The Evolution of Homo Censorious

The evolutionary process led to the emergence of anatomically modern humans, beginning with the evolutionary history of primates -- in particular genus Homo -- and leading to the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species of the hominid family, the great apes.

A lesser known phenomenon involves the evolution of Homo censorious. Where did this distinct set of species of the hominid family emerge from?

If Homo sapiens evolved by creating culture, Homo censorious evolved by canceling it. Homo sapiens evolved by sharing ideas and bridging divides. Homo censorious evolved by nullifying words, ideas, and even people.

How many celebrities have been claimed by the censorious beasts in recent years? Louis CK, Aziz Ansari, Roseanne Barr, Kathy Griffin, James Gunn, among many others. Cancel culture is a nefarious concept; it involves much more than merely dredging up questionable social media posts from the past. It is oppressive and regressive.

Rule one of Cancel Culture Club: After making a mistake, no matter how repentant the individuals may be, they must be completely removed from their platforms. Then, they must be excommunicated immediately. When you are “canceled,” there is no path to redemption.

When did these wheels of madness start to roll into motion? When did society step through the looking glass?  Well, cast your minds back to the year 2012, when the New York City Department of Education began its infamous “war on words.”  The plan was simple: Fearing that certain words and topics would make students feel uneasy, officials demanded the removal, or “cancelation,” of 50 words from city-issued tests.

Before discussing the “dangerous” words, it would be remiss of me not to issue a trigger warning. So, readers, please continue at your own peril. One of the words to make the list was the incredibly offensive “dinosaur.” Why? Because dinosaurs suggest evolution which creationists might not like. “Halloween” was also targeted because, you know, it suggests paganism.

And of course, one can’t utter the word “birthday” because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays.  Words that suggest wealth were excluded because they could engender feelings of envy. In this age of intellectual poverty, it’s no surprise that the word “poverty” also made the list.

Also banned were references to “divorce” and “disease,” because children taking the tests may have parents who are separated or ill. And here I was thinking that schools were supposed to prepare students for the real world? Silly me. I’ll just cancel that thought.

Of course, the US doesn’t have a monopoly on madness. In 2012, the same year as the “war on words,’” the contagion spread across the Atlantic Ocean. In the UK, bemused parents attending a concert at Park Hill School in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, watched on in horror as their children sang “Baa Baa Little Sheep,” not the traditional “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”

Administrators at the school argued that the 250-year-old song -- thought to be originally a protest against a hike in wool taxes -- was inappropriate because of heightened sensitivities over race. 

Wait until they find out that “wool” is actually slang for cocaine.

More recently, in June of this year, the UK's advertising watchdog introduced a ban on adverts featuring "harmful gender stereotypes" or those which are likely to cause "serious or widespread offence."  You would be forgiven for thinking that the ban seeks to prevent content involving children giving Nazi salutes or grown men drop kicking puppies into the ocean.

Well, you would be forgiven, but you would also be wrong. The new regulations mean advertisers can no longer show adverts where a man struggles to change a diaper or a woman struggles to park a car. Other banned scenarios include a man with his feet up while a woman cleans. But what if the woman asks the man to put his feet while she vacuums around him? Oh, so many questions.

Of course, cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated but are bound together and influenced by the mindset of broader society.

Today, society appears to favor censorship.

Once you start canceling words, phrases and concepts, it’s only a matter of time until “we” start canceling people.

Just a few weeks ago, John Cleese was “canceled.” What did he do? Did he put his feet up while a woman was vacuuming? No, even worse. The comedic maestro had the temerity to say something on Twitter.

So, what, exactly, did Cleese say? Brace yourself, dear reader, because the following is dark, very dark: ‘Some years ago I opined that London was not really an English city anymore. Since then, virtually all my friends from abroad have confirmed my observation. So there must be some truth in it….”

Shocking, I know. Cleese merely made the point that today’s Britain is wildly different from Britain of the past. For this, of course, he was labeled racist. Demographically speaking, to say London has changed in recent years would be an understatement of epic proportions.  In 2012, the city became the first major Western capital to become majority non-white.

You see, Cleese was not being racist; he was being factual. But who cares? Cancel the bastard, and cancel him now.

Then, on the 29th of June, Homo censorious came looking for Andy Ngo, a conservative writer and critic of progressivism.  Amid violence at clashing demonstrations, Ngo, a slightly built man, was attacked by a group of so-called antifascists. Surrounded and beaten by protesters wearing black, Ngo was covered in a concoction of milkshake, eggs and spray.

What was his crime?

Ngo, an editor at online magazine Quilette, has rather accurately covered the rise of Antifa, documenting the group’s penchant for intimidation and violence.

The fact that Homo censorious responded was not surprising; however, the brutal manner in which they responded was surprising.

Of course, in hindsight, such an act of violence was always a possibility. When society begins to accept the arbitrary cancelation of words and ideas, it is only a matter of time until individual’s get singled out for nefarious forms of treatment.

Graphic credit: Angel Boligan

The evolutionary process led to the emergence of anatomically modern humans, beginning with the evolutionary history of primates -- in particular genus Homo -- and leading to the emergence of Homo sapiens as a distinct species of the hominid family, the great apes.

A lesser known phenomenon involves the evolution of Homo censorious. Where did this distinct set of species of the hominid family emerge from?

If Homo sapiens evolved by creating culture, Homo censorious evolved by canceling it. Homo sapiens evolved by sharing ideas and bridging divides. Homo censorious evolved by nullifying words, ideas, and even people.

How many celebrities have been claimed by the censorious beasts in recent years? Louis CK, Aziz Ansari, Roseanne Barr, Kathy Griffin, James Gunn, among many others. Cancel culture is a nefarious concept; it involves much more than merely dredging up questionable social media posts from the past. It is oppressive and regressive.

Rule one of Cancel Culture Club: After making a mistake, no matter how repentant the individuals may be, they must be completely removed from their platforms. Then, they must be excommunicated immediately. When you are “canceled,” there is no path to redemption.

When did these wheels of madness start to roll into motion? When did society step through the looking glass?  Well, cast your minds back to the year 2012, when the New York City Department of Education began its infamous “war on words.”  The plan was simple: Fearing that certain words and topics would make students feel uneasy, officials demanded the removal, or “cancelation,” of 50 words from city-issued tests.

Before discussing the “dangerous” words, it would be remiss of me not to issue a trigger warning. So, readers, please continue at your own peril. One of the words to make the list was the incredibly offensive “dinosaur.” Why? Because dinosaurs suggest evolution which creationists might not like. “Halloween” was also targeted because, you know, it suggests paganism.

And of course, one can’t utter the word “birthday” because Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t celebrate birthdays.  Words that suggest wealth were excluded because they could engender feelings of envy. In this age of intellectual poverty, it’s no surprise that the word “poverty” also made the list.

Also banned were references to “divorce” and “disease,” because children taking the tests may have parents who are separated or ill. And here I was thinking that schools were supposed to prepare students for the real world? Silly me. I’ll just cancel that thought.

Of course, the US doesn’t have a monopoly on madness. In 2012, the same year as the “war on words,’” the contagion spread across the Atlantic Ocean. In the UK, bemused parents attending a concert at Park Hill School in Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, watched on in horror as their children sang “Baa Baa Little Sheep,” not the traditional “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”

Administrators at the school argued that the 250-year-old song -- thought to be originally a protest against a hike in wool taxes -- was inappropriate because of heightened sensitivities over race. 

Wait until they find out that “wool” is actually slang for cocaine.

More recently, in June of this year, the UK's advertising watchdog introduced a ban on adverts featuring "harmful gender stereotypes" or those which are likely to cause "serious or widespread offence."  You would be forgiven for thinking that the ban seeks to prevent content involving children giving Nazi salutes or grown men drop kicking puppies into the ocean.

Well, you would be forgiven, but you would also be wrong. The new regulations mean advertisers can no longer show adverts where a man struggles to change a diaper or a woman struggles to park a car. Other banned scenarios include a man with his feet up while a woman cleans. But what if the woman asks the man to put his feet while she vacuums around him? Oh, so many questions.

Of course, cultural patterns of oppression are not only interrelated but are bound together and influenced by the mindset of broader society.

Today, society appears to favor censorship.

Once you start canceling words, phrases and concepts, it’s only a matter of time until “we” start canceling people.

Just a few weeks ago, John Cleese was “canceled.” What did he do? Did he put his feet up while a woman was vacuuming? No, even worse. The comedic maestro had the temerity to say something on Twitter.

So, what, exactly, did Cleese say? Brace yourself, dear reader, because the following is dark, very dark: ‘Some years ago I opined that London was not really an English city anymore. Since then, virtually all my friends from abroad have confirmed my observation. So there must be some truth in it….”

Shocking, I know. Cleese merely made the point that today’s Britain is wildly different from Britain of the past. For this, of course, he was labeled racist. Demographically speaking, to say London has changed in recent years would be an understatement of epic proportions.  In 2012, the city became the first major Western capital to become majority non-white.

You see, Cleese was not being racist; he was being factual. But who cares? Cancel the bastard, and cancel him now.

Then, on the 29th of June, Homo censorious came looking for Andy Ngo, a conservative writer and critic of progressivism.  Amid violence at clashing demonstrations, Ngo, a slightly built man, was attacked by a group of so-called antifascists. Surrounded and beaten by protesters wearing black, Ngo was covered in a concoction of milkshake, eggs and spray.

What was his crime?

Ngo, an editor at online magazine Quilette, has rather accurately covered the rise of Antifa, documenting the group’s penchant for intimidation and violence.

The fact that Homo censorious responded was not surprising; however, the brutal manner in which they responded was surprising.

Of course, in hindsight, such an act of violence was always a possibility. When society begins to accept the arbitrary cancelation of words and ideas, it is only a matter of time until individual’s get singled out for nefarious forms of treatment.

Graphic credit: Angel Boligan