Dilbert Deflects and Dodges

by Connor Pugh ‘24

Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip Dilbert, has recently come under fire for spouting bigoted beliefs, such as labeling Black Americans as a hate group. This has led to his strip being dropped by many newspapers and other comics artists denouncing Adams entirely. Adams claimed that he was being “canceled”, stating his right to free speech had been infringed. The defense used by Adams demonstrates how the idea of “cancel culture” is used as a shield by celebrities accused of bigotry to deflect criticism and avoid taking responsibility for their actions.

People like Adams twist their constitutional right to freedom of speech to exempt themselves from taking responsibility for what they say. They implicitly claim this freedom absolves them from any criticism, implying that it only applies to them and not to their detractors. The claim that they are being attacked by “cancel culture” offers a perfect justification, characterizing their critics as a mob to discredit their voices. Although there are issues with how the internet creates echo chambers and collective dogpiling for minor offenses, celebrities like Adams manipulate this idea in order to make themselves look better and avoid responsibility for their own actions.