Cancel culture is a problem even if its victim is in the wrong

Social media is often poisonous. The proof of that is the proliferation of offensive tweets, Facebook posts, or TikTok videos — as well as the push to cancel others for having the wrong opinion. The reactions to Queen Elizabeth II’s death serve as a perfect example of this phenomenon.

When the queen died on Sept. 8 at the age of 96, reactions were both heartwarming and hateful. Some went too far, including professor Uju Anya of Carnegie Mellon University. In a now-deleted tweet , Anya said, “I heard the chief monarch of a thieving raping genocidal empire is finally dying. May her pain be excruciating.” Thousands, including
Jeff Bezos
quickly criticized her objective cruelty. Anya was proud of her statements and didn’t back down .

In response, Carnegie Mellon University issued a statement saying, in part, “We do not condone the offensive and objectionable messages posted by Uju Anya today on her personal social media account.” On Twitter, Anya
she wouldn’t be fired and pointed to her employer’s support of freedom of expression. As unfair as it may seem to the memory of Elizabeth and those who loved her, Carnegie Mellon had every right to extend criticism but not to terminate Anya’s employment.

Freedom of speech is a powerful privilege. It allows for expression of ideas and feelings that others may find to be deeply wrong. But in the case of employee and employer, the latter has the final word. The decision to fire or verbally punish Anya was solely the university’s. It doesn’t require a stamp of approval from those she offended — or from her supporters. Some in her camp even believe the university didn’t support her enough. There is no way to make everyone happy.

That the mob so often directs its attention toward people on the Right is no reason to support the mob when the tables turn. Media, corporate, and academic sectors are usually fully immersed in leftism. But waiting on others to do the right thing while stooping to their level is no way to change culture. Both sides need to practice a different approach, one that is the complete opposite of what occurs during fleeting, dopamine-fueled online battles.

Anya recently appeared on a podcast and stated, “I said what I f***ing said.” She may never feel remorse for her words. But it’s not the job of a social media audience to get justice for those hurt by her savagery . The same can and should be applied when people are taken aback by the words of Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh, Joe Rogan, Stephen Colbert, or even your average Twitter user with little reach.

Cancel culture is a nasty side effect of this technological age. Conservatives, so often the subject of these virtual assaults, should be the ones who battle against them by taking the morally superior road.

An online world inhabited by those who seek real-life retribution because of opinions, even deeply egregious ones, is simply unsustainable. And this applies to all situations, whether it’s Left versus Right, or Right versus Left. If the tendency not just to condemn but to punish others is not reined in, each one of us will be on the chopping block. It’s really just a matter of time.

Kimberly Ross (
) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog and a columnist at Arc Digital.

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