Cancel culture is a fact of life in our modern “woke” world. It is coming after more and more people. Almost every day we read about this or that professor, musician, conservative journalist or public figure who is shamed and banished for some ill-considered tweet or even for offering a reasonable opinion that contradicts current woke ideology.
It came for the banjo player from the popular music group, Mumford and Sons. He was banished for tweeting that he enjoyed Andy Ngo’s excellent book about Antifa. Newsperson Piers Morgan had to commit career hara-kiri for the crime of opining about a rather silly princess. Numerous celebrities have been “cancelled” for making the scientifically correct statement that a man who thinks he is a woman is a man who thinks he is a woman.
Who will be next is anybody’s guess, but it is certain that there will be many more. In fact, it looks like cancel culture is just getting started. Like the purges during Stalin’s or Mao’s time, once these things get going they tend to take on a life of their own. And cancel culture might be coming for you.
So, what to do? How to survive in such a time? It has become common for people being cancelled to apologize profusely for whatever political crime they have been accused of committing. If they have been called “racist,” they abjectly apologize and promise to take anti-racism courses. If they have been condemned as “transphobic,” they promise to meet with a group of transgender people to undergo a proper shaming. But mostly they abjectly apologize, grovel and ask for forgiveness.
With that in mind, Dilbert cartoonist and podcaster Scott Adams offers this advice: Prepare an all-purpose apology in advance and carry it with you wherever you go. In the event that you are publicly criticized, simply pull out the all-purpose apology from your pocket and read it immediately. In fact, Adams has prepared the apology he plans to use. Here is part of it:
I am a deeply flawed human being…committed to doing the hard work of examining all of my flaws…I beg my critics, who are operating at a higher level of moral standards, to pity me for my wretchedness…I will spend my days thinking of nothing else than my unworthiness….I plan to issue public statements of apology for being me until the end of my days, which I think we all agree should come sooner than later.
Adams explains (tongue planted firmly in cheek) that whenever the cancel culture mob comes for him, he can just whip this statement of contrition and apology out and he might be spared permanent perdition.
This might be good advice for any of us. And to avoid saying anything else that might be offensive to someone somewhere, we are probably best advised to avoid getting into honest discussions. If we find ourselves trapped in a real discussion, best to speak in platitudes and say nothing of substance. To avoid being called anything ending in “ism” or “phobic” we can simply go to the website of the appropriate advocacy group and let them tell us what to say.
Or, we can tell the mob to take a flying leap and insist upon our right to free speech.
Brian Giesbrecht, a retired judge, is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.
Photo by KS KYUNG on Unsplash.