YOU CAN always tell when someone is about to be canceled. The open letter or press release will say something like, “While remain committed to hearing a range of diverse perspectives…” before going on to explain why everyone who doesn’t toe the progressive line ought to be silenced.

But when cancel culture arrived in New Hampshire, it went even further.

You may have seen an open letter to The Derryfield School in Manchester circulating on the internet. The authors calls for a woman named Shannon McGinley to be expelled from the school’s board of trustees due to her conservative, Christian beliefs—and all for the sake of diversity. Or so they say.

Silencing minorities in the name of tolerance. That’s a new level of Newspeak.

Granted, McGinley isn’t just any conservative. She’s the executive director of a group called Cornerstone Action. Cornerstone works closely with hundreds of elected officials in New Hampshire to draft right-of-center legislation. So, we’re not talking about some fringe, alt-right outfit here. And yet, in the year 2021, that’s apparently enough to give her the boot.

McGinley’s critics justify themselves by quoting Derryfield’s mission statement, which says that “a school is strengthened by its diversity. Therefore, we are committed to building and nurturing a diverse and inclusive community with individuals from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives.”

But let’s look at the facts.

It’s true that, as McGinley’s critics claim, Cornerstone “opposes marriage equality”—meaning they uphold the traditional definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Yet, according to the polling company Gallup, the majority of Americans supported that definition before the year 2010. Over 30 percent continue to do so today, including about 49 percent of African-Americans. The largest Christian denominations in America also uphold the traditional definition of marriage, including the Roman Catholic and United Methodist churches.

What’s more, gay marriage remains unpopular among most people outside the Western world, across all racial and religious boundaries . If Shannon McGinley is not welcome on the Derryfield board of trustees, then so would most immigrants from Haiti, Egypt, Nigeria, India, Vietnam, the Philippines,... Even in socialist Venezuela (a country beloved by so many on the radical Left), the majority of citizens oppose gay marriage.

The signatories also claim that McGinley “supports conversion therapy for LGBT+ individuals.” Yet when I followed the link the signatories supply by way of “evidence,” that proved to be a lie. They only cite a statement by McGinley saying that she opposes a ban of conversion therapy. In other words, she says that individuals who struggle with unwanted same-sex attraction should be allowed to seek out a psychologist.

Really, what’s the alternative? Should we legally forbid people from (voluntarily!) consulting a mental health professional in order to remove an unwanted desire? That’s not a conservative-vs.-liberal issue. It’s a matter of individual freedom, not to mention doctor-patient confidentiality.

Moreover, a 2020 survey by the National Opinion Research Center found that a majority of Americans do not support further legislation strengthening “LGBT rights.” Presumably, McGinley’s critics would exclude them from the Derryfield board, too.

The question is, will McGinley’s critics get away with it? Will they be able to succeed in getting a Christian woman kicked off the board of trustees based solely on her faith-based convictions?

Put it this way. Among those who signed the petition to oust McGinley is the comedienne Sarah Silverman. Silverman lives in Los Angeles and hasn’t been a New Hampshire resident since she graduated from Derryfield in 1989. She has no connection with this community, and yet she’ll gladly throw her weight around the Granite State to advance the progressive agenda.

This has always been the M.O. of liberal activists. Those they can’t beguile with Hollywood star-power, they bully into silence.

Percy Bysshe Shelley once called poets “the unacknowledged legislators of the world.” But that was 200 years ago. Today, our laws are made at the behest of actresses, academics and corporate executives. (It shows, too, doesn’t it?)

Cancel culture attacks the very essence of diversity: the idea that folks with different backgrounds, cultures and beliefs may coexist in peace. If it claims Shannon McGinley, it may very well claim you.

I know the good people of New Hampshire will be repulsed by any attempt to silence dissent, marginalize minorities, and curtail individual liberties. But the rising tide of cancel culture won’t be stopped unless we act—and act now.

We say, “Live free or die.” But do we mean it?

Michael Warren Davis lives in Goffstown.

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