Cancel Culture: What Exactly Is This Thing?



"You're talking a lot, but you're not saying anything"


It whips ass that all the MAGA chuds are Kaepernick stans now. Poor Colin, victim of cancel culture.


Ah, cancel culture, formerly known as CONSEQUENCES


“Call-outs began as a utopian ideal, a way of extracting justice and change without cops or courts.”

Most of us don’t equate “utopia” with “mob rule,” but you’ve done a great service in noting (albeit back-handedly) how cancel culture began as abject moral and ethical failure. It didn’t begin well and then rot later.


Apparently Dave Meinert got the keys to the Mecca today.


seems like a significant omission to reference bari in this piece without noting she tried to get professors critical of israel fired (“canceled”) when she was at columbia


other glaring omissions: colin kaepernick, the dixie chicks


Ugh. How many times are you going to write this same article? Is this the 8th time? 9th? I'm still waiting for you to own up to being wrong about Andy Ngo's shitty behavior that you were so happy to ignore in order to paint him the victim. Also, it seems petty to bring up an ex-Stranger writer who quit writing for the paper after your terrible trans articles started coming out. As someone who's worked for the paper since 1991, I can say you're the worst thing that's ever come out of it. I can't wait until you quit/get fired.


looks like i missed the dixie chicks ref, but no mention of kaepernick is still pretty wild!


Not to get bogged down from the larger point, but I think it's important to note that Shane Gillis wasn't "telling anti-Asian and anti-gay jokes", he was having a casual podcast conversation. Trying out an possibly offensive bit is one thing, casually talking about hating [epithet] for five minutes is another entirely.


The anti-cancel set has overextended the term to the point that it’s meaningless. Literally any criticism is called canceling now. Not sure what these people are thinking by being so cavalier with something they believe to be so serious.


“Cancel culture is inevitably a self-canceling proposition.”

no it’s not. There is not enough bandwidth in the world for everyone to be canceled were it even possible for everyone to say something dumb enough to warrant it.

@9 that would gum up the hypothesis that canceling only works when it comes from your own team


@8: Your venting appears to be off topic.


I knew if I read the article I'd see the author, at some point, ride her favorite hobby horse of hating on trans women. The author has trouble it seems writing articles without getting all TERFy at some point in it.


14 yeah there was a lot more to that woman being banned from twitter than just misgendering a transwoman once, ironically enough i know this from a previous stranger article that also tried to minimize her offenses


Great article and analysis. Thank you, Katie.

Cancel culture seems so predictable in our increasingly tribal world. People, more than ever, assume the worst of other; that intentions are based on bigotry or hatred. That is not a recipe for reconciliation and peace. We would all do well to better incorporate Hanlon's Razor into our assumptions about others' motivations, and the steps we should take to promote understanding.

"Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity."

If we did, the drive would be toward education, not retaliation.


Does this have something to do with the stickers on Denny


Thanks, Katie. We need to hear more of this.


@14 imagine riding for Yaniv or anyone else for no other reason that agreeing on the nature of gender identity.


I like Inspector Clouseau's approach


I'm not one for reactionary outrage mobs of any kind but isn't it amazing how the free market fetishists get all panty pooping and self righteous when the market suddenly decides it doesn't want to buy them a platform to be a dipshit racist or homophobe.


@8 The Stranger needs to write a script that auto subtitles each of these whiney grudge pieces of Katie's "The Internet Was Really Mean to ME That One Time: Part XXX" and then auto-assigns a sequential number to them.

This one is "The Internet Was Really Mean to ME That One Time: Part 12". It's the only way we can tell the difference between them when they inevitably get sent to us on social media by our racist uncles.


@22 I bet you believe in the concept that comedy should only punch up, never down.


“... Bill Maher (a man who is seemingly immune from being canceled, even after he was literally canceled by ABC)...”

He makes too much money for his employers.

@5: Meinert is immune to cancellation for the same reason Maher is, but since Meinert is self-employed, he has no boss for the cancel-crowd to threaten.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy also met his downfall when he stopped smearing the vulnerable, and foolishly took on persons who could — and did — effectively fight back. I suspect cancel-culture will grind to a halt after making that mistake one too many times.



It's little whiny baby men who can't cope with the fact that it's going to be 2020, not 1950, next year, and who all need to man up.

The Climate Change waits for noone.


@23 I bet you laugh uproariously at videos where kittens and puppies get put in meat grinders.


No "-ism" is perfect, and no one is reducible to an "-ist." Stay honest and empathetic, accept life's full complexity, and don't fear orthodoxy's disapproval, even if that comes with ostracism. Better dogmatists' rejection than loss of self-respect because of approval-seeking and phoniness. And you'll be on firm ground, ready to address detailed issues, not simply the terms of courteous conversation. Now, there's climate change, Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, China/tariffs, Middle East peace, homelessness and mental illness and crime--and let discussion be more in the spirit of "listen and learn" than "us versus them."


Good article, KH; thank you. Much of the 'Cancel Culture' are latter-day Robespierres, enjoying their little power trips. It rarely happens, but it's always fun when these same would be 'avengers' get hoisted on their own petards.


You should get out more


Good lord. I wonder if Herzog realizes who her ardent fans are. The sad menagerie of loser, racists, trolls and their infinite sock puppets. Tells you all you need to know about her “message,” really. Dogs. Fleas. Etc. Etc.


@32 More than half of Howard Stern's listeners tuned in because they hated him.


Of *course * the comments to this article would be vicious and lame.

Great article, Katie.


The longer the purges go on the fewer left media figures are going to go on record raising even the most tentative objections to them.


@32: You don't like the article, that's fine. But why do you take offense when others have a different opinion of it than you do?


Cancel culture huh?
Glorified censorship across the board so as to feel powerful in powerless times. Finding scapegoats, innocent and guilty, to point the finger at and destroy to feel safe and progressive as a society. It is a small fix fuelled by a frustratingly big dumb problem:
Not being able to get that President guy!
Never getting to canceling that guy after so much he has done. it becomes sooo frustrating that certain individuals want it sooo bad they weaponize shaming and going after others, some of which are innocent.
Sooo now there is a new term created, a fucking "cancel culture" a feel good process to make people think they are getting something done and making society better, at any cost.

It is a culture of people thinking they are doing right using a large "cancel culture" scythe!
It is called witch hunting.
I am sure there are bad people in the world that have been so called "canceled" making everyone feel fucking great and safe but the many that have been innocently caught up in this manic reboot of witch hunting clearly point out how flawed having the power to do this is.
Personally I have no problem with people having different opinions. I also have no problem with people running the gauntlet and coming through the other end changed and understanding they were wrong and having the chance to move on. But never forgiving someone that should have had the chance to change so that the uncontrolled "cancel culture" collective gets a feel good moment is one of the many flawed problems with having instant power in the flawed culture of social media.


Cancel culture is a thing? I've been officially turned off from Roseanne Barr ever since she proudly announced her rabid support for Donald Jackass Trump. I'm so glad I don't have a TeeVee anymore.


@31 spunkbutter: His MAGA cap is on too tight.
@32 ProfessorHistory: I know, right? I'm surprised muffy hasn't posted yet. I was sure she'd have been first.


If you rubes want Herzog to stop writing the same article, stop clicking on it and leaving 40+ comments every damn time to show off how virtuous you are.

But you can't help yourselves, can you?


Anyone remember the Dixie Chicks? Remember they were at a concert in London and said they were ashamed that George Bush was a Texan? The right-leaning folks freaked the fuck out. People burned albums ala Kapernick Nikes. Radio stations refused to play their music. I think it backfired though, because it introduced the Dixie Chicks to an audience that may not otherwise have liked them, plus they came out with that follow-up album 'Taking the Long Way' which was awesome.


Surely it's cancellation; the accent is on a later syllable. But I suppose it's better than putting two Ls in canceled.


@36- please try to keep up. No one is allowed to have a different opinion and not be ridiculed for it.


Well, Katie "What's Neoliberalism" TERFzog, writing the same article over and over again is certainly proving to be a reliable income stream for you.