Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Real "Cancel Culture" Harms Real People

In yet another spectacular display of incompetent leadership, democrats in the U.S. have allowed republicans to define “cancel culture” as a series of trivial matters in the marketplace, while those same republicans initiate and enact legislation that represents true cancellation of human rights. The electorate should be intolerant of this, and act accordingly.


The world is not going to fall to pieces because we have fewer Dr. Seuss books. In fact, the decision to discontinue printing some of those titles was made by the publisher, not driven by democrats or any other political entity. Socially responsible corporations are a rare thing these days, and should be applauded and rewarded.

Compliments also to toy manufacturer Hasbro for re-branding Mr. Potato Head as Potato Head in recognition of the reality of non-binary people and transgendered persons. These landmark decisions, without interference from politicians, without threats of litigation, and in the face of potential consumer backlash, represent bravery and compassion. Could we only say the same for our elected officials.

No, at the state level, legislatures and governors are waging war against the most vulnerable and underrepresented citizens, actively encouraging continued discrimination, violence, and poverty. It is utterly transparent that the measures being taken constitute a power grab, or a means of perpetuating toxic power. White, cis, straight, patriarchal supremacy (“white supremacy” fails to convey the full scope of this paranoid, colonial mindset) no longer bothers to cloak itself in the flimsiest of disguises.

In Georgia, new legislation aims to not only make voting more difficult, but a downright punishing exercise for anyone but conservative whites. One highly-publicized initiative would make it illegal to serve water or food to voters standing in line awaiting their turn to cast a ballot. Gerrymandering, reduction in the number of polling places, and restrictions on mail-in ballots are already crippling minority populations in their ability to exercise their right to representation.

Similar voter suppression laws are pending in forty-two (42) other states. This would appear to be an abuse of Article I of the Constitution that gives states the right to oversee federal elections, not to mention flagrant violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Cancel culture is very real in these instances. Republicans are trying to cancel your voting rights, pure and simple.

Meanwhile, in Arkansas, the governor signed a bill that prohibits medical professionals from providing care to transgender minors. Considering the suicide and attempted suicide rates of youths who identify as non-binary, or as different from the sex they were assigned at birth, this bill can be considered a death sentence. It also violates the hypocritic oath to “first, do no harm.” Harm is exactly what such legislation does. It is an attempt to literally cancel someone’s identity, to erase them from existence in the legal sense.

Cancel culture. Real cancel culture is colonialism, slavery, failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, red-lining, gentrification, cultural appropriation, immigrant detention, a less-than-living wage, student loan debt, the examples given in previous paragraphs. Please, feel free to add to the list. It is appalling, intolerable, and worthy of revolution.

It seems apparent that we cannot rely on even “blue” allies to stand up for the most vulnerable among us. Fine. Let us unleash our creative energies. Take to social media. Meme the hell out of this on Facebook with examples of real cancel culture. Hashtag the crap out of this on Twitter. Instagram this until that is all anybody sees. Overwhelm everything until we have justice.

We can also reward truly inclusive businesses. Donate what you can to organizations standing up for BIPOC, LGBTQ+, and other vulnerable demographics. Buy Potato Head for every toddler you know. Read them Dr. Seuss.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

Armed, Angry, Male, and White

By now you have no doubt tired of worn-out arguments for and against increased control over accessibility to firearms. I will spare you those in the wake of the latest mass shooting events in Boulder, Colorado and Atlanta, Georgia. This is a complicated, tangled issue, but it boils down to a pattern of dysfunctional upbringing in a societal sense.

White males in the United States are reared by a collective culture that constantly pits them against everyone else. The implication of white, cis, straight male superiority is so pervasive and subtle that it is almost never questioned. When groups representing different demographics begin asserting the same rights enjoyed by white men, they are framed as threatening, demanding “special rights” that would somehow usurp the rights of others.

Immigrants are taking “your” jobs, we are told. A black man would not have been promoted were it not for affirmative action. A woman’s place is in the home. These statements, these terribly destructive traditions, stubbornly endure and color the perspective of white male experience and expectation. Your economic success, your place as the head of household, your entire self-worth are yours for the taking, even at the expense of others.

We have been utterly convincing in our indoctrination of white male youths in their birthright of superiority, but have failed absolutely in providing coping strategies when they are inevitably defeated in their attempts to achieve their “destinies.” American men are horrible at dealing with intangible pain. Many of us are instilled with the idea that in order for others to understand our (internal) heartbreak, humiliation, and suffering, we must (externally) inflict physical pain on others. This is how domestic violence happens. This is how mass shootings happen.

What we lack in providing healthy, introspective, mindful solutions to disappointment and frustration, we more than make up for in products of violence, from political rhetoric to automatic weapons. Products are seldom the solution to any problem, but they are critical to economic engines, so are not only tolerated but actively encouraged. Let me repeat: externalizing your internal pain is currently acceptable, even if it kills or maims other people in the process. This is the message being sent loud and clear, on an infinite loop.

Who benefits from broadcasting such vitriol? Those with even more white privilege than you enjoy. We have allowed ourselves to be divided by an excessively privileged minority that knows it cannot endure if the illusion of differences between everyone else evaporates. As long as we are blaming the “other” demographic category, we are ignoring the man behind the curtain, to borrow from The Wizard of Oz.

A just society requires the exact opposite of what the United States has espoused throughout its history of colonization, slavery, racism, oppression, and suppression. Individual success is not dependent upon the defeat of everyone else. Indeed, our definition of success has been strictly material since….forever.

How do we end violence? How do we finally unite? We must immediately reject, erase, and rescind every message purporting the superiority and entitlement of white males. The irony is that in the sacrifice of false supremacy, we will all gain materially, have a greater sense of self-esteem, and lose the stress inherent in artificially propping up a worthless model of what it means to be a white male.

Yes, we need sensible regulation of firearms in this country, but we must demand more of ourselves as white males in accountability for violence of any sort. We must learn appropriate behaviors for expressing emotional and intangible pain instead of externalizing it inappropriately. No, we have not been taught how to do that. It can be our legacy to figure that out. Our non-white brothers can help us get there if we let them. Our gay brothers, too, and our wives, our sisters. Listen to them.