Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. I Was a Teenage Cancel Mob

 

I completed my last two years of high school in a small Christian boarding school on the Canadian prairies. The school was affiliated with a larger Bible college, and every day, we students trudged out of our dorms for 45 minutes of chapel, along with three hours of church services and at least one Bible class each semester.

In short, it was a great place to learn spiritual orthodoxy, but not a great place for intellectual curiosity.

One semester in particular, the leaders of the school decided to start the semester off with a fire-and-brimstone revival meeting, or at least as fiery and brimstone-y as a bunch of Canadian evangelicals can get. The guest speaker for the evening stood up and exhorted all of us to reject worldly culture. It was rock music that was keeping us from God, he said. If we wanted to be truly happy in Christ, he said, we need to reject every innovation in music that had come along since V-E Day.

He was persuasive, and we were persuaded. Oh boy, were we persuaded. My friends and I vowed to toss out our Supertramp and Foreigner cassettes and get right with God by listening only to Evie and 2nd Chapter of Acts. All of us tossed our secular music into the trash and walked away from all that devil music.

Well almost all of us, that is. One of my more secular-minded friends rummaged through the trash and started picking out some of the music we had tossed away. It was then I watched one of my friends literally slap a cassette tape out his hands, saying that he shouldn’t listen to that sort of music anymore.

Sadly, I didn’t step in. The anti-rock ‘n’ roll fervor soon passed, and I went back to listening to the same music that my friends outside of my school were listening to.

Decades later, I still can feel the echoes of that certainty I felt. I was 100% convinced that everyone, not just me, should obey my choices in what was right and wrong in popular culture. It felt good to be a part of a group that was enforcing our beliefs on our classmates. And it scared me.

That was the last time I joined the mob. However, I still remember the thrill of (self-)righteousness I felt as I made sure that others were up to my standards of what was right and what was wrong. Now, as I watch the invasive species of the cancel culture mob spread across Twitter and the right of America, like the moral equivalent of kudzu, I feel a twinge of pain about my old actions.

Here’s hoping that the mob understands that they and their cause are not as righteous as they believe it to be.

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  1. KentForrester Moderator

    Very interesting, Kevin. Like you, I suspect that your impulse to impose your will on others way back then is the same impulse we see today among the Woke and Cancel cultures.

    • #1
    • July 11, 2020, at 8:17 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  2. Mark Camp Member

    As I read your post I wonder if you are conflating two very different things: the attempt–perfectly absurd and disobedient in God’s eyes–to impose one’s moral beliefs on another by force, with having moral beliefs that are in accordance with God’s will.

    I suspect you need to adjust your sights, because they are directing you to miss the target.

    • #2
    • July 11, 2020, at 8:34 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  3. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Desire and will to correct your neighbors through conversation is not wrong. Love seeks unity and the good of others for their own sakes. Indifference is unloving. Respecting free will and individual judgment is not the same as silently watching your neighbor blindly stumble into obstacles or turning your back to him. To love all people is to desire all people to share truth. 

    Coercion is the wrong. Good and intelligent people will disagree where best to draw the line between tolerable evils and intolerable evils. They will disagree about how laws and rules or lack of laws and rules affect behavior. But free will must be among our highest values because to choose is why we are created. 

    If we can make any headway toward reviving our culture, it must involve consideration of first principles. Believing no balance of values, no prudence, is necessary makes one an easy target for indoctrination. 

    • #3
    • July 11, 2020, at 9:10 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  4. Stad Thatcher

    Kevin Creighton: at least as fiery and brimstone-y as a bunch of Canadian evangelicals can get.

    There was Molson’s, eh?

    • #4
    • July 12, 2020, at 4:55 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. GrannyDude Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Desire and will to correct your neighbors through conversation is not wrong. Love seeks unity and the good of others for their own sakes. Indifference is unloving. Respecting free will and individual judgment is not the same as silently watching your neighbor blindly stumble into obstacles or turning your back to him. To love all people is to desire all people to share truth.

    Coercion is the wrong. Good and intelligent people will disagree where best to draw the line between tolerable evils and intolerable evils. They will disagree about how laws and rules or lack of laws and rules affect behavior. But free will must be among our highest values because to choose is why we are created.

    If we can make any headway toward reviving our culture, it must involve consideration of first principles. Believing no balance of values, no prudence, is necessary makes one an easy target for indoctrination.

    I think you’re missing Kevin’s point. I hear him saying that there is a pleasure to be found in belonging to a censorious and condemnatory mob. And I do mean pleasure—a seductive little hit of dopamine every time the sinful thing or person is cast out, metaphorically or otherwise. 

    Nothing un-Biblical about that (see John 7, pericope adulterae). That pleasure—not true concern for the sinner nor even for the sinned-against—- is what is driving cancel culture. I would suspect that it is , like other, similar pleasures, addictive.

    • #5
    • July 12, 2020, at 5:59 AM PDT
    • 11 likes
  6. Full Size Tabby Member

    Kevin Creighton: Here’s hoping that the mob understands that they and their cause are not as righteous as they believe it to be.

    A problem with mobs is that it becomes almost impossible for the mob’s members to see that. The “value” of mobs is the mono-focus on one or a few specific issues. Almost by definition that excludes the ability to see from outside the mob’s perspective that maybe the mob’s perspective isn’t the only “righteous” perspective. As @GrannyDude notes above, the pleasure response to participating in the mob sucks us in, and is likely to keep us from seeing that maybe our behavior isn’t as righteous as we are thinking it is. 

    • #6
    • July 12, 2020, at 7:16 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    GrannyDude (View Comment):
    I hear him saying that there is a pleasure to be found in belonging to a censorious and condemnatory mob.

    I think the pleasure is in being part of an energetic movement of any kind and the semblance of securing justice. 

    Acting together in a common project instills a sense of community and belonging. Destroying rock albums and insisting others do the same provides a sense of justice by seemingly securing the aims of purity, right orientation, and helping others through correction. 

    Destruction is a simple act that provides immediate gratification, whereas working to build things is tedious and difficult. Slapping something out of someone’s hand is simpler than persuading the person to give it up voluntarily. 

    Evil is an absence or corruption of good. It often misguides and twists good impulses into abhorrent mockeries of love and justice. 

    To guide people out of error, it is necessary to identify what their better nature is reaching for and to provide opportunities for the real thing. For example, the assertive instincts of young men can easily slip into bullying or reckless dares, so must be trained into defense of others and disciplined constructive ambition. Censors, like communists, are promised a more just and beautiful world if they clear away the old world. They must be shown real justice and real potential for voluntary change. 

    That’s not to say it’s a simple matter of education. People aren’t robots. Human nature is willful and many will stubbornly persist in shameless sins. In those cases, intolerable evils must be subdued by force, tolerable evils endured with hope and prayer.

    • #7
    • July 12, 2020, at 7:33 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Dotorimuk Coolidge

    Reminds me of an episode of “King of the Hill.” Hank tells a Christian rocker, “You’re not making Christianity better, you’re just making rock music worse.”

    • #8
    • July 12, 2020, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. Manny Member

    Kevin Creighton: It was rock music that was keeping us from God, he said. If we wanted to be truly happy in Christ, he said, we need to reject every innovation in music that had come along since V-E Day.

    You know, as much as I’ve loved rock music over the years, I have come to the conclusion it is a cancer on the culture and then the individual. It’s whole objective is to be subversive, free the libido, and rebel against what is decent. How can a song do, you may ask? Well, hundred of thousands of songs now for seventy years straight has warped the culture. One might argue they are just reflecting society. No, it’s symbiotic. One feeds and accentuates the other.

    Nice post, by the way.

    • #9
    • July 12, 2020, at 8:49 PM PDT
    • 1 like
    • This comment has been edited.
  10. Flicker Coolidge

    Manny (View Comment):

    Kevin Creighton: It was rock music that was keeping us from God, he said. If we wanted to be truly happy in Christ, he said, we need to reject every innovation in music that had come along since V-E Day.

    You know, as much as I’ve loved rock music over the years, I have come to the conclusion it is a cancer on the culture and then the individual. It’s whole objective is to be subversive, free the libido, and rebel against what is decent. One can a song do, you may ask? Well, hundred of thousands of songs now for seventy years straight has warped the culture. One might argue they are just reflecting society. No, it’s symbiotic. One feeds and accentuates the other.

    Nice post, by the way.

    I don’t normally listen to popular music, but when I do I prefer Motown. Stay soulful my friends.

    • #10
    • July 12, 2020, at 10:09 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Dotorimuk Coolidge

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Kevin Creighton: It was rock music that was keeping us from God, he said. If we wanted to be truly happy in Christ, he said, we need to reject every innovation in music that had come along since V-E Day.

    You know, as much as I’ve loved rock music over the years, I have come to the conclusion it is a cancer on the culture and then the individual. It’s whole objective is to be subversive, free the libido, and rebel against what is decent. One can a song do, you may ask? Well, hundred of thousands of songs now for seventy years straight has warped the culture. One might argue they are just reflecting society. No, it’s symbiotic. One feeds and accentuates the other.

    Nice post, by the way.

    I don’t normally listen to popular music, but when I do I prefer Motown. Stay soulful my friends.

    Stax>Motown

    • #11
    • July 12, 2020, at 10:50 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Flicker Coolidge

    Dotorimuk (View Comment):
    Stax

    Maybe, depending on the mood. I’m listening to Isaac Hayes sing I Stand Accused.

    • #12
    • July 13, 2020, at 12:15 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Stad Thatcher

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    Kevin Creighton: It was rock music that was keeping us from God, he said. If we wanted to be truly happy in Christ, he said, we need to reject every innovation in music that had come along since V-E Day.

    You know, as much as I’ve loved rock music over the years, I have come to the conclusion it is a cancer on the culture and then the individual. It’s whole objective is to be subversive, free the libido, and rebel against what is decent. One can a song do, you may ask? Well, hundred of thousands of songs now for seventy years straight has warped the culture. One might argue they are just reflecting society. No, it’s symbiotic. One feeds and accentuates the other.

    Nice post, by the way.

    I don’t normally listen to popular music, but when I do I prefer Motown. Stay soulful my friends.

    I’ve always been and always will be a hard rocker. Long live rock!

    • #13
    • July 13, 2020, at 5:30 AM PDT
    • 1 like