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Friday, April 19
The Indiana Daily Student

opinion politics

OPINION: Conservative cancel culture: an ironic reality


All across the internet – and especially on Elon Musk’s wild west platform that is Twitter – conservatives are being whipped into a frenzy. It isn’t about taxes being raised or any other issue they claim to care about, but about brands making money. What horror. 

Bud Light, Target and other brands have been hit with backlash and boycotts from conservatives after showing a tiny amount of pro-LGBTQ sentiment over the last few months. This fallout is a bit similar to one of the most hated conservative buzzwords from years past – cancel culture. Instead of being focused on individuals, however, it’s focused on corporations.  

Cancel culture was a hot-button issue for many conservatives just a few years ago. Many conservatives see repercussions for past actions – “cancellations” – as censorship. Now, however, they have no issue applying that so-called censorship to any company they disagree with. After all, corporations are people too, so they can get canceled the same way. 

Many corporations are facing these cancellations as the recent LGBTQ culture war rages. For Target, it was their pride merchandise. For Bud Light, it was their sponsorship with trans activist Dylan Mulvaney. But some people have gone further than just boycotting these stores. Several Target and Bud Light facilities faced threats and violence to employees in the wake of conservative outrage. 

[Related: OPINION: This Pride Month, reject rainbow capitalism]

All of this noise, from the boycotting to the tweeting to the yelling at employees, shows one clear thing – the online mob of conservatives have no consistent values. 

Let’s look at just three or four years ago. Conservative political commentators would constantly moan about how they had been censored by the radical left and cancel culture for just stating their opinions. Just one example is Marjorie Taylor Greene in 2021 complaining about cancel culture – during her time to speak on the literal House floor. Back then, shutting down opposing voices just because you disagreed with them was wrong. 

Now, conservatives are fine with canceling these large corporations who don’t grovel at their every request. Even a token of support for the LGBTQ community sends them into a frenzy. Somehow, it’s different when they do just what they hated liberals for doing years ago. But, I ask every conservative who loves the free market: what’s so wrong with making money? Isn’t that what corporations should do, even if you don’t agree with their ideals? 

So much of modern Republican politics are purely reactionary. If there’s nothing to get mad about, there’s nothing to do politically. Just look at Ron DeSantis. His entire hope of being president seems to be simply based around hating LGBTQ people and the vague threat of “wokeness.” 

Now, companies are bending to their will. Target has pulled pride merchandise and Anheuser-Busch offered little support to Mulvaney and the trans community at large. It’s clear that many of these companies are content with using the LGBTQ community for a quick buck and then dropping us when there’s backlash. 

If companies want to weather this culture war, they need to grow a backbone. Their willingness to give into this hateful rhetoric only emboldens homophobes and transphobes. They see that they’re winning, so they keep trying to push for more regression. 

[Related: OPINION: Transgender medical care shouldn't be banned – it should be free]

Corporations’ support for pride was never going to change the world. It was always for monetary gain – as is everything a business does. But now, in the fraught landscape that we live in, the lack of support is telling and terrifying.  

Conservatives created a world where all corporations care about are profit margins, nothing more. If they want that to change, they’ll have to do more than just cancel businesses they disagree with. They should keep in mind, however, that they have much more in common with the trans people they hate than the billionaires whose rhetoric they spew. 

Danny William (they/them) is a sophomore studying media. 

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