We live in a time full of distrust, disunity, and chaos; that seems to be something upon which everyone can agree. With truth becoming muddled with fiction at a seemingly unending rate, it is no wonder people are interested in cutting off the voices of lies. On the surface, wiping liars and cheats from the earth seems like a great thing, especially in places such as social media, where mischaracterizations and exaggerations only scratch the surface of daily routine. However, as history has shown us, taking it upon ourselves to determine who's careers should be terminated never ends well.
For the sake of clarity, I will refer to the attacking of someone's career over what they say as "canceling." While the terminology of canceling is new, the action is nowhere close.
The late Rush Limbaugh was never afraid to voice his opinions, an action that was no different when he worked as an NFL analyst. During that time, the NFL was in the introductory phase of its new diversity program, with the Rooney Rule just being introduced and quarterbacks such as Michael Vick and Donovan McNabb taking the spotlight. In 2003, McNabb, who at the time was being pushed as the future of the NFL, was having a particularly rough season, of which Limbaugh took notice. On this basis, Limbaugh called into question whether or not McNabb was actually a good quarterback, making it clear that, in his opinion, McNabb was getting special treatment from the media due to the color of his skin. For his remarks, link, Limbaugh was blackballed and forced to resign from his analyst position.
A more recent example of this treatment is the story of Gina Carano. On February 10, 2021, Disney fired the former MMA star from her role as Cara Dune in the hit series, The Mandalorian. The entertainment giant reportedly canned Carano over multiple social media posts culminating in the actress reposting a comparison between neighbors turning against Jews in the holocaust to today's political environment, link.
On the surface, both of these instances are starkly similar. Both involve opinionated speech, both involve race-related topics, and both involve the finality of careers. There is, however, one significant difference between the two instances; the influence of the collective. In the case of Gina Carano, most of the push for her firing did not come from a board room; rather, it came from angry "fans" on social media.
Regardless of what you think about either of these two influencers, it is impossible to deny the danger there is in silencing opinions, even those that are universally opposed. To be clear, there is no federal law regarding firing an individual for expressing their opinion, and in at-will states, your protections go down even further. At the same time, however, there is also no recognized law regarding "hate speech." With this in mind, the ultimate conclusion to be drawn is that it is the company's right to determine who to hire or fire in pursuit of its own interests.
With the company's role established, it is imperative to examine the other part of this ordeal. While yes, it is good to call people out on social media in a constructive way, there is zero rationale behind targeting an individual's career or harassing them with useless argumentation. Going around and calling people you have never even met "pigs," "homophobes," "racists," "libtards," and every other highly creative name in the book is never going to do any good for anyone. Yes, the person you are "canceling" may get fired, de-platformed, or otherwise, but at what cost? At the absolute best you've created a martyr and fueled opposition to what you had to say. Sure, you might feel great about yourself for a time, but gunning down everyone you disagree with has consequences; may they be through hypocrisy, lies, or otherwise.
The moral of the story is this; there is a time and place to stand in opposition to something, especially in terms of boycotting, but "canceling" someone is never the answer. If you don't like someone, don't like them; if someone says something racist, voice your concerns with respect. We live in one of the largest nations in the world with a vast amount of cultures to match. With those cultures come different traditions, livelihoods, and beliefs. This idea seems to be recognized by most people, but only when it serves their interests. When faced with opinions they disagree with, it seems most people would sooner pitch a fit than actually confront the situation. In the end, it is nobody's job to be the word police; all it brings is distrust, disunity, and chaos.