PC outrage could finally tip the scales against culture cancellation


Like a dying sitcom jumping the proverbial shark, the culture’s cancellation movement plunges into a humiliating depth of inanity. Over the weekend, a video emerged of a person called Frederick Joseph, a regular practitioner of “man-on-the-street editing,” showing a confrontation with a white woman named Emma Sarley.

Sarley reportedly told Joseph, who is black, to “go back to [his] hoodie. “Or at least that’s what he says. She doesn’t say it on the video.

Familiar smashes ensued: Social media crowds gathered and Sarley was quickly fired from her job. But what happened next was a little different.

Joseph and Sarley boss, tech company CEO Derek Andersen, did not receive a warm welcome for his trigger pull. Instead, a whole different social media movement has emerged, rightly speaking out against the cruelty and absurdity of Sarley’s plight.

And it wasn’t just the usual free speech crowd. Even Nikole Hannah-Jones, project manager for The New York Times 1619, who might find racism in a Pop Tarts box, tweeted, ” That does not suit me. “

Frederick Joseph posted the video of his meeting with Emma Sarley on social media.

Part of what made this example of a viral video leading to the dismissal so infuriating was how overtly staged and intentional it was.

It’s not just that Joseph has done this before and has a book he’s selling on the street – the whole exchange feels like a Netflix version of an organic interaction. Additionally, Joseph said in the days following the incident that he was traumatized. There is nothing in the video that even seems vaguely traumatic to a sane person without an agenda.

But there was more. Almost immediately, identity-political conflicts of interest arose. Andersen himself has a history of risky tweets, including using an insult against people with Down syndrome. And do we really trust he wasn’t lying about what Sarley said?

The lesson here is that we have to stop with the culture cancellation nonsense. Just because almost every moment of our lives is being filmed doesn’t mean that unelected hordes of social media users should be judges and parties, let alone HR managers, regarding the lives of ordinary people. This is madness.

Nikole hannah jones
Nikole Hannah-Jones posted a response to Joseph’s Twitter video and said the situation seemed unpleasant to him.
Monica Schipper / Getty Images for the Tribeca Film Festival

Joesph says he’s not sorry Sarley was fired, that people have to face the consequences of racism. Presumably, he thinks we should all take the tour, camera in hand, ready to spot bad behavior, like a crowdfunding social credit system. But the American people are showing obvious signs of fatigue with the endless cycle of false outrage. If nothing else, it’s exhausting.

Part of what makes viral videos like these grab attention is the underlying premise that the exchanges represent a rare glimpse into the ongoing phenomenon of American racism. We are supposed to believe that horrible racists lurk around every corner in the guise of normal everyday Americans.

Sarley wasn’t caught on camera doing anything that should get her fired, even from a distance, but that wasn’t the point. The goal was to make her an avatar of a racist nation, where white women perpetuate white supremacy, and white men whip black bodies on horseback across the border.

But, of course, these are fictions.

The hope today, and not a distant one, is that Americans will finally see it all. And what’s more, many no longer seem to be intimidated into staying silent about it for fear of being called bad names. Ultimately, this is how things like canceling culture are themselves canceled, or at least faded into the past. People just stop believing it.

Emma Sarley was fired from her job after the video went viral.
Emma Sarley was fired from her job after the video went viral.

The American people are almost there; those like Andersen who run companies must catch up. He should hire Sarley again, even if she still wants to work for him.

But more importantly, companies need to know that there are also consequences to inflicting unfair consequences on their employees.

If that starts to happen, this unfortunate incident will have moved us in the right direction to end the culture of cancellation.

Twitter: @BlueBoxDave

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