A pencil eraser erases a word off of a piece of paper

Being a Christian In a Cancel Culture

  • By: Scott Stein, Shawn Walker
  • Oct 07, 2022
    • Listen on:

“You’re cancelled!” 

This isn’t a phrase that many people would ever use. But most people understand what it means, either because they’ve participated in the act of cancelling, or they themselves have been cancelled. Either way, cancel culture has become part of our everyday social consciousness and experience. But what exactly do we mean by “cancel culture”?

The Cambridge dictionary defines cancel culture as “a way of behaving in a society or group, especially on social media, in which it is common to completely reject and stop supporting someone because they have said or done something that offends you.”

But expressing disapproval or calling people out for bad behaviour is nothing new. So, what’s changed? What’s happening in our culture to make us recognize there’s something different about us; something so different that we’ve needed to give it the name “cancel culture”?

In this, the first episode in our Cancel Culture Series, Shawn and Scott look at and analyse the effects of cancel culture evident in our world. Listen as they identify some of the key characteristics of cancel culture that show it to be a new and troubling societal trend. And as they point out where Christians should be vigilant against falling into some of the thinking and spirit behind cancel culture that stand against the way of Jesus.

Transcript

Shawn (00:00): 

Welcome to another Prepared Answer podcast. My name is Shawn Walker and I'm joined by Scott Stein. How are you, Scott? 

Scott (00:07): 

Hello, Shawn. Good to see you. 

Shawn (00:09): 

Yes, we are on camera. We have left the blanket fort. We are in separate locations yet still in the same town. And so if you're listening to us on podcasts, on Spotify, on our website, on iTunes, we'd encourage you if you want to actually see us—I don’t know if you do–but if you do, I’d encourage you to go to youtube/preparedtoanswer, and you will find our podcast on there. 

Scott (00:37): 

This is a huge risk, that the people who have been tuning into our podcast—letting them actually see us in person—that’s a risk. I hope it is not a disappointment. 

Shawn (00:51): 

They may be going back to the podcast. 

Scott (00:54): 

Yes, “No! Back to audio only, please.” 

Shawn (00:57): 

Exactly. 

Scott (00:58): 

Anyway, we'll do our best. 

Shawn (00:59): 

Oh, yes. Yeah. And for those that do stick with us on video, you might see changes as we go and refine. As we started a podcast, we also refined as we went to try to make it more… I don't know if enjoyable is the right word… but palatable. 

Scott (01:18): 

As with anything, you improve with practice, so. This is the first kick at video, and we just hope it'll get better from here. 

Shawn (01:26): 

Yeah, exactly. So I'm excited, Scott, we're starting a new series. We have finished the Deconstruction Series, and for those that might not have listened to it, we'd encourage you to go back again. You can find it on preparedtoanswer.org or as we had mentioned, Spotify and iTunes. But we'd encourage you to go back and listen to that series. We had some good feedback on the topics that we discussed, and if you are or know someone that may be in the process of de-converting or going through deconversion, we really encourage you to check out that series. But our new series starting off is on Cancel Culture. 

Scott (02:05): 

Yeah, we're broadly putting it all under the title or the category of our Cancel Culture Series. For today, we're actually just gonna talk about the subject of being a Christian in a cancel culture, but also using cancel culture as a bit of a broader umbrella over the next number of episodes, just to talk about some of the issues related to the cultural shift we're experiencing, Shawn. Some people use the term progressive or woke culture, things along that line. A lot of subjects fall under, I think, that whole umbrella… whether it's related to critical theory or issues of justice and things like that. So we're gonna have a lot of conversations that will fall under this umbrella. But today we do want to just specifically talk about being a Christian in a cancel culture. We want to look at some of the experiential realities that we are running into today that we describe as being canceled or being part of or seeing cancel culture at work. So that's what we want to dig into today, Shawn. 

Shawn (03:14): 

You know what, Scott, maybe we'll start with—and this is interesting—I was at a conference last week and we kind of had a breakout time that we could talk amongst ourselves, and for one reason or another we got on the topic. So we're podcasting from Ontario, Canada. I was in Toronto. We're talking about a university in Toronto that had recently changed its name. And the reason for the change in name was that the university was named after a fellow that had started the public school system in Ontario, but had also been a part of the residential school system as well. 

Scott (03:53): 

Who was that? 

Shawn (03:55): 

Edgar Ryerson. 

Scott (03:57): 

Ryerson University. 

Shawn (03:58): 

Yep. Ryerson University. And so recently, Ryerson University had changed their name to, and I believe it's Metropolitan University now. The reason being because Ryerson had been part of the residential school system, and so they thought best to remove that and change the name. So as we were talking in this group… and this was a conference, it was a Christian conference. As we were talking the group, someone had said, “I've done bad things before. Does that mean my name would ever be removed from things? Or better yet, as Christians, what do we do with that? Because we all do bad things. And so is that fair that they should remove his name from the university? Because maybe there were some things in the past that he shouldn't have done.” And really the question was left open and no one really knew what the answer to that was. As Christians, where do we stand on something like that? 

Scott (05:04): 

Well, I think that's a really relevant, and I guess for you, a personal example of encountering the realities of a cancel culture… where I guess Ryerson, that's maybe a prime example of someone from history. And we see this, it's happening in Canada, certainly happening in the States where figures from history that were at one point celebrated, whether they were founding fathers or recognized as providing a great contribution to our culture in history… But they also maybe had some association or part to play in some things that, now looking back, we see as maybe not so noteworthy or—in some cases—downright wrong behaviors of the past. 

Shawn (05:58): 

Yeah. 

Scott (05:59): 

That’s a whole discussion in itself because of course it's problematic to judge history from our vantage point now, but I think that's a whole other discussion. But it just illustrates—without saying one way or the other whether they should have renamed Ryerson University—it's a great illustration of what we're experiencing as a culture.
But I think that what's interesting to me is I guess the remarks or the conversation you had afterwards with these Christian entrepreneurs wondering what part they should maybe play in it, or whether they might themselves experience canceling in the future, and whether they should be participants… what their view should be on it as Christians. And I think that's a great introduction to what we want to talk about today—is looking at this whole phenomenon of cancel culture, of people being canceled, whether it's historical figures like your example of Ryerson, or whether it's contemporary figures of people. Whether they're public figures, celebrities, or politicians who do something that society now frowns upon as untoward and they're canceled in one way, shape, or form. 

(07:12): 

Or probably the more relevant discussion is for, even for our listeners and certainly for the emerging generation that is so immersed in social media… that this is an ongoing anxiety for many. Not wanting to do anything that would kind of trip the cancel response from the culture for fear of being canceled. And I think there's something to that, which I think just illustrates why this is an important discussion for us as Christians. How do we respond to these things? How do we process them? What part should we or ought we play in this whole phenomenon of cancellation? 

Shawn (07:54): 

Yeah. Yeah. Huge topic, Scott, and that's why we're doing a series on it. This isn't just a one off. I think there's lots of things we need to talk about and work through. 

Scott (08:05): 

Yeah. And I wanna be careful that we're not… our purpose here isn't to try and adjudicate the particular instances of cancellation that are happening in our culture—to say, this should or shouldn't have happened. There may be a place for those discussions, but my interest is more in helping us, as Christians, look at the phenomenon and how do we respond. How do we think about these things biblically, and how do we posture ourselves as believers in a culture that, this is just the way it is. Right or wrong, this is our culture and we have to learn how to live in it and to be salt and light in the midst of it. As well as Paul said in Colossians 2:8, to be sure that we aren't taken captive ourselves by, as Paul says, the hollow and deceptive philosophies that depend upon the traditions of this world… human traditions rather than on Christ. And so that's always our purpose here at Prepared to Answer, is to try and help our listeners to think biblically through a biblical worldview lens, to look at these kinds of issues and how we respond to them. 

Shawn (09:13): 

Right. Great. Okay. Where do we start, Scott? Where do we start? 

Scott (09:17): 

Well, I think an interesting place to start, Shawn, would be just in terms of—you gave one example, but I think just to even get our listeners to think about, generally speaking… when you hear the term cancel culture, what is it that probably jumps most into your mind? 

Shawn (09:37): 

So when someone would talk about cancel culture, immediately, I'm thinking celebrities, Scott. I'm thinking like a Harvey Weinstein, I'm thinking like a Dave Chappelle, Louis CK, things like that where literally they were canceled. That at one point they had something on a show or a business or something, and they were literally canceled. So Dave Chappelle had a show, it was canceled because of something that he said. And so that's what I immediately think of when someone says cancel culture. Right? 

Scott (10:16): 

Yeah. I'd have to say the same thing—probably the more public instances. Although I also think of the impact that it's having even on… maybe not even famous people. There's an instance that comes to my mind, and maybe we'll touch on this in a little bit as we talk about it… During the last provincial election here in Ontario, and I don't know if you remember this or not, Shawn. But there was, in Sault St. Marie, the provincial Liberal party appointed a candidate in the Sault St. Marie riding who was actually an 18-year-old high school student, who just happened to be a very keen, politically interested young man. I guess there were no other candidates. And so he put his name in, and he was appointed as the candidate for that riding. Now, we'll just put aside the fact that he was 18, we won't get into discussing his age and maybe capability to hold an office like that. What was interesting though was that it was on May the 10th, and I remember reading about this, his appointment was announced at about 10 in the morning, and by three o'clock that afternoon, the liberal party announced that it was dropping him as a candidate. And the reason was that someone had surfaced some comments that… I think they described them as something of a racist nature. So a derogatory comment that he'd made in a Minecraft thread, right. As he was playing Minecraft with his buddies when he was 13 years old.  

Shawn (12:00): 

Wow. Right. 

Scott (12:01): 

And he came, spoke to that and said, “It wasn't me, someone was using my profile. I didn't say those things. I don't believe those things to be true. No those aren't the sentiments that I hold,” but nevertheless, he was dropped, he was canceled. 

Shawn (12:21): 

And within hours! 

Scott (12:22): 

That’s right. Within hours. Yeah. And what struck me most is that, as I think about cancel culture, and especially with the emerging generation of young people now, the first generation who have grown up online… Is that the internet keeps your history forever. And now here's a young man who probably had a bright political future. Maybe he was just very skilled and gifted and interested in that field. That door has now been closed to him because of something he said, or didn't say, online in a moment, in a Minecraft thread, when he was 13 years old. And so to me, it's more than just the celebrities. Those are maybe the more popular instances. But to me, that's more of the real life instances that come to mind when I think about cancel culture and its potential impact. 

Shawn (13:22): 

So we can see why it'd be so important for politicians to understand cancel culture. Literally, your career can be over within hours of something like that. But our question is, why would this be important for Christians to think, and maybe not even think, but act carefully and biblically about this cancel culture? Because cancel culture isn't only what we think about it. We can have an opinion about it, but sometimes we can participate in it. Right? 

Scott (13:56): 

Yeah. I think in general, to answer your question, I think there are two aspects that Christians need to think about. And so again, my purpose isn't just to sit here and critique cancel culture. My interest is, as Christians, to think through—this is the culture we find ourselves in. So first of all, to what extent are we participating in it? And, do we have latitude or even a responsibility as Christians to participate in the culture? And also as Christians, we are increasingly becoming the subjects of, or the targets of cancel culture, especially with respect to many of our beliefs and convictions around human identity, human sexuality and things of that nature. Those are very unpopular views in our culture. Views that many would like to see canceled and maybe Christians canceled for holding them. So in such a world, how then do we respond? So to me, it's two sides of the coin. We want to be a salt and light in the world. And so how do we act out in a cancel culture as well as being on the receiving end? How do we respond? We prepare ourselves to respond if we end up being on the receiving end of cancellation because of our faith. 

Shawn (15:15): 

Sure. Yeah. So what is even cancel culture? I mean, we've talked about it and we've talked about what you think it is. I've talked about what I think it is, but maybe we should actually look and see what it actually is. 

Scott (15:30): 

So where I always like to start is just to define what we're talking about. First of all, let's just find a foundation, a base to start from. And so to do that, I actually went to the dictionary. I thought, our dictionary is continually expanding as our society comes up with new terms that have new meanings, and they find their way into the dictionary. 

Shawn (15:53): 

So did you actually take it off your shelf? Was this an actual book on your shelf? 

Scott (15:58): 

No, I don't own a dictionary that's relevant anymore. The only relevant dictionaries are pretty much online anymore. Cause they're constantly changing. So here are two definitions that I pulled, one from the Cambridge dictionary, and the other one was Webster’s. So here's Cambridge Dictionary's definition of cancel culture: “a way of behaving in a society or group, especially on social media, in which it is common to completely reject and stop supporting someone because they have said or done something that offends you.” 

(16:29): 

So now Webster’s is similar, but a little different: “The practice or tendency of engaging in mass canceling (to withdraw one’s support for someone such as a celebrity or something such as a company) publicly. And especially on social media as a way of expressing disapproval and exerting social pressure.” So what I found interesting in both of those definitions, is this whole idea of withdrawing support. And in that sense, that's kind of a very general definition of this phenomenon of canceling, of canceling people. Is that whether it's an organization or a person or a celebrity, they either do or say or express something that we find repugnant, that we find morally untenable or unacceptable. And because of that, we withdraw our support, right? We no longer support that person. If it's a celebrity, we don't watch their movies anymore, we don't go to their movies, we don't listen to their music or whatever. If it's a politician, they lose our vote. If it's a company, we stop shopping there or whatever. But that's kind of a very general, high level definition of cancellation of what it means to cancel something. 

Shawn (17:47): 

Sure. Yeah. What I found interesting too in those definitions is they both included social media. That was actually in the definition. 

Scott (18:00): 

And I think that just speaks to how it's a very current issue. Honestly, in the definition itself, to me that doesn't seem like a really new phenomenon. The idea of withdrawing support. But it's that social media component I think that brings it into the now, of how quickly or how prolifically the cancellation of a person or a company or whatever can take place on social media. It goes out instantly, right. En-mass. 

Shawn (18:38): 

Well, and that was the other word that caught me was “mass.” In the Webster's definition was mass canceling. So “immediate” and “mass,” which can only be done by social media. So you had mentioned these kind of things have been done for time and eternity. Withdrawing support has been a part of human existence. Why is this all of a sudden something that seems like it's different—and possibly that could be it? 

Scott (19:08): 

Well, I think the social media component complicates things because it can happen so quickly. It's almost instant communication, but it's very one way. 

(19:21): 

So, there's no weighing of the variables. No “let's get all the facts straight.” It's just kind of, “Oh, look what came across my Facebook stream.” And instantly we draw conclusions. We're actually gonna touch on that in a couple of minutes, Shawn. As I look at those definitions, they're kind of general definitions. I'm not sure they entirely do justice though, to what it is we're experiencing today. I think in general it's kind of a good general definition. But let me ask you. You saw the social media piece, but do you think that, is it simply that withdrawal of support? I mean, why is that such a problem? If someone does something that's wrong, we withdraw support. Do you think that's doing justice to what we're really experiencing as a culture? 

Shawn (20:17): 

Yeah, and I don't think it is. I, it's even a little more than that. It's almost like this… how do you put it? It's almost like this canceling or withdrawing of support on steroids. We are really going to cancel you. There is no room for, like you said, discussion. There's no room for forgiveness, there's no room for anything. You are done. 

Scott (20:42): 

I think the dictionary definition… I don't feel it captures quite the concern that there should be or that we ought to have about cancel culture. Actually, here was an editorial comment that I found from the editorial board of the New York Times from March of this year. So March— 

Shawn (21:08): 

Sorry Scott, maybe we should just mention that the New York Times is actually on the progressive side of media. For those that don't know, that's what that means. 

Scott (21:18): 

Well, and I bring that up for that very reason that, yeah. 

Scott (21:23): 

Something I try really hard to do… and let me lay my cards on the table. I'm probably politically conservative. I'm certainly socially conservative. I'm a Christian. Yeah, I know—shock. 

(21:39): 

But I really do try hard though, not to just cherry pick voices from media that will happen to agree with my own perspective. I want to be as honest as I can. And so, where I can look to media sources that I don't just necessarily agree with ideologically I try to do that. But this was a comment made by the editorial board of the New York Times on the whole phenomenon of cancel culture. And here's what they wrote: “For all the tolerance and enlightenment that modern society claims,” they say, “We are losing hold of a fundamental right as citizens of a free country, the right to speak their minds and voice their opinions in public without fear of being shamed or shunned.” And I think that's really interesting coming from the New York Times, recognizing that something fundamental has shifted in our culture to make cancel culture something of great concern. Where we're losing something that is just basic to our freedoms as a society, that that's a concern to people around us. And that’s why, again, I think that's why this is an important subject to jump into. 

Shawn (22:53): 

And that's interesting, in that quote what stood out for me was the fear part of it. And so, in the past when there was opposition, like you said, to a political party or something that you didn't like—a celebrity and all that type of stuff—there wasn't that fear component, I don't think in the past. You can disagree with me, but it won't eliminate me, like it almost seems to be now. 

Scott (23:20): 

Yeah. And there are numerous other studies in doing some research for the subject we're talking about. There are a number of recent studies that have come out regarding what's happening in academia. And the number of professors who—when they're being surveyed—they're admitting that they are self-censoring themselves. They're censoring themselves consciously. Not exercising academic freedom for fear of being censored because they hold ideas that are not in line with the… I guess the predominant thought in academia, most of which is ideologically left leaning. So, most of these are academics who would lean ideologically more on a conservative slant, and they are self-censoring out of fear. And it's out of fear. It's out of fear of being censored, losing tenure, losing their jobs, being picketed by student groups or whatever on campus. So, you're right, there's that big fear component. 

Shawn (24:30): 

So Scott, when we look at those definitions and we talk about that notion of cancel culture, but also that in the past we would see that as opposing things. So either boycotting not supporting a political party. I start thinking that Christians have contributed to this, and that's not even centuries ago. We can look at some examples. Even back to 1997, the Southern Baptist Convention boycotting Disney for being too gay friendly. And there was Jerry Falwell, he was boycotting the Teletubbies! 

Scott (25:11):

Because one of their characters he felt had what he called, “gay qualities.” I'm not sure what that meant. But anyway, that was what he said. 

Shawn (25:21): 

For sure. And then even in 2012, the 1 million mom March, no, it wasn't a March… 

Scott (25:30): 

1 Million Moms was the name of the group. Yeah. 

Shawn (25:33): 

So even back in 2012 the 1 Million Moms boycotting JC Penny for having Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson. This appears like cancel culture and Christians are fully behind it. So, should we be doing that? 

Scott (25:54): 

Well, I think if we're being honest, going by the definition, those are examples of canceling. A boycott of companies or individuals or whatever. The debate is, should Christians be involved in boycotts like that, which is a form of canceling. I think we need to probably think about that by maybe making a couple distinctions. I think to answer that question, I think we need to define more, further define what the essence of cancel culture is. It's one thing to say that you are withdrawing support or withholding support from something as a value-based decision. And here's an example, Shawn. Okay. I do not support the lottery industry. I don't buy lottery tickets. And that's not a moral judgment against those who do. That's a moral decision or a conviction that I have. So for me, I don't think that would be an appropriate stewardship of the money God's given me—to buy tickets of chance in order to try it and get really wealthy really quickly. 

(27:18): 

So that's a value-based decision. I withdraw my support, or I don't give my support to the lottery industry. I don't buy their product. It's another thing though, to I guess attempt to force a person or an organization or a company to change their behavior in order to more align with my beliefs by using boycotting as some kind of a, I guess it's really an economic bargaining chip. Really, it's coercion of a form because you're basically saying, “Listen, either you change your behavior, or we will make it economically harmful or not beneficial for you.” 

(28:09): 

It's that second aspect, it's that force component that I feel like as Christians, should give us pause to consider taking part in. Right? I'm not saying it's never appropriate, but… actually it’s interesting, so I went back to Webster's dictionary to look up boycott, which I think we can clearly say is a form of canceling. I think if I went to the big Webster's dictionary on my shelf here and blew the dust off, it probably would have a definition for boycott there. There’s no word about social media in any dictionary I own on my shelf though. But right here is their definition of boycott: “to engage in a concerted refusal to have dealings with a person, store, organization, et cetera. Usually to express disapproval or to force acceptance of certain conditions.” So I don't want to say that it's never appropriate to use that kind of, I guess mass protest or mass expression of disapproval or whatever. I'm not saying it's not ever appropriate. But I think we need to consider that, what essentially we are doing, is we're using a form of nonviolent coercion in order to bring about a change in behavior. And I guess, I paused for a second to think… what is the fundamental difference between violent and nonviolent persuasion? 

 Shawn (29:51): 

Physical. That's it. 

Scott (29:52): 

Yeah. I mean, the obvious is that they're obviously not using physical violence, but they're both still an exercise of power in order to force opponents into compliance. 

Shawn (30:09): 

Here's a question. When we look at scripture, did Christ ever boycott? Was he leading the charge? 

Scott (30:22): 

Yeah, I haven't seen any instances of him boycotting. There was a really great article that I came across in on the Gospel Coalition written by Joe Carter—actually on the issues of boycotting. But that was exactly one of the points he touched on—was nonviolent resistance. And what he pointed out that Jesus’ way was not non-violent resistance. Jesus’ way was non-resistance. I think about what Christ said in Matthew 5. So, here's Jesus, Shawn, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” The thing that jumps out at me is Jesus’ words—“do not resist an evil person”? That just seems to go against the grain of everything we hold dear in the West… of standing up for and fighting for our rights. Right? 

Shawn (31:55): 

Yeah. Right. 

Scott (31:57): 

Yeah. And I mean, I don't want to get into a critique of rights and that it’s not right for us to think about our rights that way. I just think as Christians, we need to realize we dance to a different drum. 

Scott (32:15): 

That the gospel is not the reclamation of classic liberal democracy in the West, which we do see under attack and crumbling. And is that problematic? I think on a number of levels it is. But that was never my worldview to begin with. 

Shawn (32:36): 

No. 

Scott (32:36): 

Did it have some real benefits? Does it have some real benefits? I think I could argue it does, and I could get behind some of it, but that's not my worldview. It doesn't come from my worldview. And then I look to the one I follow and he says, “do not resist an evil person.” And I've had these kinds of conversations with Christians in the past, and the response is kind of like: “What? So, are we supposed to let people walk all over us?” 

Scott (33:05): 

I guess the instinctive response is, well, “No, no, we're not supposed to be doormats.” But then I think about asking that question… Imagine asking that question to Jesus as he's hanging on the cross. “Jesus, what are we supposed to just let people walk all over us?”, as Jesus hangs there having surrendered himself to evil men. Right? 

Shawn (33:38): 

Well, in fact, one of his disciples left him because they didn't feel he was resisting. He wasn't going to be bringing the kingdom the way that we thought it should be, which is through resistance. 

Scott (33:51): 

And now I know that the immediate response from someone's gonna be, well, “So are you saying that we should never resist evil then?” And I don't think that's what I'm saying at all. I'm saying I think we need to be careful of recognizing that things like boycotts, which is a form of canceling—I think we have to see it for what it is. It is nonviolent, but it is an exertion of power to coerce. And I think as Christians that ought to give us pause. I think to a certain degree that does not sound like something we ought to embrace. It certainly doesn't sound like the spirit of Christ when he says, “don't resist an evil person.” I don't think that means then let's just let evil have its way and not say anything. Because I think there are lots of texts we can go to then that do point out the obligation we have to stand up for and protect the rights of the vulnerable. But that's a whole different discussion. 

Shawn (34:49): 

Right? So we've talked about boycotts, which is related to cancel culture. But maybe we can steer it back to cancel culture. And so my question would be, what should be our concern as Christians when it comes to cancel culture? 

Scott (35:09): 

Yeah. Well, I think back to the start of our conversation, we started with a very general definition. And in those definitions, I think we recognized there was something missing of the concerning nature that cancel culture has evoked in our culture today—even among people on all sides of the ideological spectrum, right? From the New York Times to the Washington Post, to everything in between. Those are American papers. So, from the CBC to the National Post and everything in between. How's that for Canadian context? I think what it's missing though is there's a flavor that our cancel culture has taken on that that is very concerning. And there are probably four qualities that I see predominant, that have become very prevalent in our contemporary expressions of cancel culture. And the first is just how rash it seems to be. And I think this goes back to the social media component. 

(36:16): 

So, here's an example, Shawn, from personally, that experience. And it was a couple years ago, but still… on Facebook, a meme I guess, or an image with a quote showed up on my Facebook feed and it was about Hillary Clinton. Now I'll put it right out there. I'm no fan of Hillary Clinton's ,or her politics, or her ideas. She’s not my cup of tea. But the picture was of Hillary Clinton, and it was a quote, and here was the quote: “I believe the primary role of the state is to teach, train, and raise children. Parents have a secondary role. Hillary Clinton, It Takes a Village.” And that's the name of her book. And of course, I looked at that and there were a million comments and it was, “Oh, how dare she, she's a communist,” and all the rest. 

Scott (37:10): 

Again, I'm no fan. But I looked at that and I thought, “Wait a second.” That seems like the kind of thing that if someone actually said it, I would have heard about it by now. Right? So, I don't know why, maybe the Lord was just leading me to be a little more inquisitive than I normally am. Normally I just ignore those things. So I got a copy of her book. 

Shawn (37:33): 

You did? You have a copy of Hillary Clinton’s book? 

Scott (37:35): 

I bought a copy of It Takes a Village on my Kindle. 

Shawn (37:40): 

I was gonna say, you don't have a dictionary on your shelf, but you got Hillary Clinton’s book? 

Scott (37:44): 

I got a copy of her book so I could do a search. I wanted to search for the quote. I couldn't believe it, that she would've said such an audacious thing.  

She didn't.  

So then I wanted do a little more searching. Well, maybe it was the wrong source. So, I looked on the internet… never said it! She never uttered those words. And sure enough, there were a couple of snopes.com and some of those urban legend debunking websites that had this listed. It was as old as the hills in terms of, it's an urban legend that she ever said this. But it was recirculated for good measure. And this just speaks to the rashness, right? A meme comes up by a person you don't like. It fits the narrative that you believe they're an evil person anyway. And so we just rashly… 

Shawn (38:36): 

Yeah. Accept. 

Scott (38:37): 

And condemn them for it. Yeah, accept it. Yeah, of course they said it because they're terrible and we just condemn them and cancel them. 

Shawn (38:46): 

It's interesting, Scott too, that this was on social media, that what you were experiencing was on social media where it was easy to make those comments. All you gotta do is type it in. It's not going to the town square and standing on a box and saying it. It's easy. I can just sit in my room and do that. 

Scott (39:08): 

Yeah. It's easy to make those comments. And to my next point would be regarding the nature of the comments. The next characteristic I've noticed of cancel culture, contemporary cancel culture, is that it's nasty. And I think this is where Christians really need to check themselves, because… I will not ever suggest that I'm innocent of anything, of all these things. I think I have made the same mistakes. I've been rash and said things online in the heat of the moment that I shouldn't have said… we have to watch ourselves though as Christians. There's a nastiness to cancel culture that—it's justified maybe because we've already caricatured certain people as evil people. Not to pick on Hillary Clinton again… 

Shawn (40:02): 

This the Hillary Clinton show. 

Scott (40:04): 

Well, I defended her in the one, and I'm just gonna point out her participation of cancel culture in another. This is a quote from her 2016 campaign she was speaking to. It was a rally that she was speaking at. And now she made some comments about Donald Trump's supporters. And this is an infamous comment. She said, “Just to be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump's supporters”—now after the election, you realize that was half the voting population of the United States—“…into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, the sexist, the homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic, you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that.” It's got a nastiness to it, of name calling. And suddenly, it justifies turning people into these two dimensional caricatures of the most evil and vile things we can think of. And again, so I'm being equitable in terms of my ideological cherry picking, you could go to the other side of the spectrum, and there's lots of nasty stump stuff that Trump said. I'm not exonerating anybody. His quote was, here's a quote from one of his rally speeches in October 2nd, 2016. It's a much shorter quote, referring to Hillary Clinton: “She's the devil.” 

Shawn (41:37): 

Nasty. 

Scott (41:43): 

It’s just personal attack. But it's nasty. There's a nastiness to it. And somehow it's justified, right? 

Shawn (41:53): 

It's accepted. It's almost commonplace. It's almost like it's accepted now, 

Scott (41:59): 

Yeah. Well, because we create these caricatures of people, and maybe that speaks to another aspect of our culture, of the moral framework of our culture moving away from individualism to collectivism where group shaming becomes part of the fabric of our society. It's just become acceptable to lump people into tribes. And the tribe itself is distasteful or reprehensible. And therefore, those who belong to the tribe we can consider likewise. We no longer look at each other as individuals. There's judgmental-ness packed in there… it's very judgmental. And here's a quote from 2021—September 2021. And this is our own prime minister here in Canada.  

Shawn (42:27) 

So, we moved north of the border.  

Scott (42:32) 

We move north, just so we're not just cherry-picking American politics. But here is our prime minister speaking on a talk show. It's a French daytime talk show called La Demaine des 4. And he's speaking to the host about people, Canadians who've refused the Covid vaccine. And now my most recent check of the stats in Canada, Shawn, is that Canada has one of the highest vaccination rates of any country right now, though those remaining unvaccinated are somewhere north of 2 million people. Now I realize many of them would be children who maybe couldn't have received the vaccination, et cetera. But many of those are people who, out of conscience, chose not to be vaccinated for one reason or another. 

(43:44): 

But here's what our prime minister has to say about them, that “these people, they don't believe in science or progress, and they're very often misogynistic and racist. It's a very small group of people, but that doesn't shy away from the fact that they take up some space. This leads us as a leader and as a country to make a choice. Do we tolerate these people?” And he kind of lets that hang there as a rhetorical question. 

(44:12): 

Now, I always want to speak respectfully of our elected leaders because I agree with what scripture tells us, that God puts governments in place and God gives us, as Christians a mandate to submit to our governing authorities, to the extent that they lead us. So long as they're not leading us into sin, we are to submit to their authority. And that's fine. But it's discouraging, to me it's maybe representative of the overall impact or influence of cancel culture, and perhaps most especially upon our elected officials who are imbibing this spirit of this. I mean you could even disagree very strongly with people as a leader, with the people who have resisted what the government has deemed to be the best approach to dealing with an unprecedented pandemic. I don't want to argue with any of their reasoning or anything like that. People have their reasons. You can disagree strongly with them, and I think even vocalize your disagreement with their reasoning, but it’s then making the attack personal, now judging the person. 

(45:31): 

So when you look at that as evidenced among those elected to represent us, it's not a surprise then that it's both a reflection where our culture is at, as well as an example to the rest of us of what's now allowed. So, it's judgmental, it's rash, it's nasty, it's judgmental. And the last thing I would say, which I think is very noteworthy, is that it's unforgiving. And it's interesting—Douglas Murray wrote a book The Maddening of the Crowd, and he commented on this phenomenon of public cancellation, and he raised an interesting point. He's not a Christian writer at all. He's kind of a social commentator; an analyzer. But he said one of the difficulties of our internet age and our social media age is we have an instrument, a ready and rapid instrument for canceling people, punishing them. [But] we don't have any instruments for forgiveness. 

(46:41): 

And I would just go back to my example of Aiden Kallioinen, who was the 18-year-old for Sault Ste. Marie. I think he represents a generation who have put themselves out there online, and probably everybody has said something online untoward or something they shouldn't have said that could be dredged up. If someone really wanted to find some dirt and presented and in the court of public opinion, you could really damage a person for sure. It's like your past comes back to haunt you and that's it. You get labeled; you get judged by the court of social opinion. And there's no room for thinking people can change. People can grow, people can make mistakes. And so that ought to inform us as Christians in a number of ways, but certainly in terms of our own participation in it. But I think as Christians, to maybe see there's an opportunity for us to present a counterculture to the world. Rash, nasty, judgmental, and unforgiving is the antithesis to the gospel of Jesus. 

Shawn (48:11): 

Yeah. Right. And Scott, I think this is a great place to end this episode, our first episode in the Cancel Culture Series where we've looked at what cancel culture is. We've tried to define it, we've even talked about it in history through boycotts and now what it's appearing like. And like you said this should give Christians a good opportunity to be counter-cultural. And so, can I suggest, Scott, that our next episode we start to look at maybe how we respond to this? 

Scott (48:44): 

Yeah, I think that's what we want to do next time, is spend a little more time. We've kind of looked at it, we've analyzed it, we've hopefully highlighted some of the pitfalls and the risks and the dangers that we need to be aware of and avoid. Next time, we're going to talk about, as Christians, how do we respond? What is our response and our posture? How do we equip and prepare ourselves to respond looking into the council and the truth of God's word? So that's what we'll spend our time next time talking about. 

Shawn (49:14): 

Sounds good. Well, I want to thank our listeners for joining us online. If you're joining us by video, hopefully this was an enjoyable experience for you. 

Scott (49:27): 

Please put in the comments, “this was enjoyable.” Please do that, or we're gonna cry. 

Shawn (49:35): 

If you didn’t enjoy it, you could go back on to Spotify or iTunes or our website. If you're looking for any of our resources or ways to contact us, we'd encourage you to join us at preparedtoanswer.org. For those that are listening to us in real time to this release, we have actually launched a new website that we are excited about. And we are hoping that it’ll enable you to find the resources that you are looking for quickly and easily. And we'd love to hear your feedback on that as well. 

Scott (50:09): 

Yeah, we'd love for you to come and visit us at our website, yeah. 

Shawn (50:12): 

For sure. And as always we want to thank you and God bless.