Social Question

Demosthenes's avatar

How much of a threat is "cancel culture"?

Asked by Demosthenes (9727points) 3 weeks ago

“Cancel culture”, in which people or institutions are shamed online for opinions and comments and compelled to terminate their presence or operations because of this shame, seems to be a hot topic right now. Harper’s Magazine recently published a letter signed by numerous artists and intellectuals warning of a threat to the “free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society”. While the letter doesn’t mention “cancel culture” by name, one can deduce that’s what they’re referring to. J.K. Rowling is a signatory and has recently come under fire for her anti-trans commentary.

Do you think “cancel culture” is threatening the free exchange of ideas? Do you think only those who truly deserve to be “canceled” are being canceled (if not, can you cite an example of a cancelation that shouldn’t have happened)? What offense should someone be “canceled” for, if anything?

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27 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

I would not call it “cancel culture”.
I would call it “consequences to bad behaviour”.

Using that term is also an attempt by transgressors to reverse the conversation by self-styling themselves as the victims.
Just like sexists using the term “SJW” to refer to people seeing equal representation in popular media.
Or bigots crowing “PC run Amok!” when they get pushback against their bigotry.

Darth_Algar's avatar

“Cancel culture” = whiney, privileged fuckers think they have a right to say whatever they want without social consequences.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Even Noam Chomsky thinks cancel culture is dangerous. Most people with half a brain left can see it’s not good for free speech or the free exchange of ideas.

hmmmmmm's avatar

JK Rowling is a TERF, and is a horrible person. She has been tweeting anti-trans shit for years.

I would agree with @ragingloli re: consequences.

The thing is, people who complain about PC and cancel culture are really just upset that they are being challenged on their bullshit. Their privileged safe spaces are no more, and they are having to deal with feedback.

canidmajor's avatar

“Cancel culture” is really more of a term with an agenda that simply means “accountability”. Nobody’s “free speech” is being infringed upon, people are just being held accountable for what they post/say in public.

Demosthenes's avatar

@hmmmmmm I’m all for challenging them, I’m just not sure them dropping off the face of the earth is the best outcome. And I realize that is the choice they often make, but we can talk about what someone should do when faced with “cancelation” too.

Darth_Algar's avatar


Who is dropping off the face of the Earth? These people still have more of a public platform than you, I or most people on this planet.

zenvelo's avatar

Of all the people who got “cancelled”, Al Franken was probably the least offensive. But he has not complained about cancel culture.

And it is people like Ivanka Trump who are complaining,because they are getting called on their shit, yet they are the first to call out anyone on the left to be cancelled.

Demosthenes's avatar

@zenvelo Al Franken is someone those on the left often cite as one who shouldn’t have been canceled. Are there any other examples you guys can think of?

“Cancel culture” affects more than just individuals and their Twitter accounts, though. There are examples of episodes of shows being pulled or people being fired from their positions for “greenlighting” problematic material, like that NYT editor who was fired after he published that letter from Tom Cotton.

A concern from some of these intellectuals is the kind of censorship that may occur in academia.

janbb's avatar

“Al Franken is someone those on the left often cite as one who shouldn’t have been canceled. Are there any other examples you guys can think of?”

Jimmy Kimmel is off his show for the summer because of some Black characters he portrayed in black face in the past.

si3tech's avatar

Take a look at “thought police word police” elimination of gender references ie his her.People re getting crazy bout “perceived” hate/offensive thoughts/words. Truths that are not true anymore. Such as 2+2= 4.

Caravanfan's avatar

I worry about it, especially if it’s for something that was done long in the past. We can’t change our past, and it appears that no matter what people say they can’t apologize enough—like the Jimmy Kimmel thing.

OTOH, you get shit like what DeShawn Jackson is going through right now and I say cancel his ass. Internet power tip. Never post anything attributed to Hitler, whether it’s true or not.

canidmajor's avatar

@Demosthenes You are very young indeed to be citing the firing of the NYT editor as an example of cancel culture. Newspapers have been firing people for making questionable and/or not well thought out decisions like that forever. The difference is, that without instant and widespread social media, such things were not well-known and were soon forgotten.
There have been “Don’t make the brand look bad” clauses in contracts forever, where indiscreet public statements have caused termination of employment, again without much fanfare because there was no social media.

But really, to object to accountability? Yikes.

Demosthenes's avatar

@Caravanfan I too find it worse when it happens because of something that happened long in the past and is then “uncovered”. I take issue with the idea that we cannot move past our pasts, that we cannot redeem ourselves, that once we’ve done something offensive, that’s it, you’re stained for life.

But yeah, DeShawn Jackson is a fucking idiot. Not sure what he thought was going to happen.

mazingerz88's avatar

I’m not in favor of “cancel culture” when it turns extreme. Like when a whole school shames and cancels one bully. They become bullies themselves. That’s just plain stupid.

Extreme cancel culture practicers remind me of a horde of zombies…mindless and just wants to devour everyone in their path that aren’t like them.

Response moderated (Flame-Bait)
johnpowell's avatar

You can buy a VPS with Bitcoin in Estonia and anonymously host all the vile shit you want. Shit, Cloudflare will even provide you with DDOS protection for free.

So you have free speech in the sense that you can spout whatever nonsense your little heart desires. People are just pissed that youtube is taking away their monetization. But nobody owes you a platform. If it is that big of a deal just roll your own.

josie's avatar

What is wrong with being a TERF. It’s just one more POV isn’t it?

Caravanfan's avatar

@Demosthenes I had season Cal football tickets when DeShawn was at school. Nothing big, but I had cause to follow him, just like I follow other ex-Cal players just to see how they’re doing. But this came out of the blue. It was entirely unnecessary and it exposes him to be either a antisemitic racist, or a stupid fucking idiot. Nether of which is a good look.

Good article in the Forward about this.

I don’t feel quite as strongly about JKR as Rags and Tom do, but then, I’m a Jew and not a trans person, and I can see how trans individuals are deeply offended. My issue with JKR is that she’s doubled down on her statements. But she probably has zero shits to give as she’s a billionaire.

Yellowdog's avatar

Lets say you write a post saying that Black Lives Matter should focus on police bias against blacks and not the Marxist crap on their website and give specific examples and links, and are flagged, your post deleted and you are put in ‘facebook jail’—that is the cancel culture.

If you point out factual errors in revisionist history or speak out against the tearing down of statues of Fredrick Douglass, other abolitionists or Union generals, and are charged with hate speech, this is the kind of censorship and Orwellian thought police I think @Demosthenes is referring.

zenvelo's avatar

Excellent article discussing this issue, since people like J.K. Rowling, Margaret Atwood, and Gloria Steinem, attached their names to a letter published in Harper’s.

janbb's avatar

Here’s another article on the concept of cancel culture and free speech by the singer and activist Billy Bragg. I think it adds a lot to the discussion.

ragingloli's avatar

Here is a great summary of “cancel culture”.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

You did not even bother to listen to it.

SunnyLax's avatar

…And the overuse and misuse of the word “culture” rampages on.

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