By Ben Pensant
As my five regular readers know, I don’t like hogging the limelight. While other commentators insert themselves upfront and centre into every story, I prefer beavering away in the background, quietly fighting fascism so people stupider than what I am don’t have to. So naturally I was mortified to learn that I’d inadvertently contributed to a recent shocking development in the ongoing culture war between decent liberals who want everyone to get along and evil right-wingers annoyed that they can’t make jokes about ‘woofters’ anymore.
Yes, I’m talking about last week’s infamous anti-cancel culture letter, a vulgar missive designed to give alt-right ‘intellectuals’ a free pass to persecute minorities. And it never would’ve existed if I hadn’t written a bruising polemic about communist sexpot Ash Starkers. Allow me to explain…
The modern right are always watching. Always. And they were clearly watching last week when when I published a fiery piece urging fellow progressives to stop demonising right-wing nuggets and start turning them into left-wing nuggets. Rattled at the prospect of their fascist foot soldiers defecting to the left, they swiftly devised a plan to compensate for the upcoming exodus.
Sure enough, days later notorious right-wing porn mag Harpo’s published their eye-poppingly offensive letter, signed by an assortment of successful authors, respected academics, and some weirdo who fucks sharks. As you’d expect, the signatories were all white males, even the black or female ones: the worst kind of white males. So like most sensible leftists, my reaction focused on them rather than what the letter said, which was fairly easy as I hadn’t read it. Indeed, deducing that the grubby screed was a spiteful response to my piece without having clapped eyes on it merely illustrates how grubby it was. Luckily the great thing about being a modern leftist is you don’t have to read something before penning an outraged column about it. Why bother when a soon-to-be unemployed Guardian columnist can read it for you then deliver it back with all the context removed?
What was obvious from the letter I hadn’t read is that my Ash piece touched such a nerve that an unholy cabal of conservatives, libertarians, and Jewish Nazis desperately tried turn the tables on me by recruiting mental left-wingers to their cause. And they would have got away with it if it wasn’t for this pesky kid.
Yep, even when they steal a good idea they arse it up. Because the ‘leftists’ they lured to spread fascism and promote ‘f**e s****h’ are anything but. Sure, their pretentious letter may have included obligatory swipes at President Pussy-Grab but it was clearly all for show. So well done, righties: you tried to get back at me by recruiting left-wingers but instead recruited a load of right-wingers. Slow handclap, dipshits.
Indeed, the signatory list features more alt-right loons than a Pokahontas-themed themed Halloween-and-sushi party. And I should know as I’ve actually heard of four of them: the grubbiest and most duplicitous of the lot.
Take Margaret Atwoods, the Handmaiden’s Tale author and feminist icon who earnt her spurs attacking the patriarchy and supporting trans rights. All good and well until you explore her work and realise this was simply a ruse to gloss over her Islamophobia, as seen in her most famous novel’s racist dig at the quaint Islamic custom of forcing enslaved women to wear silly dresses and executing them in football stadiums. She also believes in the archaic principle of ‘due process’ and once supported a white male academic accused of sexual assault. Christ, Marge – why not just write ‘I ♥ Hitler’ on your pink fanny hat?
But her betrayal was nothing compared to Norm Chomsky, the left-wing godhead revered for his love of murderous dictators and dogged determination to blame the west for absolutely everything. Indeed, his reputation as the Godfather of Moral Relativism earned him a permanent place in the hearts of modern progressives, some of whom have even read his books. Despite this he’s debased himself in recent years by repeatedly defending the fascist principle of free speech for everyone, even engaging in rambling email debates with vicious right-wingers like Peter Hitchens and Sam Harrison. I bet Paul Pot’s turning in his mass grave.
Much like the heroes of the Iranian revolution, whose enjoyment of their 73 virgins is soured by the knowledge that a man who wrote a book they haven’t read still walks the earth. Yes, I’m talking about Salmon Rushdie, the Islamophobic fugitive who remains a free man, 40 years after penning a novel that offended moderate mullahs so much they were forced to urge their followers to murder its author.
Like Atwoods and Chomsky, Rushdie masqueraded as a leftist for years, imitating a decent, open-minded liberal by calling all Trump supporters idiots and racists. But he’s fooling no-one. That Rushdie is still at large is heinous enough, but to further insult marginalised Muslims by promoting free speech is one kick in the burqa too many. He could’ve spared the Muslim community years of pain and saved a load of bother by turning himself in decades ago and allowing Cat Stephens to burn him alive. But no, he took the neo-con dollar instead. May Allah forgive him. Or cut his head off.
But the worst of the lot is JK Roland, who spent years pretending to be a decent liberal: campaigning to overturn Brexit, supporting Black Life Matters, and generally being as blandly conformist as your average millionaire progressive. Sadly, she soiled herself years ago by smearing Lord Corbyn, sealing her transition to the dark side when she outed herself as a raving transphobe, despite never having said anything remotely transphobic. So it was no surprise to see her name on this vile letter. To think I once read six whole pages of Harry Porter and the Wizard’s Sleeve: two hours I’ll never get back. TERF Bitch.
Thankfully, the left-wing response was as brilliant as ever, with thousands of principled authoritarians avoiding the contents of the letter in favour of abusing the people who signed it. And why not? It was anti-cancel culture: it might as well be anti-equality, anti-welfare state, or anti-cutting-your-son’s-dick-off-because-he-plays-with-Barby-dolls. When you’re anti-something amazing you don’t get to be engaged with. Why discuss what the letter says when you can simply remind everyone that one of the signatories wrote a shitty kids book featuring a Vietnamese character called Ching Chong and another likes to finger-blast aquatic mammals?
Far better to disprove its premise that the modern left enjoy cancelling people by, well, trying to cancel people. Indeed, this tactic worked so well one signatory publicly withdrew her support, which naturally saw loads of right-wing doughnuts try to cancel her. (See what I mean about how we should be recruiting them? Unless you’re one of the ten people who read my last blog, I guess not. Cunts.)
Across Twitter, Facebook, and anywhere else where people terrified of human contact hang out, the responses came thick and fast, boiling down to two arguments:
1. Cancel culture doesn’t exist.
2. Cancel culture does exist but it’s a good thing as only bad people ever get cancelled.
Often theses two contradictory statement were uttered in the same sentence, a timely reminder of the enduring popularity of left-wing cognitive dissonance. Indeed, the left’s approach to cancel culture is ram-packed with cog-dis: witness the glorious spectacle of people who claim to hate tabloid muckraking celebrating lives being ruined by tabloid muckraking. And why not, if it gifts us a chance to air our virtue, score a point against someone we don’t like, or catch a bit of blue-haired feminist pussy?
Cognitive dissonance also informs the popular Kray Twin Defence – ‘We never cancelled no-one who din’t deserve it guv’nor!’ – advanced by legendary cockney shitehawk Bobby Bragg, who declared on Twitter that he was fine with people losing their jobs if their opinions “deligitimised the rights of minorities”. Of course, neither Bragg nor his followers could explain how former Radio 2 DJ Danny Barker deligitimised the rights of minorities by tweeting a photo of a chimp. Which is handy as any references to left-wingers being cancelled – such as nonce-joke director James Gun or Trump-decapitating funny lady Cathy Griffin – are to be avoided at all costs, as they upset the narrative that it only happens to ghastly right-wingers. Instead, he argued that people getting sacked for wrongthink were simply being “held to account” by the public, ie Twitter Bottom Inspectors. (Not the actual public, they do enough damage at the ballot box, thank you very much.)
Unsurprisingly, he was abused by alt-right trolls, who put it to Bragg that by this logic his beloved St. Jezza should be sacked immediately for deligitmising the rights of a minority by declaring that a terrorist group who call Jews ‘bacteria’ and want to wipe them off the face of the earth were “dedicated to peace and social justice”. Thankfully, Bragg’s an old hand and simply ignored the question, like Kool-Aid Corbynites always do when faced with evidence of their principled hypocrisy. Good lad.
He was ably backed up by OJ Jones, who cheekily suggested cancel culture isn’t a thing, despite the fact that it’s very much his thing. Indeed, OJ saying cancel culture doesn’t exist is like Iain Watkins claiming there’s no such thing as child abuse. OJ then brilliantly contradicted himself by stating that the only people who need worry about cancel culture are rich, powerful, and right-wing, despite the fact that cancel culture isn’t a thing. Which will come as a huge surprise to all the non-rich, un-powerful, left-wing people who’ve been targeted by online mobs but, well, the least said about them the better.
Because they can protest all they like, but every one of those people must have done, said, or – urgh – thought something terrible. And it illustrates how the modern left have evolved that celebrity socialists like Bragg, OJ, and former Word presenter Terry Christmas are intensely relaxed about the management class peddling workers because of their beliefs. And people say us leftists are stuck in the ’70s. Ha.
Luckily, to reinforce the point that only right-wing nasties who thoroughly deserve it ever get cancelled, on the same day the Harker’s letter landed Twitter trained its sights on privileged British actress Josie Comer after it was revealed that the dumb yank she’s been fornicating with is a Trump supporter. And not just any Trump supporter, but a Trump supporter who assaulted someone.
Of course, there’s zero evidence that he assaulted anyone, or that Comer’s been fornicating with him. But evidence is just sooo last century, and within hours the internet was teeming with brave leftists and crusading lesbos calling Comer everything from a “two-faced bitch” to a “Nazi lover”. And rightly so. Because in 2020, simply being suspected of letting a Republican stick his knob inside you is enough to erase you from the public sphere. The fact that allowing people to sleep with who the hell they like is supposed to be a cornerstone of liberal ideology is utterly irrelevant.
Suffice to say, the cancel-worthy little madam STILL hasn’t issued an apology or dumped her Trump-supporter-boyfriend-who-probably-isn’t-a-Trump-supporter-anyway. Sickening. Such selfish behaviour makes you wonder if her Killing Zoe co-stars also harbour racist secrets. Don’t be surprised to find out that the Jap girl’s a Nazi too.
Thankfully the left are experts at spotting who deserves it and who doesn’t. So while celebrating cancel culture as a Good Thing that only happens to Bad People, we still expressed anger that the women who removed her name from the Hairpin’s letter was being targeted for cancellation by anti-cancel culture cancellers. Ditto left-wing ladies man Sam Criss, sweary Sheffield Harem MP Jared O’Hara, and that vulnerable NSPCCC worker who got sacked for filming himself masturbating at work in fetish gear and posting the footage on Grindxr.
These instances were clearly bad cancel culture, demonstrating how in the wrong hands it’s a destructive force, despite the fact that we’ve spent two weeks saying it doesn’t exist and everyone who gets cancelled had it coming. So the writer who removed her name was hounded by alt-right trolls; the activist who got handsy on a date was the victim of right-wing smears; the Labour MP who wrote dodgy stuff on Facebook was young and daft and deserves a second chance; and the children’s charity employee who broadcast his kinky hobby to the internet was victimised by homophobes too bigoted to accept that wanking in the bogs at work while wearing a rubber vest is just something gay men do.
But some will never get it. Compare the howls of right-wing outrage at the above incident with the reaction to the justified sacking of newsreader Alastair Burnett: yep, in 2020 some people genuinely believe that having a sly tug at work is more deserving of the sack than quoting a Shakespeare Stevens poem to a black person. Which is why I’m honoured to have incited that letter and tricked the bozos who signed it into revealing their true selves. You’re welcome.
Still, despite our best efforts some people simply refuse to be cancelled. But they can’t hide forever and the day will eventually come when no-one is safe from cancellation. Not even Peoples of Colour, a disturbing minority of whom seem to believe they’re allowed to think for themselves and even disagree with liberals. For shame.
In the meantime, we’ll continue fighting fascism and sticking up for working folk by silencing people and trying to get them sacked. But in this post-#MeTwo moment we have to be one step ahead. Which is why it’s vital when defending cancel culture, pretending it doesn’t exist, or performing some weird contortion that incorporates both, any discussion of men wrongly accused or found innocent of indecent behaviour must be shut down immediately. Red flags to studiously ignore include Harley Proctor, Leon Britain, Ken Roach, Michael Le Webster, Jimmy Tarbrush, Paul Wella, Mike Hucknall, Woody Alan, Jonny Depp, Ryan Seacrust, and Michael ‘Spacko’ Jacko, though if you’re cornered simply remind your opponent that they must be rapists as most of them are Tories. Then block, report, and run away.
But the most important thing to remember is never, ever, under any circumstances, research the scores of normal, non-famous, un-powerful, not-bigoted people who’ve been punished for saying things Twitter people don’t like, such as Justine Sacco, Tim Hunt, Angelos Sofocleous, Chelsea Russell, Ned Lebow, Mary Beth Maxwell, James Damore, Lindsay Shepherd, Nick Buckley, Harald Uhlig, William A.Jacobson, the mystery copper who used the phrase ‘white than white’, and anyone else whose experiences with woke inquisitors and online morality mobs pisses all over the notion that cancellation only happens to rich racists and celebrity sex-pests.
So get to work, my pretties – these cretins won’t cancel themselves. And remember, unlike winning the lottery, being sexually assaulted, or abducted by Mossad, if you’re a Good Person cancellation literally can’t happen to you.
Unless it does in which case it serves you right.