People aren’t being ‘canceled’ – they are being held accountable [Opinion]

It seems that state Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, is disturbed, believing that Republicans are being “canceled.” She has, in order to put a stop to this injustice, introduced two bills, which would add political affiliation as a protected class in California along with race, ethnicity, sexuality, etc.

The Senator believes that Republicans are being discriminated against in employment, housing, and business because they are Republicans, or expressing Republican ideas.

People aren’t being “canceled” – they are being held accountable for behaviors which other people find unacceptable due to the harm they bring upon others. These harms are physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, financial; and they are real for many of the Senator’s constituents.

A few of these behaviors:

  • Racist speech which incites violence against, and steals hope from people of color
  • Denying employment/promotions, housing, etc. to others based on currently protected classes
  • Homophobic speech which incites violence against and/or self-loathing among sexual minorities
  • Sexual harassment and assault in the workplace
  • Having sex with children and/or viewing/distributing child pornography
  • Denying any individual’s right to bodily autonomy, i.e., laws against transgender folks participating in sports or using the bathroom
  • Denying science in favor of capitalistic pursuits, i.e., businesses refusing to enforce mask mandates during this current pandemic

I don’t think that racism, homophobia, rape culture, pedophilia, denial of bodily autonomy, or risking people’s lives in pursuit of profit are necessarily Republican ideas. I don’t believe that ALL Republicans share these “values.” If one is “canceled” due to these values, it’s not because they are Republican.

We who are working to hold these folks accountable for their behaviors are not working to curtail their freedom of speech. If we terminate the employment of someone who has acted in a racist manner, bringing disharmony amongst our staff or discredit to our company, we aren’t telling them they can’t express themselves as they wish – we’re telling them that we aren’t going to pay them for it.

If we boycott a business that refuses to enforce COVID-19 mitigation guidelines, or fires someone for being gay, we aren’t telling them that they can’t behave that way – we’re telling them that those of us who don’t share those values will no longer spend money in their business.

The California Constitution says this regarding freedom of speech:

              “Every person may freely speak, write and publish his or her sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of this right.

The key phrase there is “being responsible for the abuse of this right.” Our state constitution basically says, “go ahead and say it but be ready to accept the consequences.”

I believe in the protections guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States. I believed so strongly in them that I spent nine years in the U.S. Army – Infantry to “defend the Constitution . . . against all enemies, foreign and domestic”, even though, as a gay man, none of those protections extended to me at the time. I believed in the PROMISE of the Constitution; I still do. I also believe that for too long we have interpreted “defend” to mean that we must accept the beliefs of others even when they infringe on our rights to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Not anymore. I will continue to defend your right to say, believe, and do as you please; but I will also continue to demand that you do so only insofar as you don’t harm others. And when your behavior brings harm to others, I will add to the strength of the burgeoning culture that is here to hold you accountable.



Image Sources

  • Cancelled: Shutterstock