Anchor Staff Writer
Lately, there has been quite a bit of outcry about cancel culture from right-wing media and politicians. First they (whoever ‘they’ might be) came for Mr. Potato Head, then Dr. Seuss, and now Piers Morgan! Similar complaints about being censored have come from politicians like Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has consistently perpetuated unfounded and damaging conspiracy theories and used violent and hateful rhetoric towards colleagues and minorities. Greene has insisted her rhetoric falls under “free speech.” It is “free speech” that numerous conservatives as of late have made their rallying cry.
In terms of the supposedly canceled figures in question, Mr. Potato Head has nothing happening to him. Literally, nothing. The brand name is being changed to Potato Head, dropping the Mr. in front so they can expand the Potato Head universe. Nobody’s been canceled. Mr. Potato Head is alive and well. Second, Dr. Seuss. Six of his books with racist imagery will not be printed in the future. Several of the books in question had not sold in years regardless. Seuss’ estate made this choice freely in recognition of the fact the imagery was racist.
In terms of Piers Morgan, Meghan Markle came forward about the hostility and racism she experienced from members of the Royal Family, as well as her struggles with her mental health. Morgan, who has attacked Markle relentlessly for years, took it upon himself to suggest she lied about experiencing suicidal thoughts. Naturally, Morgan was met with backlash for making such a horrible and harmful suggestion. He did not take it well. Emily Kirkpatrick of Vanity Fair put it best: “Piers Morgan seems to believe that he’s the victim of “racist bullying” and being silenced after complaining at length about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s interview with Oprah to his 7.7 million followers on Twitter, on the TV show he hosts every morning, and in his column for the Daily Mail.” Morgan, however, decided to quit his show by walking off the set on air and is now being characterized as a martyr of cancel culture on the right, including conservative American media outlets like Fox News.
It’s not that cancel culture does not have real consequences. Canceling people for one bad action does not allow for people to grow and improve themselves. Instead, it seems no matter what they do, it is pointless because they have been permanently canceled. However, what is being deemed “cancel culture” by conservative media is simply not that. The figures who consistently claim to be experiencing censorship make those claims while speaking to millions of viewers publicly on television, social media and the news. The idea that they could be censored while speaking to millions on the daily is antithetical and impossible.
Despite these contradictions, these claims have become increasingly popular recently and the reason likely has nothing to do with any actual concerns about freedom of speech. President Joe Biden’s recent Covid-19 relief bill was passed a few days ago. Though no Congressional Republicans voted for it, 77% of all Americans supported it, including 59% of self-identified Republicans. Conservative media thrives on outrage and fear. If they can’t make their base fear much-needed aid during a pandemic, they can make them fear their voice will be silenced.