First of all…
In 2002, Rush Limbaugh’s puss-bucket, Bill O’Reilly, successfully used his platform on Fox News to pressure Pepsi to cancel their business relationship with legendary Atlanta rapper Ludacris and pull every single one of its ads that featured him from the airwaves. It took one day.
“I’m calling for all responsible Americans to fight back and punish Pepsi for using a man who degrades women, who encourages substance abuse, and does all the things that hurt particularly the poor in our society,” he said on The O’Reilly Factor.
And just like that, Bill O’Reilly invented cancel culture.
I’m joking—it would be ridiculous for me to blame O’Reilly for the advent of cancel culture. I mean, it is true that he and every other conservative finger-wag enthusiasts in America who threatened boycotts or publicly protested in favor of banishing NWA and 2 Live Crew from TV, radio and the face of White Jesus’ red, white and blue Earth were engaged in the very practice of cancel culture that they now decry and condemn. It would be absolutely correct to say that they were the OG snowflakes who could’ve simply changed the channel if they were offended but instead decided that if they didn’t like a thing then no one else should be free to enjoy it. It might even be accurate to say that they wanted rap music canceled for reasons they thought were morally righteous and put them on the right side of history.
But none of that makes Bill O’Reilly personally responsible for the creation of cancel culture—first because he’s hardly a pioneer of conservative snowflake-dom, and second because MOTHERFUCKER, FOR THE LAST TIME, CANCEL CULTURE ISN’T REAL!
I bring O’Reilly up for two reasons: First, because I’ll never pass on an opportunity to point out the hypocrisy of a man pretending to give a shit about the degrading of women while having sexual harassment and domestic abuse allegations coming out of his ears and hanging onto the white pubic hairs growing out of the side of his face. Secondly, and more to the point, O’Reilly demonstrated that even if cancel culture exists—which it doesn’t—it’s a thing conservative America only cares about now that it tends to find itself on the receiving end of it.
What exactly do these people think happened to the careers of The Chicks (formerly known as The Dixie Chicks) and Kathy Griffin? What the fuck do these fake-ass cancel culture-haters think they were engaging in when they were beating the shit out of Keurigs they already paid for because the coffee maker company pulled its ads from Sean Hannity’s show on the same Fox News that O’Reilly used to yank Luda ads from Pepsi?
Let’s talk about when they tried and miserably failed at boycotting Nike over the sportswear giant’s support of Colin Kaepernick. (Again, burning their shoes like Nike didn’t already have their money.) Oh shit, and don’t get me started on Kap.
You would think Kaepernick’s NFL career came to a grinding halt because, during the national anthem, he hopped up on a folding chair, kicked over a Gatorade keg and started reciting all the lyrics to NWA’s “Fuck Tha Police” through a bullhorn. Instead, half the country got their star-spangled thongs bunched up their asses over a single athlete engaging in silent and completely non-intrusive protest on behalf of Black lives during a song that, frankly, doesn’t even slap. (O’Reilly wouldn’t like it, but I wouldn’t be mad if “The Star-Spangled Banner” was replaced with Luda’s “Move Bitch.”) Just think of all the controversy over athletes kneeling across the globe that could have been avoided if conservative white people possessed the will to mind their damn business and enjoy the game.
The fact that these are mostly examples of cancel culture fails doesn’t change the fact that the act of “canceling” is an act conservative America is well-accustomed to.
But now these counter-cancel-culture-crusaders are so wrapped up in their own persecution complexes that they’re exposing their disingenuousness by crying “cancel culture” when it clearly doesn’t apply, even if it were real—which it’s not.
This brings us to the embarrassing saga of senseless butthurt that was the Dr. Seuss non-troversy.
Dr. Seuss Enterprises made a completely unilateral decision to discontinue six books from publication due to racist imagery. Nobody asked for this. I promise you that On Beyond Zebra! was on the radar of zero anti-racism activists. No one is holding up “defund The Cat’s Quizzer” signs at a protest. As The Root’s Joe Jurado wrote, “had they not released a statement and just quietly removed the books from shelves, I guarantee you conservatives wouldn’t have noticed.”
Oh, but they sure did notice.
It’s not like Seuss cancelation propaganda was only believed by Republican rubes sitting in their doublewide campers with “stop the steal” tattooed on their chests while clutching their pearls and their Roseanne DVD box sets. Fox News pundits and GOP lawmakers went on entire anti-cancel culture campaigns over the estate’s decision to literally mind its own business.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was debating voting rights on the House floor when he said with his entire hollow-ass chest: “First, they outlaw Dr. Seuss and now they want to tell us what to say.” WHO THE FUCK OUTLAWED ANYTHING?
When Dr. Seuss books started selling out on Amazon amid the pretend scandal, because even fake controversy sells, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) celebrated the thing nobody smart cared about by gloating to President Joe Biden on Twitter over something the Biden administration had fuck all to do with.
To put that another way: Cancel culture derangement had Cruz thinking he was sticking it to Biden while gloating over the boost in profits for the company that was actually responsible for the decision Cruz and idiots like him are salty about in the first place.
To be completely fair, hard-right conservatives aren’t the only ones losing their blubber-baby-ass shit over a figment of their delusional imaginations. Superstar comedians like Dave Chappelle (who I admittedly still find hilarious), Bill Burr (who I also love), Kevin Hart (meh) and Jerry Seinfeld (I mean, his show was cool) have all spent the last handful of years lamenting cancel culture as the ruination of standup comedy—all while being paid millions of dollars to perform the very jokes they claim they’re not being allowed to perform. It’s almost as if they’re just a bunch of whiny rich men who have mistaken their right to say whatever they want on stage for a right to dictate how their work is received and responded to.
ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel declared on his show that the fictitious canceling of Dr. Seuss—along with that of “Mr. Potato Head’s private parts”—is “how Trump gets reelected,” because, like Cruz, Kimmel has somehow convinced himself that Dr. Seuss Enterprises has become America’s fourth branch of government.
Bill Maher—who I’m almost ashamed to admit I was a fan of before I realized what an Islamophobic, old fogey curmudgeon he is—has been using his Real Time With Bill Maher HBO platform to rail against cancel culture since before it was even a coined term. (Which reminds me: Someday, we need to talk about how words like “canceled” and “woke” came out of AAVE before colonizers gentrified the fuck out of them and have now flipped them into narratives that position themselves as victims of marginalization and cultural bias. Why can’t we cancel whiteness?)
Speaking of Maher, at one point, he had ex-New York Times writer Bari Weiss on his show for some cancel culture bitch-o-thon panel discussion, so I’ll talk about her insufferably white ass next.
Weiss—who essentially said she quit the Times because her trash-ass opinions “made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views”—unironically published upwards of 2000 words worth of her bitching about being silenced in an op-ed titled “The Self-Silencing Majority.”
In this pathetic display of what can only be described as a flagrant flaunting of white people problems, Weiss blames cancel culture for why a majority of Americans feel a need to “self-censor” in order to hold onto their jobs.
Here is some of my response:
Self-censorship is a new thing?
Somebody please tell Rosa Park-your-white-ass-down-somewhere that Black people have been code-switching out of our natural speech patterns and pretending we don’t have opinions for fucking ever in order to keep our jobs, and that THINGS DON’T SUDDENLY BECOME THINGS JUST BECAUSE WHITE PEOPLE LIKE YOUR KAREN COLUMBUS-ASS IS JUST DISCOVERING THEM!
Before I started writing for The Root, I had never—in my 41 years of life—had a job that didn’t force me to shrink myself in order to maintain employment. Weiss can cry me a river of white tears to wash my balls in.
Recently, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) sent a letter to House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), requesting a hearing to “address the scourge of cancel culture” in the U.S.
To put that another way: A MOTHER FUCKING LAWMAKER WANTS AN OFFICIAL HEARING TO SEE WHAT CAN LEGALLY BE DONE ABOUT NONEXISTENT CANCEL CULTURE!
This is a level of unmitigated caucasity one could only expect from a party that took the Republican PornHub Live event known as CPAC 2021 and gave it the moniker “America Uncanceled.” Still, Jordan’s fuck-headedness does bring me to my final point.
Let’s just say for the sake of a stupid-ass argument that cancel culture is real—Which. It. Is. Not. What do people propose to do about it that wouldn’t undeniably infringe on someone’s rights?
It’s clear that a lot of people have the First Amendment fucked up and they think it protects them from the social ramifications of expressing trash-ass opinions. Clearly, these people love their country but know little about how its constitution works.
The gag is that the largely fictitious thing they call cancel culture is actually the result of everyone exercising their rights. Public figures and others have the right to be loud and wrong and express their knee-jerk-ass contrarian views. Social media users also have the freedom of speech (and freedom of peaceful assembly for that matter) to call for boycotts, firings and all other manners of cancellation techniques. Businesses also have the right to handle business in ways that prioritize the preservation of their brands by axing employees who might have a negative effect on their bottom lines. (I’m looking at you, ex-The Mandalorian actress Gina Carano.) In any other context, conservatives would stand behind a business’s right to make these decisions. (Or, I don’t know, maybe the business needs to deny gay people cake or whatever.)
So the question is this: In order to cancel cancel culture, whose rights are you wanting to strip away? Someone must be silenced in order to stop the silencing of the clearly non-silenced—so who’s it going to be? Who’s freedom of expression are you looking to, well, cancel?