I'd like to introduce you to two of the latest victims of today's "cancel culture." One, a now-former senior communications official for Boeing and a former Navy fighter pilot; the other, the former Dean of the University of Massachusetts School of Nursing.
Neither had been in their jobs very long.
Neil Golightly, 62, took over Boeing's top communication post in January after just a year running comms for Fiat Chrysler, and before that two other corporations. He's a former speechwriter to both the Secretary of the Navy and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pretty impressive credentials.
Someone at Boeing complained about an article in a Navy publication Golightly authored in 1987, while a Navy Lieutenant, in opposition to women serving in combat. I remember that debate well, and a lot of people then, if not now, still share his 33-year old perspective. He no longer holds that view, but no matter. While he resigned, it's pretty clear that Boeing's CEO was relieved to see him go of his own accord. I wonder if he really had a choice. Another classic case of Presentism - applying modern standards to people and actions of past years and generations. It is not just out of control, but wildly destructive and sheer lunacy.
Perhaps there were other issues, but I find it very strange that a 33-year-old article can cancel someone's employment, if not a career, from a single employee complaint. My gosh, I was a newspaper editor and writer in college back in the 1970s and for a couple of years afterward - I can only imagine the field day the cancel culture would have with me today, never mind my troublesome Facebook, media appearances, interviews, speeches, and social media posts over a 40-year career. Wait, I can.
I hope this veteran lands on his feet. You can read the New York Post article about the unfortunate incident here.
And then meet Dr. Leslie Neal-Boylan, the aforementioned nursing school dean. She was fired for saying this via email to a blog dedicated to "free speech:" “I am writing to express my concern and condemnation of the recent (and past) acts of violence against people of color. Recent events recall a tragic history of racism and bias that continue to thrive in this country. I despair for our future as a nation if we do not stand up against violence against anyone. BLACK LIVES MATTER, but also, EVERYONE’S LIFE MATTERS. No one should have to live in fear that they will be targeted for how they look or what they believe.” Law Professor Jonathan Turley posted about her issue here.
It is not hard to figure out why she was canceled. No matter that polling (Rasmussen, June 17th) suggests 59% of people do, in fact, ascribe to the notion that "all lives matter." Sadly, that number used to poll at 78%. I wonder if many people are afraid to be honest with anonymous pollsters? You know, "Social Desirability Bias."
This has been going on for years; just ask Brenden Eich, the founder of Mozilla who was literally chased from his job for making a political contribution to California's now-infamous Proposition 8 a few years ago. It is no wonder that people now walk on eggshells inside corporate, media, and academic cultures filled with lurking woke mobs, peering over shoulders and demanding conformity and loyalty to a worldview they have bullied their employers to embrace, lest they are canceled as well. How they take the time or are fed "offending" articles or emails is worth some investigation. And some even get in trouble for "likes" of comments on social media, so no communication of any kind is exempt from self-proclaimed "social justice warriors."
We all probably wonder why some of our social media posts fail to get a few "likes" or comments. It's sometimes because, I suspect, people are fearful of the association with someone else's words, even if they agree or ascribe to the thoughts behind them. I get it.
These are perilous times, and I pray for the safety and protection of people who must work inside such insidious, increasingly dystopian cultures. It's time for leaders to step up.