News & Politics

Checkmate: Here's How You Respond to the Cancel Culture Mob

(AP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Scott Cawthon, who created the critically-acclaimed horror survival video game Five Nights at Freddy‘s, found himself a target of the cancel culture mob this weekend after LGBT activists discovered he had donated to “problematic” candidates. Cawthon refused to apologize. Instead, he gave a master class on how to stand up to the mob.

Cawthon, 43, had contributed to various campaigns for both Republicans and Democrats, but the mob found reasons to condemn each of them. He supported former President Donald Trump, then-presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, Kim Klacik, and then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The LGBT activists condemned each of these candidates, including the Democrat Gabbard because she supported a bill protecting women’s sports from “transgender” male competition.

Cawthon described the cancel culture attacks “surreal.”

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“To say that the last few days have been surreal would be an understatement. I’ve debated greatly how best to address this, including not addressing it at all, but with so many people from the LGBT community in the fanbase that I love, that’s not an option. I’d like to think that the last seven years would have given me the benefit of the doubt in regards to how I try to treat people, but there I was, trending on twitter for being a homophobe, getting doxed, with people threatening to come to my house,” he began in a powerful Reddit post.

Cawthon described the personal damage this mob had already caused.

“My wife is six weeks pregnant and she spent last night in fear because of what was being said online. She has already been struggling with her pregnancy so seeing her so afraid really scared me. All this because I exercised my right, and my duty, as an American citizen, to vote for and support the candidates who I felt could best run the country, for everyone, and that’s something that I won’t apologize for,” he added.

Cawthon laid out his reasons for supporting candidates across the political spectrum.

For those who took the time to look, you saw that the candidates I supported included men, women, white people, black people, republicans, and democrats. I supported Kimberly Klacik in Baltimore because I believed that she really cared for the African American community there and wanted to pull them out of poverty. I believed she could have really make a difference in a time when so many black communities were struggling. She lost, unfortunately.

I supported Tulsi Gabbard, a democrat, even though I disagreed with her on several issues, because I felt she would have been a good and fair president.

And yes, I supported President Trump, because I felt he was the best man to fuel a strong economy and stand up to America’s enemies abroad, of which there are many. Even if there were candidates who had better things to say to the LGBT community directly, and bigger promises to make, I believed that their stances on other issues would have ended up doing much greater harm to those communities than good.

All of this explanation, I fear, is wasted, as people don’t want to discuss with one another anymore; they want endless apologies and submission. People who are expecting those from me will get neither.

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Cawthon said he had always treated everyone with dignity and respect. “I’ve never cared about anyone’s race, religion, gender, or orientation. I just treat people as people, everyone the same, and because of that, I’ve ended up with a very diverse group of people that I’ve worked with over the years.”

“I’m a republican. I’m a Christian. I’m pro-life. I believe in God,” he declared. “I also believe in equality, and in science, and in common sense. Despite what some may say, all of those things can go together. That’s not an apology or promise to change, it’s the way it’s always been.”

“If I get cancelled, then I get cancelled. I don’t do this for the money anymore; I do it because I enjoy it,” Cawthon wrote. “If people think I’m doing more harm than good now, then maybe it’s better that I get cancelled and retire. I would accept that. I’ve had a fulfilling career. Besides, most things that people can take from you are things that never had much value to begin with.”

He signed off with a statement of appreciation for the fans. “I have always loved, and will continue to love, this community and this fanbase, even if someday it doesn’t include me anymore,” the developer concluded.

This powerful response flipped the cancel culture attacks. “I stand with Scott” started trending on Twitter.

“Scott basically raised me during my childhood, his games were one of the reasons I started drawing. the fact people are threatening to dox him and kill him now is just sad,” one user wrote.

“Thank you Scott Cawthon for making everything possible after all of these years. And Scott if you are reading this, I do believe that you are an amazing person, and you inspired me and even some of my friends, to make most of these FNAF VHS content, and more,” another added.

Cawthon’s decision to stand up to the cancel culture mob is a lesson for everyone who faces unfair vilification. He rightly noted the threat of cancel culture, but refused to apologize or budge. He stood by his principles and tried to reason with critics, even as they come at him with torches and pitchforks.

When targets of the mob decide to stand up, they may not successfully deflect the attacks, but they can demonstrate just how wrong the mob is, and they can send a powerful message. By contrast, when the mob’s targets apologize or capitulate, they only embolden cancel culture and make the playing field more unfair for conservatives.

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Cawthon is preparing to release Five Nights at Freddy’s: Security Breach in the second half of 2021, the tenth installment of the series that began when he released the original game in 2014. It remains unclear whether or not the cancel culture mob will succeed in preventing the game’s release. If Cawthon’s statement is anything to go by, the game will come out right on schedule.