and virtue signaling is ridiculous.

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Also, if we are using the law, aren’t ex post facto laws unconstitutional? By this analogy, no one should be punished for something they did 10 or 20 years ago when they were young and likely stupid.

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Not everyone feels “free” in the U.S. and benefits the same way. The freedom you describe is not available or accessible to everyone. Maybe if it were then people would not feel as outraged as they do.

I've been thinking about this issue a lot. Sorry for the diatribe.

First and foremost, I wholeheartedly agree with the intentions behind cancel culture.

However, the issue I have with cancel culture is that the concept is analogous to an ex post facto law. Someone's actions from a decade ago suddenly open their entire life to scrutiny. Yes, there are clear exceptions to my example. Mocking the LGBTQ community, being openly racist, or sexually harassing people are all egregious behaviors and are never okay. Barring a preemptive statement from someone saying they've grown and are sorry, how can we be sure someone actually changed their beliefs or are simply apologizing because they got caught? It's like getting ahead of a bad fact by making your client testify to it on direct before OC can bring it out on cross.

However, there are other examples which arise, such as people dressing like a Disney character, which are far less scandalous in the grand scheme of things and yet people fear their good natured act will open them up to liability. This is especially amplified in your example because kids only know as much as they're taught. If we don't hold children to an adult standard in the eyes of the law, how is it reasonable to hold them to an adult standard in the public realm?

But that's just my humble opinion. Do people like Harvey Weinstein deserve to get the axe? Absolutely and it should have happened far sooner than it did. But should OP, who dressed like Pocahontas one year for Halloween, deserve to have their whole life ruined because they were too young and ignorant to know any better? I don't think so.

Good luck to you and I wish you the best.

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Yep, exactly this.

I suggest that if someone digs up a racially or culturally inappropriate picture or quote try to use it as an opportunity for self growth and reflection. Show others why you did what you did and how you’ve been able to over it through more understanding and empathy.

Some of the most amazing and inspiring stories are people who were hardcore neonazi racists who learned to ditch the hate and become better people. Racism has been so entrenched in our lives and culture for so long, it’s hard not to have been swept into it. I think the point is to learn from it and become a better person and a better version of yourself.

Coming from a POC: Don’t deny the past, become better because of it. It’s far more sincere and rewarding for you and society.

Good luck and hope things work out.

Just because someone decides they have the “moral” authority as a POC or on behalf of a POC to call you out doesn’t make them right or what you posted “inappropriate” or “offensive” because this is often in the eye of the beholder and taken out of context. Self-reflect by all means. However, people who set themselves up as the arbiters of self-righteousness could also reflect about whether it is a good thing for their own wellbeing or in the interests of society to deliberately search out and look for reasons to be offended and call out someone you have never met as a racist or to be fired/cancelled because you disagree with them. This kind of attitude and behavior does not result in any understanding.

Responding to OP. You can’t control how others will react to whatever you think might be offensive, but I hope you find a constructive way of handling it. I can certainly understand the anxiety you feel right now and society is still undergoing a hard reckoning. Just be the best person you can be and show empathy and compassion to those around around, even if you disagree. You are probably not the same person you were 15 years ago and you probably will be a different (and hopefully a better) version in the next 15 years.

Also, if you are feeling really anxious about it, sometimes it’s best to be proactive. Find away to have a conversation about it so it won’t be hanging over your head and you can find a way to express yourself in a constructive environment. Don’t get defensive, try to be open to the idea that even you may have flaws or did things you now regret. You’re human, you are allowed to evolve and be treated with compassion.

Yes. A white columnist was fired from the Washington Post for wearing a satirical Halloween costume making fun of Megan Kelly at a Halloween Party. Two restaurant employees were fired for following company policy and refusing service to a child wearing athletic gear because the mom complained on video and cried discrimination because of a white child wearing cargo shorts (not basketball shorts) and a T-shirt (not a Michael Jordan shirt) was served

Here’s the thing. If you’re not comfortable publicly doing it now, you shouldn’t have been comfortable doing it only a few months ago, or even 20 years ago. She wore blackface. If you know the history of blackface, you’d know there’s no there’s no spin you can give it for it to be ok, let alone the old “please forgive my racism it was only a joke” excuse. I get it. There were a lot of people that did shitty things before or at an early stage of technology, and before things were able to be called out like they are now, and it seems unfair to them to be called out now when they would’ve never thought they would be at the time they did it. It doesn’t change the fact they did something shitty. It just means they thought they could get away with it without being held accountable. I can’t steal something from a store and when the cops show up to my door months later with video footage of me doing it, go “ohhh... well... it was months ago and I didn’t think you’d dig up the footage. How unfair.”

A2 The problem is, who gets to define what is racist, homophobic, sexist etc. You??? Also, Please cite me the “law” you are referencing so I can become educated, because last I checked the “Twitter mob” has no authority to write laws.

I don’t get to decide it’s biased. We’re not talking about questionable stuff here. We’re talking about incidents that are clearly racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. that’s why the cancel culture arose, because people got tired of explaining why blatant racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. stuff was blatantly racist, homophobic, sexist, etc. Now we just hit the cancel button, and leave debate to the more questionable stuff. So if you put on blackface, or display a confederate flag, or a nazi symbol, etc., no one has time to sit there and tell you why that’s messed up, and no one is believing you any more that you just don’t get it or it’s debatable. It’s not.

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