The absurdity of the debate over cancel culture became evident a few weeks ago after the Kentucky Derby-winning horse was discovered to have been doped. In defense of his horse, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert claimed to be a victim of “cancel culture.”
Now, how cancel culture is relevant to this situation is truly beyond me. If I understand cancel culture correctly, it seems to argue that liberal elites are silencing conservative voices they disagree with, seemingly in violation of the spirit of the First Amendment. In the case of Medina Spirit’s failed drug test, there is no speech at issue. The horse failed a drug test; he was not a conservative commentator making controversial statements. Those liberal elites running horse racing are imposing the cancellation of . . . Wait, what?!
The point being that “cancel culture” seems to have become a meaningless phrase aimed at excusing the inexcusable.
What’s even more telling is the silence of cancel culture opponents in the wake of the University of North Carolina refusing to grant tenure to acclaimed journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. After all, Hannah-Jones is a Pulitzer-Prize winner and the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship “Genius Grant.” The faculty and administrators of the university and the department uniformly supported her tenure application. And yet, the university’s board of trustees refused to award her this recognition of her scholarship. Her crime? Apparently conservative activists were angry over her leading role in leading The 1619 Project for The New York Times, a journalistic effort to reckon with America’s history of slavery.