Happy Birthday, Cancel Culture!

CANCEL CULTURE – We see around us this new thing, this strange abomination which has sprung up from the fertile ground of Facebook and Twitter. An otherwise unobjectionable person is caught expressing a politically incorrect thought, or using a politically unacceptable word, and his career is over, his reputation irreversibly destroyed.

When did it start? Well, you could mark one event, 22 years ago this month, to commemorate as a kickoff.  In January of 1999, a top official of the Washington DC government was fired for using a word that sounded similar to a forbidden word (the MOST forbidden word). David Howard, Head of the Office of Public Advocate, used the word “niggardly” in a conversation with two colleagues.  He used it correctly: “I will have to be niggardly with this fund because it’s not going to be a lot of money.”  Niggardly means “grudgingly stingy”.  But it also sort of sounds like “the N-word”.

This was 1999, 5 years BF (before Facebook) or Twitter.

Before Cancel Culture, this type of thing was called a “Gotcha” moment, an opportunity for someone to destroy a competitor, enemy, opponent, or just someone you don’t like.  Another older term is “character assassination”. And when applied to anyone on the political left, it is “McCarthyism”.

Anyway, Happy Birthday, Cancel Culture!  And to David Howard, wherever you are (I tried to google him, but he seems to have disappeared), Good Luck!

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