Ethics of Cancel Culture: Dr. Seuss

Theodor Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss, began publishing children’s books in 1937. Earlier this year, the Seuss Estates announced that they would no longer produce six books because of racial insensitivities depicted in the publications.

“These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises told The Associated Press. “Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment and our broader plan to ensure Dr. Seuss Enterprises’ catalog represents and supports all communities and families.” 

The announcement seemed to drive a surge of support for these Seuss classics. Along with the support, came many arguments about cancel culture. 

Cancel culture is a form of social boycott, where many people come together and collectively avoid works created by people who have exhibited insensitive or harmful behaviors. 

This notion of cancel culture brings up several debates pertaining to whether judgement should equal justice or not. Is it ethical to “cancel” someone, have them fired from their job from a past mistake? There are various ethical issues when it comes to this debate, such as the act of utilitarianism. Is canceling someone for the greatest good? 

All in all, bringing up racial injustice in a broad scope of things is for the greatest good and stimulates change. Whether we didn’t notice it in literary works or chose to ignore it, the pulling of six books is for the greatest good over all.

Now more than ever, we are able to educate ourselves on racial injustice and inspire change throughout. Overall, many publishers have prompted change by recognizing and rejecting aspects of a writer’s work that are out of step with current social and cultural values. 

As goes for the future ahead, companies are now more aware of and less insensitive to racial stereotypes. As a society at large, we are far more educated and much more aware of these stereotypes when we see them.

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