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The Hidden Benefit of Cancel Culture

The Hidden Benefit of Cancel Culture

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OVER RECENT years, the rise of so-called “cancel culture” has become a leitmotif of American society. Defined by Merriam Webster as “the practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure,” polling has found that a large majority of Americans oppose cancel culture on the grounds that it unfairly punishes people for their past actions or statements.

This week, cancel culture reared its ugly head once again on one of its favorite targets; the celebrated comedian Dave Chappelle. Despite his immense popularity and generally liberal worldview, Chappelle is considered a persona non grata in many progressive circles on the grounds of his views about transgender rights. As is so often the case, Chappelle’s view is simply that one cannot truly change sex, no matter the lengths they pursue in order to do so. 

This progressive backlash culminated last year when Netflix (the streaming service that hosts many of Chappelle’s shows) employees staged a walkout over the company’s refusal to remove his content. In response, Netflix finally took a stand against cancel culture, firing many of those involved and warning employees that they “may need to work on titles you perceive to be harmful.“ Not everyone will like – or agree with – everything on our service,” the memo read. “If you’d find it hard to support our content breadth, Netflix may not be the best place for you.” 

Given its status as a stalwart of the liberal world order, Netflix’s intervention appeared to be a significant victory for opponents of cancel culture. Yet this week, the First Avenue concert venue in Minneapolis confirmed they had not received the memo. In a typically cowardly move, the venue admitted they had “made a mistake” by organizing a show for Chappelle and had failed in their commitment to making it “one of the safest spaces in the country.” 

Such behavior, which inevitably involved responding to pressure from a small number of radical transgender activists, is cowardly and despicable. However, it comes with a hidden yet obvious benefit. It allows the majority of us who do not believe in cancel culture to vote with our feet and refrain from patronizing businesses that show so little respect for opposing views and artistic freedom. We should cancel the cancel culture. Entities such as First Avenue have made their bed; it is the responsibility of freedom lovers to force them to sleep in it.

This article originally appeared in El American’s newsletter on July 23, 2022. Subscribe for free here.

Ben Kew is English Editor of El American. He studied politics and modern languages at the University of Bristol where he developed a passion for the Americas and anti-communist movements. He previously worked as a national security correspondent for Breitbart News. He has also written for The Spectator, Spiked, PanAm Post, and The Independent


Ben Kew es editor en inglés de El American. Estudió política y lenguas modernas en la Universidad de Bristol, donde desarrolló una pasión por las Américas y los movimientos anticomunistas. Anteriormente trabajó como corresponsal de seguridad nacional para Breitbart News. También ha escrito para The Spectator, Spiked, PanAm Post y The Independent.

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