Fighting an anti-“cancel culture” culture war isn’t worth defending the Inquistion

This last year has convinced me more than anything that conservative politics is entirely morally bankrupt, and their discourse on the increasingly nebulous concept of cancel culture serves as the basis of their moral decay. Earlier this year, we saw this with Republicans leveraging the non-issue of Dr Suess retracting a couple of books in order to avoid talking about why they voted against every Covid-19-related spending bill put forward and would not support a rise in the minimum wage. Now, we see this with conservative ideologues going on record to say that the Inquisition was better than modern “cancel culture”.

What I’m referring to is a Daily Wire segment in which Matt Walsh, a conservative pundit who has his own show on Daily Wire, actually argued that the Inquisition was “caricatured”, as in its crimes were somehow blown out of proportion, and that it was much better than the “cancel culture” supposedly perpetuated by “trans activists”. The following is taken from a clip shown on Jason Campbell’s tweet:

As for the videos, they demonstrate an important thing: that gender ideology, more than any other leftist doctrine, is spread and propagated by force. What you’re witnessing in videos like this is a modern form of forced conversion. Gender activists compel normal people to affirm their doctrines under threat of public shaming, loss of income, or violence, or all three in some cases. In a forced conversion centuries ago, or even today in some parts of the world, you may have been coerced into affirming their religious doctrine under threat of being burned at the stake. Now you’re coerced into affirming the doctrines of the gender cult, under threat of having everything else in your life, aside from your physical body, incinerated. Trans activists are basically what your public school history teacher told you the Inquisitors were. The difference is that the Inquisition has been caricatured. I mean, it was far more defensible than modern day cancel culture is, especially the cancel campaigns waged by trans activists. Also, in this Inquisition, of today, the Inquisitors are not trying to coerce a belief in or submission to any sort of eternal, celestial God, but rather, they themselves are the gods. At least that’s what they believe, and they want us to believe, or pretend we do. All while posturing as the victim, in an exchange that they instigate, with someone who does not want to be part of it. That’s how the game works, and it is repulsive.

So, according to Matt Walsh, “gender activists”, who are also “trans activists” (he uses those terms interchangeably and without meaning), are persecuting “normal people” (a concept equally without meaning) for crimes against the holy gender cult, which somehow involves trans people being worshipped as gods (which is basically just the same delusional bullshit that Jonathan Pageau believes), and the Inquisition of old was much better than this, in part because the people who were killed and tortured in the Inquisition were killed and tortured in the name of God instead of being cancelled by trans people, or something. Yeah. As long as that’s where we’re at now, if we’re really at the point where we’re having to talk about whether or not the Inquisition was better than “cancel culture” (a term that I despise for numerous reasons), let’s take a look at what’s actually being talked about for what they really are.

Everyone knows about the Inquistion, though not everyone has the right idea of how many people died in the Inquisition. By the year 1530, up to 2,000 people were murdered by the Inquisition, and throughout its 350 year lifespan, the Inquisition is estimated to have killed around double that number. The Inquistion is well known to have used torture in order to extract confessions, whether genuine or false, from those accused of heresy. In addition, the 1578 edition of the Directorum Inquisitorum, courtesy of Francisco Peña, advocated for the use of torture in cases of possible mental illness in order to efficiently determine whether or not the mental illness was fake or not, and it advised Inquisitors to not worry too much if the defendant died as a result of this treatment. So the Inquisition were quite prepared to kill many people under their custody if it meant stamping out heresy. On top of that, the Inquisition was viciously anti-Semitic and was a project of Catholic anti-Semitism; they burned Jews on the stake for refusing to convert to Catholicism, they persecuted Judaism to the point of mass burning copies of the Talmud, they explicitly targeted supposed Jewish influence through the conversos (meaning Spanish and Portugese Jews who converted to Catholicism), the Spanish Inquisition was started in the first place in order to target conversos in order to ensure that they were loyal to the Church, Inquisitions were ordered by Catholic monarchs specifically out of fear of “Jewish influence”, and the Inquisition was also involved in the expulsion of Jews from Spain and Portugal.

Now, in contrast, let’s try to examine whatever incident Matt Walsh is talking about that he deemed fit to compare with the Inquisition. The clip presented by Jason Campbell comes from an 8-minute video from Matt Walsh’s YouTube channel, itself a clip from the Matt Walsh Show, in which he responds to a viral TikTok video of a trans person berating the manager at a Sonic Drive-In over their being misgendered. Yes, that’s literally all this is. Matt Walsh ranted about forced conversion and defended the Inquisition over a dispute at a Sonic Drive-In. To be more specific about what happened, Eden Torres, a trans woman, was having an argument with a Sonic manager over the fact that their staff repeatedly misgendered her, calling her “sir” when in fact she identified as a woman, after they saw her dead name (their birth name in accordance with the gender they were merely assigned at birth) on her credit card. The manager seemingly apologized, but then said that “we have employees here that are gay” as though that somehow justified her being misgendered. When Torres pointed out to the manager that she was talking about gender-based discrimination and asked the company to stop discriminating against her, the manager asked Torres if her name was feminine, and insisted that Torres was not being discriminated against when she said it wasn’t. The manager then asks what he can call Torres, Torres asks what he would assume when looking at her, and the manager told her she looks like a man, at that point Torres dismissed him and drove away.

At this point I’m not sure what world Matt Walsh and others like him, or The Daily Wire for that matter, think we live in. This isn’t “forced conversion” to some abstract, alien, authoritarian ideology. Or at least it’s not what almost anyone thinks when the words “forced conversion” spring to mind. Seriously, which do you think is worse? Being a Jew or a heretic in the Middle Ages and getting tortured or killed for not believing in the Catholic Church, or being some asshole who misgenders a trans woman and is publicly called out as a transphobe? Is the prospect that people might boycott Sonic Drive-In for their transphobia really so bad that we might compare it to the mass execution and deportation of non-Christians? Is being expected to refer to the desired pronouns of an individual really a sign of obeisance to their divinity, and is it truly comparable to the expectation to uphold the catechisms of the Catholic Church on pain of basically death? And don’t give me some bullshit about losing your jobs or having everything other than your body being incinerated, because you know that isn’t actually happening. You know, J. K. Rowling is a TERF and I see no signs of her career taking a dive after her remarks about trans people. If anything, she got a bit of a pity party going for her after some motherfucker sent her death threats. Someone who was truly expunged from society and its remit for being treated with some semblance of deceny is probably not going to be defended in that event – after all, if you were truly deemed scum of the earth by society, why should society care if you lived or died? Instead J. K. Rowling got a lot of praise from a wide variety of public figures. Recently, in fact, Dave Chapelle defended J. K. Rowling’s opinions on trans people and supposedly got a standing ovation from the audience. That’s not exactly the mark of a man shunned by society if you ask me.

If you’re at a point where you’re going to tell the whole world that thousands of people getting killed, tortured, and kicked out of a country for having the wrong religion is somehow better than being vocally condemned by the public for being a transphobe, then that to me is a sign that your discourse regarding the subject of “cancel culture” is completely fargone and unservicable to anyone. It actually calls for anyone still into this to re-examine why they’re into it or ever were into it at all, because, for all the right’s talk about left-wing snowflakes, this talk of how the Inquisition would be better than getting “cancelled” on the internet is the most cliche, pathetic, snowflake shit I’ve seen in a long time. You’re actually willing to defend people getting burned at the stake and stretched at the rack for religious reasons just so you don’t have to deal with someone calling you a piece of shit on Twitter or Facebook? What kind of weak, man-baby attitude is this?

I guess if the human body is completely worthless to you and the soul and its place in God’s kingdom is more important, then maybe from that perspective being burned alive must seem like a cakewalk. At the very least, I can sort of respect someone being so willing to face down death like that. But even then, shouldn’t your possessions mean nothing to you as well? I mean, what’s the point of worrying about losing your possessions or your job for saying what you believe in if, in the end, your soul still gets to live forever in heaven while everyone else goes to hell? And, if anything, you have less obstacles to that salvation by having less stuff and money to attach your soul to. What’s the problem? The problem, as I see it, is that this was never about standing up for your beliefs in the face of some mob, and it was never about freedom of expression or speech. It was only ever about Christian conservatives having the right to their ideas of the boundaries of gender identity going unchallenged as the default mode of social life that everyone had to conform to, not to mention Christianity as the dominant religion never being challenged. It’s about social control, not freedom.

It’s safe to say that the influence of conservatism on society has been declining in recent decades, which is obviously eroding the popular consent that conservatives need in the context of a bourgeois-democratic society in order maintain the social control that they desire. Thus, the conservatives, even when they seem to be politically ascendant, are slowly losing power. That’s why they can claim to be victims even when they usually aren’t being victimized by anyone, because conservative victimhood is the experience of the loss of power and privilege in a culture and population that increasingly despises the conservative agenda. And you know what the big joke is? Conservatives so often like to claim that modern people, especially leftists and liberals, are weak snowflakes who get assmad when life doesn’t go their way, but conservatives have always proved to be the real snowflakes, especially over the slightest inconvenience to their worldview and their social agenda. And remember, these are the same people who have been at the forefront of almost every major censorship campaign throughout the 20th century and much of the 21st century. These are the people who have sought to cancel any expressive deviation from cultural Christianity, such as how they whipped up a media circus against Rosaleen Norton, which led to police raiding her house and eventually her becoming a recluse for the rest of her life. These are the people who are now trying to turn around and act like they’re crusaders for freedom of speech and expression.

I’m sick of this shit. Tell them to fuck off, but not before you get the chance to remind them of how weak their cherished Western Civilization truly is. After all, how strong is a society that we’re supposed to believe is going to collapse if being trans is seen as a normal thing, that it cannot survive such a blow without the return of the Inquisition? Frankly, I’d say such a society isn’t very robust at all, and deserves the fate of decay.

Illustration of an Auto-de-fe held in Valladollid, Spain (1559); the Auto-de-fe was a public ceremony in which accused and condemned heretics were humiliated and executed. Jews were sometimes burned in those ceremonies for refusing to convert to Catholicism. But according to Matt Walsh, all this is nowhere near as bad as getting called out for misgendering trans people.