I spent years as an on-air contributor at the Fox News Channel, so I was less than surprised when conservative media, always on the look-out for a new battle to juice up ratings, latched on to what it quickly termed liberal “cancel culture.”
To hear this narrative unfold, the supposed leftist assault on Dr. Seuss, Pepé Le Pew, Mr. Potato Head and other bastions of our halcyon youth will consign a generation of children to reading Das Kapital while drinking organic hemp milk from their sippy cups. But in the reality-based community, it is the very policies that these media companies and so many other organizations employ that have canceled the careers of millions of women, people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community and other traditionally disenfranchised employees.
Today, one in three American workers is bound by a non-disclosure agreement. These confidentiality provisions, which were originally intended to protect proprietary information like the secret formula of Coca-Cola, are now widely used to prevent workers from discussing toxic workplace issues like sexual harassment, misogyny and gender and racial discrimination. Too often, these clauses are buried in employment and consulting contracts, binding prospective workers to silence from their first day on the job.