Hemingway and Cancel Culture

A farewell to free speech.

Joshua Clements


Earnest Hemingway by Lloyd Arnold, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve previously written about free speech and believe there should always be more speech, not less. When other countries are having their freedoms ripped away by their governments, we, the citizens of the US, have become content to call for silencing our own. I am talking about cancel culture.

A recent podcast from The Darrell McClain Show gives a solid overview of the Joe Rogan fiasco wherein he is being attacked for entertaining dissident views from the mainstream. I know Joe has come under fire about his use of the n-word too, but the initial attempt to cancel him was over him giving a platform to subaltern narratives.

The podcast also discusses Whoopi Goldberg’s lapse in judgment when she said the Holocaust was not about race. In these scenarios, both individuals may have said less than appropriate or fringe things. But, they also shouldn’t be crucified for their sins.

Cancel Culture isn’t a new fad. Long after Socrates was forced to drink the hemlock for his outspokenness, Ernest Hemingway wrote A Farewell to Arms.

In chapter 30, Hemingway describes a scene where the young, zealous soldiers in the Italian Army lost sight of the big picture and began to tear apart their own ranks believing they were improving their situation in World War I.

These carabinieri were questioning officers and anyone else who seemed suspicious, i.e., “He speaks Italian with an accent.” They were looking for anything different from the norm.

The officers and offending persons were ordered to be shot, regardless of reason or infraction. The protagonist noted, “They made a point of being intent on questioning the next man while the man who had been questioned before was being shot. In this way there was obviously nothing they could do about it.”

The chilling part of the scene was the invincibility of those who played judge and executioner. Hemingway wrote, “So far they had shot every one they had questioned. The questioners had that beautiful detachment and devotion to stern justice of men dealing in death without being in any danger of it.”

Many of the individuals involved in canceling others don’t realize that their heads could be on the canceling…



Joshua Clements

Writer, Martial Artist, and student of Philosophy and Communication. You can see more of my work at joshuaclementswrites.com and thephilosophicalfighter.com.