Cancel Culture has claimed another trophy on the flimsiest of arguments. Star Wars: The Mandalorian star, Gina Carano, has been fired from her job of playing a soldier in a far, far away fictional universe, because she expressed an opinion (while not on the job) that has been diagnosed as immoral by her former employer, The Walt Disney Company.
That is, in a Twitter post, Carano captioned a gruesome historical photo with commentary that:
“Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors… even children. :(”
Then she added in quotation marks [which I take to mean she’s quoting someone else as she says]:
“Because history is edited, most people don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”
Now, you might argue that this parallel is simplistic, and that holocaust comparisons in general are overwrought and perhaps even insensitive (I, myself, found Carano’s use of an unhappy face emoji to be rather crass), but clearly, by making the genocide the villain of her analogy, Carano is positioning herself as anti-holocaust.
As far as I can infer from her subsequent comments, she’s arguing that we should be careful of dehumanizing our neighbours just because they disagree with us, because history has proven that dehumanization can lead to catastrophic results.
Yet somehow, the leaders of Cancel Culture were able to take this pro-tolerance, “love thy neighbour”-style argument, and gaslight Disney into viewing it as anti-Semitic. Thus the corporation said on the day they released Ms. Carano from their employ:
“Her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
How in Disney’s digitized brain can they possibly interpret Carano’s neighbours-before-haters argument as denigrating of any cultural group?
This baffling reinterpretation of an individual’s argument so as to have them removed from their job is (once again) evidence that there is no limit to Cancel Culture’s appetite to control our public (and private) conversation by threatening our livelihoods if we don’t follow its demands.
My personal moral position on Cancel Culture is straightforward. If you say something with which I disagree, I may dislike you; I may even publically criticize you for it. However, I submit that it is unethical for any employer to punish us for our outside-of-work opinions (or non-work-related behaviours). Otherwise, we will find ourselves living in a corporation state where our employers can tell us not only what to do at work, but also after work. If that sounds okay to you because you think that employers are generally pretty good judges of morality and would only ever excommunicate us for extreme ideas or actions, I ask you to double check your findings.
Please consider that the Cancel Culture Hall of Shame features a long history of various mainstream morality police going wild with such powers (from religious persecutions, to witch trials, to policing of sexuality, to McCarthyism). Even if our present day employers would prefer not to overstep their purview, they are in constant threat of being hounded by a small group of self-appointed social media officers who are in charge of outrage at Cancel Culture Central. It is a digital mob that is scaring corporations into firing their employees for wrongthink. And that unnerves me more than any individual’s dumb or even abhorrent arguments ever could.
When any opinion—no matter how extreme—can make one unfit for employment, then all opinions are in danger because—as we saw in Gina Carano’s post—with the right filter, even the most love-thy-neighbourly of sentiments can be reframed as hateful.