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The "cancel culture" trend has locals questioning their freedom of speech

As many public figures are now "cancelled" or held accountable with extreme consequences for wrongdoings, many wonder if their freedom of speech is being attacked.

LANCASTER, Pa. — Celebrities' and public figures are now under rapid and severe scrutiny of wrongdoings put out in the public eye.

This scrutiny is now called "cancel culture," which is when a person says something that others may find as offensive, resulting in serious consequences.

However, this sort of culture is not new as Dr. Charles Greenawalt, associate professor of government at Millersville University, says dates back to the Civil War. 

"Cancel culture seems to stem from the call out culture which began-you could go back as early as the civil rights movement where we are simply identifying someone for some outrageous thing that they may have done and try to shame that or call attention to that act so that they don't do it again," said Greenawalt.

With the trend growing because of the platform social media provides, it has many scared to share their views wondering if their rights of speech are protected.

"The first amendment covers government, said Dr. Nick Anspach, professor of political science at York College, "government can't come after you for what you say, so you can say all kinds of crazy things, the government is not going to prosecute you for it, but the first amendment doesn't cover private individuals or private companies punishing you for bad speech."

Locals in Lancaster had differing opinions on the effects of cancel culture adding it's effective when the action meets the consequence.

"A middle ground is okay, sometimes people think, do, and say really awful toxic things and the cancellation that they meet, as a result of that is deserved," said Cody Flory-Miller.

However, others say the trend makes them even more attentive in what they say in fear of repercussions.

"It's good to be honest with how you feel but also you get attacked a lot and I find myself hesitating to be expressive with how I feel cause I'm afraid now," said Katie Trainer.

Anspach notes that whether you are on the side of cancel culture or not, it's important to get to a place where the country can learn to respect one another.

"We have to understand what this behavior is meant for, he said "it's not to score cheap political points, but it's meant to get society to a place where we don't use harmful language."

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