SO-CALLED cancel culture is a grift, a reworking of the “political correctness gone mad” rhetoric of the right that’s fuelling a false culture war and building careers for the worst kind of political opportunists.

At one point the phrase itself may have had some merit, when it described a particular breed of overzealous and performative activist who, while likely talking up the principles of restorative justice, failed to adhere to them.

However, like all once-useful phrases bastardised by reactionaries, right-wing pundits and edgelord careerists, it has become a catch-all term used to undermine legitimate attempts at holding power to account.

Show me a pundit or politico raging against cancel culture, and I’ll show you the facts they have conveniently overlooked.

Take for example the recent drama surrounding Mr Potato Head and Dr Seuss (now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write).

This week the Loony Leftists took to the bonfires, burning great piles of beloved author Dr Seuss’s greatest work for the crime of not being sufficiently woke. Wait no, that didn’t happen at all.

What did happen was that the estate of Dr Seuss, aka Theodor Seuss Geisel, decided that it would no longer be printing a few of his lesser known works due to their gross representations of non-white characters. Interestingly, this is a decision that Seuss himself would possibly have agreed with, had he been alive now.

Theodor Seuss Geisel is certainly a well-loved author, but there’s no denying that he created some really racist books and cartoons during his time as the chief editorial cartoonist for a New York newspaper. The author was a big supporter of American concentration camps for Japanese nationals during the Second World War, and his political cartoons at the time reflected that.

In his later years, however, after visiting Japan and seeing the horrific devastation caused by the bombing of Hiroshima, he recognised and addressed his earlier racism by publishing “Horton Hears a Who!”.

The decision to cease printing of a few books was a voluntary call by his estate, which recognised that the depictions present weren’t appropriate.

Mr Potato Head, too, has been the target of the woke mob. The gender-obsessed Twitter extremists, hand in hand with the all-powerful trans lobby, have forced a plastic potato into becoming a genderless warrior in the fight to destroy Western civilisation. Wait, no, that didn’t happen either.

Mr Potato Head is still called Mr Potato Head. But with the creation of Mrs Potato Head and the growing plastic nuclear family, Hasbro has decided to rebrand the line of toys as just Potato Head – because there are multiple potato heads of differing potato genders.

So how did Dr Seuss and Mr Potato Head become unwilling participants in the culture war?

Both have been relentlessly misrepresented online and among right-wing commentators to continue to stoke fear against the left, who they mischaracterise as hateful, intolerant and set on destroying the careers and lives of anyone they have a mild disagreement with.

EXCEPT that, of course, being cancelled is a great career move for anyone looking to make a name for themselves. Who even knew who Laurence Fox was before he bounced on to Question Time to tell a black woman that discussions around racism were “boring”? Now the cancel king is running to be the next Mayor of London.

Getting “cancelled” pretty much guarantees a spate of high-profile interviews with the possibility of a lucrative book deal – and very little in the way of any real consequences for what is often the worst behaviour.

So what are we left with? An endless parade of manufactured grievances that seek to simultaneously undermine any serious attempt at critically examining power and history all while building lucrative careers for mediocre contrarians.

Ask yourself honestly who has really been silenced during the rise of so-called cancel culture? Anti-woke voices have never been louder or more widely broadcast.

The right claim they have been silenced because the left are terrified of discussing their dangerous ideas (read: formerly mainstream positions whose time has come). We’re not afraid of your ideas. We’ve just found them more than wanting. Meanwhile, ideas that are genuinely dangerous to vested power are largely absent from mainstream discourse.

Discussions around prison abolition, defunding the police, radical wealth redistribution and parasitic landlordism are broadly relegated to the sidelines, making a brief appearance from a guest columnist now and then, while conservatives try to take the same anti-LGBT arguments of the 1980s and make them new again.

It’s very much a “free speech for me, but not for thee” kind of a situation. Following Laurence Fox’s controversial Question Time appearance, the actors’ union, Equity, branded his behaviour disgraceful. It later issued an apology, prompting the entire race equality committee to resign in disgust.

Why are Fox and his like more deserving of the right to freely express themselves than those with less wealth and connections?

The powerful and reactionary have always tried to characterise challenges to themselves, and the status quo, as a superfluous witch-hunt. Call it the Loony Left. Call it political correctness gone mad. Call it cancel culture. In the end it’s all the same: a ticket for the powerful to act with impunity.

It keeps people frothing against an imagined left-wing culture threat, rather than the very real danger that the Conservatives and far-right pose – and as always, it’ll be those with the least power who will be left picking up the pieces.