Political Correctness and Cancel Culture are closely related ideological standards, both being precipitously politicized and weaponized. The left and the right both use them, each in their own way, to bludgeon one another. In a nutshell, the former could be taken as the predecessor and the latter as the successor. To make it easier to follow the thread, Political Correctness is intended to avoid offending certain groups in society, and Cancel Culture could be defined as an attempt to ostracize someone for violating social norms. For better or worse, Sakartvelo never lags behind when it comes to all those contemporary trends changing our old customs and habits into new ways and means. One can find such means in our virtual reality, be it trolling and botting, shadow banning or comment ghosting, blogging, blocking, silencing, black-listing, banishing, and what not, all being pivotal to the present-day fashion of debating.
It all started from minor person-to-person scuffles in social media, and ascended to the rank of a fierce political battle between those who are ready to double down to propel themselves to the decision-making elevation of “power-holder.” Not very long ago, this new bunch of instruments, previously used merely in cultural conversations and grassroots-level sociopolitical skirmishes, was turned into serious a combat tool to grab the reins of influence. To wit, the current power struggle in this country between various groups and forces is no longer imaginable without the smart and timely usage of these virtual devices, including the most familiar contemporary ethical phenomena like Political Correctness and Cancel Culture. The biggest joy killer, though, is that the preference is given to virtual weaponry instead of conventional wisdom; the battleground found all over the place – in media, academia, government, anecdotes, and in stories and tales.
Suffice to recollect the recent discourse on the 1695 fairy tale ‘Donkey Skin’ by French genius Charles Perrault. The tale tells us of a widower king who is told he can only marry a woman more beautiful than his deceased wife. It turned out to be an impossible ask, and, finally, it occurred to the king to marry his beautiful daughter. This peculiar thought never came to anything, but the king made a very bad impression with his incestuous idea on a group of Georgian zealots, who rebelled against the publisher for offering books with immoral content to the younger generation. With this, we have a vivid sample of Cancel Culture on the table. In turn, the venerators of classic literature and Charles Perrault sought to “cancel” the mob ideology that dared to offend the renowned author of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Puss in Boots, Bluebeard, and Sleeping Beauty.
How can one find a golden median between these two segments of our society, both deserving their share of attention? If Cancel Culture is acceptable, then any group of people should be allowed to cancel anything that contradicts their strongly-instilled dogmas. We cannot be selective here, but on the other hand, we might be faced with the cancelling of anything that civilization has preserved for us up to date.
To protect us from this severe choice, here comes to our rescue the famous Political Correctness and Cancel Culture to ostracize the breachers of the new standards of behavior, but even this might not help if the vested political interests of differing political bunches are hurt as a result. Values are confused so much, that one can no longer tell a liberal from a conservative.
A politically correct person, be they liberal or conservative, is ostensibly a carrier of the most upright moralistic opinion on very intricate issues, using the least offensive lexical material to articulate a thought. That said, they may still want to “cancel” something that goes against their grain. This is why I am saying that our value system is under threat no matter what ilk we belong in – liberal or conservative. Could we, for instance, use without a pang of conscience the phrase ‘Western Culture’ in a multicultural class, or mention Christ in the presence of the same audience? How about wearing a cross on a beach where Muslims are taking a dip next to us? Or teaching Oedipus Rex to our young? What are we going to do with the loudest human right Man has ever enjoyed in history – the right to speak up? Those twin notions – Political Correctness and Cancel Culture have imposed a bitter controversy on the world, and the world has no idea what to do with them – to silence people and hold them accountable for every word they utter and every move they make, or keep calm and carry on?