Jon Gruden & the Truth About the Ridiculous "Cancel Culture" Narrative
It didn't take long for the conservative media to come to the defense of former Raiders coach Jon Gruden after he was forced to resign after a string of homophobic, racist, and misogynistic emails came to light. Don Jr. used the occasion to attack the "woke" sports media and various Fox News, Blaze and Newsmax personalities chalked it up as another example of liberal cancel culture sanctioning unpopular, and in this case, childishly inane beliefs.
Conservatives argue that cancel culture has a chilling effect on the free exchange of ideas, but those voicing views outside of the mainstream have always paid a price. Some form of cancel culture and social ostracism has been with us forever; just ask Lenny Bruce, Jane Fonda or the Dixie Chicks. Or ask the first politicians and public figures who championed civil rights, labor unions, women voting, interracial marriage, or the teaching of evolution in the public schools. They all faced cancellation or much worse and yet they persevered.
If today's right-wing, anti-cancel culture warriors have a point, it's that social disapproval in the 21st century is swift and, as John Stewart said recently, "relentless."
The Daily Beast, Stewart: “People that talk about cancel culture never seem to shut the fuck up about it,” Stewart declared, likely referencing right-wing media and other comedians, who have been obsessed with the issue. “Like, there’s more speech now than ever before,” he continued. “It’s not ‘you can’t say it,’ it’s that when you say it—look, the internet has democratized criticism. What do we do for a living—we talk shit, we criticize, we postulate, we opine, we make jokes, and now other people are having their say. And that’s not cancel culture, that’s relentlessness. We live in a relentless culture.”
Moreover, trends on social media are quickly picked up and magnified by our ever-growing number of media outlets and comments that might have passed with little notice 30 years ago make news across the globe.
So, if you are a right-wing commentator who wants to opine on the superiority of the "white race," belittle social activism, or mock trans athletes, understand that you are going to face a backlash that could damage your career. You have an absolute right to your opinion, no matter how warped, but society, as it always has, will decide when you have stepped out of bounds. And, yes, you can argue that the threat of cancelation increases self-censorship, and it certainly does, but it always has and isn't that the point.
Like it or not, society dictates certain social norms and they evolve over time. Those that violate those norms have always faced society's wrath. Conservatives in the United States supported the system when it defended sexism, racism and anti-LGBT sentiments. But, in the 21st century most Americans, especially younger individuals who are active on social media, view such beliefs as despicable and react swiftly to bigotry of any kind.
So, Don Jr., and the commentators on Fox News and right-wing talk radio aren't really upset that society is protecting a system of norms; they are freaked out because the rules have changed and bigotry against their favorite targets in no longer acceptable.
By: Don Lam & Curated Content