Whenever a beast gets let out of the cage, it's always fun to see the creator running around doing damage control for their creation. This is where the generation known as the Baby Boomers (those born between 1945-1965) currently find themselves in regards to the uprising of Cancel Culture (CC). The boomers created it ... hell, they PERFECTED it for decades. Now, it has become a much larger of a movement than they anticipated and has been taken completely out of their hands; but with upcoming legislation in Kentucky, they are definitely trying to reassert the stranglehold on CC like they once enjoyed.
Written By: Anton Sawyer
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First off, I want to make it clear that when Cancel Culture began, it was a completely bi-partisan issue. Yes, the conservative boomers had been rallying against rock music and immorality on TV and in the movies for years. One of my favorite early instances of CC was in the 1960s when they tried to ban The Munsters TV show because Herman and Lily slept in the same bed—even though they were married with a child.
The CC movement really gained speed in the 1980s when former Second Lady, Democrat Tipper Gore, built the censorship group called the Parent's Music Resource Center (or PMRC). Both liberal and conservative voices joined in a chorus to try to stop music with objectionable content from reaching the ears of all children. Though they weren't able to censor the art completely, they were able to implement the "Parental Advisory: Explicit Content" sticker on such materials.
To give you an idea of how misguided this attempt was, one of the very first albums to receive the warning was Frank Zappa's "Jazz From Hell." Keep in mind, this album is completely instrumental music. There were other societal elements that both sides attacked with vigor—Dungeons and Dragons being the other media mainstay in the 80s—yet eventually, the DNC realized that censorship wasn't the best way to go about dealing with these societal ills. After the 1980s, the Democrats backed off a little bit (though not completely) on trying to censor art, but the GOP had other plans. They kept up with as much zeal as possible. During the 1990s the more conservative boomers wanted to get rid of Marilyn Manson, Eminem, and Body Count to name a few artists. They felt that the music these artists were creating was going to ultimately be the downfall of our civilized society. It's because of everything they had done through the years to try and stop anything they didn't agree with on a moral level that caused a massive tidal wave of responses when Fox News recently asked Generation X (those born between 1965 and 1981) to help stop the CC machine which had impacted Mr. Potato Head and Dr. Seuss classics. Of course, Gen X did what they are known for: nothing.
Generation X is probably the worst group of people to ask for help from. Unless it is an issue that is going to immediately and DIRECTLY impact the individual, they can't be bothered to get off the couch and do anything. It's this lazy, selfish, and nihilistic attitude that has come to be almost interchangeable with those from Gen X. Whenever something happens in a social media sense, they always respond with the notion that they aren't going to do anything other than watch. Off-topic a little, but this is the exact reason why so many injustices are able to flourish in our nation today. Gen X saw the crash of Reaganomics, they experienced first hand the notion of going to college and getting a degree and it leaving you with nothing but a piece of paper and a mountain of debt. They did nothing but watch. No major protests for minimum wage increases, no movements to keep those in power accountable, nope, just millions of people saying "meh."
Reading the responses on Twitter and other social media outlets, this is the exact response being given to the boomers now. Gen Xers coming out of the woodwork just to make it known that they don't care and aren't going to do anything about it. As much as I've complained about their inaction, in this regard it's this lack of action that is the correct response. Boomers have to realize that Cancel Culture was in fact started by them in the 20th century. They are the ones who set up the blueprint to allow anyone with a sense of moral correctness to push that morality onto everyone. However, the one thing conservatives are good at is misdirection. Right now they are utilizing CC and the Dr. Seuss controversy as a smoke-screen in an attempt to push an agenda that would cancel freedom of speech by allowing cops to not only harm someone badly for what they say but also give the victim a Class B misdemeanor to boot; Republican state Senator Danny Carroll of Kentucky and his Senate Bill (SB) 211.
With any bill, there are a lot of bits and pieces to this one, but the one element that sticks out the most is the fact that SB 211 would make it a crime to provoke an officer verbally to the point it could provoke a violent response. Though Carroll said "insulting an officer is not going to cause anyone to go to jail," his bill states a person is guilty of disorderly conduct—a Class B misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 90 days imprisonment—if he or she "accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by gestures or other physical contact, that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person." The bill passed by a 22-11 vote.
What this essentially means is this: let's say there's a peaceful protest going on. Lots of yelling, but no violence. If one of those protestors calls a cop a name or verbally harasses him, then the cop could hit that person, and then give them a Class B misdemeanor using the defense of, "Clearly the person broke the law, and me having to beat them is the proof that they antagonized me." A recent Courier-Journal review of data showed that there are elements of systemic racism in regards to arrests. Louisville Metro Police recorded 871 protest-related arrests—including 252 with at least one felony charge—between May 29 and Sept. 28, 2020. The black population made up 53% of the total arrests and 69% of arrests with a felony. Given the racial disparities in the arrest records, adding legal police brutality to the mix is only going to exacerbate the racial tensions already present. I would like to say that this law is going to impact every citizen who is actively involved in protests, but given the numbers above, it's going to cause even deeper racial divisions.
Similar to the Utah legislation drafted called the "Roadway Obstruction Amendment" which could allow someone to legally murder someone during a riot, it seems SB 211 is a popular one amongst their conservative constituents and could become state law in Kentucky. Again, we could look at this and say "well, I live in [state] so it won't impact me." It may not at this time, but like with the Tea Party movement, if something becomes popular enough among a large enough group of people, it could definitely spread to a nationwide plight. These are both laws that need to be watched closely; neither one of them will benefit any city or state's citizens and is just going to further perpetuate the "us versus them" mentality.
Towards their base, the GOP is being brilliant. They have everyone focused on the societal issues of Dr. Seuss and the gender-fluid Mr. Potato Head when they speak of Cancel Culture. They are trying to present a world in which anyone who is a leftist wants to shake the very core of what we are as a nation and using these examples to stoke fear and hatred. All the while they are working behind the scenes to enact CC ideologies on a much grander, and much more violent, scale.
I always believed that Cancel Culture is Cancel Culture. Whether pertaining to society or legal precedent, if a group of individuals tries to force what they see as moral on the populace as a whole through the removal of that which is offensive to them, it doesn't matter whether they have a letter R or a letter D after their name.
Maybe it's just me? Maybe I'm the one who doesn't "get it." But to me, I would much rather worry about if my Potato Head figure is wearing a mustache with a purse, over worrying if I utilize my First Amendment right of freedom to protest that I'm going to get beaten by an officer and then charged with a misdemeanor as well. Trust me, if you think Cancel Culture is just something done by Social Justice Warriors to help save the feelings of marginalized groups, you're lying to yourself.
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