Do you know what cancel culture is? Have you been mysteriously ghosted after a night out? Have you had a long-lost relative jump out of the woodwork and begin to attack your latest post? Well, The Canceling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Rikki Schlott may be the book for you. Lukianoff comes from a left-leaning liberal background and is a freedom of speech lawyer and Schlott comes from a Libertarian background and is a journalist. This is refreshing as they encounter what it means to be “canceled” from both sides of the political line. In my first run through of this book it feels to be very even handed and calls out both sides of the political agenda on what we are responsible for and how we can help
Canceling of the American Mind gives us what cancel culture is, how cancel culture works and what to do about it.
What Cancel Culture is:
Lukianoff and Schlott warn that “for decades, free speech advocates warned that American higher education was headed for disaster- that colleges and universities were straying from their core mission of pursuing truth wherever it led through freedom of speech and the scientific method”. My first love in all the careers I’ve had was in Higher Education. I worked as an Admissions Counselor at my Alma Mater in South Dakota, and then at 24 years old, I had had enough of small-town life, and I moved to Chicago, IL and became a Residence Hall Director and eventually Director of Residence at North Park University. As someone who has worked on a Christian campus and has watched culture and faith collide, at George Fox as well, it has become very tenuous. How does a university hold on to is core beliefs and values, and allow freedom of speech? “In fact, several of the warning schools are Christian Universities who rank as “Abysmal” for free Speech rankings, including Hillsdale, Pepperdine, Baylor, Brigham Young and Saint Louis University.” Colleges and Universities need money to run, students bring the money, diversity in a student body is great for learning, and yet, have our Christian institutions learned how to embrace our students where they are at? Do we allow diversity of faith and culture at Christian schools the freedom to express free speech?
How Cancel Culture Works
I found their chapter on Science and Medicine to be very interesting. Cancel culture not only affect higher ed, but it has had some significant effects on medicine and research. “Canceling dissenting voices-or even the voices of those associated with dissenting voices, has allowed some pretty bizzare concepts to go unchecked in the Medical world”. In a world of research and finding new ideas, there is an awareness to making sure we are being inclusive in our research, writings and study, but can lead to danger for researcher as it can present a landmine for being canceled. I was the chairperson for a few years for my organization for DEIB. DEI is highly recognizable group but what I thought was a meaningful aspect to our group was the B…Belonging. Ever since we entered kindergarten, aren’t we just all seeking a sense of belonging? So in my opinion, there are times when an idea should be canceled, but we seem to only be satisfied with canceling and entire person and their sense of input and belonging in this world, and this is not what Christ modeled for us. He could’ve canceled a lot of people, and perhaps, because of what he stood for, he was “canceled”, crucified. I am appalled by all the stories in this book. I consider myself a high social justice pursuer, and yet what has happened to people canceled has my justice hackles raised. All of this leads me to my greatest fear, my children being canceled for a misstep.
What to do about it.
As a parent I devoured reading chapter 10; “Raising Kids Who Are Not Cancelers”. My 11-year-old had some severe behavior issues in 5th grade that forced us to change schools. It was our idea as parents because I could only think of all the ways this behavior was going to follow him all through school. While it was hard to go through, I’m glad we gave him a fresh start at least for the end of his 5th grade year. “Kids are inherently anti-fragile, meaning that if they’re left to their own devices and allowed to fumble, they become more resilient in the process. But if parents swoop them up before they ever trip up, the process is undermined”. THIS IS IT! My children are my literal heart beating outside of my body, I would do anything to protect them, and yet this is the world we send them out into, it is seriously scary! My son had to relive some of his bad choices as rumors flew around him as all the kids joined for middle school, and all I could do was prep him for his reactions, as that is what they were looking for, he needed to walk away and correct bad thinking but not get mad or angry. We told him if he did this, it would eventually go away…so far it has, but I do worry he will be canceled. He was only 10, still a child, and yet was encountering the adult world and not knowing what was appropriate or not. I appreciate how this book gave me hope and tools to use, to help myself, my coworkers, and most importantly my children navigate the cancel culture.
Grace! “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24.
 Lukianoff, Greg and Schlott, Rikki. The Canceling of the American Mind. (New York, Simon and Schuster, 2023)
 Lukianoff and Schlott, 329
 Ibid, 194
 Ibid, 21