The term “cancel culture” has become unusually pervasive of late. It’s even reached the Vatican Diplomatic Corps, which includes representatives from the 183 countries accredited to the Holy See. There, Pope Francis said, “Cancel culture is invading many circles and public institutions. As a result, agendas are increasingly dictated by a mindset that rejects the natural foundations of humanity and the cultural roots that constitute the identity of many people.”

Today, cancel culture largely has been reduced to a label affixed to any call for someone or something to be publicly admonished, typically through social media and its aftermath. It is used by those along all poles of the political spectrum to point out the intolerance of the other side.

But cancel culture is just a symptom of a larger social disease that has been with us since Victorian times, then amped up in the United States as it became incorporated into our American value system. Put simply, the root of cancel culture is an individual’s or group’s need to censor.