Hamilton faces the Cancel Culture

Conservative speakers at college campuses have been dis-invited, turned away by the mob, or required extra security (at the speaker’s expense) to deal with the cancel culture. CEO’s have stepped down, and Republicans have been shown the door in restaurants, but the Left was fine with this.

Then they came for “Hamilton”, and some on the Left grew a spine. Welcome to those of us fighting for free speech. I hope it lasts.

Mentioned links:

‘Hamilton’ Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda Responds To ‘Cancel Hamilton’ Criticism

J.K. Rowling Smeared As Transphobe, ‘Canceled’ After Saying Biological Sex ‘Is Real’

A Letter on Justice and Open Debate

JK Rowling, Over 100 Others Sign Letter Condemning Cancel Culture. One Caves, Apologizes. Rowling Responds.

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Show transcript

I’ve been asking what you’ve learned, or enjoyed, or missed, or lost during this pandemic. Listener Linda, a friend of mine from summer camp staff way back in the day, let us know about the events and the people she’s missing.

Missed AA meetings, a wedding & 3 graduations. AA’s yearly Founder’s Day celebration in Akron was canceled. As a recovering alcoholic it was a bit tough not being able to connect with fellow alkies as I have for 30 yrs. But like everybody, we adjusted. Although there have been a sad ton of relapses & deaths for those who weren’t able to rest on their faith & AA’s Program found in the book, or online meetings. The church thing has been maddening. I don’t go regularly but many churches could have operated safely. The overreach angered me.

Thanks so much for sharing your journey through this, Linda. This highlights another aspect of the cost of a lockdown; the loss of support from others. Phone calls are good, Zoom or Skype calls are good, but nothing beats a good old face-to-face meeting.

And the church thing is finally changing in many places. Our church has a great setup. We have a parking lot next to a field, so we set up a sound system with speakers pointing both ways. You can come and stay in your car, or do some distancing in your lawn chairs in the field. With perfect weather the past 11 weeks, it’s been a great stop-gap measure, and if it’s too hot for you, it’s also live-streamed. Yeah, there was certainly some inconsistency in some states, but I think those restrictions are on the way out.

Thanks again for writing. And you can let us know what’s happening in your pandemic life as well by looking for the post that is pinned to the top of the Facebook page and group.


What was acclaimed just yesterday, is now “problematic” today. What got awards before is being canceled now. Blink and the “woke” crowd will smite you.

Case in point; the musical “Hamilton”. In 2016 it swept the Tony Awards. That was then, [this is 2020] (which is a phrase that could be applied to so much this year). Hamilton himself was an abolitionist, but the hypothetical criticism now is that he didn’t do enough to convince other founding fathers to agree. It took a civil war in this country to finally abolish slavery, but Hamilton was supposed to do it singlehandedly. Because he didn’t, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the writer and star of Hamilton had to make his Twitter account private from all the criticism, and when he got back he had to apologize for not working that into an already-two-and-a-half hour musical.

Hamilton was the toast of the town for years, but that was then. [This is 2020.]

Maya Forstater, a researcher from the Centre for Global Development, was fired last year after tweeting that a person cannot change their biological sex. In support of her, author J. K. Rowling tweeted this, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security.  But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill”

The Human Rights Campaign came out against Rowling. Fans, who had been with her all this time, turned on a dime and called her a “bigot”, a “transphobe”. Celebrities who ‘liked’ the tweet had to apologize after the avalanche of anger directed at them.

All this over a scientific observation that was uncontested until yesterday. But that was then. [This is 2020.]

The list goes on. Conservative speakers have been kept from speaking at colleges because campus security had concerns for their safety. That doesn’t happen with liberal speakers. Sarah Huckabee-Sanders was asked to leave a restaurant because she was the Press Secretary for President Trump. Ted Cruz was harassed by Democratic voters in another restaurant enough to feel he needed to leave.

But as mob actions tend to do, this one started to eat the mob itself. You see, the canceling, the thought crime police, came initially from the Left. Now, if you have some examples of canceling from the Right, I’d like to hear it, but conservatives have been complaining for years now that this sort of stuff has been going on. On this very show, way back in episode 73 in 2014, I recounted how Brendan Eich, former CEO of  Mozilla, felt he had to step down after it came out that he gave $1,000 of his own money to California Proposition 8 defending traditional marriage…5 years earlier. The blowback was so intense he decided to step down. It was his choice of course – he could have stood up to the mob – but there are other considerations when you are the face of a company.

It’s been going on a long while and conservatives have tried to make noise about this, but even today some pundits on the Left deny that it exists. But the mob started coming for the Left, like the actors in Hamilton. Or consider a café in New York City that ticks off all the boxes. Two drag-queens host charity Bingo tournaments there. A “Black Lives Matter” sign is in the window. The owner provided child care for a worker. On MLK Day, he organized a brunch to raise money for an immigrant’s advocacy organization. But then they found out he voted for Trump, and the rest didn’t matter. The backlash unnerved him so much he wrote an open letter asking for forgiveness if that vote caused hurt or pain.

This is why I believe the latest pushback to cancel culture came (finally) from the Left. The link is in the show notes to an open letter published in Harper’s Magazine defending free speech and condemning cancel culture. This one line, to me, is the heart of the matter, “We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences.” Other than some jabs at Trump and the “right-wing”, the letter is (or should be) standard operating procedure in a free speech society.

There are dozens and dozens of signatories to the letter, but two of them decided to take their names off it. One of them, Jennifer Finney Boylan of The New York Times, said, “I did not know who else had signed that letter”, as if that should matter. J. K. Rowling signed it as well, so I have at least one idea of who she might be talking about. But another signer of the letter let Ms. Boylan know that what she was doing was contradictory. Malcolm Gladwell said, “I signed the Harpers letter because there were lots of people who also signed the Harpers letter whose views I disagreed with. I thought that was the point of the Harpers letter.” Indeed it was, and to that I say to the many others who signed it, welcome. I’m so glad you could join us. It’s a good thing to defend free speech.

Meanwhile, Halle Berry and Scarlett Johansson received an earful and subsequently dropped projects where they were going to play transgendered men. Besides the fact that actors routinely play roles that they themselves are not, if that’s the standard we must salute now, someone ought to let Lin-Manuel Miranda know that Alexander Hamilton was white. No, I don’t think he should have to step down from the part, but you know how I feel about consistency. If you write a rule, it should be enforced equally, right?

Filed under: Cancel CultureFree SpeechTolerance and Diversity