As I’ve written before, I find most freaking out about cancel culture is bullshit. For example, we’re supposed to be terribly, terribly upset that some conservatives feel the need to self-censor their speech, something black Americans and women have had to do for most of our history. It’s a variation of the line that dystopia is bad things happening to white middle-class people in the future that happen to the poor and POC now. The claims of brutal repression are either too vague to believe or just wrong.
Which brings us to a story in New York Magazine about one teenage boy, Diego: “Twenty months after he developed a crush, 18 months after he’d fallen in love, Diego, who is enormously appealing but also very canceled, boarded the bus with Jenni and Dave. They were going to the beach, and it wasn’t a big deal — except for the fact that pretty much all of Diego’s friends had dropped him, so, yeah, it was.” (the link is not direct but you can click through).
The story goes on to paint a charming, sympathetic portrait of this likable high-school kid before revealing what turned him into a non-person: at a party, Diego got drunk and showed off the nude photos his “beautiful girlfriend” had sent him. The author, Elizabeth Weil adds that “Diego really fucked up here: Everybody, including Diego, agrees on that, so please consider setting aside judgment for a moment.” After all, if you judge him, then you might think a little suffering would be good for him, and that’s not the conclusion she wants you to reach.
To my surprise, the reaction to Diego showing the photos without his girlfriend’s consent was that most of his friends decided he was a shit. Hence the cancellation. Weil seems to think he deserved dude process — he did the wrong thing, he admits it, so why should he suffer any consequences? So presumably classmates who disapprove of what he did should just suck it up and treat him like they always did. For the record, that’s all the suffering Diego endured. Although showing the photos is, I gather, illegal in his state, his girlfriend didn’t call the cops. He was able to make it to four proms senior year. Now he’s off to college.
Weil does discuss the school’s failure to deal with sexual harassment issues, which has led to female students writing names of alleged harassers/rapists on the bathroom wall. At least one of the accusers called out the wrong boy (similar names) which as one commenter at the link says would seem to make a much stronger example of cancel culture. But Weil for whatever reason decided “kid incorrectly accused of bad behavior” wouldn’t be as interesting a story as “kid whose classmates didn’t like him showing nude photos of his girlfriend without her consent.” Nor does she think Diego’s motives for showing the photo is of any interest. He was drunk, his girlfriend was beautiful, she was his first love; do we need more explanation?
Well, yes. Showing private nude photos to your friends is not a good way to show how much you love someone. But if Weil asked Diego, she doesn’t give his answer. She seems to think “the girl was beautiful” is enough of an answer. It reminds me of articles about teenage stalkers that blame the guy’s behavior on being lovesick. Um, no.
As Jessica Valenti says, sometimes it’s good to suffer if you cross a line: “Maybe if a younger generation of men grow up believing their lives could be negatively impacted—or even ruined—by sexually assaulting or harassing someone, then they’d actually stop sexually assaulting and harassing.” I make a similar point here.
For more on the misogynist whining about how punishing men for their actions is feminazi oppression, read Undead Sexist Cliches, available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holder.