Craft Beer, Cancel Culture, and the Battle for Accountability
A Much-Need Discussion Within the Industry
by Ruvani de Silva
Founders. BrewDog. Mikkeller. Boulevard. These are just a few of the breweries who have been called out for instances of sexual or racial harassment, unsafe workplaces, and a toxic, bigoted culture.
For some, the naming, shaming, and boycotting of these popular businesses is nothing less than a long-overdue reckoning for behaviors that contravene both legal and moral standards that the industry has a duty to uphold. For others, these actions are seen as either unfair, unnecessary, or irrelevant, with objections ranging from beer being ‘unnecessarily politicized’ to complaints about being denied the ‘right’ to drink their favorite brews without criticism. The phrase most commonly employed by accountability nay-sayers, both in the beer world and outside of it, is ‘cancel culture’.
In this piece, I will briefly explain the meaning and origins of cancel culture and the many different interpretations the term has come to hold, using examples from inside and outside the beer industry. I will then go on to look at specific examples of the use and misuse of cancel culture in the beer industry and address the ways in which what was initially intended as strategy for marginalized groups to exercise their collective voice via a combination of their online presence and purchasing power has become both increasingly toothless and aggressively divisive. I will then consider how marginalized groups can act to reclaim the original intent and potency of collective cancellation and push back against the ongoing regressive misuse of both the concept and the act of cancellation.
What is cancel culture?
Anyone with even a passing interest in news media or popular culture over the last decade or so will recognize the term ‘cancel culture.’ In our highly-charged contemporary political climate, barely a day goes by without these two small words being slung around like verbal nun chucks.
However, what you understand the term to mean and how, or if, you use it will depend on your news sources, socio-political perspective, and your understanding of the First Amendment. All of which mean that the very concept of cancel culture is impossibly slippery to the point of becoming meaningless. And yet it is a phrase that continues to be thrown around in all areas of life, including the beer industry and beer culture.
So, where did cancel culture come from? Let’s start at the beginning: Cancel culture, in its original form, is about accountability. The term originates from a 1981 Chic song called, ‘Your Love Is Cancelled’ from the album Take It Off, which inspired screenwriter, Barry Michael Cooper, to give Wesley Snipes’ Nino Brown the line “Cancel that bitch. I’ll buy another one” in the 1991 film New Jack City, popularizing the term in Black culture.
‘Cancelling’ swiftly became shorthand for minority groups (particularly POCs) to withdraw support from an individual or organization whose behavior was considered prejudicial or inappropriate, which is somewhat ironic with the term originating from a misogynistic joke, but as we will go on to discuss, the meanings of words and phrases are frequently changed by their usage and who is in control of the narrative.
With minorities initially owning the concept of cancellation, it took hold on social media as a weapon with which to reprimand sexism, racist and homophobic individuals and organizations online, including Kanye West, Roseanne Barr, and Louis CK.
Cancel culture can be credited with bringing to justice criminals like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby, and has solicited apologies from the likes of Chrissy Teigen and Jimmy Kimmel. However, there is a growing right-wing-powered backlash insisting that cancel culture has ‘gone too far’, amounts to ‘mob rule’ and undermines free speech that has dangerously damaged the way in which marginalized groups can demand accountability.
The recent deliberate misuse and obfuscation of the phrase has come to misinterpret and disempower this very simple original idea – placing cultural power and agency into the hands of those who don’t have it.
Of course, many of those who consider themselves to have been ‘cancelled’ have created a backlash. No one likes being told they’re in the wrong and being called out in that most public of forums, the world of social media, is going to ruffle a few feathers.
Spearheaded by Fox News and its ilk, the twisting of the meaning of cancel culture from a show of collective power to an abrasive insult marks it as a defining feature in the ongoing bipartisan culture wars. Furthermore, it has also undermined both its integrity and its effectiveness. This is in part due to the power and influence of many of those who have been (or attempted to be) cancelled, and also arguably the result of ‘cancel culture burn-out’ – the unfortunate situation when individuals decide they care less about politics than they do about their favorite brand or celebrity.
It’s important to note that it’s not just the right who have spoken out against cancel culture. In July 2020, 153 prominent writers and academics signed an open letter that was published in Harper’s Bazaar – ‘A Letter on Justice and Open Debate’ – calling for an end to cancel culture and the need for ‘civility’ in public debate and an end to ‘intolerance of opposing views.’ Some of the signatories may come as a surprise: Noam Chomsky, Margaret Atwood, Steve Pinker, Gloria Steinem. Others not so much perhaps: Francis Fukuyama, Martin Amis, JK Rowling (see below).
Coming as it did in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests following the murder of George Floyd, the letter received significant backlash, particularly from those outside the establishment, citing the wealth and white privilege of the majority of the signatories in allowing them to miss the entire point of cancel culture as a way to confer power onto marginalized groups.
Just three days later, lecturer, Arionne Nettles, organized a letter in response – ‘A More Specific Letter on Justice and Open Debate’, signed by over 160 journalists, academics and writers, highlighting the lack of validity in the claims made by the original letter due to the skewed perspective of who was making them: “The intellectual freedom of cis white intellectuals has never been under threat en masse, especially when compared to how writers from marginalized groups have been treated for generations. In fact, they have never faced serious consequences — only momentary discomfort.”
The misconstruing of the validity of cancel culture by the white liberal elite can create as much negative reframing of the term as rightwing demonizing.
All of these types of backlash exist in the beer industry, making it increasingly difficult and divisive to speak out and stand up against breweries whose behavior we object to. As attempts at cancelling fail even in the most egregious circumstances with so many obstacles countermanding cancellation, how can we possibly push back and reclaim the right to boycott with our voices and choose with our dollars?
Let’s start with a case study. One of the most famous examples of a marginalized groups’ attempt to cancel a celebrity due to their prejudicial behavior backfiring involves the author JK Rowling.
Back in June 2020, Rowling, whose international fame and prestige could not have been greater, released a highly contentious statement on her website concerning her take on trans rights, which caused an enormous backlash, with critics including members of the Trans community, doctors, academics, and former Harry Potter cast members.
While Rowling denies that her beliefs make her a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), her repeated Twitter rants dividing trans women and ‘biological’ women, her comparison between hormone therapy and conversion therapy, her demands for spaces reserved for ‘biological women’, and assertions that gay teenage girls are only transitioning due to homophobic pressure are among some of the many offensive and prejudicial comments that led to her being cancelled.
Rowling’s language did not help matters: “It would be so much easier to tweet the approved hashtags – because of course trans rights are human rights and of course trans lives matter – scoop up the woke cookies and bask in a virtue-signaling afterglow” being a particularly egregious example.
Self-describing herself as ‘cancelled’, Rowling repeatedly invoked her right to free speech as part of her manifesto, which gained her traction with other groups and individuals, predominantly but not limited to the right side of the political spectrum.
Between the support Rowling received from those who believe cancelling is a threat to free speech, those who are anti-trans rights, those who have chosen to mentally divorce the Harry Potter-verse from Rowling and those who don’t even know what happened, Rowling’s sales have continued to climb and her public reputation remains untarnished except in the eyes of what remains a minority group.
Rowling herself has taken this as proof her cancellation has failed, responding to online death threats stating “To be fair, when you can’t get a woman sacked, arrested or dropped by her publisher, and cancelling her only made her book sales go up, there’s really only one place to go.”
To be fair, when you can’t get a woman sacked, arrested or dropped by her publisher, and cancelling her only made her book sales go up, there’s really only one place to go. pic.twitter.com/MsNWXhWlyc
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) July 19, 2021
Rowling remains unrelenting, unrepentant, and both financially and mainstream-culturally unpunished. And she is far from the only one. The beer world has its very own behemoths attacking minority rights whilst racking up sales.
“Reluctantly, I am now forced to take legal action…”
Nearly half a million people have now watched BBC Scotland’s deeply critical and meticulously researched documentary The Truth About BrewDog, which aired on January 24th, 2022. The program includes damning testimonials from present and former BrewDog employees on both sides of the Atlantic, attesting to a toxic work culture, illegal transport of goods, and sexually predatory behavior by co-founder James Watt.
This is not the first time that issues at BrewDog have reached the public eye. During last summer’s outpouring of sexual harassment and abuse stories on Brienne Allan (@ratmagnet)’s Instagram account, at least 28 separate stories involved BrewDog. This resulted in the formation of Punks With Purpose, a group of current and former BrewDog employees wrote an open letter to the company with the goal of raising awareness about working conditions at the company and affecting meaningful change.
While many of those who read the Instagram stories and the open letter and watched the documentary were understandably horrified by what they learned and ceased patronizing BrewDog, at least an equal number of consumers appear nonplussed.
Drinkers from around the world continue to happily post pics of their BrewDog beverages as new branches open, they launch their own line of soda, sponsor music festivals and other breweries continue to collaborate with and distribute through the chain despite overwhelming evidence of law-breaking and harassment.
Attempts to cancel BrewDog, even with a swathe of proven facts about their appalling and at times illegal behaviors and the weight of the BBC behind them, have fallen flat because folks just want their Punk IPA.
And it’s not just BrewDog. Proven accusations of sexism and sexual harassment against Mikkeller and Boulevard and racism against Founders have not made a significant impact on these breweries’ popularity in the wider beer market.
In fact, BrewDog and Founders rank respectively third and fourth in Untappd’s Top 10 Breweries of 2021, based on number of global check-ins. That’s above Sierra Nevada, Goose Island, and even AB InBev. It would appear that these guys are not going anywhere.
And of course, these big brands are the tip of the iceberg. Last year’s revelations uncovered instances of gender-based bullying, discrimination, and violence at breweries large and small across both sides of the Atlantic, and although a wave of resignations came in their wake, there are plenty of drinkers still patronizing all the companies involved. Why?
“Painful woke psychodrama”
No, this comment wasn’t made in relation to beer, but it certainly could have been. For every person on social media calling out sexism, racism, homophobia, and unsafe working conditions in the industry, there’s at least one other complaining about cancel culture as political correctness gone mad. Why are so many people so unconcerned with the welfare of the people who make their beer?
In many instances, as we saw in the case of JK Rowling, those who are decrying cancel culture in beer are doing so because they identify with those purportedly being cancelled rather than those doing the cancelling. This can (and often does) amount to white cis men supporting white cis men.
Despite the damage to my search history, my attempts to locate at least one blogger coming to James Watt’s defense have not yet been successful (although his own LinkedIn page is a cacophony of blame-shifting excuses – reposted with love by American Craft Beer), and yes, there are sadly plenty of women and even the odd person of color posting and checking in BrewDog beers.
However, of those taking poorly aimed potshots at anyone speaking up for minority groups in beer, the majority of voices are unsurprisingly from the white male contingent.
In the same way that the political right has changed the essence of cancellation to mean ‘woke and leftwing’, those who do not want to see the beer industry opened up safely and equitably to minority groups label cancellation as a denial of their right to a privileged white male space.
A quick sweep through the comments section of UK newspaper The Telegraph’s articles by esteemed British beer writer, Melissa Cole, including her criticism of Watt and BrewDog and her recent article on women in beer history and the Campaign For Real Ale (CAMRA)’s new diversity survey gives a strong flavor of the type of beer drinkers who believe they, and by default their ilk, are being cancelled due to some kind of woke leftwing youth conspiracy. The irony hits when you realize that their immediate response is to cancel their Telegraph subscriptions and CAMRA memberships.
Responses to media coverage of CAMRA’s important and well-intentioned diversity survey, curated here by the British Guild of Beer Writers’ Beer Writer of 2021, Pete Brown, show a demonstrable link between right wing politics and beer’s cancel culture contingent.
Particular gems include “One of the last bastions of being a white middle-aged man is going. Can we have nothing that is ours alone, why does everything have to be shared with minority groups!!”, “CAMRA try to appease B,la c k Lives Mateer [sic] Marxists because they are scared. of them” and “When will the real people in this country take it back from those who want to destroy it.” I wonder where we’ve heard this rhetoric before. Look no further than Marjorie Taylor Greene’s ‘gazpacho police’.
‘Keep politics out of beer’
Moving on from the militants, there’s another group whose actions continue to undermine the power of collective action boycotts. ‘I don’t care about the politics, I just like the beer’ is an ongoing refrain used by drinkers to justify their purchasing choices, and all the moments of reckoning in the world don’t seem to be changing their minds. While they may not consider themselves to be aligned with those who are doing damage in either politics or beer, they ignore or tune out relevant information in order to continue drinking the beer they like without having to concern themselves with any consequences for their actions.
As the culture wars have intensified, it has undoubtedly become harder for this group to sit unknowingly on the fence, making it more likely that they will experience ‘cancel culture burn-out’ from being unable to avoid facts they’d rather not hear. There is often ongoing bemoaning about how exhausting it is keeping up with whom they can and can’t buy.
Many of these folks also believe in keeping politics out of sports, music, or anything else they happen to take a fancy to, which of course doesn’t make any sense at all because all our purchases are political, whether we like it or not.
Every time we place an online order, fill up our car, or go to the grocery store we are making a political decision, and no amount of head-in-the-sand denial will change that. Goods and services do not exist without context – but even the most committed activist can appreciate the appeal of going to a bar and ordering a drink without a care in the world as to who may have suffered to get it there.
Indeed, if the more engaged in this group were to ask if you’re boycotting Amazon or Walmart, as well as Founders and Mikkeller, they have a point. Making conscious consumer decisions is hard. But proving to this group that it’s worth it is essential to any genuine attempt to reclaim the original meaning and intent of cancel culture.
Of course, some people will still choose to keep drinking their favorite beer over rejecting the poor ethics and standards of the brewery that makes it. Sadly, not everyone cares about where their goods and services come from.
The flip side of cancelling
There are other arguments against cancelling that are significantly more complex and nuanced. For many who either have or do work in hospitality, their immediate concern is quite reasonable for the negative impact that cancellation could have on a businesses’ employees.
With the owners and senior managers who are, by and large, the ones responsible for the cancel-igniting issues, safely insulated behind the personal wealth they have already built up from their industry success, the front-line employees are the ones most vulnerable should sales tail off.
Many arguing against cancellation put forward a case for continuing to support businesses because the staff have already suffered enough without the threat of wage cuts or unemployment resulting from customer boycotts.
The recent closure of four out of Modern Times’ eight West Coast taprooms has, by some, been attributed to the string of sexual misconduct allegations involving the company which emerged last May on Brienne Allan’s Instagram account, and resulted in the resignations of events coordinator, Derek Freese, who was named in the allegations and CEO, Jacob McKean, who stepped away after having failed to respond to the allegations when they were raised internally.
Staff at Modern Times’ Oakland branch (one of those that will be closing) immediately went on strike to protest their “disappointment and embarrassment” at the company’s behavior, stating they “will not be pouring beer in Oakland until we feel that company leadership acts in a way that aligns with our personal values of inclusion and equality, and that appropriate actions and measures are put in place to prevent further discrimination and harassment” – a statement that led swiftly to McKean’s resignation.
While Modern Times attributes the closures to the pressures of the pandemic and attempting unsustainable growth, there are, inevitably, those who believe the closures are a direct result of these allegations. Did McKean’s exposure lead to these significant job losses at Modern Times? While no one knows for sure right now, the closures have fueled the argument that boycotts harm vulnerable staff more than fat cat CEOs.
While, inevitably, there are those who blame McKean for his behaviors and those who misguidedly blame his victims for stepping up, the notion that boycotts hurt the innocent has gained increasing traction on social media, born out further by staff testimony in the BrewDog documentary that most people on the ground serving beer deserve your patronage, do not condone, and bear no responsibility for the actions of James Watt.
So, what can we do?
Why should we keep ‘cancelling’
Yes, it’s not easy. Yes, there’s a lot of pushbacks. But there’s a reason the form of collective action now known as ‘cancelling’ started and it’s important not to lose sight of that. If a business or individual behaves unethically or illegally, choosing to cancel them is pretty much the only power consumers have to show their displeasure. We are voting with our voices and our cash. It might make us unpopular, and it might be hard work and tiring, but there are several good reasons to keep at it.
Let’s think about it from the perspective of the victims – be it specific victims of mistreatment and abuse or marginalized groups targeted or attacked. Individuals have taken what can only be described as a huge and extremely difficult decision to come forward with their stories. This decision will undoubtedly have psychological repercussions and may well have financial and career implications as well.
It’s understandable why many of those who have spoken out against these companies have chosen to remain anonymous. Reliving the trauma of the events that these victims have suffered is already a big ask, and they are taking a risk in sharing their experiences. Every time someone ignores or dismisses their experiences, their trauma is being undermined.
When marginalized groups are attacked and their rights questioned and endangered, whom do they have to turn to for support? Allyship is essential in ensuring fair and equitable treatment of all marginalized groups and individuals. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.
While some companies, including Mikkeller, have now taken visible steps towards changing their culture – employing external agency Hand & Heart to conduct, respectively, an Affected Workers Registration Platform and Reconciliation Program, it is difficult to believe that even these very late-in-the-day gestures would have happened without the consumer pressure and concurrent negative publicity that came from those beer drinkers willing to cancel these companies. This is allyship in action, and a crucial reason why, despite the many ways in which cancel culture is failing, it is essential to persist in holding these businesses and individuals to account.
Rebranding cancel culture
One of the keyways in which cancel culture can be seen to have failed is due to the way the right has co-opted and twisted the concept of cancelling, all while conducting their own cancellation campaigns dressed up in pseudo-moral clothing.
Rightwing protestors decry cancel culture as an infringement of free speech on one hand while trying to ban critical race theory and LGBTQ+ literature on the other and see no conflict at all in their actions. However, by successfully turning the term ‘cancel culture’ into an insult, they have slapped their rhetoric over the debate. This is a tried-and-true right wing tactic of which there are countless examples, eg condemning protest vehicles during the Black Lives Matter marches while defending and supporting truckers blocking up cities to protest against Covid restrictions.
By taking control of the debate and popularizing pejorative language to skew popular perceptions of what protest actions actually mean, the right is attempting to delegitimize progressive attempts to support justice and accountability.
In the same way big business decries attempts to unionize as ‘the enemy within’, the many groups and individuals who actively want to retain cis white male dominance in the beer industry and beyond have created the ‘cancel culture’ monster that lurks under the bed like the communist demons of the 1950s.
So, in order to re-validate our right to collective boycott, we need to change the narrative by reclaiming cancelling as a positive, offering clear context and the power of results to break the fear of being seen as a ‘canceller’.
Anyone who remembers the ongoing debate over political correctness in the 1990s knows that this is a fight that can be won. The battle over the use of the sexist, racist, and homophobic language that had been normalized by older generations was fought hard by Gen Xers determined not to be demonized and stereotyped anymore.
We were done with the language we’d grown up with and the innate prejudice it engendered. Cries of ‘it’s harmless’, ‘all in good fun’ and simply ‘I’ve always said that – why should I change?’ were pushed back against with a campaign of constant, persistent correction that the right coined as ‘political correctness gone mad’. They thought they would win out by twisting and misdirecting the term used for polite and inclusive speech into an insult, but they were wrong.
Those words have (mostly) disappeared from common parlance, at least in public forums and in the media, with anti-hate crime and hate speech legislation cementing victory for progressives. Political correctness didn’t get mad – it got even, and so will cancel culture if we’re brave enough to support our beliefs and reclaim our right to collectively boycott the bigoted.
It’s been suggested that cancel be replaced with consequence, an idea that certainly has legs in terms of easily reframing the notion of collectively demanding accountability. Indeed, ‘consequence culture’ has the advantage of clearly indicating space for apology and redemption, which is a significant way to refute one of the major criticisms thrown at cancel culture – that there is no space for reconciliation. Although this has been shown not to be true, it’s another manufactured hurdle but one that a simple shift of language can help to break down.
A place of reconciliation
Ultimately, ‘cancelling’ only ever existed as a force for positive change, and the greatest positive change that we can hope to achieve is true, meaningful reconciliation. Consequence culture is and should be as much about improving understanding as it is about restitution.
We call people out try to change their behaviors, not to legitimize them further, and this is something that we need to ensure comes out as a clear message – consequences need to be real and need to matter, but without the positive possibility of apology, acknowledgement and acceptance, incentives for true change are undermined.
An excellent example of meaningful change and positive rehabilitation is that of cricket player Azeem Rafiq. Rafiq was catapulted into the public eye as a victim of ‘inhuman’ racist abuse at England’s Yorkshire Cricket Club, and gave evidence in front of a Parliamentary DCMS Committee, effectively blowing the lid off racism in English cricket. As these revelations came out, so too did antisemitic messages he had sent on WhatsApp at the age of 19.
Rafiq faced the consequences of his actions with dignity, offering a full public apology without excuse, and has since taken proactive steps to support the Jewish community, including educating himself by meeting a Holocaust survivor, visiting the Jewish Museum and attending Holocaust Memorial Day.
— Azeem Rafiq (@AzeemRafiq30) November 18, 2021
His willingness to accept the consequences of his actions and the subsequent rehabilitation of his reputation, both within the Jewish community and beyond, are a strong example of why earned forgiveness is so important, especially for role models in the public eye.
Being the wronged party confers us the right to cancel, to demand consequences, but also imbues us with the power to educate and change individuals and culture, thereby reclaiming the very meaning and essence of what cancel culture was originally about.
In the beer world we are making headway in this direction, even if it doesn’t always feel like it. While Mikkeller has a long way to go before they achieve reputational rehabilitation, working with an organization like Hand & Heart is a start. They are a fully independent consultancy whose commitment to creating change is clearly demonstrated by their Super Cool Toxic Workplace podcast where they collated the discriminatory experiences of Mikkeller staff around the world.
The fact that Mikkeller is prepared to work with Hand & Heart not despite but because of their status as whistleblowers to turn their culture and reputation around indicates that they are serious about genuine reconciliation. While this is undoubtedly still a work in progress, it’s a positive indicator that earned forgiveness is possible in the beer industry if done properly.
Another organization that has effectively changed its reputation through consistently applied equality initiatives is CAMRA. While, as previously discussed, CAMRA’s bid to transform itself from the domain of ‘pale, male and stale’ into an inclusive, dynamic and forward-thinking organization has certainly ruffled some inward-looking feathers, they have refused to succumb to pressure from their ‘old guard’ and continue to charge on with a revitalized pro-diversity agenda, and are reaping the rewards of their persistence.
CAMRA’s reputation as a bastion of casual sexism was first challenged internally in 2019 when, for the first time, they banned sexist beer names and pump clips at their flagship Great British Beer Festival. In the same year, they named Stonewall as their charity of choice to receive proceeds from the festival, and hosted a meet-up for Crafty Beer Girls, a social collective of female beer drinkers and industry professionals, at the festival.
CAMRA has continued to rehabilitate their image through positive actions including their recent diversity survey, gaining them increasing support from marginalized groups who are recognizing and responding to a sincere change in culture coming from the top.
CAMRA has effectively un-cancelled themselves by listening to their critics and responding in real, effective ways – making their events safe and welcoming to all, and most importantly building considerate responsiveness into their future planning, spurring the organization to continue evolving and becoming increasingly better at adaption and inclusivity.
Reputational rehabilitation can happen for those who exhibit a genuine understanding of why they were cancelled and are prepared to do the work to change their internal culture.
Making consequences happen
Looking forward, an emphasis on consequences, especially one that is backed up by legal ramifications, is undoubtedly the best way to ensure that the positive steps cancel culture has made for minorities and progressives are not pulled out from underneath us.
In the workplace, robust legislation is required to make hospitality a safe and welcoming place for all employees, with employers held accountable for failures to protect staff from any form of bullying, harassment, discrimination, or mistreatment.
Promoting and establishing unionization across the industry is the reverse edge to ensuring worker’s rights and instead of demonizing unions as anti-business they should be reframed as pro-worker which is, effect, pro-everyone.
While the law is critical in entrenching the progressive and inclusive culture that ‘cancelling’ originally promoted, peer-to-peer interaction is still essential in making consequence culture real. Everyone must step up and call out unacceptable behavior, and this has to become normalized to the point where it is no longer even questioned.
The perpetrators and nay-sayers need to experience meaningful social consequences of their actions, whether that be being asked to leave a venue by staff, called out by their friends, or reprimanded by their manager. These consequences must be consistent and visible in order to create the kind of society we want to live in.
A significant factor in making this happen is for each of us not to be afraid, not to be shamed, to have the confidence to stand up to those who continue to decry ‘cancel culture’, call that person out, make that complaint, and prove that these are not issues that are just going to go away so that a certain demographic doesn’t have to change.
But part of shifting from cancel culture to consequence culture is understanding that we are not just shaming people but educating them, and that means accepting genuine apologies and willingness to change.
Again, this can be a burden, draining and stressful – not only have you had to take on the emotional pressure of drawing attention to inappropriate behavior and the responsibility of educating against it, but you are also then tasked with forgiving the perpetrator too. You may wonder when and if it’s ever going to end.
This is why the collective element of cancel or consequence culture is so crucial – so that there is an ongoing element of support for each and every one of us, so we don’t feel isolated, get burnt out, and reach the point of giving up. This is, as was the original intention of cancel culture, a community effort, a combined resistance of marginalized groups and progressives.
We are activists and every act of resistance is an act of activism. Those who have tried to smear cancel culture as a dangerous negative are doing it because they are afraid of change, of the power of activism that can make change happen and enforce consequences for actions that hurt minorities.
But, in the strong and successful history of boycotts and collective action, be it the Montgomery Bus Boycott or the Coors Boycott, consequence culture can and will succeed if enough like-minded people get behind it.
EDITOR’S NOTE (3/15/2022): This article was written prior to yesterday’s revelation about BrewDog’s James Watt’s use of private investigators.
EDITOR’S NOTE (3/15/2022): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that BrewDog hired Hand & Heart.
EDITOR’S NOTE (3/16/2022): A previous version of this article incorrectly attributed the allegations to Modern Times’ CEO.