Cancel culture has gone too far


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Image via Creative Commons that depicts text that states something is “cancelled”

Any citizen of the United States who keeps in touch with the media centered around pop culture, is bound to have an opinion on cancel culture. Cancel culture centers the act of ostracizing or banishing an individual or group based upon a mistake they made that does not reflect progressive ideals. In doing so, this person will trend on social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook where they will be publicly shamed to the extent where they risk ruining the entirety of their career and public reputation.

Political correctness has gone too far. This is not to say that cancel culture should be eradicated from society completely, but while it used to have a positive and moral intent, it is now an unforgiving and brutal strategy to target an individual in an unforgiving manner, oftentimes when there is a personal motivation. Cancel culture is the modern form of social banishment as it focuses on defamation and destroying the entire livelihood of an individual for a single mistake.

Many are under the impression that posting things about others in an attempt to cancel them is protected under the first amendment right to freedom of speech. However, what people do not understand is the three exceptions to this clause of the Constitution. These three exceptions include obscenity, fighting words and defamation. Of these three deviations, it is important to recognize defamation. Defamation is defined as the action of damaging the good reputation of someone also known as slander or libel.

A good portion of cases investigating political correctness could be defended by defamation if the cases were taken to court. In cases where people are trying to cancel others for instances that do not actually exist or occurrences that have been misinterpreted or blown out of proportion and they have been communicated to a third party, this is an example where justice can be served to the individual attempting to cancel the other.

This exists in the infamous case between American actress Amber Heard and actor Johnny Depp. Depp sued Heard for defamation as she had accused him of domestic violence and it was published in a news article. This is an example of Heard attempting to cancel Depp for personal motivation, ruining his career and public reputation. The lengthy trial that was blowing up all over social media and news networks is a perfect example of moderating political correctness going too far considering all the accusations were proven to be false.

In addition to analyzing the Constitution, the extremity that cancel culture has gone is immoral because of how it destroys the livelihood of an individual for one mistake, often one that took place decades prior. Eric Schwer, the winner of the recent Bachelorette season was canceled and called out for doing blackface. The image in which he was caught doing blackface was from his Bernards High School yearbook in 2011. Like many others, Schwer was not doing this in a malicious nature whatsoever. He was dressing up for “Night of the Stars” as Jimi Hendrix, and “at the time it was nothing more than me portraying [his] love for the singer.”

Of course, today, there is no excuse for blackface, it is racist and inexcusable. However, this event took place over a decade ago where there wasn’t the same level of awareness or social bounds regarding political correctness. Schwer was a kid at the time who was subjected to shows such as Saturday Night Live where this was done in almost every episode.

Undoubtedly, people should be held accountable and punished for their actions that are offensive to other communities. In 2022, there is no excuse for racist, misogynistic, or homophobic attacks on others. However, we must also recognize that mistakes are a part of humanity and we must allow people room to grow and become better people. Cancel culture does the opposite of this in many cases and therefore it is clear that political correctness has gone too far.