Pew Research Center Survey of How Americans View the Cancel Culture
Does it Violate Free Speech?
According to a Pew Research Center Survey of How Americans View the Cancel Culture, 44 percent of U.S. adults have heard at least a fair amount about “cancel culture”. They were also asked what they think cancel culture means. The results are as following:
Actions taken to hold others accountable 49%
Censorship of history or speech 14%
Mean-spirited actions taken to cause harm to others 12%
People canceling anyone they disagree with 9%
Those who are challenged face consequences like being fired or boycotted 6%
An attack on traditional American society 5%
A way to call out racism, sexism, etc. 4%
A misrepresentation of people’s actions 2%
What is the Cancel Culture?
I must admit to being surprised that such a low percentage think of the cancel culture to cancel anyone they disagree with. This is the basis for the cancel culture. It is a way to isolate those in society who do not conform to the prevailing view of a group with the power and influence to cancel a segment of society.
The cancel culture, is a way to take away someone’s power and call out the individual for being problematic in a situation, or some supporters say. It’s a way of being observant and aware of what’s going on around you and reacting to what you perceive as harmful words or actions regardless of how long ago those behaviors occurred. One example is to cancel a prominent person today who dressed in blackface maybe 20-30 years ago, not realizing at the time how offensive such behaviors were. Looking back, they can see how their actions offended others and typically apologize for their misdeed.
There is no doubt that the cancel culture is a result of political correctness. It has become a divisive issue in American society. Some believe it is necessary to hold others accountable for their actions. Others believes it is a form of censorship. The truth probably lies between these extremes.
Colin Kaepernick and Black Lives Matter
It is difficult to pinpoint when the cancel culture got started. I believe it first came on the scene when former S.F. 49er quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, kneeled during the playing of the national anthem. Critics claim athletes should stick to their sport and not speak out on social or political issues. Others believes athletes should use their position to influence others to adopt of promote one point of view or another.
Thinking back now on this incident, most Americans are more accepting of what Kaepernick did, yet he has not been able to get another job as a quarterback even though he led the 49ers to a Super Bowl.
One reason Americans are more accepting is several incidents that have occurred since then that spawned the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Social injustices have reared its ugly head and have been manifested in the murder of Black Americans. Considering what has happened, Americans feel more justified in cancelling someone whose views do not conform to this “woke” crowd.
The cancel culture is here to stay. It will continue to manifest itself in divisive actions that amount to our inability to dialogue with others with whom we disagree. Social media is partly to blame as the anonymity of postings on social media provides cover for those who use it to vent their anger. The fact is most would not engage in such behaviors if they were discussing a matter face-to-face where different points of view should be openly discussed, and a consensus reached on matters of contention.
Posted by Dr. Steven Mintz, The Ethics Sage, on June 2, 2021. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/ethicssage.