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Senate Has Cancel Culture Gone Too Far?

Discussion in 'Community' started by Darth Punk, Jul 7, 2020.

  1. Darth Punk

    Darth Punk Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Nov 25, 2013
    Some 150 writers, academics and activists - including authors JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood - have signed an open letter denouncing so-called cancel culture.

    They say they applaud a recent "needed reckoning" on racial justice, but argue it has fuelled stifling of open debate. The letter denounces "a vogue for public shaming and ostracism" and "a blinding moral certainty".

    Cancel culture refers to online shaming of individuals who cause offense.
    "The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted," says the letter.

    US intellectual Noam Chomsky, eminent feminist Gloria Steinem, Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov and author Malcolm Gladwell also put their names to the letter.

    The appearance of Harry Potter author Rowling's name among signatories comes after she recently found herself under attack online for comments that offended transgender people .

    The letter goes on to say that cancel culture has spread fear through arts and media. "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," it says.

    It adds: "We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences."

    So, where do we stand on “Cancel Culture”? Has it gone too far?
     
  2. Darth Guy

    Darth Guy Chosen One star 10

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    Aug 16, 2002
    There's really no such thing as "cancel culture." It exists in a small segment of social media (mostly Twitter as far as I can tell) discourse and that's really it. No one's life is being destroyed just for *****y opinions. JK Rowling is a horrible bigot who has millions of people listening to her; she's still sitting comfortably on her Mt. Everest of cash with her crocodile tears about how oppressed she is.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
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  3. a star war

    a star war JCC Basketball Draft Host star 4 VIP - Game Host

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    May 4, 2016
  4. vin

    vin Chosen One star 5

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    Dec 16, 1999
    I wish we could cancel some JC accounts.
     
  5. 3sm1r

    3sm1r Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Dec 27, 2017
    What does "cancel culture" mean? Is it a synonym of "online shaming" ?
     
  6. Joystick Chevron

    Joystick Chevron Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 31, 2017
    An A+ video I can't recall if includes cursing so I'll put it under a tag in case.
     
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  7. Darth Guy

    Darth Guy Chosen One star 10

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    Aug 16, 2002
    I'm e-mailing Noam Chomsky about this!
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  8. MasterP

    MasterP Jedi Grand Master star 7

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    Jun 8, 2003
    I’ve got a few in mind.
     
  9. Jedi Knight Fett

    Jedi Knight Fett PT Interview Host/All-Around Good Guy star 10 VIP - Game Host

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    Feb 18, 2014
    No. People can have thier ****** opinions and also people can want them shamed for it. It goes both ways
     
  10. Coruscant

    Coruscant Force Ghost star 7

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    Feb 15, 2004
    Cancel culture is simply a new way of referring to a boycott. In the past, boycotts rarely had any impact, especially because communicating one’s message was was so much harder, but now we have the internet, with Twitter and other social networks. People have come together to make boycotts much more frequent and much more powerful.

    I’m more concerned about the ubiquity of smart phones and the strategy of using them to record people that their owners find disagreeable. All too often, you find out that these videos, which seem so damning at first, actually have a damnable lack of context, along with disproportionate and severe retribution. It’s highly different from some author stating their dumb opinions on Twitter for all to see and condemn.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  11. Kenneth Morgan

    Kenneth Morgan Chosen One star 5

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    May 27, 1999
    I just think this sounds all too familiar. Back in the 1980s, I remember the uproar over how some people felt that the culture had been debased in recent years. They pointed to things like tawdry content on TV (especially the Fox network), explicit lyrics in music (particularly rap music), and heavy violence in movies. They demanded action, like getting sponsorships revoked and shows cancelled, as well as government action, like mandated warning labels and the like. Opponents of these ideas believed that they stifled creativity and infringed on free speech. Their attitude boiled down to, "Unrestricted ideas are good. If you don't like it, don't watch or don't buy it."
    And history repeats itself, with a few variations. Nothing new under the sun.
     
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  12. Lowbacca_1977

    Lowbacca_1977 Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Eh, I think it often goes too far. It went too far when Fatty Arbuckle was sacrificed to get people angry at Hollywood to shut up for a bit, it went too far when Hollywood blacklisted people for being communists, it went too far when Sinead O'Connor's criticisms of abuse in the Catholic Church tanked her U.S. career, and it went too far when the Dixie Chicks were torn apart for one thing they said in an interview that was 'too political'. I don't see anything new, I just see new people doing it.

    It'd be handy to start off with what this particular letter says, though.
     
  13. Darth Punk

    Darth Punk Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Nov 25, 2013
    Here’s the letter;

    A Letter on Justice and Open Debate

    July 7, 2020

    Our cultural institutions are facing a moment of trial. Powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts. But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second. The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.

    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.

    To see the full list of signatories, find them in the link below.

    SOURCE: https://harpers.org/a-letter-on-justice-and-open-debate/
     
  14. blackmyron

    blackmyron Chosen One star 6

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    Oct 29, 2005
    It's a conservative buzz phrase that unfortunately has entered the common parlance.

    Certainly when conservative groups were demanding the end of 'offensive' TV shows, heavy metal music, or roleplaying games, they didn't seem to be horrified by trying to 'cancel' these things.
     
  15. 3sm1r

    3sm1r Jedi Grand Master star 5

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    Dec 27, 2017
    I personally don't see anything wrong with the letter.
     
  16. Lord Vivec

    Lord Vivec Chosen One star 9

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    Apr 17, 2006
    I think my issue here is that I'm just not seeing the letter make a good link between people getting upset on Twitter and a journalist getting fired or a researcher not getting tenure. We don't always know the internal workings within a company or organization. We don't know if the latest negative publicity of someone due to cancel culture was the proverbial last straw and we're only privy to that and not prior wrongdoings that they may have only been warned for. For example, that feminist whose contract was not renewed and JKR and all said it was punishment for her holding terf views, she had actually already been in trouble for harassment of transpeople online. But Terfs framed it as "punishment for holding feminist views." So really I'm gonna need that letter to do a better job of actually linking cancel culture to said firings.
     
  17. Lowbacca_1977

    Lowbacca_1977 Jedi Grand Master star 6

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    Jun 28, 2006
    The letter does sound like it's quite reasonable in that it says, firstly, that this is a standard thing expected from the right (as they have a track record on that), and that bad ideas are eliminated by exposure and argument. It particularly reminds me of a number of people I know that are very silent when it comes to issues of how to improve diversity in science not because they disagree with the premise (and by that, I don't just mean that diversity is good or everyone is welcome, but that they do believe that steps should be taken that can help that) because they disagree about the best approach to get those sorts of results.

    I do think one significant thing is that they didn't frame this as "cancel culture", they just framed this as being about the value of open debate, which I think is a lot more generalized, and a lot more about defending some general principles. I don't think the letter is served well by trying to put it in the context of "cancel culture". This isn't strictly about how Twitter handles things, this is about how organizations and institutions handle things. A university professor can be criticised, for example, but the university can uphold the principles they stand by without Twitter having to approve. Overall, this doesn't strike me about being about "cancel culture" in the social media definition, it's much more institutional.
     
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  18. Darth Punk

    Darth Punk Force Ghost star 6

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    Nov 25, 2013
    With Salman Rushdie being on the ultimate 80’s receiving end. The Ayatollah issued a Fatwa on him for his book The Satanic Verses.
     
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  19. Jedi Knight Fett

    Jedi Knight Fett PT Interview Host/All-Around Good Guy star 10 VIP - Game Host

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    Feb 18, 2014
    I think there is a time and place for cancel culture. When it comes to people bad takes on twitter it’s easy. You have the proof. When it comes to stuff like actual crimes I would like a lot of evidence before we go and start boycotting that person. Take Johnny Depp for example. Or take Justin Bieber more recently. Both were “cancelled” or at least tried to be when they were innocent. I just don’t want to cancel people over baseless stuff without evidence.
     
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  20. KnightWriter

    KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Nov 6, 2001
    I'm mostly just thankful that I didn't have to cancel my subscription to Harper's, since I didn't have one in the first place.

    If you replace "cancel culture" with "accountability," the reasons for the outrage become clear.

    Also, re: Margaret Atwood-- back in 2016, she signed onto an open letter at the University of Vancouver in support of a professor there who had been accused of sexual misconduct (a friend of mine was a student of her's some years before, which is how I learned about it). As always, your favorite is problematic.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
  21. Emperor Ferus

    Emperor Ferus Chosen One star 7

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    Jul 29, 2016
    Other people have summed up what I think.

    Everyone’s free to choose what they consume.


    No shame in refusing to consume media based on it’s creator, but also no shame in separating the two either.

    As for open debate in this context (good faith disagreement) it depends on where each individual draws the line about what it is acceptable to disagree about. (where authors like Rowling are facing controversy).

    When I’ve partaken in debates in this very forum among other places on and offline, I’ve noticed debates about whether certain views are less acceptable by nature due to the way they affect people. Therefore, certain debates may be less valid than others because of the subject matter. It gets tricky because where people draw the line seems very case-by-case from what I can tell.


    About Rowling, I honestly don’t know what to think, regardless of whether I like her written content. It’s just not clear to me. However, I understand why someone would consider certain points less debatable than others where social issues are concerned.
     
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  22. Darth Punk

    Darth Punk Force Ghost star 6

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    Nov 25, 2013
    OK, so for arguments sake, JK Rowling is digging a nasty hole for herself right now. To me, she’s unnecessarily punching down on the Trans community. Is there any hope for redemption for her, or is she done?
     
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  23. KnightWriter

    KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Registered:
    Nov 6, 2001
    Yes, there is. Speaking as an artist and as someone who has consumed a variety of artwork over the past ten years as a viewer, the two cannot and should not be separated.

    Short of a massive and public change of heart, she's done.
     
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2020
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  24. Adam of Nuchtern

    Adam of Nuchtern Force Ghost star 5

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    Sep 2, 2012
    This pretty much sums it up for me:

     
  25. Darth Guy

    Darth Guy Chosen One star 10

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    Aug 16, 2002
    Rowling in particular has complete control over her intellectual property and continues to profit handsomely from it.