University of Virginia (UVA) student activist Zyahna Bryant is back in the news after facing backlash over a partnership with Dove. The 22 year old announced in August that she teamed up with the soap company to promote “fat liberation.”
After reporting from the New York Postthe Daily emailand even a remark from Elon Musk, calls to boycott the company have grown, with “#BoycottDove” trending on Twitter as of Friday afternoon.
It’s not surprising that Bryant would be an online target. If Rode unveiled in April research, she made serious accusations that destroyed a young woman’s life without sufficient evidence. But canceling her is still both wrong and pointless — as are almost all examples of cancel culture in action.
In 2020, Bryant publicly accused fellow student Morgan Bettinger of telling a group of Black Lives Matter protesters that they would “make good speed bumps” — sparking a social media firestorm that resulted in widespread calls for the university to expel Bettinger .
For her part, Bettinger has consistently claimed that she never spoke to protesters, but instead said that a truck driver who had to block the road during the protest had struck up a casual conversation with her, during which she joked something to the effect of ” It’s a good thing you’re here, otherwise these people would have been speed bumps.”
A university investigation later found “insufficient evidence” for Byrant’s claims, even concluding that it was “more likely than not” that Byrant had never heard Bettinger make a comment about “speed bumps” in the first place. Despite the results of the investigation, the university allowed Bettinger to be punished anyway, upholding the results of a previous student-led tribunal, which expelled Bettinger and forced her to complete a litany of other sanctions. The previous student tribunal found Bettinger guilty of “threatening” UVA students, despite appearing to agree with Bettinger’s apparently non-threatening version of events.
Last month, Bettinger filed a formal request court case against the university, alleging that school officials violated her First Amendment rights and that administrators “intentionally tampered” with the numerous investigations into Bettinger’s conduct to ensure she would be punished for clearly protected speech.
“Despite their personal knowledge that multiple University investigators concluded that Morgan was innocent of the charges against her,” the lawsuit reads.[University officials] prosecuted, prosecuted and punished Morgan Bettinger.”
Now that Bryant has received a Dove sponsorship, those outraged by her baseless accusations against Bettinger have sparked an Internet organization. firestorm by attempting a Bud Light-style boycott of the company’s products.
Rode has consistently argued that internet mobs are a terrible way to find the truth and get justice for those wronged. What’s happening here is blatant cancel culture: a concerted effort to destroy someone’s personal and professional prospects over a single past incident or comment, without any capacity for forgiveness.
Witnessing how an internet attack completely destroyed a young woman’s life and reputation offers little evidence that these types of outrage campaigns can do any good. If anything, this crowd will rightfully make Bryant feel sad. Although Bryant did much more than merely politically misthink — she actively lobbied for the expulsion of another student and showed little remorse when the reality of the situation came to light — viciously attacking her (or initiating a boycott of a soap company) Bettinger did not help her tainted wife recover. reputation.
Attempts to boycott Dove’s work will distract from what actually happened to Bettinger. They turn her story into a culture war collapse and align her with online trolls who see attacking someone’s physical appearance as an important part of political discourse.
Yes, Zyahna Bryant thoughtlessly ruined Morgan Bettinger’s life by making baseless accusations in the public square. But finding out the truth about what happened that day in July 2020 — and getting justice for Bettinger — won’t be accomplished by a nasty, tribalistic internet mob.