August 17, 2019-
I read, this morning, about Sarah Silverman’s having had a role canceled, by a director who was furious that she had done a Blackface skit-sometime in the 1990’s. It turns out that the skit was a parody of someone else doing Blackface, and that it was intended as a cautionary message to people, not to do likewise. Undeterred, the Red Queen of a director maintained the ‘majesty’ of that decision.
We have run amok, with the notion that an offense, however real or imagined, is sufficient to remove a person from one’s social circle, employment or from society itself, for that matter. Criticizing a move by the Israeli government, apparently makes one an anti-Semite (never mind that Arabs, who usually end up wearing that label, are themselves Semites, as are, of course, Jews). Having a discourse with one’s political or philosophical opposites makes one “dangerous to society” (I’ve seen this behaviour from both the political Right and Left.) Now, comes the film-making community, with the search, flashlight in hand, for ANYTHING in a performer’s past that violates a narrow code of acceptable conduct.
People, rightfully, note signs and behaviours of late, that remind them of pre-World War II Germany and Italy. These do need to be called out. Case in point: A person driving a truck into a crowd of protesters is NOT exercising his rights, under the law. At the very least, he is acting as a vigilante, At worst, he is committing an act of domestic terror.
Dismissing those, with whom we disagree, from the realm of existence, though. is a slippery slope. We have a prime example of this: The French Revolution. It was a far more complicated mess, of course, but the dehumanization of those who are of opposite persuasions almost always ends with the opposite of what was originally intended.
So, I think of my present life. There are two people who have verbally threatened me, over the past three years. I have taken steps to ensure they are of no further consequence in my life- but they are certainly free to live their own lives, without my hectoring or interference. I disagree, strongly, with several people on certain issues. To carry on and try to deprive them of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness would be ludicrous.
We go on, and hopefully will do two things: 1. Carefully review and verify any report of a public outrage (i.e. the false report of people dousing a reporter with quick-drying cement, in Portland, several weeks ago). 2. Remind self that, in a world created by a Higher Power, one’s own likes and dislikes do not necessarily need to be indulged by the Universe.
Cancellation is always an option, and it comes with a price.