Culture

How Do We Decide Who Gets ‘Canceled?’

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Last week, I made the case that canceling Roseanne Barr’s show after her racist remarks was the right sort of poetic justice. She’d used her free speech to say something vile, the free market had responded with disgust, and ABC had booted her before she’d even had the chance to tweet her (now deleted) apology. It was, I wrote: “Exactly what our society needs: Humans forced to evolve and think deeper about how they treat one another, not as a result of legislation, but as a result of society’s own arc toward respecting dignity for all and how that arc affects the businesses we patronize.”

And yet… Barr isn’t the only famous person saying/tweeting regrettable things lately. She’s not even the only famous person to do so in the past few days. Samatha Bee apologized last Thursday for calling Ivanka Trump a “feckless c**t” on Full Frontal.. With Barr’s firing fresh, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and President Trump were quick to call for TBS to fire Bee, something the network seemed not at all inclined to do. The late-night host and the network both tweeted apologies and that was the end of it.

Meanwhile on June 1, just after midnight, Kanye West dropped Ye — a seven-song album that brought back his soulful roots and (for some) seemed to completely obliterate the ill will he created the month before by vouching for President Trump, suggesting that slavery was a choice, and wearing a MAGA hat (a decision which is questionable from his position as a style-icon, aside from everything else).

This all begs a whole score of questions: Why Barr and not Bee? Why do we give Kanye a pass and not offer Roseanne the chance to counteract her vitriol with creative output? Why does it always seem to be “different” when someone who liberals support screws up?

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