Column: ‘Cancel Culture’ to the rescue: A response to the president’s exoneration


Photo credit: Cameron Smith from, licensed for reuse.

The United States Capitol building stands after a violent insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021, that killed 5 and injured more than 140. Donald Trump has been impeached for his role in inciting the insurrection.

By Charlotte Tragos, Columnist

Cancel culture will be the final check against the partisan absolution of a guilty Donald Trump.  How did we get here?

The advancement of our human project requires the freedom to share competing ideas. Armed with the superpower of our conviction, we can advocate for ideals even when they run against an equally passionate believer with opposing views. Through these disagreements, we are forced to shed the comfort of our past and reach for new values. Evolution itself is the gift of our most precious right: the right to free speech, which our founders enshrined as our First Amendment in the Constitution of the United States. And yet despite its great importance, free speech is also dangerous, because like other great powers, it is easily corruptible. When does free speech go too far?

It is difficult to draw a line because the drawer must stand on one side and must lose their impartiality. Who can say what’s right to say? 

The second impeachment trial sought to convict Former President Donald J. Trump for crossing the line on the single charges that he incited violence through defamatory lies. But however repugnant and unpresidential Trump’s conduct, it must be said that calls to violence are a truly American pastime. And, the truth is always subjective, especially in America where we celebrate the whistleblower who bravely stands up to the big institutions. Who should we trust with the truth?

Our modern democratic society has promoted our elected representatives to lie because their popularity seems to be mostly determined by their willingness to tell people not what is most real but what they most want to hear. They are not all created equal — some tell more lies than others and some tell bigger lies than others. It is in these subtle distinctions that we the people are called upon to pay the most careful attention and decide what is too dangerous to ignore.

In our imperfect system where lawmakers are lawbreakers, we, being private citizens, must stand up to power and wield our own free speech to make decisions and influence the outcome. This is the Cancel Culture phenomenon, one in which regular people have the ability to reach above the conflicted rulers of our capitalist democracy and use their voice to affect real and immediate change without ever having to resort to violence. Some people resent Cancel Culture, and they do so because it has the audacity to draw a line and to decide when someone has gone too far and deserves to be silenced.

Cancel Culture emerges as a necessary remedy to lawlessness. The general American public does not wield a gavel or create laws but instead use our iPhone to create the political agenda for our public servants. We have the power to inspire change, create movements, and draw our individual lines, answering the question individually: where does free speech go too far? Cancel Culture becomes productive and essential as it exposes dangerous liars who, in spreading disinformation, encourage violence against those they oppose. In so doing, Cancel Culture serves the cause of creating the political climate, the free speech our founders envisioned.

Only six Republicans crossing party lines voted that Trump’s second impeachment should proceed to trial, and only saw seven Republicans in the Senate voted to convict. The rest are small-minded cowards whose vision does not extend past their own immediate self-interest to reach for the universal ideals of a country seeking greatness. And so the cancellation of Trump’s will be left to the people who will shun his already tarnished brand and push corporations and local governments to scuttle their affiliation with his name. Cancel culture to the rescue!