Cancel culture is the societal reaction to an unpopular or otherwise reprehensible statement or action from a person’s past that comes to light. The most destructive part of cancel culture is the lack of forgiveness or assumption that a person who has been ‘canceled’ can’t change from the person they used to be. Many times, however, the canceled individual is also completely innocent.
In my recollection of those recently ‘canceled,’ I would be remiss if I didn’t include the kids of Covington Catholic High School. In January, the were called Nazis and people threatened the school with school shootings because they stood up for themselves against agitators on the left. Of course, the man who falsely accused them of being racist was given a pass on social media and the majority of mainstream media outlets. Lies continued to be spread about one student in particular, Nicolas Sandman, until he filed a 250 million dollar lawsuit against The Washington Post.
Today’s cancel culture is mostly a product of Twitter and our ability to comment on news right when it is released without critical context to the story.
In the case of Nicolas Sandmann, the first thing I saw was a picture of a smug-looking child bucking up to a grown adult. Naturally, my first thought was, “What a disrespectful child.” I don’t know that I commented beyond that, but I do know that thousands upon thousands of blue check-marked Twitter accounts made real threats to the safety of Covington Catholic High School students—and only doubled down when the truth came out.
Twitter’s own rules on blue check-marked users say that those accounts are endorsed by Twitter, but, to this day, some threats are still visible on the platform. This brings me to the next issue with cancel culture: its complete lack of consistency across political lines.
It doesn’t help that platforms like Twitter are largely fueled by companies out of Silicon Valley who aren’t exactly privy to conservative voices and will do everything in their power to change the public opinion of people based on their political viewpoints. In the event a voice on the left has something to apologize for, you can bet anyone who wants them to be held accountable will be the subject of a “Conservatives pounce” article or, in the case of Jussie Smollett, a segment on Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources.
In January, Smollett (allegedly) faked a hate crime, but his charges were later dropped and his record sealed. Smollett was clearly guilty in the court of public opinion, but, even with every bit of evidence pointing at him and the two men paid to stage the attack confessing, Stelter still let him off the hook saying, “[W]e may never really know what happened on the street that night in Chicago.”
An alleged crime of this magnitude deserving of real justice is not something that should be forgotten, nor is it something the media should move on from just because the case was dismissed. In this case, however, justice may prevail after all. Smollet’s records were recently ordered open by a federal judge.
It is worth mentioning that while some people are guilty of what is said about them, sometimes the circumstances of the wrongdoing do deserve some understanding and, perhaps, forgiveness—especially if they have changed as individuals.
Kyle Kashuv, who recently left TPUSA as their Director of High School Engagment, was under fire recently for messages he wrote two years before the shooting at his high school, Marjory Stoneman-Douglas in Parkland. The shooting placed Kashuv in the national spotlight as a school safety advocate. The messages were riddled with hateful racial slurs, and there isn’t much, if anything, that can be said to defend them.
Kashuv then released a statement in which he apologized profusely and spoke about how the shooting at his school changed who he is completely. For someone who has tried incredibly hard to promote school safety and advocated for mental health support in schools, I don’t believe it to be far off that he has changed dramatically in the last three years since the comments were written. Now, Kashuv’s future is in jeopardy because Harvard revoked his acceptance.
It’s time we stop pouncing on things without context. Furthermore, it is time we relearn the quality of forgiveness, especially as conservatives. If we value Judeo-Christian ideas, forgiveness is pinnacle to our ideals. So why is it that we find it so difficult to actually forgive—especially now that children are being affected by this culture we have created?
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.