I think that growth and maturity, especially when it comes to social norms and moral expectations is a gradual, constantly ongoing process that all people experience over time. You would agree that you're more aware of what is expected and acceptable from you in society now than you were 5 years ago, right?
Let's see things through the eyes of Jackson, a hypothetical character we'll use to navigate through this topic. Back in high school, Jackson was young and irresponsible (and YOLO too y'know), so he took to Twitter and put out his funniest homophobic jokes because... why not?
10 years pass by and Jackson is an actor now. Wildly famous, filthy rich, but also more mature now. He's more aware of how his words and actions affect the people around him and within his spheres of influence. He knows now that it's not a crime to be black and that making fun of gay people for their sexuality screams "stone age" louder than the Flintstones.
If somehow, coincidental or contrived, his socially unacceptable tweets from 10 years past resurface and it is thrown into light that Jackson was a total dickhead back in high school, what would you say is the fair thing to do if you are asked to judge that situation.
What would be considered justice both for Jackson and for the victims of his past?
Does cancelling Jackson and ruining his career and any potential opportunities that lie in his future do any good to his victims? What does the public stand to gain from Jackson's loss?
Now I might sound like I'm anti cancel culture, which isn't true, but here's the deal. Am I against the general public asking famous and influential people, or public figures with huge spheres of influence that seem to owe nobody an explanation, for some accountability with what they do with their social power? No.
Here's my bone of contention. Society, just like people, changes. It matures daily and becomes more sensitive to the rights of the minorities and the optimal balance of morality as time progresses. We can all admit that there are things that were acceptable (not right or good in any way, but acceptable) in society 10 to 20 years ago that are absolute violations today.
Where then are we, the public jury, to draw the line of grace when it comes to judging cases such as Jackson's above. What is Jackson to do now that the rules have changed? He can't change his past, but his present should at least be able to speak for him. Right?
Now look at this:
The longtime host of ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise, Chris Harrison, decided to “step aside” after defending current contestant Rachael Kirkconnell when old photos surfaced of her attending an Old South antebellum party. “While I do not speak for Rachael Kirkconnell, my intentions were simply to ask for grace in offering her an opportunity to speak on her behalf,” Harrison explained. “What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that, I am so deeply sorry.”
(Source: The Washington Times)
Keywords being 'old photos' and 'grace'.
Here we see a man get cancelled simply because he has asked that the public give the 'defendant' the grace to speak on her behalf. If you ask me that isn't a search for justice, it is a fiery outrage fuelled by a mob mentality that only finds comfort in the ruin of its target. A mob that will tear down anything that comes in the way of giving that target its punishment.
My fear is not in people getting called out for the wrong they may have done. My fear lies in the ones who mete out this new age ostracism. Who are we to cast stones when in fact culprits of the same social misdeeds lie among our 'public jury' so to speak.
When you put it this way…
Isn't it ironic how the word "cancel" itself (in the context of this topic) came from a misogynistic joke from 1991 TV?
Oh no, that was 30 years ago things were different. It wasn't misogynistic, it was macho, right?
I have restricted my writing to my opinions about people who get cancelled for things they said and did way back in the past when things were not the same as today. This is not me making excuses for their actions but asking who gets to decide how far back in the past is irrelevant to the present.
Some things have not changed in the history of mankind and one of those things is the angry mob's cry for blood.
And the mob will always go as far as letting a cold-hearted murderer and criminal free just to have the head they want hanging on a stake. This is my worry with cancel culture. It is crowd driven. It has no head and is therefore most times based on emotion and not logic. It is not justice even though sometimes it comes with a good dose of that too.
Cancel me if you want, but this is just my opinion.