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The cancel culture and the death of civility

One of the early treasures I found on the internet was the original Dawgvent. Back in the early days of dial-up access, it was worth the long wait for it to load. Now at, it remains a superb source of information on UGA sports and the world in general. One of the stalwarts of those message boards was a guy called Tee. Dead now, Tee was legendary. His stock saying was, ‘Facebook is da debil.’ He was way ahead of his time. Social media has played a giant role in the killing off of civility in this country. People will post things on social media they would never say to your face. I ruminated on this last week when I saw people whom I know posting scathing comments about Rush Limbaugh after he died of cancer. These same people would have gone berserk if you posted something similar about the Casper Milquetoast-voiced announcers on NPR. This is not a Republican vs. Democrat or conservative vs. liberal issue. Many on both sides are guilty and many on both sides are horrified when they see such remarks though it seems as though the number of those in the horrified contingent is dwindling rapidly. These online battles of words gave way to the cancel culture. This is a deep topic of its own but these are the basics. If you say or post something I don’t like or disagree with me on an issue, it is fine for me to try to shut down your family business, force you out of your job, harass your spouse, vilify your children and do pretty much anything else I would like. This does not just show a lack of civility, it is patently dangerous. The cancel culture is no longer confined to the national stage. We only have to look to a nearby community for an example. The newspaper publisher there got a tip sometime back that the school system was using a substitute teacher who had been convicted of child molestation and was on the sex offender list. The teacher had allegedly molested a student at a school where he had previously worked as a substitute. The newspaper reported this and, to put it lightly, school officials took umbrage. They made it clear they felt they knew more about hiring substitute teachers than the publisher did, child molester or not. A bitter feud erupted and continues. It worsened when the publisher spoke out against shutting down public schools due to COVID. School system administrators vehemently disagreed and kids stayed home. Enter the volunteer baseball announcer at the county high school. He had spent the previous three years as the announcer for home baseball games. He made the mistake of supporting the publisher on social media and criticizing school officials for what he felt were personal, public attacks on the publisher. As baseball season approached, the volunteer announcer was told he was banned from returning to the baseball field microphone. This is a perfect example of the cancel culture in action on the hometown level. In a newspaper account of his banishment, the volunteer said, ‘This kind of thing could make people scared to speak out. You’re starting to live in an age of ‘˜follow our way of thinking or else’. We just take free speech and throw it out the door?’ Sadly, Mr. Volunteer, we are already there. Civility, particularly online, is on its last legs. We should all take to heart the age old adage we, our parents and grandparents grew up hearing: If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.

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