I had a lot of links pulled aside for a post on cancel culture today.
Cancel culture isn’t the desire to see someone like Bill Cosby, in jail for rape after facing accusations from over 40 women, lose his audience. It’s getting someone, not a public figure, fired — and probably forced into early retirement — for a costume in poor taste at a party two years ago.
Or getting someone fired for 10-year-old bad joke tweets.
Or closing a tenant’s store because his teenage daughter posted racist stuff on social media several years ago.
There’s a bunch more stuff going around these days. It’s dumb.
And then I saw a story about an (apparently adult) couple who showed up at a Central New York ice cream shop during the COVID-19 pandemic without masks, and were told by two teenage employees they would be refused service if they didn’t wear masks. The couple screamed at the employees.
Now, let’s imagine for a moment that the couple was maskless because they believe in individual liberties. Wouldn’t the notion that a business can turn away any customer for any reason fit into that belief?
Let’s imagine, instead, that they just didn’t have masks with them. That they were driving around just getting out of the house and they saw an ice cream stand and decided an ice cream might be nice. Well, just as some places post signs that say, “no shoes, no shirt, no service,” now some businesses have added “no mask” to that list.
Whatever the reason, the couple couldn’t possibly think that a couple of kids — the employees working were 16 and 18 years old — came up with the policy, or, let’s face it, had the authority to override it. In fact, in some counties, they’d be breaking the law if they were to serve those people.
Apparently, they’re not alone.
Let’s take the politics of the mask out of it. Unlike “no shoes, no shirt, no service,” “no shoes, no shirt, no mask, no service” currently sits outside the Overton Window as a policy decision. If you simply don’t meet the qualifications for being a customer somewhere, why do you think that place owes you something? And, on top of that, why be positively horrible to a couple of young people who are merely enforcing an unsurprising rule at a nonessential shop? It’s not like that couple needed the ice cream, even. They just felt that the couple of dollars the stand charges is all that was required to entitle them to the treat.
It’s hard to have honest conversations. It’s hard to admit pain to a colleague. It’s hard to be open and vulnerable about fears — be they fears of illness and death or loss of liberty or simply the unknown.
But it’s actually easy to see people as people. You don’t have to love everyone. You don’t have to agree with everyone. The root of most of the world’s religions is be nice to others. It takes no effort to not take your frustrations out on people who don’t deserve it.