The act of scalping (the cutting off of a part of a victim’s scalp as a trophy, not the act of reselling event tickets at a large markup) has been part of human history for thousands of years, and only fell out of practice in the past century or two. It’s a barbaric behavior, and historical evidence across the continents and the millennia serves to remind us of the barbaric elements of human nature. It is one version of the broader “human trophy collecting” that so often emerges during wars (including modern ones – ear collecting happened in Viet Nam).

We’d like to think that such horrid behavior would be relegated to history, as society evolves and as prosperity supplants pillaging and other barbarisms.

Unfortunately, technological and economic progress occurs at a far more rapid rate than behavioral or societal evolution. Instead of relegating human trophy taking to the dustbin of history, people have simply transferred that base desire to less bloody forms.

Behold, cancel culture. Wherein the trophies are more virtual and less sanguinary, wherein the individual risk of combat has been supplanted by the safety of armchair social-media bloviating. Where a mere declaration of personal offense is often enough to cause others to kowtow, cower, and cringe. Where destroying another’s social status, career prospects, or public reputation is not the despicable behavior of a barbarian, but a success, a virtual trophy, and a badge of honor.

Thomas Jefferson, a man who put into words the principles upon which this nation was founded, a man who penned ideals to which every civilized human should aspire, has just been cancelled by a passel of troglodytes in the New York City Council.

Their justification? He failed to live up to those principles.

Factually, they are correct, and Jefferson (the man) missed pretty badly. The damage done by his cancelling, however, far exceeds the ‘punishment’ of his relegation (he’s dead, after all).

Thing is, we all know that he didn’t walk the walk. We all know that he owned slaves. We all know of his (and others’) hypocrisy.

But, even if we didn’t, the truth in the aspirations he so eloquently authored remains. It has sustained across the decades and centuries, it has inspired and motivated nations and people toward a better state of living. That truth, if removed from the marketplace of ideas, will leave a vacuum that will certainly be filled by baser and more societally harmful alternatives.

None of this matters to the scalp takers. Their success begins and ends with the take-down, the ear-on-a-string, the chunk of hair and flesh nailed to their war-wall.

That this behavior is born of a perfection fallacy is of no matter. No one is perfect, and that’s before we note that the scalpers’ standards of perfection are subjective and ever-changing.

Ironically, the most famous scalpers in American history haven’t been canceled, nor have the live-heart-takers of Mesoamerica, nor have countless deeply flawed public figures, past and present.

Wait – that’s not ironic. To call it that is to assume they embrace normal premises of fairness, honesty, and equality. They don’t. Their way is negative-sum, where a tear-down that actually harms society overall is perfectly acceptable, as long as they get their pound of flesh. They are immune to assertions of hypocrisy, even as they use such against the foes they choose.

These are the heroes of modern culture, the woke-warriors, the people who will deep-mine someone’s social media or your on-line history to find some bit of of your history that’ll justify a scalping.

They may tell themselves they’re doing good. They may actually believe that cancel culture is a positive evolution. They’re wrong, spectacularly so. Authoritarian suppression of dissent never turns out well. That they don’t recognize how wrong they are tells us something else: they’re stupid. I’d call them ignorant, but there’s no excuse for ignorance when you’ve got the Internet at your fingertips. Stupidity, alas, is no disqualifier. One look at our political landscape makes that abundantly clear.

Nor does stupidity make someone less dangerous nowadays. Used to be, great minds could argue simple ones into corners of irrelevance and obscurity. Today, however, those great minds get cancelled if they dare speak against the scalpers’ wishes.

Some, fortunately, are proving too tough to scalp (aka too big to cancel). Notable among them are J.K. Rowling and Dave Chappelle, both of whom transgressed against the woke’s current favorite hill: transgenderism (or, more accurately – trans-activism, a subset of transgender acceptance that’s trying to eradicate the very meaning of “male” and “female). The scalpers are, I believe, flying a bit too close to the sun here. Most people bristle at the thought of women being beaten to a pulp by MMA fighters that were men a couple years ago, or at penises in high school girls’ locker rooms. We may be at the beginning of a rejection of woke-excess, and if Netflix’ decision not to acceded to those who demanded Chappelle’s scalp encourages the rest of Corporate America to ignore the Twitter harridans rather than capitulate to their whims, we may yet see our way out of this cultural lunacy.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

If you'd like to help keep the site ad-free, please support us on Patreon.


Like this post?