When a pastor in Alabama clicked the "like" button on Twitter, he never imagined he would receive any backlash. But he had dared to "like" a conservative article. And because a woke person in the school system saw his Twitter "like" and complained, the local school board rescinded his church's ability to rent out school gymnasiums for its satellite campuses.
This is a real story that I document in my book, God and Cancel Culture. Although some of the cancel culture stories you see online are about President Trump or other conservative celebrities, cancel culture is real for everyday people as well, and we must support those working on effective strategies to defeat it.
Recently, I spoke with Heather Higgins, the CEO of Independent Women's Voice and founder of the Anti-Bigotry Alliance, for an episode of my Strang Report podcast. She offers another story of how cancel culture is hurting everyday people.
"There's a guy named Emmanuel Cafferty, who worked for San Diego Gas & Electric," Higgins says. "Somebody took a picture of his arm as he was driving his truck. Emmanuel was cracking his knuckles. He [the photographer] claimed it was a white power symbol, and he [Cafferty] lost his job. The man who took the photograph has since retracted his claim that it was a white power symbol against a Hispanic worker. But he [Cafferty] still has not gotten his job."
As we talked, Higgins presented three major problems with cancel culture and three ways to defeat those problems.
1. Cancel culture is tough to articulate. "There's this strange silence on the part of the conservative elected leaders," Higgins says. "And part of the reason for that is that they don't quite know what to say. It's sort of a large issue that's hard to put into a sound bite. So what I decided to do was to first make the issue something that is easy to articulate, and that was by creating the Free Speech Pledge.
"The Free Speech Pledge is something that individuals and companies can sign to explain they're not going to engage in discrimination against different viewpoints or in the bigotry of cancel culture," she adds.
You can sign the pledge here: freespeechpledge.com/.
2. The same rules don't apply to everyone. "Just calling somebody a hypocrite doesn't tend to really change the circumstance," Higgins says. "If a corporation has a certain standard, and they don't adhere to it, and there's a repeated pattern of them not following their own rules, that's going to create media pressures. That's going to create pressure on their brand. That is going to create legal causes of action for people who were unfairly treated by this unequal application of their rules.
"So the first website we are about to launch under the umbrella of the Anti-Bigotry Alliance is called Same Rules for All," she explains. "We may not agree with the rules posted by this social media company, business, educational institution or even this church. But this is their standard. And it is up to the rest of us to help them apply their rules fairly. And it will allow people to post examples that fall under their policies and be treated the same way as the things that they canceled or the people who lost their jobs.
"It will allow other people to see these posts and upvote if they think that this is a violation," Higgins adds. "So you start to have a tabulation of all the people who have complained. And you start to have a library of all the instances that violate these terms. That's going to create a lot of pressure on these companies to behave better and behave more fairly."
3. Many people are unfairly canceled. "As a society, we have shifted from any sense of objective harm based on an intention to the subjective views of the person who perceived the harm even if it wasn't there," Higgins says. "That is an untenable standard for any system of justice.
"If it's just in the mind of the beholder, what recourse does anybody have?" she adds. "It quickly slips from hate speech being something that's hateful to being something that I hate. And that's not a viable standard."
"I know you've interviewed so many people who've been canceled. ... you know how many of them are not big names," Higgins says. "They're not household names. If they're canceled, nobody would know about it. If they lose their livelihoods, nobody knows.
"Every successful effort to cancel somebody and to engage in that bigotry is its own reward when it works," she adds. "So it becomes a very nasty cycle where those who engage in this behavior feel that there are no adverse consequences. We need to create adverse consequences for being so harmful and poisonous.
"How you create that accountability and consequence is by improving awareness because right now it's a very obscure black box with a lot of individual harm, much of which never sees sunlight," she says. "Unfairlycanceled.com is something that we wanted to create because so many of these stories of cancellation ... are not big names. Putting sunlight on what's really going on and how unfair it is and how big it is ... will help us a lot."
Cancel culture is as real for Emmanuel Cafferty and the pastor in Alabama as it is for Donald Trump. Thankfully, if we join together in prayer and strategize with the wisdom of God, we can defeat it. Higgins is doing her part. I invite you to pray and think about yours as you listen to this episode of the Strang Report here, and subscribe to the Strang Report on Apple Podcasts and your favorite podcast platform. And don't forget to sign Higgins' Free Speech Pledge here.
For more information on how you can fight back against cancel culture, make sure to get a copy of what I consider my most important book yet. God and Cancel Culture is now available wherever fine books are sold. It's available for a limited time at half-price, just $12.50, at stevestrangbooks.com.
Read articles like this one and other Spirit-led content in our new platform, CHARISMA PLUS.
To contact us or to submit an article, click here.
Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.