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Cancelling the cancel culture is not easy … but oh so necessary 

Cancelling the cancel culture is not easy … but oh so necessary 

I have frequently described myself as a “free speech extremist.”  That is just another way of expressing my belief in the text and the meaning of the First Amendment. 

There are three areas in which free speech comes into question.  The first is when words can inflict very specific harm – where they conflict with other Constitutional rights that we Americans cherish – some more than others.  In those cases, we do legally limit unfettered rhetoric.  That includes inciting violence and slanderous or libelous statements. 

The second category is where words offend or insult others – the so-called pejoratives.  The new left believes that such language should be “cancelled” by cultural norms, extralegal rules and laws.   I disagree.  Using offensive terms and language is a critical part of free speech.  It may be discomforting and irritating but it falls under the protection of the First Amendment, in my view. 

The best response to offensive language is to ignore it under the sticks-and-stones philosophy.  Words are only as truly harmful as far as we allow them to be.  As a person who has engaged in political life for more than 50 years, I have had a lot of pejoratives and ad hominem lies tossed at me – to my face and behind my back.  I have never felt that they inflicted any harm to me that required cancelling the First Amendment.  I did not see them as sticks and stones but only as words that could not truly hurt me. 

I am sure some of the lies may have diminished my reputation in the eyes of those who did not know me, but that is just part of life – especially in the political arena.  Maybe the “duck’s back” analogy applies. 

Today, the left is creating a culture of hypersensitive folks who need protection – safe spaces – where “never is heard a discouraging word.”  That is just another example of how the left lives in an imaginary theoretical world of unrealistic idealism – the utopia. 

The problem with the “snowflake” culture is that cancellation of free (and even offensive) speech on Campuses, on the public commons and even in private spaces, is that each “snowflake” is allowed to determine what language is offensive to them.  Which words are to be cancelled.  In other words, free speech is not protected by the Constitution and our inalienable rights but restricted by the lowest common denominator – the weakest among us. 

You can see the problem with Facebook – and other social media platforms – being deployed as censors far beyond what the Constitution allows.  Initially, Mark Zuckerberg, expressed his belief that Facebook was just a platform for free speech without reservation.  The liability for speech that does not fall under constitutional protection is properly addressed by laws.   

If you are inciting a riot in language on the platform, then that is between the inciter and law enforcement.  If someone was determined to have incited a riot during a meeting in a hotel, one does not – or should not – place legal liability on the hotel owners.  When people incite riots in public spaces, we do not allow suits against the municipality or the park district. 

And that takes us to the third issue of free speech. 

We have now seen political opinion being deemed offensive.  Facebook now serves as the arbiter of what is proper or legal.  Censoring or cancelling political opinion is the slippery slope to autocracy. 

In one of the scariest and most egregious examples, Facebook took down a front-page report on the Hunter Biden laptop from the New York Post – one of the major news outlets in America.  Based on political bias, Facebook determined that the story was untrue.  In fact, all accusations regarding that notorious laptop were being cancelled across the social media world. It has now been confirmed from many sources that the Post article was 100 percent correct.  Facebook et al – and all those news sources had suppressed the political truth – wittingly or unwittingly supporting the campaign of Joe Biden.  Many argue that had the truth been revealed in a timely fashion, Biden would not have been elected – that other controversy notwithstanding. 

Ponder that for a moment.  Think about the traditional constitutional American democracy.  A presidential election was arguably flipped by suppressing – cancelling – critical information. 

So many of America’s great institutions of education had fully embraced the cancel culture by promoting the nonsense of verbal aggressions and categories of microaggressions.  They promote the cancellation of opinion and statements that have no calculable harm to an individual or a society – but rest solely on differences of political or philosophic opinion.  They institutionalize the cancel concept with policies of segregation and safe zones into which the weak-minded and immature “snowflakes” can huddle like children terrified by things that go bump in the night. 

Even legitimate and critical public debate on issues by knowledgeable authorities and stakeholders are being cancelled from the college platforms.  This is nothing less than censoring public debate in favor of political oppression.  This is leftwing mob rule. 

As a free nation, we have known how to address words that truly do harm.  We have a legal process to prevent them or to punish the users.  But to now add words that are offensive to the list of unacceptable terminology is oppressive to society – and drastic limitation on the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech. 

But nothing is as grave a concern as the cancellation of free speech when it comes to political opinion that nullifies the First Amendment completely.  And it is not just the hand of government that suffocates the Constitution, but every private and academic institution that is allowed … encouraged … to operate as censors aligned to the authoritarian left. 

If we lose our First Amendment right to speak freely – even offensively — the American democratic Republic dies. 

So, there ‘tis. 

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry HoristLarry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.

12 Comments

  1. Perry

    I refuse to cave to the bastards They would be the ones getting canceled

  2. John J

    Go back to NORMAL. Yes, I know what normal is and so do you

  3. Poorgrandchildren

    Social media will never see a post by me. I have cancelled them.

    • Micala

      Me too, about six years ago! It was already choosing what members could and could not say. So I left!

      I will NOT BE CAGED/CONTROLLED BY ANY ORGANIZATION NOR GROUP OF FRIGHTENED CHILD-LIKE ADULTS DEMANDING THAT EVERYONE DO AS THEY SAY! Not now, not ever!

      I have a suggestion for those feeble minded and weak spirited adolescents:
      1). Find a deserted island where they can hide behind bushes and outcroppings.
      2). Make your own laws about aggression, name calling and having one’s own opinion.
      3). Live by those rules and die of boredom and lack of intelligence and exercise!
      4). All Academics that accept the cancel culture can join them on the island!
      5). One Downside: you woke adolescents WILL HAVE TO HUNT YOUR OWN FOOD, BUILD YOUR SHELTERS AND SURVIVE ON YOUR OWN! No one but cancel kids will be on that island to do that for you!
      6). The only way you would be allowed back into our U.S. Constitution run Nation is IF YOU GROW UP AND FIND THE COURAGE TO ACTUALLY “LIVE” YOUR LIFE (NOT hide and whimper like children) WHILE ALLOWING OTHERS TO DO THE SAME!

      The bottomline is “IT’s all our choices to live in the U.S. and obey its laws! If you are unable to do that, LEAVE AND FIND THAT ISLAND! NO ONE WANTS YOU HERE! GO AND DON’T LOOK BACK! Don’t look for help, you’re on your own!

  4. Micala

    The writer of this article is excellent and “right on point”! The Cancel Culture must be removed from our Nation because it is a cancer that will just continue to grow!
    Where did these child-like adolescents/adults come from? Let me explain.

    Around the early 2000s, a group of kids evolved because both parents worked. They were “latch key” kids which meant they came home to an empty house every day after school. Their closest friend was the computer and it literally formed their own ideas of what the world was, albeit it was not a true world but a fantasy. They felt emboldened by surfing the web until they chose to comment on a blog or Social Media and was SHUT DOWN FAST! Soon they found other latch key kids and formed group friendships, but those friendships were formed on egotistical and unreal parameters where the outside world wasn’t acceptable, but their fear of harsh rejection or confrontation was more important. This was the beginning of the Cancel Culture Crew!

    Once the radical Left democrats found this group of misfits, they started pandering to them to get them on board! They could use these frightened and misguided people to change things up for the dems! So they started supporting this group and promoting the C.C. own twisted, frightened child ideologies to push for changes in our Society — and it has worked…somewhat.

    The very sad and tragic thing is those young adults will never know their potential because as children, there was no loving supporting parent to tell them “Life can be challenging, but I will always be here to guide you and support you! — you will never be alone!” Instead those kids learned to trust a computer to fulfill their emotional needs. Unfortunately, a computer cannot put its arms around them and hug away their fears, so they search for another source of recognition via the Web… And with the Public School systems removing Civics and American History from their curriculum, no wonder these confused C.C. people have nothing to respect and admire about America and want to change it!

    America must remove this subculture from our Society so it can go forth and be successful and supportive in our World arena. How do we do that to a group of emotionally scarred young adults without destroying them even more? How do we inspire these individuals to support our Country’s Constitutional laws and have pride being an American? The First step I see is to have a Strong Respectful, Intelligent Federal Government from the States up to the President’s position that WILL INSPIRE and Encourage young people to participate and not be afraid to grab hold of life AND LIVE IT!!

    Cancel Culture people need a reason to enjoy their lives and NOT hide from them! They need encouragement, love and guidance to reach out and live, not cower and hide behind fallacies. Can we give them that while preserving our Constitutional laws!? Time will tell, but I see a new breed of Congressman appearing in the elections, so it might just happen! Never give up on the American fortitude…it always pulls through when you least expect it!

    • Ben

      Are these weak – minded, snowflakes, the same people you accuse of extreme violence while destroying American cities left and right?

      • larry Horist

        No. They very different factions of the dysfunctional Democratic Party. Both on the far left. And both with authoritarian instincts.

  5. Frank stetson

    And to think, we used to call it being polite and asking others to do the same in polite society. We used to be sensitive to other people’s feelings, to what they consider to be in a fence, and do everything in our power to avoid set offenses if we could, without lowering our own freedom’s. And we did it more so in our homes and businesses, but desired it everywhere.

    Now, we feel it’s better to have such folks leave and live on an island. We give them names like snowflake and cancel culture, and “the weakest amongst us.” We actually feel proud and we put those who call other people names, demean them, bully them with words, on a pedestal and treat them as heroes. We call it braggadocio and OK as long as we get what we want.

    We want to force private businesses like social media playforms to knowingly allow foul language and unsupportable posts, perhaps lies, perhaps disinformation, under the guise of free speech restricting the freedoms of said businesses to conduct their business as they see fit. They say it’s right to force a business to allow hate-speak, foul language, bullying, and lies than they would ever allow in their own homes in front of their own children or spouses. They supposedly allow it here but even here restrict people in a hypocritical fashion. People here say things they would never say in their own homes all the time. And no one gives a hoot. They call it freedom of speech.

    Heck, they even allowed a person to suggest all Democrats be shot dead, executed by firing squad. The ownership and the other writers said nothing.

    The owners of the site restrict people all the time. Larry says nothing about that. They offer zero transparency as to their restrictions on free speech. At one point, they said ad hominem attacks ok, another place, only allowed in the first party. But yet third party attacks are regularly allowed against Democrats. Insult their daughters, their wives, their kids, it’s ok. But insult Larry’s family and your post will never see the light of day. They have allowed known lies about Covid; following those lies would potentially kill people and they know it. On the site, anyone could be Ben,, that’s free speech. But try to be Larry or Joe and you will be restricted. In a humorous restriction, you can’t even be biden, you will be restricted.. Apparently Larry is OK with free speech restrictions as long as he profits. It’s a business, running its business as it sees fit.

    It’s just that Larry doesn’t like it when it swings the other way. If my kid stands up in class and says fuck you snowflake teacher, I can guarantee he will learn what freedom of speech is really all about. Enough. And enough lies in the media, in the blogosphere, and social media,, wherever. At some point we have to decide lies are bad and hold people accountable. We have to agree that bullying is bad and hold people accountable. And personally, I feel I should do my best not to offend anyone and if I do so, I apologize when necessary and try to change my behavior if I can. I do not do that here anymore, but I didn’t make the game, I’m just here to play, anonymously, nothing being traced back to who I really am, as an actor in your little play on life.

  6. Ben

    Rude is right and the right is rude.

    • Perry

      It’s working

  7. Andy Robinson

    Its ironic to me that you use Facebook (a private company) as central example of First Amendment rights to free speech. They are after all entitled to their own rights of speech as much as we as consumers are entitled to either use their product or not. You were far more on point with free speech on public campuses, but it strikes me how you seemed to have ignored the coordinated attempts of conservatives to mute conversations about equity and race, going so far as to pass laws and ban content from publicly funded libraries. If that is not cancel culture to the extreme I do not know what is. Tell the readers here how that is not in fact more dangerous than any of the instances you cite here in this article, as none of those examples uses the validation and permanency of law to enforce its goals.

    • larry Horist

      You have a point, but the issue with the social media platforms is whether they are a form of monopoly … or a trust. Some argue they should be considered a utility — a public service company. For example, we have private energy companies, but they are obligated to provide service without prejudice. Phone companies are regulated — and they are not allowed to restrict what you say on the telephone. I lean to the regulated utility model.

      The claim that conservatives are “banning” books — comparing it to Nazi book burning — is hyperbole. I am not away of any books being band for general public consumption. The issue is the appropriate limitations for books deemed not appropriate — to mature — for the youngest students. The focus is not on public libraries as much as elementary school libraries. Virtually everyone agrees that some material is not appropriate for the youngest minds, but the debate is to where the line is drawn. There are some on the extreme that are excessive in their demands, but that is a very small element in society — and they can be found on the left and the right.

      There is also another level of book banning that is troublesome . And that is the fact that it is more more difficult to get conservative books published by the major publishers. This subtle banning also applies to what books professors promote as part of their curricula.

      As a First Amendment extremist, I generally opposed any sort of gook banning — but I do understand the need to limit was is provided to young minds.