Cancel Culture

Rocker Nick Cave: Cancel Culture Is 'Bad Religion Run Amuck'

'Political correctness has grown to become the unhappiest religion in the world.'

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Earlier this year, the highly regarded Australian rocker and "Goth heartthrob" Nick Cave criticized "perpetually pissed-off…pearl-clutchers" who demand that old songs, novels, and other works of creative expression be censored or changed when they offend contemporary sensibilities. Writing in his monthly newsletter The Red Hand Files, he averred

I would rather be remembered for writing something that was discomforting or offensive, than to be forgotten for writing something bloodless and bland.

In the most recent edition of The Red Hand Files, Cave again takes aims against "cancel culture," especially what he sees as its "refusal to engage with uncomfortable ideas" and "asphyxiating effect on the creative soul of a society." Cancel culture, he writes, "is mercy's antithesis," an impulse that combines the worst aspects of religious fervor and ideological certitude.

Political correctness has grown to become the unhappiest religion in the world. Its once honourable attempt to reimagine our society in a more equitable way now embodies all the worst aspects that religion has to offer (and none of the beauty) — moral certainty and self-righteousness shorn even of the capacity for redemption. It has become quite literally, bad religion run amuck.

Cancel culture's refusal to engage with uncomfortable ideas has an asphyxiating effect on the creative soul of a society. Compassion is the primary experience — the heart event — out of which emerges the genius and generosity of the imagination. Creativity is an act of love that can knock up against our most foundational beliefs, and in doing so brings forth fresh ways of seeing the world. This is both the function and glory of art and ideas. A force that finds its meaning in the cancellation of these difficult ideas hampers the creative spirit of a society and strikes at the complex and diverse nature of its culture.

Cave, whose music, novels, and other writings often explore themes of violence, death, and guilt, has become a reliable defender of absolute creative freedom in an age that seems to increasingly embrace ideological and political conformity. Born in 1957 and long on the fringes of mainstream acceptance, he is a survivor of battles over indecency and censorship waged in the 1980s and 1990s who has managed to become not just a critical darling but something of a wise elder (in 2017, he was even inducted into the Order of Australia). He remains idealistic in the face of cancel culture, writing "we are a culture in transition, and it may be that we are heading toward a more equal society" even as he forcefully champions free speech and free thought in an age of conformity.

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  1. A society that can’t tolerate offensive things is an intolerant society.

    We need offensive things in order to be a tolerant society.

    Here’s a song by TSOL about teenage neophilia from way back:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OpZJLjrb4vU

    We need to tolerate TSOL to be tolerant.
    We need to tolerate the Redskins.
    We need to tolerate death metal.

    It is the toleration of awful things that makes us tolerant.

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    2. Problem is that we now have a subculture that can’t tolerate the inoffensive things. And the media is catering to them.

      1. Re: The Long March, I’m warming to the thesis that this was because the education system changed a few decades ago, where we stopped teaching young people how to think, and instead started teaching them what to think.

        This resulted in an entire generation that, when confronted with countervailing ideas and opinions as they enter adulthood, are utterly incapable of dealing with this information in real time.

        I can’t do it justice in a comment, but I heard a very interesting analysis of the tone of the protests as we see them today. The high-pitched screeching and wailing that occurs when an arrest is made or there are any consequences for actions on the street. Putting aside the discussion of what arrests are just and which are not, there is definitely an interesting ‘personality’ to the protests that I don’t remember ever seeing 20 years ago, and definitely don’t see during say, the civil rights protests of the 60s and 70s when captured on film. Again, it was a detailed analysis which I thought was very interesting.

        1. This. We stopped teaching critical thinking. School is now about rote memorization of facts, and only the right ones. This is all the way up through college, plenty of college grads just short circuit when presented with a problem they don’t already know the solution to. Plenty of them fancy themselves intellectuals, and almost none of them actually know how to use their brain.

    3. “A society that can’t tolerate offensive things is an intolerant society.”

      Cancel culture isn’t even actually about offense. The left doesn’t cancel others because they’re good people who just feel too strongly about injustice. It’s because they’re terrible, awful, evil people who are using injustice as an excuse to indulge their garbage natures.

      They get off on this.

    4. “Code Blue” is a punk rock essential.

  2. Political correctness has grown to become the unhappiest religion in the world. Its once honourable attempt to …

    Bullshit. Political correctness never had an ounce of honorability. It’s always been about lying.

    1. If it were honorable, it would just be called ‘correctness’. The ‘political’ adjective specifically means ‘presenting oneself as such to appropriately receptive audiences’.

      1. Good point, which also addresses the comment elsewhere asking if political science is a real science. Lysenko was a perfect example of a political scientist.

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          Political correctness relates to correctness the way catfish relate to cats.
          Political science relates to science the way horseradish relates to horses.

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  3. Cancel Culture is the expected consequence of two generations doting and spoiling their children with participation trophies and esteem building and shit like that. We now have colleges of twenty year olds who have never worked in their life, always had things handed to them, their owies always made better by mommie, no conflict, no disappointment, and it’s a disaster. They see a tiny problem and they freak out over it and demand that the grownups take it away.

    They are simply unable to cope with other people having different opinions than they do. To them polite disagreement is literal violence.

    1. This is why I am not very worried about them taking over the legal system and destroying the 1st Amendment. They are moral cowards, afraid to face anything discomforting, afraid of mere reality, may it long bite them on the ass. The ones who do toughen up once reality bites them will forget their safe space mentality.

      1. I disagree. I believe all of it is a result of the Long March on the Institutions. The ones that do make their way into the legislative branches now have a more easily cowed, pliable body politic to use as useful idiots.

        And this didn’t suddenly start with the Millennials, it’s been going on for a long time, we’re just noticing it more.

  4. I would rather be remembered for writing something that was discomforting or offensive, than to be forgotten for writing something bloodless and bland.

    What about something stunning and brave? Like a song that was about a dude in love with a girl that’s re-written to tell a story about trans people of color?

    1. Words like stunning and brave have lost all meaning when they can be applied to a story about trans people of color. Assuming there’s no mortal danger in the story. And assuming the definition of “mortal danger” hasn’t changed.

  5. Of course Nick Cage hate’s Bad Religion, they are black and they shred unlike his monotone drivel.

    1. Bad Brains. PMA.

      1. Sorry, but Mother’s Finest for the win.

    2. Are you thinking of Bad Brains? Bad Religion ain’t black, and this ain’t Nick Cage talking.

    3. Bad Religion, they are black

      Wut?

  6. Just ignore the internet slimebags. Shut off replies or close your accounts. It’s a sickness that will end once you remove it from your life.

    1. That won’t help.
      You may not be interested in the gleichschaltung, but the gleichschaltung is interested in you.

  7. Predictable consequence. Doesn’t matter that many of us warned for decades this would happen. Nope, now the very fucktards that created this problem are getting bit on the ass with it. Anyone who thinks Equity is something we should impose (as a society) is a fucking retard who deserves to be set on fire just for good measure.

    1. This.

      His big mistake here is assuming that the pursuit of equality is a noble goal and that the PC movement just lost their way. When PC types talk about equality they’re talking about equality of outcome. The only way to achieve that is via massive infringements on individual liberty. The pursuit of that kind of equality isn’t noble, it’s fucking disgusting.

      1. When PC types talk about equality they’re talking about equality of outcome.

        Which is why, as Ami-Gi points out, they now prefer talking about “equity,” rather than “equality.”

        I’ve also noticed many of the same people shift comfortably between the terms “systemic racism” (i.e. ‘racial inequality’ based in social inertia) and “systematic racism” (i.e. systematic persecution of a particular race. These two things are not the same thing.

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  9. As penance for this outburst, Nick Cave (not “Cage”) will likely be forced go through his back catalog and cleanse all the offensive lyrics.

    Well, that’s probably not possible, particularly for things like John Finn’s Wife… or pretty much anything from Murder Ballads.

    1. I sure hope they try. Watching Nick Cave flog them with words will be glorious.

    2. Well, that’s probably not possible, particularly for things like John Finn’s Wife… or pretty much anything from Murder Ballads.

      Murder Ballads was his easy-listening phase.

  10. Cave has a way with words. I find him persuasive.

    He points out their “moral certainty”. Dr. Jonathan Haidt’s research shows the very liberal don’t understand conservatives, showing they have an understanding deficit, and it all has to do with differences in morality. It leads them to think conservatives are evil. Can they be morally superior with an understanding deficit?

    People do want to fight oppression and injustice. It’s a problem when they get it wrong, because then people are harmed.

    Haidt write an article in Reason titled “Born This Way” that’s worth reading.

    1. Oh yeah. It’s like, because I disagree, I all of a sudden turn into a mustache stroking villain. It can’t possibly be a good faith disagreement where I think the solution I’m espousing will actually have a better end result.

  11. You can always trust Boomer Nick to dredge up some old has been obsolete genre musician from the vacuum tube-era that no Millennial or Zoomer has ever heard of.

    Here ya go listen and laugh at this scratchy Edison-cylinder that Grandpa Nick thinks “the kids” still listen to.

    1. I bet more squares know about Birthday Party and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds now than did back in the 1980s. In the 1980s, hardly anyone knew about Black Flag, Minor Threat, Dead Kennedys, or the Misfits, too. Hardly anyone knew about Bauhaus or Joy Division–although they knew about Love and Rockets and New Order.

      Things that were once only known in the underground are now known by average people–there isn’t a real underground anymore. If Gillespie were writing about Nick Cave in 1983, that would have left a general audience scratching their heads. Recognition of Nick Cave passed over into the mainstream sometime ago–after the internet. Writing about him today is like writing about Patty Smith or the Ramones.

      If the kids don’t know about Nick Cave, they should. They know about Skinny Puppy and Type O Negative, right?

      1. I dunno about “the kids” in general, but my nieces and nephews certainly do.

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