The innocent victims of cancel culture

A hand is seen cutting the ends of hair against a white background.
(Photo: Adobe Stock)

There have already been numerous think pieces about cancel culture. The left may say canceling people is holding them accountable for their actions. The right may say that a cancellation can be disproportionate with one’s actions. Some people, regardless of whether they lean left or right, can see the nuances and complexities of the phrase.

However, regardless of the intended action, there are innocent victims of cancel culture. No, we’re not referring to Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump, Kanye West or anyone who has willingly caused harm. We’re talking about people who actually did nothing wrong and were attacked anyway. And this all comes as a result of keyboard warriors not doing their research.

Christine Geiger, the owner of Studio 8 Hair Lab in Traverse City, Mich., tested the waters of the 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis Supreme Court decision, which legalized discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community. On her salon’s now-deleted Facebook page, Geiger put her beliefs on full display.

“If a human identifies as anything other than a man/woman please seek services at a local pet groomer,” Geiger wrote. “You are not welcome at this salon. Period.”

Later on, Geiger doubled down on her remarks via a comment in the Overheard in Traverse City Facebook group in response to the outrage.

“I have no issues with LGB. It’s the TQ+ that I’m not going to support,” Geiger wrote.

The owner went on to falsely claim that the “+” in the acronym represented pedophiles. Far-right conservatives made up a narrative in recent years that the LGBTQ+ community is enabling pedophiles and groomers. Some even claim that the community is trying to add a “P” to the acronym to represent “pedophilia.” It’s unclear where this narrative began, but it may have started as a result of false social media posts claiming to be from LGBTQ+ organizations. Organizations such as the LGBT Foundation have debunked the claim, making it “categorically clear that this is not in any way affiliated with us, and is false and misleading.” If Geiger did a quick Google search about this topic, she would see results that this narrative is inaccurate.

Ever since the salon owner put these beliefs out there on social media, the salon has been the target of negative comments and reviews. Should Geiger and Studio 8 Hair Lab be canceled for putting these messages out there? Absolutely. However, including this information in the editorial is only here to provide context for the real issue at play.

While the Michigan-based hair salon is receiving rightful backlash, another hair salon in Allentown, Pa. is receiving similar complaints. The difference is that the salon in Allentown actually did nothing wrong.

The Morning Call reported last week that Studio 8 Hair Loft (Read carefully. That is “Loft,” not “Lab.”) has also been the target of negative complaints, simply because the salon has a similar name. The false assumptions got so bad that owner Peggy Stoss had to clarify on Facebook that Studio 8 Hair Loft is “a very LGBTQ+ friendly salon,” and that they are “not affiliated with Studio 8 Hair Lab.”

It’s pretty clear that while Geiger and Studio 8 Hair Lab in Michigan deserve to be canceled, Peggy Stoss and Studio 8 Hair Loft in Allentown do not deserve that same treatment. 

It can be challenging sifting through the correct information on the internet. If you search the name of the Michigan-based hateful salon on Facebook, the Allentown-based LGBTQ+-friendly salon is sadly one of the first results. But in this age of misinformation, it’s important now more than ever to make sure we do our due diligence and research before we’re quick to dunk. That’s likely how misinformation about “pedophilia” being added to the LGBTQ+ acronym was spread. That’s why the LGBTQ+ community is still fighting this false narrative with politicians, who are instituting drag bans and “Don’t Say Gay” bills. And this may have all begun because people aren’t doing their research. 

We can be better than this. “Do your research” is not a message for the right-leaning people who can’t Google the meaning of “+” in “LGBTQ+.” It’s for all of us.

Readers may see the headline of this editorial and make their own assumptions before reading the full version. They may falsely believe that this is trying to play into bothsidesism. If you click the comments on the Facebook pages of any media outlet, you’ll often see people getting outraged by the headline alone, without actually clicking the link for full context. 

If you read this far into the editorial, then congratulations. You have done your due diligence. Keep that same energy the next time you get outraged.

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