Let’s talk about canceling. If you’re not sure what canceling is, allow me to explain. Canceling is the act of punishing an individual by reducing their social capital while shaming them and harassing them into either social exile or “apologizing and changing their behavior”. If you’re a person on the internet, it’s likely that you’ve participated in canceling before. After all, canceling has had its uses before.
Canceling is supposed to be a tool that’s supposed to be used in cases where an individual who doesn’t possess much social capital is abused/ violated by someone with a lot of it. In other words, it’s supposed to even the playing field. If a minority is being attacked by some racist, the victim announces their plight and a group comes to take their claim seriously while stopping that individual from doing the same to others, in theory. However, what happens far more often nowadays, is that an individual does thing A that is problematic or disliked by community B, and because of it, they must be canceled because once thing A is done, we can no longer accept that individual. They are no longer a person who can belong or change. They are to be excommunicated from the community and never to be referenced again except to remind people what happens when you’re human and make a really bad mistake.
However, the worst offenses occur with accusations of sexual abuse are made. To give some background, for victims of sexual abuse, canceling was the closest to validation that one could get to social justice in most cases because the system doesn’t treat rape as a serious crime. The most popular example being how police take burglaries seriously by investigating them, but rape isn’t immediately investigated. So, having the person publicly called out for their behavior and shunned from specific places was and is how canceling helped victims. However, now canceling is being utilized by wannabe vigilantes who use it to police the community and keep it “safe” from abusers and those that would “defend” or “sympathize” with them.
If you’re a Leftist reading this and thinking that this is what an authoritarian oligarchy looks like, you’d be correct, because essentially that’s what these individuals are doing sans guns and money. Instead these individuals work in terms or morality and social capital. These individuals listen to a victim and immediately believe the victim’s claim without investigating the claim and then proceed to enact punishment upon the accused. In cases where there is evidence of abuse, it’s considered more acceptable to proceed, but increasingly it’s becoming more common to take hearsay as gospel. And when I say hearsay, I mean that while you may have an initial canceling group operating on information straight from the victim, another group, that hasn’t had contact with the initial source and has no idea what’s going on, proceeds to board the canceling train and heap even more punishment upon the accused.
My problem with this is that the act of punishing another individual involves a power dynamic that makes me feel uncomfortable when thinking about, and this became increasingly clear to me after watching Mexie, AngieSpeaks, and Peter Coffin’s videos about the Left and our problem with cancel culture and policing. To enact punishment is to endow one’s self or another with the authority to force our own will against another person with the intention of correcting their behavior. To do such is to indicate that that person has lesser value than the person who is doing so. To do so, is to take away some of their rights. This brought me to the conclusion that canceling is a mobile prison in which a group of people bring it upon themselves to determine what is just and unjust.
I say this based upon the fact that canceling is supposed to only affect and target the accuser, but recently it’s come to be used on the accusers and anyone who is remotely connected to them. This tool that was intended to help people lacking a voice regain some power from their abuser, it’s now being used to exile people who don’t conform to their brand of justice. After all, a lot of people aren’t comfortable with harassing another individual based on what some stranger on the internet says that their friend told them how shitty this individual was. Some people aren’t interested in being involved period. And as a victim of abuse who’s helped other victims of abuse cope, it’s understandable that an individual wouldn’t want to get involved, especially if there’s no concrete proof outside of my word against my abuser. I do however expect that individual would take my claim seriously and treat my abuser with some wariness because someone who could injure another human being in such a way will likely strike again and we should be made aware that they’ve been accused.
But canceling is no longer a viable tool anymore. I have no doubt that it will still be used, but it can’t be the only tool in our belt for handling abuse within the Leftist community. We need to be able to confront an abuser and make them know that they’ve been put on notice. If they continue their behavior or have shown that they’re irredeemable and without any hope for change, only then should we collectively exile that person from our space. Should they change, we stay wary and they have to earn our trust. If they don’t, they don’t. That’s the end of it. In addition to that, I believe that not all of their contributions should be trashed or abandoned just because they weren’t a good representative of the ideology. After all, the point of this is to stop abuse, not to control people.
And hell, I could be wrong for believing this, but honestly, I feel like the left hasn’t been looking for ways to handle these types of situations. My idea isn’t perfect and I doubt I’m the only individual who’s thought of it, but dammit I’m talking about it now and we need to do better. There are possible victims who are suffering and innocent people getting harassed because we can’t get our shit together. Let’s get the bread, guys.