Last Sunday Ben Shapiro hosted one of his most important Sunday Specials in recent memory, featuring a conversation with the now infamously canceled actress & former MMA fighter Gina Carano. The conversation served as Gina’s critical chance to speak openly and in extended format about what she’s experienced, and also promoted her joining forces with the Daily Wire to produce an upcoming film.
I felt compelled to watch this episode because I knew I was not alone in feeling that with Gina’s firing, a change had taken place in conservative & traditional America’s assessment of so-called “cancel culture” — I feel that at this point there’s a growing sense that Something Must Be Done. Even mildly conservative and politically neutral people live in fear of stepping out of line, and as Ben noted in a previous episode of his show, a recent Cato Institute survey has revealed that the only Americans who don’t feel the need to self-censor their speech in everyday life are members of the far left.
Everywhere we look, now, there are signs of the tightening of the vise in which free speech may truly become a thing of the past — Amazon banning books that tout unpopular opinions, members of Congress going after neutral service providers to drop conservative news networks, and the nearly daily drumbeat of high-profile people who are “canceled,” put out of livelihoods without notice, for saying the wrong thing — or even having been involved in the wrong thing years in the past. The message is clear and the chilling effect is real. Public discourse has been catastrophically compromised.
Gina’s interview with Ben shed some much-needed light on the human side of what a canceled person is thinking and what he/she goes through, and I think it is particularly touching and frightening for all of us to imagine ourselves in the same shoes (as many of us already have). One thing that really comes across when Gina speaks is, quite poignantly, how nervous she is and how new this is to her, speaking out and being involved in politics. She says that throughout her life, that was never her interest or her aim, and that 2020 was in fact the first year she voted. As with many of us, I think, she simply sensed that the dysfunction had become too severe to ignore.
I related to her immediately in that regard — I’ve never liked what I sensed to be the foundational lack of integrity and double-dealing necessary to make a real career in politics. I was happier to explore art, spirituality, and to enjoy my family & friends. But then politics — by the left’s design, I think — came for every aspect of our lives, and it has seemed more and more necessary to come to the defense of what sustains us and what we hold dear.
Gina reminds us that person-to-person connection is still possible, even across misunderstandings — she cites the positive conversations she had with members of Disney’s LGBT panel after she added something to her Twitter bio perceived to be anti-transgender. Unfortunately, however, we are publicly in the grip of mob rule, and vicious gangs on Twitter bend multinational corporations to their will. She describes how surreal it was, after she was fired, to see herself dragged through the muck in almost every major media publication, becoming an impersonal tool of the narrative. “Do you even know me?” she asks.
I think, as we get to know just a slice of Gina through Ben’s interview, that it’s impossible to see her as a vindictive, maleficent, or cruelly-intentioned person. Yet that’s exactly what cancellation does — it smears the canceled individual with the deep and far-reaching label of “bad person” — of racist, sexist, or whatever the case may be — and excommunicates them to pariah status with the general public and potentially even support networks coming to see them as fundamentally wrong. But I think what Gina makes clear, and really communicates about her process as a human and as an individual, is that she often has an imperfect understanding of the issues but engages authentically. She’s learning in real time. As are we all.
What cancel culture robs us of is not only “free speech,” at a basic level, but the opportunity to test out ideas and make mistakes. When the guillotine falls upon the slightest misstep — in a framework of orthodoxies, wrongspeak, and thoughtcrime — people stop communicating, stop idea testing, and stop growing.
Another major takeaway from Gina’s interview is pertinent to so many of us: what lies on the other side of cancellation. I myself contemplate it right now. In a world replete with unfreedom in terms of the ideas and values we can express, when one is finally outed, there is the freedom of having shown the world your true self. In Gina’s case, she can move on to connecting and building relationships with other conservatives, and even revolutionizing her career. It’s harder for us who just need to put food on the table and pay our bills, but the only way this is going to change is if enough of us stand up for what’s right. And that, at the very least, is the right to publicly express our views peacefully without fear of “cancellation,” excommunication, or career-related reprisal.
Gina says multiple times that one of her greatest triggers is bullying, and that though there is so much fear, recent events have also created “a fire in people’s hearts.” I hope you feel that same fire, and the same determination to take our freedoms back. From one woman to another, we will prevail and win this fight. 💪 👩
If you haven’t caught it yet, you can check out the full Sunday Special below.