Cancelling someone creates an equal and opposite reaction.

“Halo Thieves”. June 23, 2010. (photo: charamelody)

For journalists, media personalities and political analysts working for legacy news outlets like MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post, Donald Trump is the great white whale to their Captain Ahab.

But only if Moby Dick turned out to be some kind of zombie superwhale; one who just wouldn’t die, for all Ahab’s efforts.

A yearly popularity contest was curtailed this year when Donald Trump appeared likely to be named the most admired man, a title worth about as much as any other advertising campaign- that is to say, not much at all.

Not that Trump didn’t win last year; he did. He unseated former President Barack Obama some time ago. It’s no surprise, really; Democratic respondents have been split for years between several admired progressives including President Joe Biden. Together, the Democrats beat Donald Trump easily; the split ticket gives a mistaken impression.

Of course the whole thing is absolute nonsense, about as reliable as any poll and probably less so.

What bothers the legacy media is that Trump is still popular- still- even after his defeat at the ballot box in 2020 and the stain of January 6th.

Progressives have tried to cancel him; Republicans have tried to cancel him. Twitter banned him forever; Facebook did the same. But whatever is lobbed at him, Trump just keeps on going.

Meanwhile, across the pond, JK Rowling is currently having the same experience as Donald Trump with regards to popularity contests. A similar “most-admired person in the UK” question was pulled abruptly without explanation and Rowling’s lead is rumored to have been the reason.

In spite of, or perhaps even because of, her recent dust-ups with the trans activist community, Rowling is apparently more popular than ever.

The same might be said for comedian Dave Chappelle. After his most recent Netflix comedy special, progressives from the progressive trans activist community did everything they could to drum the veteran comedian out of the comedy business. To say that Chappelle emerged unscathed is an understatement.

Many of those cancelled have emerged wealthier than ever, too.

From mainstream media columnists and journalists who have been cancelled and struck out on their own to great profit and acclaim, to media colossus Joe Rogan; the list of people the left has tried and failed to cancel grows longer with each episode, as does their influence and market share.

Such cancellation efforts seem to be failing, and if anything seem to be making the public more sympathetic to the cancelled. It is also possible that cancellation has become a victim of its own success and if anything has been only too successful.

There are simply too many targets. So many miscreants are in need of cancelation for various sins, the mob is constantly on the move. As a result, cancelation isn’t so much an endless onslaught as it is a brief rain shower.

The mob gets bored and it moves on to some new outrage. Same as it ever was.

The left is only now learning what One Million Moms learned from Ellen Degeneres and JC Penny many years ago.

Back in 2012, Ellen Degeneres was the main spokesperson for the giant retailer, still in its heyday. Openly LGBTQ+, Degeneres was one of the few major stars in Hollywood to be so in those days.

One Million Moms, a conservative action group, objected to Degeneres. They threatened to cancel JC Penny, boycott it en masse unless the company jettisoned Degeneres. JC Penny refused.

Almost a decade later, JC Penny still limps along as ever; not because of One Million Moms but because of a terrible retail business model and poor management. The boycott effort, or cancellation attempt back when no one called it that, failed miserably.

Why? Because it created an equal and opposite reaction from the left. While there certainly may have been a few conservatives who refused to shop at JC Penny after it stood behind Ellen Degeneres, an even larger number of customers rallied behind a decision they wholeheartedly supported.

Cancelling doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The reasons for cancelling, the intent behind it, the strength of the evidence, even the group leading the charge; every one of those factors and million more are in play every time a skirmish in the culture wars gets splashed across Twitter for an hour or two.

For every person who feels passionately that this person, be it Ellen Degeneres or JK Rowling- two people who incidentally have been cancelled by both right and left- should be banished from polite society for their crimes, there are three others who feel a certain amount of sympathy for anyone bearing the brunt of cancellation, one who sides with Rowling, four who don’t care one iota either way, and 20 who’ve never even heard of any of it.

By all means, vote with the power of your dollars. Everyone should do so. What you buy, and don’t buy, shapes the market more than anything else. Beware of confusing clever advertising with a company truly committed to your values and greenwashing, however.

And know that the minute you try to drum up an online army to shame someone out of their job, out of their school, into setting their accounts to private, an equal and opposite reaction will ensue with the certainty of an immutable law of physics.

(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)