No one is getting canceled, we’re told. There’s no such thing as “cancel culture.” It’s just consequence culture. People say racist, sexist, mean things and so they deserve to be fired from their jobs, stripped of their standing in society, shunned by their friends. Should Hitler have been able to keep his job after publishing Mein Kampf, huh?

If only life were that simple. But mob rule is, by definition, imprecise. The people who get canceled aren’t really Hitler, of course. And somehow, actual criminals find themselves forgiven far sooner than regular folk who say something...

No one is getting canceled, we’re told. There’s no such thing as “cancel culture.” It’s just consequence culture. People say racist, sexist, mean things and so they deserve to be fired from their jobs, stripped of their standing in society, shunned by their friends. Should Hitler have been able to keep his job after publishing Mein Kampf, huh?

If only life were that simple. But mob rule is, by definition, imprecise. The people who get canceled aren’t really Hitler, of course. And somehow, actual criminals find themselves forgiven far sooner than regular folk who say something out of step with the narrow set of guidelines proffered by the worst, wokest people in society.

Still, there’s something different about the people canceled for their Covid views. In several cases, not only were these people right, their opinions eventually became the absolute standard. People were fired or pushed out of their jobs for simply being ahead of the curve.

Jennifer Sey was chief marketing officer at Levi Strauss & Co., the global billion-dollar clothing company. She was destined for big things at Levi’s. If only she hadn’t said too soon what we all now know to be true.

Sey wanted schools to open and for children to return their normal lives. There is now absolutely nothing controversial about this opinion. Even when she was tweeting it in 2020 and 2021, she was entirely correct.

Like other companies attempting to weather the woke mob, Levi’s had publicly declared support for progressive causes, signed Supreme Court amicus briefs in support of gay marriage and trans rights and taken positions on gun control.

But then Sey called for an end to the lockdowns that we now know were pointless, pushed for open schools, which everyone claims to have supported all along, and generally prioritized children. For Levi’s, this was a problem.

At her most controversial, Bloomberg reports, Sey “questioned whether booster shots were just drug companies’ latest money-making schemes” and said that the CDC should encourage obese people to lose weight. Neither of these are opinions worth firing someone over.

When Sey went on Laura Ingraham’s Fox News show, Levi’s employees complained to the CEO and pressure mounted to force her out. She had been in line for the CEO position, but company executives told her that was now out of the question. Oh, and she could not continue in her current, visible role. Sey quit.

“There is always a reason or excuse not to speak up. Too junior, too senior, it hurts people’s feelings,” Sey told me. “But the truth is more important than hurting people’s feelings. Behind the scenes my peers were agreeing with me on schools. They didn’t want me to say anything because it was upsetting to people. Sorry, I can’t do that: the truth is too important. And you can’t get to the truth without dissent and disagreement first.”

Sey is far from the only person canceled for holding perfectly reasonable Covid opinions.

Tom Goodwin “parted ways” with Publicis Groupe after he tweeted, in August 2020, that the intense focus on Covid deaths over other deaths was misplaced. We now know and accept that people died from alcoholism, suicide, drug overdoses, cancers for which they missed screenings and just plain loneliness, specifically due to lockdown. Goodwin’s comments are now generally accepted. No, we can’t fight Covid at the expense of literally everything else. Data shows that the US experienced hundreds of thousands of “excess” deaths aside from Covid, mostly affecting the poor.

Daniela Jampel is a mother of three and was until recently assistant corporation counsel for New York City. Jampel advocates for the removal of masks on two- to four-year-olds, a policy that no other western country employed through the pandemic but one that remains in place in NYC at the time of writing. Masking toddlers is as despicable as it is utterly redundant. No toddler can wear a mask correctly; anyone with even a passing knowledge of kids understands this. Jampel confronted New York City mayor Eric Adams on toddler-masking and was fired the next day.

Josh Stylman is a co-founder of the excellent Threes Brewing in Brooklyn. He described the vaccine mandates as a “crime against humanity” and unartfully compared them to showing your papers in Nazi Germany. Of course, if Nazi comparisons were enough to force someone out of a job, the presidencies of Donald Trump and George W. Bush would have prompted even greater mass unemployment. Stylman had described himself as pro-vaccine but anti-mandate, yet that didn’t save him, and he resigned his post. Now most people understand that the vaccine passports did absolutely nothing to help contain the spread of Covid-19, which is why requirements have been lifted in cities around the world.

The inability to engage with contrarian opinions, especially those proved correct, is a stain on our response to the pandemic. Cancel culture is real and it’s no longer limited to a small range of boutique issues. When the mob employs it on matters of public health, the stakes could not be higher.

This article was originally published in The Spectator’s June 2022 World edition.