Letters to the Editor: It’s not ‘cancel culture.’ It’s finally holding privileged people accountable

Boeing’s manufacturing facility can be seen in Everett, Wash. An executive with the company recently stepped down after a 33-year-old essay he wrote resurfaced.
(Ted S. Warren / Associated Press)

To the editor: I’m glad Boeing’s ex-communications chief Niel Golightly says he’s had a change of heart since, as a Navy pilot in 1987, he wrote a ridiculous essay against allowing women to serve in combat. But an apology is not enough. (“Boeing executive steps down over a 33-year-old essay. ‘Cancel culture’ has gone off the rails,” Opinion, July 12)

Do not feel sorry for this man. As a white male, Golightly had a dream career flying fighter aircraft for the Navy, then used his Navy career to springboard to Boeing. He has not suffered in his career for those opinions he published 33 years ago.

Consider instead the lives of the countless women Golightly’s opinion piece helped make more difficult. The Navy is now celebrating the first Black female fighter pilot in the history of naval aviation. I applaud her achievement. But really? This is 2020.

My wife and I were both in the Navy in 1987. We did not know Golightly, but we knew others like him. My wife and her peers put up with horrific school and work conditions because many men thought they should not be there

I used to think that all it would take for the culture to change would be for men like Golightly to eventually leave the military. Now I realize that the attitudes Golightly expressed in 1987 are self-perpetuating. Absent a concerted effort to actively change the culture, new generations of privileged men learn from the older generations — and the culture of oppression lives on.


It is beyond time for all people of privilege to account for their racism and misogyny, and for how they contributed to the systemic oppression of others.

Bill Meier, Camarillo

The writer was a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy.


To the editor: Kudos to Robin Abcarian, whose column I regularly read and with whom I almost never agree.

It is time to cancel the “cancel culture” before we lose all pretense of free speech in America. This will not happen without loud and powerful support from the progressives.

Sadly, I suspect that the L.A. Times would not have published this column if it had not been written by one of its longtime opinion writers. But this is a step in the right direction by both Abcarian and The Times; I hope it is the first of many.

Victoria DeFelice, Irvine


To the editor: I support Abcarian’s view concerning the “cancel culture” movement’s lack of compassion and empathy for Golightly, who lost his executive position at Boeing over an essay he wrote 33 years ago. I would also add this.

In the extreme, all movements are in danger of claiming sole ownership over the truth, whether on the left or the right. By necessity, they are uncomfortable with and intolerant of ideas expressing opposing views.

Inevitably, these movements want to censor if not eliminate the free exchange of disparate opinions.

As a former high school history teacher, I believe the “cancel culture” folks are dangerously close to falling into this oppressively un-American ideological morass.

Robert Livingston, Northridge