In a free country, full of people from all walks of life, it can be disheartening to find out that strangers want you fired for saying or believing the wrong thing. It’s unfortunate that cancel culture has gotten so bad that we are forced to address it in times like these but address it we must.
Cancel culture has taken over certain aspects of liberal society in recent years, particularly since Trump was elected President. It is a form of criticism more associated with bullying than anything else. You essentially call out, in a rabid fashion, those you disagree with in the hopes of getting them censored or fired. Sometimes it’s warranted, but most of the time it’s just sad.
For those who haven’t heard, Harper’s Magazine published a letter dubbed “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate.” The post rightfully denounces the intolerance of opposing views that leads to a type of cancel culture where swift and severe retribution is the only answer.
The letter was signed by 150 journalists, artists, writers, and professors. The names of which include, Noam Chomsky, J.K. Rowling, David Frum, and Bari Weiss. Some of the names on the list have been victims of cancel culture, others practice it themselves.
The four examples I’ve given are why the letter has garnered so much controversy. You have Chomsky, the father of modern linguistics and a lifelong progressive activist. You have Rowling, who recently tweeted some disparaging remarks about the trans-gendered. Frum, George W. Bush’s former speech writer who pushed for the Iraq War. And finally, you have Weiss, the queen of crying about cancel culture, while also practicing it regularly.
Liberals and progressives have been calling for Chomsky’s head just for being accompanied with the other names on the letter. It’s as if they want him cancelled for signing a letter condemning cancel culture. In a way, the rift the letter has caused demonstrates a need for it.
On the other hand, how much credence can Harper’s letter really receive when it’s full of hypocrites? Harper’s is itself a liberal elitist magazine. A journal of note with a history of union busting. Now let’s shut it DOWN! Just kidding…
If anyone is used to being cancelled, it’s Noam Chomsky. His progressive views on domestic and foreign policy have been shut out for years. Despite his brilliant mind and unique points of view, he has been shunned by the mainstream media for decades.
It’s safe to say that the real victim of cancel culture is progressive culture. Generally speaking, progressives have been cancelled for decades right along side Chomsky. Take MSNBC for example, if you proved to be anti-war or anti-establishment, you were literally cancelled. Same with Bernie Sanders. His presidential runs got cancelled out (arguably twice) by the party he was running for. But I digress.
Chomsky isn’t a hypocrite. He’s not racist or a bad person. His views simply go against establishment thinking. It’s easy to see why someone like him would sign a letter like this. It was written for this type of person. As the letter suggests, there is nothing wrong with open debate.
What about the Bari Weiss’s of the world? A pro-Israel opinion writer for the New York Times. Regardless of your stance on the Israel/Palestine conflict, being staunchly pro-Israel is not in itself worthy of being censored or cancelled. However, she herself has a long history trying to ruin the careers of Arab and Muslim scholars for criticizing Israel.
Weiss has been one of the main voices against cancel culture and has had an abundance of television appearances to voice her outrage. As Glenn Greenwald explains, Weiss is a prime example of someone who simply can’t handle criticism. Even after falsifying information. Should a hypocritical columnist be fired for knowingly falsifying information in an article? The New York Times didn’t think so, but others did.
What about someone like J.K. Rowling? Her views are obviously on the wrong side of history, but they don’t amount to hate speech. Should other authors be fired for tweeting their support for her?
When Ellen DeGeneres was seen at a football game palling it up with George W. Bush, she deserved the criticism she got, but she wouldn’t have deserved to lose her job. At the same time, If Bush himself were scheduled to make a speech at a university, should a war criminal have the right to speak?
Often, the target of cancel culture is misdirected at the individual rather than the corporate institution they work for. Take Fox News’ Tucker Carlson for example. He host’s a show so offensive that it would not be permitted to air where I’m from because of our anti-hate laws. Bullying him into getting fired on a conservative network would be a waste of time, but people can bully his corporate sponsors. Let them decide.
The real problem with cancel culture is that it isn’t one size fits all. It’s complicated. You can’t look at two completely different situations the same way. Should someone be fired for a homophobic rant or wearing black or brown face thirty years ago? Time and context should matter. It also depends if the person in question shows remorse. If people were incapable of improving themselves, prisons would be a big waste of time and money.
90% of the time cancel culture is uncalled for. It hinders progress. It allows people like Bari Weiss to use it as a copout to avoid actual criticism. Meanwhile, liberals need to think twice when bullying others into seeing things their way. It can, first and foremost, be weaponized by conservatives as an assault on the first amendment. Don’t try and stop people from speaking at universities for example. It’s one thing to protest a speech, it’s another to protest it from taking place (even if it’s W).
I’ve always held the belief that if you don’t like what someone has to say, change the channel. Move the dial, turn the page, click on another link. Before you do, feel free to leave a comment, make a statement, let your opinion be known. It’s your right. But try not to take it too far. Just remember the best way to embrace cancel culture is to vote.