The arrival of The Beatles didn’t change things much either. When John Lennon sarcastically commented at a news conference that his group was more popular than Jesus, their music was promptly removed by radio stations across the country, which also encouraged that Beatles records be destroyed immediately.
Remember disco music, which became the soundtrack of our lives in the 1970s? All that was needed by the cancel culture warriors of the day was the support of radio shock jock and anti-disco campaigner Steve Dahl, along with Major League Baseball, which organized a highly publicized promotion at Chicago’s Comiskey Park in 1979. There, between a Chicago White Sox-Detroit Tigers doubleheader, a crate filled with disco records was blown up by Dahl on the field. The crowd went wild — an actual riot followed among thousands in attendance shouting the new cancel culture mantra, “Disco Sucks.”
Similar stories are plentiful in many other areas of popular culture — comic books, movies, TV shows and stand-up comedy. And this is not a new phenomenon for any of these, either. Everything old seems new again.
Our current focus on “cancel culture” incorrectly emphasizes cancel instead of culture. Unless and until we come to grips with why some in our society want to impose censorship on others, the cycle is sure to repeat itself again and again, to our collective detriment.
Stuart N. Brotman is the author of “The First Amendment Lives On: Conversations Commemorating Hugh M. Hefner’s Legacy of Enduring Free Speech and Free Press Values.” He wrote this for InsideSources.com.