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Ric Flair & Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changin' (Cancel Culture Part 6)

Written By: Anton Sawyer

Through the destruction of many careers (both number of attempts and successes), it seems that the Cancel Culture subsect of the Social Justice Warrior movement has finally found something that sticks—blatant sexual misconduct/assault. It's important to note that while you'll find I don't disagree with the moral viewpoint of the SJWs in either of the cases presented below; it's more about watching them trample over so many personal liberties and freedoms throughout the years to force a moral agenda that's terrifying.

It's this level of aggression shown by cancel culture, along with the wide-reaching potential outcomes of the cases written about here, that prompted me to break down the recently brought-to-light wrongdoings of some beloved pop-culture icons to their core. By analyzing these facts, it can help prevent them from being warped or distorted to fit someone's end. With how strongly I feel that both cases are going to change the landscape in the way sexual assault legalities are handled going forward in the sphere of the American lexicon, the facts are key.


In an attempt to maintain complete transparency, all research and statistical fact-checking for this article, and all articles, can be found at our site's bibliography linked here.

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Like most Americans, I loathe the thought of being told by others what is “right,” “wrong,” or “morally correct” based solely on another's perceptions. But a situation where someone is dehumanizing another person through sexual atrocities is something I have always believed should be recognized and stopped. Also, whenever broaching the topic of sexual assault, I try to make it clear that I detest victim shaming. It’s something I refuse to engage in and want to make it clear that none of this piece today is an attempt to put any blame on any victims. With that groundwork being crystalized, it's time to delve into these recent cases involving sexual assault/misconduct. Each is incredibly different in its own way, and it’s because of these differences that I think each is deserving of its own observation.

The first involves Hall Of Famer, Bob Dylan.

A 2021 lawsuit alleges that Dylan, the Nobel-winning folk singer-songwriter, plied a 12-year-old girl with drugs and alcohol before sexually abusing her in 1965. The lawsuit alleges that he “befriended and established an emotional connection with the plaintiff,” identified in Manhattan supreme court papers only as “JC” and groomed her over the course of six weeks in April and May 1965. The suit, filed on behalf of JC, now a 68-year-old woman living in Greenwich, Connecticut, alleges that Dylan, then 23 or 24 years old, “exploited his status as a musician by grooming JC to gain her trust and to obtain control over her as part of his plan to sexually molest and abuse” her. The suit also alleges that Dylan abused the plaintiff multiple times, with some incidents taking place at the famed Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan. According to the complaint, the emotional effects of the abuse on JC included depression, humiliation, and anxiety that “are of a permanent and lasting natures and have incapacitated plaintiff from attending her regular activities.”

Though the many who support ruthless cancel culture tactics are typically doing so to financially decimate someone as a means of punishment for their transgressions, that isn't going to happen here. Given that in 2020 Dylan sold his entire music catalog to Universal Music for $300 million, the 80-year-old will probably never have to fear the financial collapse usually reserved for those who are younger and in the same situation.

When money can't be taken, then punishment can be an incredible substitute.

Though different states have different statutes of limitations when it comes to rape and sexual misconduct, I was initially surprised that this suit was allowed to go to trial, given the number of interim decades. That’s when I found out about New York State’s Child Victims Act. A program within the act called the “lookback window,” allowed for adults who were time-barred from filing a civil suit for sex crimes that happened when they were a child to file that suit years or even decades later. Running from August 2019 through August 2021, more than 7,300 cases were filed (according to a tally from a spokesperson with the New York State Unified Court System). Though it was assumed that the main reason for the act was to hold the Catholic Church and Diocese in New York accountable for years of covering up abuse allegations, it seemed there were other, positive side effects.

Though many survivors thought their time had passed, this opening allowed more than 1,700 alleged perpetrators to face justice. Because of the success of such a wide net being cast, New York State is also trying to push through legislation called the “Adult Survivors Act.” It would have created a look-back window similar to the Child Victims Act, but for those who were sexually abused as adults and are time-barred from filing civil suits. It passed the Senate in 2021 but did not get a vote in the State Assembly. With this overlap, suits like the one involving Dylan have also been mixed into the fold.

The main takeaway from this trial going forward comes in the form of the judiciary of various states trying to fix legal loopholes which prevented victims from coming forward due to the expiration of the statute of limitations. This kind of precedent is going to be interesting to watch over the next few years. If this kind of retroactive legislation were to catch on favorably, we could see a nationwide surge of cases like the Dylan's. Consequently, we would also see many "American heroes" from the past in a much, much different light.

I think that’s why this Dylan case has been under the radar—from both the mass media and cancel culture perspectives. After the first few days of the news breaking, the Twitter and online rage kind of piddled out and things have been left alone outside of the courtroom for the most part. Dylan never had a reputation for being a sexually aggressive person, and that lack of historical evidence is a big factor as to why I think the SJWs have left this one alone. Make no mistake, the outcome of this case and the potential state laws which could allow for time-elapsed assaults to be given new life will have more of a mentally profound impact on the future of the level of aggression I'd mentioned before to be brought about by cancel culture than anything else. Well, in a legal sense anyway.

So what happens when a person has a known history of being a womanizer? When someone has a history of sexualization that has been documented in a million different ways in a million different outlets?

Enter Ric "Nature Boy" Flair and “The Plane Ride From Hell.”

Ric Flair
Yagobo79, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

If you haven’t kept up with this story, let’s turn back the hands of time to 2002. To quickly recap, several WWE wrestlers were on a private, chartered flight. Many of these wrestlers had too much to drink, did too many drugs, and got completely out of control. From literal brawling in the cabin to pranks ranging from mostly harmless to dastardly, it was like being filled with a locker room of children; 300-pound children.

The specific event that has taken over the news cycle comes from an accusation made by a flight attendant who was on the plane that fateful day, and how she was cornered in the galley by a full frontal-nude Ric Flair, who then made her touch his penis.

I’ve followed this story pretty closely for one main reason: my wrestling fandom between the ages of 10 and 16. I haven’t been in any kind of active “fandom” of sports entertainment for many years, but given the fact that hundreds of wrestling podcasts have appeared over the last decade with almost all of them detailing the years I was a fan, I have heard a plethora of stories involving the romantic escapades of Flair from first-hand accounts. It was because of this in-depth knowledge of mine that I was surprised the backlash against Flair was even occurring in the first place. I’ve known that Flair was a womanizer from the first time I watched him cut a promo at age 11.

Beyond that, there are so many stories of Flair’s antics through the years available for all to hear. The tales which have had the most impact/impression are from former Midnight Express manager Jim Cornette, who worked with Flair for many years in the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA). His tales stick out mainly because as couth as he can be with his verbiage, he will not sugar-coat something horrible, and will tell you references with as much subtlety as a chainsaw. There are a hundred lines I could put here that have come out of the mouth of Cornette when it comes to the adventures of Flair, but I would have to say that the line “Ric Flair was the judge of a queefing contest once,” is all that needs to be said.

It was this line of “the devil you know” thinking that came out as the first response the “Nature Boy” gave when the career-crippling Dark Side Of The Ring episode premiered. His statement reads, “My issues have been well documented over my 40+ year career. The impact of drinking too much (which nearly killed me 5 years ago) has been told time and time and time again. The reason Rory (or anyone else for that matter) never heard stories of me forcing myself on ANYONE is simple: it never happened.”

Flair learned quickly that doubling down on your innocence (especially given the heart-wrenching story told by the victim and how what Flair had done helped to wreck her marriage and life in general), is not the response the masses wanted. The backlash was incredibly swift. Within a few days, Flair lost millions in advertising/WWE merchandise revenue. WWE has also removed any video of him in their TV opening montages. Though Flair was reported to be given a very lucrative contract by the company called All Elite Wrestling (AEW), it seems that has fallen through as well. A day after the original statement was released, Flair released a second one. This second statement had a much different tone than the original. "To clarify, the 'helicopter' [where Flair would swing his penis in a circle] as it was called, is accurate. I wish I could blame it on youth, but it was a case of drinking too much and being inappropriate and I apologize for that (and have countless times over the years). I made some bad decisions during dark periods in my life, and it is something I’ve spent a significant part of years I was given by the doctors in 2017 trying to make right. I condemn sexual assault in any way, shape or form. I could (and have) written books (as have others) that have covered my transgressions. I’ve made some terrible decisions, but I’ve never forced myself on anyone in any way. Period.”

Flair is right about one thing. To a wrestling fan, The Plane Ride From Hell is a story that has been told/heard ad nauseum online. It’s completely ingrained in the mythos of professional wrestling and is a story not likely to retire—especially after the success of the Dark Side of the Ring episode.

So, what made this show allow for such different results?

The victim.

I’d heard the story a hundred times before, and it never … “connected” I guess. Watching her expressions, her re-telling of the events, her voice. It added a human element to it that was missing previously. And that’s what cancel culture has nestled their targets on: those who have sinned and the ability of their victims to garner sympathy on a large scale.

Emotionally, I am completely on the fence if any tactics use by the SJWs will be ultimately positive. Yes, victims need to be heard and their stories need to have a resonance in order for change to be implemented. Yes, we need more stories like this to garner a more humanized element to get a complete emotional understanding in helping to prevent these horrific actions from happening in the future. Do I absolutely agree that certain laws should be changed to help keep those with power accountable for these horrific travesties? Yes. The main concern I have is in the fact that the SJWs tend to take their victories and push them to the extreme. They are a group that epitomizes the phrase “give an inch, take a mile.” It would not be surprising in the least if they took the most beneficial outcome from either of these events written about here and run with them to places that have no proper ground in American society. You know, the society which values various freedoms over feelings.


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Check out the other articles in the Cancel Culture Series


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