In defense of "cancel culture," and on the rich irony of conservatives complaining about it

Following last week's Donald Trump-inspired insurrection at the US Capitol that appears to have been organized on social media, Trump got himself banished from multiple social media platforms, as did some far-right provocateurs who'd been helping Trump spread the big lie that the election was stolen and that a violent revolution was required to preserve their way of life.

One of the most insidious social media platform itself, Parler, vanished from the web when Google, Apple, and Amazon cut their ties with the company for terms of service violations after reports surfaced that far-right fringe platforms were used to plan the insurrection "in plain sight." Parler may never return to the cursed web, its CEO recently said, because no one will do business with an insurrectionist swamp.

Donald Trump and Parler aren't the only ones that have gotten into trouble for online sedition, and getting into trouble with online platforms isn't their only problem. Organizations ranging from the Professional Golfers' Association to the City of New York are declining to do business with Trump's private properties. Even Trump's besties at Deutsche Bank are abandoning him. Others who have helped Trump spread the big lie about the 2020 presidential election, including conspiracy nut and lawyer Lin Wood, have suffered their own consequences, while corporate America is stopping donations to Republican members of Congress and party committees that helped perpetuate the same. Some are even asking for their money back. The New York State Bar Association is considering whether Trump's lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who called for "trial by combat" at the Trump rally on January 6, should have his membership stripped.

My position on civil society consequences to insurrectionist conduct, whether or not that conduct is protected from state action under the First Amendment - what is commonly referred to by the right as 'cancel culture' - is clear: it's a damn good thing.

And it is quite the irony for conservatives - who have made censorship and Eurocentric cultural norms enforced by the government a way of life - to complain now that civil society is standing up to them. While the private and proper use of cancel culture is only being visited on privileged white supremacists now, they have used governmental edict to force cancel culture to dehumanize people for a long, long time.

Every time a Republican president takes office, conservatives celebrate the issuing of a global gag order against international family planning clinics, forbidding them from even talking about abortion with their patients if they wish to receive US funds. Republican-led states have passed law after law forcing doctors to perform unnecessary and humiliating procedures on patients seeking the perfectly safe medical procedure of abortion, and even infringing on the free speech for abortion providers by forcing them to read unscientific material to their patients.

Conservative use of cancel culture as a governmental force isn't limited to abortion. Schools and school districts have long enforced - in humiliating ways - racist appearance standards, including ones that force little Black girls (and boys) to cut their beautiful, natural hair. They have defended police murder of unarmed Black people and the military-enforced clearing of peaceful protesters for the cause of Black lives so that a tyrant could walk to the steps of a Church and desecrate a Bible.

Republicans spent decades trying to cancel - with the force of government and law - the fundamental right of gay people to engage in consensual activity inside the privacy of a home, to openly serve in the military, or to marry. They have poured in resources to try to restrict the rights of gay and transgender people to be protected from discrimination by our employers on account of sexual orientation and gender identity, as well as to allow businesses to refuse us service. A bunch of Republican state legislatures, governors, and other law and policymakers are engaged, at this very moment, in canceling the gender identities of transgender people, removing from them the right to even use the bathrooms of the gender they identify with. In a vast majority of American states, the law still allows murderers to use the gay and trans panic defense.

And just last week, Donald Trump's domestic terrorist mobs invaded the United States Capitol hoping to cancel an entire presidential election and the votes of 81 million Americans.

The problem conservatives have is not that cancel culture exists. It is that, for the moment, they have been forced to experience some minimal effects of being canceled from private venues, rather than being at the top of the food chain where they could use the brute force of the law to enforce their cancel culture on others.

They are only concerned about culture because they believe that they - white, the western European version of civilization and religion - own the culture, and only they are endowed with the authority to cancel others. The problem is that now they are getting canceled, and that cancellation is not just being considered normal, but essential to the very protection of America's identity as a pluralistic, democratic republic.

That is too bad, because 'cancel culture', as it is, is finally getting it right.

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