Cancel culture is rife in our culture today, the basic way it works is if anyone says or does anything at any point in their life (irrespective of context) which offends someone even if they have never met them or don’t even know them, then the offended person has the right to complain and demand action.
It is also the case that if someone even anticipates that they might be offended by something, they have a right to protest and demand cancellation. This is particularly worrying if you believe in the importance of free speech.
Others, often total strangers can prevent you from exercising your right to say what you believe or expressing an opinion. You can have social media accounts blocked, YouTube channels removed, you can be dismissed, you can have your home ripped away from you, speaking engagements or other meetings (even private ones) can be cancelled, and in extreme cases you might even lose your liberty. You might be prosecuted or cancelled over something you may have said or done decades ago and may not even remember.
This means that total strangers may now have complete power over you.
here are just a few examples:
- Christian speaker and son of Billy Graham, Franklin Graham was cancelled from speaking at a number of venues in the UK. His crime? Believing in the bible – and saying so.
- A Boeing executive was forced to resign for an article he wrote 33 years ago (33 years ago!) because of a view he expressed that women should not be combat pilots in the USAF. Irrespective of what people think NOW, at the time this view was quite common. Should he have anticipated how that what he said might affect folk three decades into the future? How does that affect how we live our lives now? Are YOU able to predict what people will think three decades from now?
- A petition was raised to prevent feminist Germaine Greer from speaking at a UK university because she believes that “women are women”, and that surgery will not magically turn a man into a woman.
- An L.A. Galaxy soccer player was sacked because of his wife’s tweet. I understand that the tweet was, indeed, offensive, but do we now hold men accountable for the actions of their wives? Isn’t this rank hypocrisy? Doesn’t judging a man for the actions of his wife smack of perpetuating the patriarchy?
- NASCAR driver Conor Daly lost a major sponsor of his race team after his father, a retired Formula 1 driver, acknowledged using a racial slur in an interview in the early 1980s – before he was even born!
- Outrage over author J.K. Rowling tweeting “people who menstruate? There’s a word for that …. women” (or something like it)
Certainly, in many cases, even if the accusation is true in that you actually DID do or say that which caused the offence, there seems to me to be no real or genuine attempt to tease out context or intent. Outrage is absolute and there is only one remedy. Complete and absolute persecution.
But context is vital! As an example if I kill someone (I haven’t – for the record!), the context and intent is crucial to determining the severity of the accusation, so … In all of the following scenarios someone dies …
- I am driving legally and safely down the road, a child unexpectedly runs in front of the car. I have no time to react or even brake. The child dies.
- I am a lorry driver, someone commits suicide by jumping off a bridge just as I am driving under it. I cannot avoid hitting and killing him.
- I am a mechanic fixing a car. I forget to put the split pin in which holds the brake pads into the callipers. The customer’s brakes fail, there is a fatal accident as a direct result of my negligence.
- I am angry, in my “rage” I lash out and hit the person upsetting me. He falls over, hits his head on a kerb, has a bleed on the brain and after 4 days in hospital, he dies.
- My wife has an affair, I come home and catch her in bed with her lover. I storm out and drive away. Over the next two weeks, I fester and plan and then go back to her “love nest”. I take with me gloves to cover my fingerprints and proceed to kill her. If I can’t have her, no one can.
In each example, someone is killed, but the law rightly views each and circumstance VERY differently and the judgement and sentence given reflects not only the consequence, but also the intent of the one who kills and context of the death. Why, oh why don’t offended people do the same when they get upset? Why don’t the authorities?
When something upsets us, I suggest we all go through a process and ask some basic questions …
- How long ago was this?
- Was what they said or did offensive THEN?
- Would they STILL do or say the same now?
- Do they have any idea they upset me?
- Did they intend to do it?
- Am I upset because they pushed a “raw spot” or button in me?
- Were they even talking to or about ME? – in other words am I vicariously upset? Why?
- Even if they DID intend to upset me, have I taken into account their own feelings, after all it has well been said “hurt people – HURT people”
And then … What about “he who is without sin cast the first stone?” Have you never said something or acted at an inopportune moment, or without thinking and immediately (or even on reflection) thought “I really wish I hadn’t said (or done) that”. I know I have. Where is the concept of forgiveness and rehabilitation? or growth and development? Do we not understand for example that young people (even into their 20s) in particular make mistakes as they negotiate the minefield of learning inter-personal relationships and as they learn how to control their tongue and their actions, and digging those mistakes up decades later is both vindictive and unfair?
When we get upset by other people, it frequently reveals more about us than it does about them.
Are we the kind of people who are gracious and loving and forgiving? — Or are we angry and malicious and combative and argumentative?
Do we always see the worst in people or are we willing to look for the best in them?
Don’t be deceived, the Bible DOESN’T say don’t judge! That is a misreading of the words of Christ, he says “the manner in which you judge – you yourself will be judged” – it rather guides us on how to judge properly.
Thank God that he knows everything I have ever said or done – and even my thoughts are open to His gaze. The ultimate cancel is exclusion from the” Lamb’s book of life” (Revelation 20:15 “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” ). Thank God that my eternal future doesn’t rely on me, but on how I have responded to the message of the Gospel.
Cancel others in this life if you must. I beg you though – don’t get YOURSELF cancelled for all eternity.