Wednesday, July 8, 2020

A Dying Anti-Cancel Culture Lefty Breed Issues an Important Statement

A group of 150 thought leaders (second-hand dealers in the Hayekian sense), mostly leftists, have issued a statement objecting to the current lefty cancel culture that rejects open speech and debate.

The statement reads in part:
The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty. We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes. Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.
This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time. The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other. As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.
Among those signing this very important anti-cancel culture statement are:

David Brooks, New York Times columnist

Noam Chomsky, MIT (emeritus)

Francis Fukuyama, Stanford University

Malcolm Gladwell, author

Jonathan Haidt, NYU-Stern

Garry Kasparov, Renew Democracy Initiative

Wynton Marsalis, Jazz at Lincoln Center

Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois at Chicago

Olivia Nuzzi, New York Magazine

Steven Pinker, Harvard University

J.K. Rowling, author

Salman Rushdie, New York University

Gloria Steinem, writer and activist

Bari Weiss

Matthew Yglesias

Fareed Zakaria

While I am puzzled by the claim there is a censoriousness "radical right," I do welcome this statement from people that I generally disagree with on many issues.

Defense of debate and open discussions are extremely important at this time as the Marxist cancel culture continues to advance.



  1. CBC Kids weigh in on "transphobic" JK Rowling -

  2. Matt Taibbi has done great work calling out woke censorship too. What's especially good is he often focuses on the corporate (a.k.a. crony capitalist) nature of this stuff.

    It's not a communist or socialist revolution. It is an astroturf pseudo-revolution managed by and for elements of the corporate state / managerial class. It's mostly an upper class managerial class / media & "knowledge worker" coup against everyone else - disguised as 'social justice'. Fascism used to be defined as upper class / middle class socialism. This is really a new improved form of anti-populist fascism dressed up as progressive.

    Anyway that's what it looks like to me!

  3. The far left has no constraining principles. Let them run wild and let everyone watch.

  4. At first glance, I thought S.F. Mayor LONDON Breed was dying. As Emily Litella would say: "never mind".

  5. As soon as a few of them became targets, suddenly free and open speech must be championed. While a welcome move, they'd have more credibility if they had done this when they were only benefiting.