Nearly everyone has someone they know who will complain incessantly. These complaints may have no bearing on this person’s life but that is irrelevant to them. Did a name just pop into your head? When you see their number appear on your phone, are you anxious to hear their view or does your heart stop a beat knowing that this conversation is going to depress you?
It is important that people complain – it can hold people, business and politics to account. However, expressing dissatisfaction or annoyance is one thing while “cancel culture” is another.
In the worst cases of the latter, unaccountable groups apply pressure to punish someone for a perceived wrong before a full and proper investigation can be carried out.
The “cancelled” person can end up losing their job (eg Phil Hogan losing his Commissionership) or is harmed in some other way (eg the Dixie Chicks being blacklisted for criticising Bush’s war on Iraq).
The research that would have been conducted for the benefit of the country will not be lost, it will be snapped up by the substantial coffers of big pharma companies
I was away for just over a week, and during that short period the “cancellation” of Prof Tony Holohan was complete. Two years ago, murals of this man were painted on Dublin walls in respect for the efforts he made for the country.
Was the communication of his new role and how he was to be recompensed handled well? No. But is the result for the country positive? Also, no. The research that would have been conducted for the benefit of the country will not be lost, it will be snapped up by the substantial coffers of big pharma companies and eventually it will be bought back by the State – most likely at great cost.
Last Friday, I attended The Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ Michael Dillon Lecture. The theme was The Future of Food, and food security and sustainability were the focus of both the panel and keynote address from Jack Bobo, a former adviser to the US Government on food and agriculture and author of Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices.
On this theme, Bobo said: “Why would people eat better to save the planet if they won’t eat better to save their lives?” This is a key statement. The link between food sustainability and nutrition is being purposefully convoluted.
Binchy asserted that avocados were “cancelled” with food service looking for ways to produce more sustainable guacamole.
Communication is failing us, allowing what we should be eating and what we should be producing to become a political football. They are not the same thing, but now any suggestion of a reduction in meat consumption or growing more vegetables for Irish diets is a “cancel culture” conversation.
One of the questions put to the panel – which consisted of Bobo; Grace Binchy, Bord Bia; and Juan Aguiriano, head of sustainability at Kerry Group – was if an Irish-produced meat protein was more environmentally friendly than an avocado? Binchy asserted that avocados were “cancelled” with food service looking for ways to produce more sustainable guacamole.
The quote of the week I picked out is from restaurant consultant Blathnáid Bergin (P8). In her view, the avocado is one ingredient she would ban from menus due to how wasteful they are. Aguiriano, however, said it was not easy to answer this question, with a life-cycle assessment required due to the parameters that separate an avocado from a steak.
Cancel culture often occurs because the whole picture is not seen.