ROBINET: Countering cancel culture

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I have written hundreds, if not thousands of opinion columns over the years and in that time I’ve managed to offend some people.

I’m not here to apologize for that.

As human beings, it’s not only our right, but in some cases, it’s our obligation to voice our opinions and while we should expect our opinions to be respected, we certainly cannot expect them to be embraced.

I’ve been doing this off and on since the 1980s (‘cause I’m old), and in all of that time, only one column was ever rejected by the powers that be.

It had something to do with LGBT rights, and one of the owner/publishers of the newspaper was a man whose religious beliefs would not allow him to approve said column.

But, he did give me an opportunity to rewrite the piece, which I turned down, because, hey, I had my principles too!

So the world was denied what I’m sure was a gripping piece of prose designed to advance the cause of LGBT rights everywhere, or at least in the little town in which I was working at the time.

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By now you’re probably wondering, geez, what happened next?

Well, the answer is simple. Nothing.

Of course, if that was to happen in today’s toxically politically correct environment, that would not have been the end of the story.

I would take to social media to publish ‘THE COLUMN THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO SEE!’ then named ‘em and shamed ‘em with the ultimate, virtuous goal of ‘making them do the right thing.’

And then, in an attempt to prove his ‘wokeness,’ the publisher, now realizing the error of his ways and trying to head off every potential horror that could be coming towards him, would publish a gigantic ‘mea culpa.’ It would be filled with hyperbolic excuses for his huge transgression and a vow never to stand in the way of human advancement again.

And now, boys and girls, let’s bring the spotlight back to me, the injured party.

Having received the apology, which I believe with all my heart to be sincere, because after all, who doesn’t want to be as enlightened as I am, can I continue to work at this place which has so ravaged me, both in mind and in spirit.

I pour out my angst to the internet and the internet responds with the kind of love that only the internet can:

My social media feed is blowing up with support: #IstandWithKaren, #notYourTypicalKaren, #ColumnAsYouSeeEm and so on.

I feel good. I feel validated.

I also feel that I just can’t keep working in this soul-crushing environment, so armed with all the conviction of my beliefs, I tender my resignation on principle.

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The internet goes wild and turns on the perpetrator.

It’s not enough that the publisher has apologized – the internet and by extension, the world, demands more.

Ads are pulled, subscriptions are cancelled, the newspaper is shuttered and the good townspeople never need to worry about being offended, or informed, again.

Of course, with the closure of the newspaper comes the disappearance of all the stories that had been living online, and the microfiched and old bound editions of the paper are chucked in the bins, save one or two that are snatched up as souvenirs by the workmen, sorry, workpeople.

Naturally, I will never work at another newspaper again, but knowing that I have #StuckItToTheMan gives me a warm feeling that a cupboard full of groceries never could.

As for the publisher, I do feel a little badly that all those years of good were undone by one error in judgement, but for the love of all that is appropriate and inoffensive, this is 2021 people!

Just in case you’re wondering, this week’s column is my little way of saying I think we’re now at the point when political correctness has gone too far.

We’re so busy erasing history that we’re not learning from it, and we’re so focused on not offending that we’re not really benefiting from the diversity of all of the people around us.

Recently, CBC cancelled the second season of an Indigenous TV series called Trickster.

Normally, when shows are cancelled, it comes down to lack of revenue or viewership, but apparently that’s not the case here.

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Rather, it happened because co-creator Michelle Latimer claimed to have an Indigenous heritage, but in actual fact, she did not.

Now, maybe this revelation was a convenient opportunity for CBC to walk away, or maybe not, but at the end of the day, it’s unfortunate that fans and potential future fans of the show will not have an opportunity to enjoy a show that celebrates a demographic already underrepresented in the media.

If you ask me, we all need to slow down and take a breath.

There is much that needs changing in our world, but positive and lasting change takes a deft hand, not a heavy one.

Stay well and keep shining my friends!

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