On "Cancel Culture"

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by Tiassa, Jul 20, 2020.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Notes on #220↑ Above

    Beauchamp, Zack. "The 'free speech debate' isn't really about free speech". Vox. 22 July 2020. Vox.com. 24 March 2022. http://bit.ly/2NtYlp9

    Camp, Emma. "I Came to College Eager to Debate. I Found Self-Censorship". The New York Times. 7 March 2022. NYTimes.com. 24 March 2022. https://nyti.ms/3LhUmED

    Editorial Board. "America Has a Free Speech Problem". The New York Times. 18 March 2022. NYTimes.com. 24 March 2022. https://nyti.ms/3NhFHLf

    Hixenbaugh, Mike and Jeremy Schwartz. "Texas superintendent tells librarians to pull books on sexuality, transgender people". NBC News. 23 March 2022. NBCNews.com. 24 March 2022. https://nbcnews.to/3wulZ9g
    Michael 345 likes this.
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  3. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    Oh what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practice (to get better) to deceive

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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Journalist Michael Hobbes↱ makes the sarcastic point:

    Love watching two years of panic over "cancel culture" evaporate into thin air. Turns out it's totally fine to ban books as long as they're bad!

    There is actually more than two years, depending on how we count them. In 2018 it was the "intellectual dark web"↑, with many of the same names in circulation¹, and even then Hamburger was looking back toward similar discussions about political correctness in the 1980s.

    And while recent years include constant reminders that, at best, conservatives just don't understand how any of this works—even their own arguments—and, more likely, that none of it was ever truly sincere, are easy pickings², conservative author Auguste Meyrat↱ comes right out and says it, penning an essay for The American Conservative under the title, "Why Texas Parents Want To 'Ban Books'". Swedish professor Tobias Denskus↱ observes, "Please note they do not want to ban books, they want to 'ban books'". Or, as Hobbes↱ suggests: "Turns out virtue signaling is ok too!"

    Meyrat, for his part, explains:

    Commentators more removed from the matter generally side with the parents opposed to the ban. First, book banning just sounds bad and un-American. Second, they see little point in preserving kids' innocence anyway. Challenging the moral values of young readers still learning to read, they argue, is "exactly what literature is supposed to do" ....

    .... But the parents who support the removal of these books make a stronger case. They are right to champion the innocence of children and their right to have a truly safe space to learn about the world without being corrupted by it.

    It's the same old circle, to create a safe space for those who require unsafe spaces.

    Meyrat makes the point even more clearly, being conveniently unable to properly identify pornography:

    People aren't discussing the literary merits of Toni Morrison's Bluest Eye or a biography of Michelle Obama, but whether children and adolescents should be reading something like the graphic novel Gender Queer, which takes readers on a "journey of gender identity and sexual orientation" and includes "a few pages of explicit illustrations depicting oral sex."

    It is fair to ask whether Gender Queer and other such books offer any educational benefit to students. They don't seem to learn anything from this story. They don't even get much practice reading, since it's a graphic novel. More importantly, narratively, some guy exploring his (their?) sexuality and gender sounds incredibly dull. It's hard to see how the inclusion of Gender Queer amounts to anything but the school library's endorsement of LGBTQ ideology and a sexually active lifestyle.

    We might observe that the only way to justify Meyrat's logic is to presume that only he is allowed to decide what other readers get from the stories they read. The argument is similar to what we heard in Tennessee, when McMinn County schools banned the graphic novel Maus; in January, Associated Press↱ reported:

    The minutes from the school board meeting indicate objections over some of the language used in "Maus." At first, Director of Schools Lee Parkison suggested redacting it "to get rid of the eight curse words and the picture of the woman that was objected to."

    The nude woman is drawn as a mouse. In the graphic novel, Jews are drawn as mice and the Nazis are drawn as cats.

    "It shows people hanging, it shows them killing kids, why does the educational system promote this kind of stuff? It is not wise or healthy," School Board Member Tony Allman said about the book, which was part of the district's eighth-grade English language arts curriculum.

    Again, we observe the logic of the censor becomes the only one allowed to interpret the material; in reality, Maus is widely praised for its discussion of the Holocaust. But reality is often inconvenient for the censor: Meyrat proposes a certain manner of ignorance is panacea. While "critics of the book bans are right to advocate for school libraries that are inclusive, safe, and engaging", it "all comes to nothing" if those libraries are not exclusive:

    What about the contention that children are exposed to this kind of content anyway through television and the internet? This is unfortunately true, but that doesn't mean school libraries should try to compete. Two wrongs don't make a right.

    More to the point, the fact that kids are exposed to obscene content on television and the internet should be a cause for alarm, not an argument for capitulation.

    Again, the argument for censorship requires that only the censor can know. School libraries educate, and somehow Meyrat finds this to be "wrong". To wit, television and internet can distort people's understanding of reality, and stories like Maus or Gender Queer can help educate. And education is not "capitulation". Meyrat's logic is pretty straightforward: "It is fair to assume that the current mental health crisis among young people could be helped by a collective return to innocence."³

    Well, that part, at least, is straightforward. But the contrast here is weirdly fallacious: a "screen-free" household that keeps "internet-capable smartphones" away from children, to the one, and "an educator or library going 'woke'" and somehow force-feeding "pornographic content or leftist propaganda", to the other, while observing that once upon a time, "society would have considered those beliefs child abuse".

    Consider how that proposition works: The parent who wants to preserve a child's ignorance for the sake of a romanticized notion of innocence requires create an unsafe space intended as a safe space for ignorance.

    Moreover, the argument strives to demonize and even criminalize political opposition: Invoking child abuse is nothing new, nor the failure to comprehend pornography; this is the same supremacist traditionalism that, for thirty years at least, has failed to comprehend the significance of consent in sexual intercourse.

    Underlying it all is a basic chauvinism, that certain people and their experiences either don't exist or don't matter. And that aspect of cancellation, such as it might be, is illustrative of a basic↑ difference↑ about what the complaint against cancel culture would protect, and why. It's more than just two years, and more than just cancel culture. But this chauvinism is the heart of the complaint, and what it protects.


    ¹ e.g., Dinesh D'Souza, Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogan, and Ben Shapiro, among others.

    ² e.g. Loeffler (#42↑), Blackburn (#119↑); or self-cancellations like Greenwald (#120↑, 122↑), Weiss (#121↑), and Sullivan (#203↑); more catch-all confusion with Jordan (#124↑), Gaetz (#128↑, Schoen #168↑); Friersdorf et al. in re Seuss (#205↑) … by the time we get to Buck accidentally telling the truth (#209↑), it seems worth reminding it's actually hard to keep up with the torrent of examples raining down from the conservative firmament. We even have American conservatives worrying that Russia is being canceled (#216↑).

    ³ Wait until he meets the parents who want to call off mental health resources in schools because, as NBC News↱ reported last year, some accuse mental health counseling is "actually advertising suicide", when in reality, as one parent explains, kids are "just trying to get through the day, get through compacted math, get through algebra, go to cotillion on Sunday. They are not thinking about these issues."

    @aidnography. "Please note that they do *not* want to ban books, they want to 'ban books'

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    ". Twitter. 8 April 2022. Twitter.com. 16 April 2022. https://bit.ly/3uOCzzu

    @RottenInDenmark. "Love watching two years of panic over "cancel culture" evaporate into thin air. Turns out it's totally fine to ban books as long as they're bad!" Twitter. 8 April 2022 Twitter.com. 9 April 2022. https://bit.ly/3v9kwTm

    Associated Press. "Holocaust novel 'Maus' banned in Tennessee school district". 27 January 2022. APNews.com. 16 April 2022. https://bit.ly/3rhBj5u

    Kingkade Tyler and Mike Hixenbaugh. "Parents protesting 'critical race theory' identify another target: Mental health programs". NBC News. 15 November 2021. NBCNews.com. 16 April 2022. https://nbcnews.to/3kDVbws
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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    A Safe Apace for Requiring Unsafe Spaces

    In Irving, a triumph for fear-stricken Texans: Rainbows are canceled. The Irving Independent School District informed Rachel Stonecipher that her contract will not be renewed.

    It all started when teachers returned to campus at the beginning of the 2021 school year. Some noticed something missing: rainbow “safe space” stickers they had placed on their classroom doors to indicate they were LGTBQ allies. The stickers’ disappearance came as a shock, as teachers had not been notified of the removal ahead of time.

    Subsequently, an email to the entire faculty was sent by seven teachers in response to a bulletin explaining their removal, requesting clarifications on the exact nature of the policy, and raising a number of concerns from the perspective of staff. Five of the teachers were sponsors of the school’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) chapter, the student group that had initially promoted the adoption of the stickers. That group email was sent from Stonecipher’s account.

    Just days after pushing back on the removal, Stonecipher was put on administrative leave, then under investigation after an HR complaint accused of her of defaming a fellow faculty member as homophobic, which Stonecipher denies.


    This is what we call Texas courage; the vote against Stonecipher was 6-0 with one absence, as a school board took a tough stand in the face of public disapprobation, including walkout protests by their own students. A local news report explains:

    The school removed the rainbow stickers, saying the district insisted on viewpoint-neutral classroom decorations.

    At the time, Irving ISD said it feared the stickers could make straight students feel unsafe. It removed them, adding in a statement “The District’s protocols are viewpoint neutral and apply to all classroom decorations.”

    Stonecipher didn’t buy the argument then or now.

    “Those stickers,” she said, “were not endangering students. We have no evidence ever that they endangered or made students feel unsafe, ever. What did feel unsafe was when they came down.”


    It never has been clear just how inclusive space makes anyone feel unsafe. Then again, that isn't really the reason for Stonecipher's termination or the school's anti-rainbow argument. The point is to reserve a safe space for unsafety; it is not that straight students feel unsafe, but that certain people feel uncomfortable they cannot so easily inflict against others.

    More than a dozen people spoke on Stonecipher's behalf at Monday's school board meeting. All the speakers demanded Stonecipher get her job back.

    "Back in October, when I thought if we stick up for ourselves, maybe we can change the way things are happening. And wow, was I wrong," 15-year-old sophomore Lola Dempsey said.

    Before the meeting began, more than 30 supporters rallied on her behalf in the Irving ISD administration parking lot. They held signs reading "Support inclusive teachers" and "Firing excellent teachers is the wrong lesson."

    James Whitfield spoke at the rally. The former Colleyville principal, who is Black, resigned his post after he was accused of teaching critical race theory, which is not a part of any Texas high school curriculum.

    He said his case and Stonecipher's were similar.

    There is a reason why the people who bawl about the dangers of "cancel culture" aren't raising alarms about this sort of thing; the complaint against "cancel culture" has to do with people feeling uncomfortable when their infliction against others is challenged.

    To the other, this is also the reason why it is unwise for anyone else to pretend these are examples of cancel culture; while the obvious similarities of the most basic thumbnail sketch are easily discerned, this isn't some new victimization, but the way things have been a long time, and what the complaint against cancel culture would protect and preserve.


    Monacelli, Steven. "Texas School Board Ousts Teacher Over Pro-LGBTQ Rainbow Stickers". 22 April 2022. RollingStone.com. 25 April 2022. https://bit.ly/3MqcA7m

    Zeeble, Bill. "Embattled Irving ISD teacher is permanently out after rainbow sticker dispute ". KERA News. 22 April 2022. KeraNews.org. 25 April 2022. https://bit.ly/3xQtSGy
  8. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Adam Serwer↱ notes, "Conservatives demanding mass firings based on perceived political affiliation is just more proof this left wing political correctness is getting out of control".

    I know, I know: It's subtle.

    But it's also hilarious that right-wingers keep trying to characterize Twitter as woke or progressive or leftist, when the antiliberal who runs a financial services company gives over the comms platform that cannot distinguish between Nazi threats and analsyses thereof to the antiliberal who finds such distinctions unfair.


    @AdamSerwer. "Conservatives demanding mass firings based on perceived political affiliation is just more proof this left wing political correctness is getting out of control". Twitter. 26 April 2022. Twitter.com. 27 April 2022. https://bit.ly/3xYhrc6
  9. Bells Staff Member

    See, this is what I don't understand.

    Twitter, by any definition, is a cesspit. The reason it's a cesspit is because of the level of abuse, harassment, stalking and generally shitty behaviour that has been tolerated for years on the platform.

    Ask women, people of colour, people with disabilities, members of the LGBTQIA+ community about "cancel culture", and we'll be able to give you a list.

    What I don't understand is this.. How in the hell can the party who are now banning books, punishing companies for disagreeing with their laws verbally or expressing dismay at said laws, silencing teacher and students from discussing anything about history or sexuality, getting to complain about "cancel culture" and "freedom of speech"?

    The utter hypocrisy is infuriating.

    The reason Twitter is a cesspit is because conservative voices who make life hell for anyone who is not white, Christian and fall into their definition of male and female (of which, women must be willing to be breeders and virgins), have gotten away with making life hell for anyone who does not fit into their narrow and bigoted views. Instead, we get threats of rape, death, rape of our children, labelled sex offenders and all the rest of the horror that goes on, and we are meant to believe that we are cancelling them? When they drive women off the entire platform, so much so that women are having to leave their own homes for fear of their lives, it's not the women who are being cancelled, but the men and women harassing them? Really?

    We're supposed to take this crap seriously?
  10. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Could you not just, I don't know, not use it?

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  11. pjdude1219 The biscuit has risen Valued Senior Member

    thats not the point. people shouldn't be driven from community spaces because of bigotry or harassment.
  12. Mr. G reality.sys Valued Senior Member

    Ah, eating your own is concerning to you. HaHa.

    The rest of us are lining up for our soon to be opportunities to repay your favors.

    The pendulum swings.
  13. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member


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    Line up and click

    Is that the rest of you who think "clown" is a gender?¹

    Nobody ever really knows what to think when the guy who is either liberal or leftist or kind of liberal on social issues but more conservative on fiscal issues—and certainly doesn't sympathize with right-wingers or extremists because, after all, he tells us so—can only advance a conservative critique of liberalism. It's one thing to suggest that no matter how many times he tries it is unclear who he thinks he is fooling, but then here you are, though I'm as certain as I can be that no, he wasn't really thinking of you.

    The thing about your little moltendown re-entry, G, is that it isn't really so different from the grotesquely stupid, self-righteous, garage-fried holiday stuffing those of us who can remember far enough back might recall. What's changed is the world, G. Keep on lining up; it's all y'all ever did, anyway. That your domination fantasy is now a fanciful anticipation of vengeance tells us how it's going, and reminds that it was never intended to do anything but inflict harm.


    ¹ Maybe there is a family of mice in your pocket? Or that Sybil joke, except they're all terrible people. Oh, wait, I know, it's ducklings, isn't it? A pocketful of ducklings. You have a pocketful of cutesy-woot―… wait, what? What have you done? What have you done, oh God, what have you done! Wha―… they're fuckin' ducklings! oh God, why did you do that? They're cute, and fuzzy, and they shit green and don't hurt anyone, and who the fuck does that! What the fuck, dude? What the holy living fuck?​
  14. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    #HowItStarted | #HowItsGoing

    A brief study in contrast, to make a certain point. Flashback, 2020↗:

    • My problem with the proposition of cancel culture is that the term has been introduced in a way that overlooks functional distinctions; there are any number of ways. A blatant example is the right to exclude. Argue what one will about gay marriage, or a book in a library, for example, but one argument that doesn't work is that being refused empowerment to suppress another person's equal rights violates one's own equal rights .... The book burning argument ran that one's right to free religion was violated unless some other person's right to free speech was refused. Cancel culture is a downstream iteration of an old, bogus complaint.​

    The news out of Michigan:

    What started as a fight over an LGBTQ-themed graphic novel may end with the closure of a west Michigan public library.

    Voters in Jamestown Township, a politically conservative community in Ottawa County, rejected renewal Tuesday of a millage that would support the Patmos Library. That vote guts the library's operating budget in 2023 — 84 percent of the library's $245,000 budget comes from property taxes collected through a millage.

    Without a millage, the library is likely to run out of money sometime late next year, said Larry Walton, library board president.

    "I wasn't expecting anything like this," Walton told Bridge Michigan Tuesday. "The library is the center of the community. For individuals to be short sighted to close that down over opposing LGBTQ is very disappointing."

    There have been protests at other Michigan public libraries and at school board meetings about books with LGBTQ themes. But Tuesday may be the first time a community voted, in effect, to close its library rather than have it remain open with books some consider to be "indoctrinating" children.


    Or, as such, tell me again about "cancel culture" and the dangers of ... [checks notes] ... people on the extreme left targeting the less-extreme left ... or social opprobium as a consequence shown bigoted behavior ... or, oh, yeah, simply talking about Thomas Jefferson while imagining someone nearby might disapprove.


    French, Ron. "Upset over LGBTQ books, a Michigan town defunds its library in tax vote". Bridge Michigan. 3 August 2022. BridgeMI.com. 5 August 2022. https://bit.ly/3zVHbX2
  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    How It's Going: (¿whonowza gonna cancel whatnot? Mix)

    Reporter Jay O'Brien↱ explains:

    First sentences in a federal judge’s order blocking FL’s Stop Woke Act:

    “In the popular television series Stranger Things, the upside down describes a parallel dimension containing a distorted version of our world. Recently, Florida has seemed like a First Amendment upside down”
  16. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    "Cancel culture is people trying to deprive you of your livelihood, even if they aren't your audience at all."

    Anyway ... so, yesterday, in Oklahoma:

    NORMAN BOOK BAN- A close source tells me an English teacher has already been removed at Norman High for providing students a qr code link to the Brooklyn Library and informing them there are free e-books there. This caused further fallout among other teachers in the district...

    .... I just spoke with the Norman High English teacher. She confirms she shared the library QR code. “Immediately after I was removed from my position and placed on leave. Teachers across the district have been told by administration …”

    “to either remove or restrict student access to classroom library texts for fear of a potential accreditation downgrade associated with any perceived violations of HB 1775.…” (continued)


    This is the thing about so-called "cancel culture". Compared to whatever drives people to make up stories about cancel culture and leftists↑¹, this sort of cancel culture is not new. In fact, it's kind of the same as it ever was; or, as I suggested a couple years ago↑, cancel culture is a downstream iteration of an old, bogus complaint.


    ¹ And at some point, we're even supposed to blame Black people↑, like Ray J in 2014 and John Singleton circa 1991. I mean, come on, really?​

    @wsuares. "!!NORMAN BOOK BAN- A close source tells me an English teacher has already been removed at Norman High for providing students a qr code link to the Brooklyn Library and informing them there are free e-books there. This caused further fallout among other teachers in the district...". (thread) Twitter. 23 August 2022. Twitter.com. 23 August 2022. https://bit.ly/3QMs34h
  17. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Be Ashamed. Be Very Ashamed.

    So, one more time:

    For months, a group of conservative Christians have inundated the staff and board of a public library in Bonners Ferry, Idaho, with complaints about books they didn't want to see on the shelves.

    Their list of more than 400 titles predominantly focuses on young adult books with LGBTQ characters, scenes describing sexual activity or invoking the occult.

    The only problem: None of the books are in the library's collection.

    Still, the activists in this town of 2,500 people wanted the books pre-emptively banned. They fumed that the library planned to join the American Library Association, a nonprofit trade organization known for fighting censorship that local activists falsely accused of "promoting pedophilia." They started a campaign to recall four of the five library trustees over a policy against restricting access to controversial books, putting up signs around town that read: "Our Mission is to protect children from explicit materials and grooming."

    The fervor has become so heated that the library's director is quitting after just nine months, citing a barrage of harassment that she said made it impossible to do her job ....

    .... In Glidden's Aug. 16 resignation announcement on Facebook, she stated that "nothing in my background could have prepared me for the political atmosphere of extremism, militant Christian fundamentalism, intimidation tactics, and threatening behavior currently being employed in the community."


    The reason we don't call this "cancel culture" is that, despite sounding like what that blithering, incoherent whine would pretend to describe, this is pretty much how it's always been, and we don't need a new term for it.

    Historically speaking, the complaint against "cancel culture" is about protecting this sort of bigoted empowerment; people who pretended they were protecting something good while complaining about cancel culture really should be ashamed of themselves. The idea that we should take them seriously is only answered by acknowledging that such gullibility or stupidity or outright malice ought not be taken lightly.

    Whine to me about "cancel culture" some more. Really: Show us what you're made of.


    Kingkade, Tyler. "Conservative activists want to ban 400 books from a library — but they aren't even on shelves". NBC News. 23 August 2022. NBCNews.com. 28 August 2022. https://nbcnews.to/3PQ7ra0
  18. Write4U Valued Senior Member

    Last edited: Aug 29, 2022
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I think you might be talking about something other than "cancel culture" now.

    Can you explain to me the connection between a certain group of people wanting to burn books and "cancel culture"?

    I mean, I guess you could argue that these anti-free speech people want to "cancel" the authors of the books they want banned/burned by preventing other people from reading their works. Is that what you're getting at? That restricting free speech because something in the speech offends you (even if it doesn't necessarily offend other people) is a bad thing?

    If that's what your point is, then I agree with you. But I'm not entirely sure that's the point you want to make.

    Is it?
  20. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    You're joking, right?

    Okay, seriously: You might be looking at it a little simplistically, James. What we're looking at is a basic comparison between real censorship and complaint "cancel culture". The comparison has been there since the beginning of the thread↑:

    • My problem with the proposition of cancel culture is that the term has been introduced in a way that overlooks functional distinctions; there are any number of ways. A blatant example is the right to exclude .... The book burning argument ran that one's right to free religion was violated unless some other person's right to free speech was refused. Cancel culture is a downstream iteration of an old, bogus complaint.

    • Compared to being blacklisted for suspected communism, or disqualified from parenthood for being a lesbian, the idea that a newspaper refused someone a regular column for, say, their support of supremacism, does not mean that person has been silenced.

    • Questions of platform access will always persist, but the proposition of cancel culture is counterrevolutionary, which ought to tell us something.​

    Maybe you missed it.¹ But as I told you directly↑:

    • Complaints of cancel culture tend to simplify circumstances. It really is largely the same argument as we heard about thought police and political correctness, decades ago.

    • Once upon a time, book and record distribution could be disrupted by offending certain other people's morals, and there has in recent decades, as that empowerment has failed to meet myriad challenges roiling even its safest harbors, emerged a plaintive cry: 「How dare you silence my free speech right to force you to shut up!」 Over time, that idea has found much sympathy; birds of common feather gather together. Certain ideas are hard to justify rationally; it isn't cancellation if we refuse to give certain exclusionary—i.e., silencing, canceling—prejudices a pass on justification. Nonrecriprocal imposition is not equal protection; that is, it is not an equal right to free speech that one should impose another's silence. It is not an equal right to religious freedom that one should impose religious burdens and expectations on others. These are not, nor are intended to be, reciprocal impositions.

    • The proposition of cancel culture pretends to observe something unique, but what actually reserves it from the rest of reality is its own detachment from real function. The overturning of established injustice is not a silencing of the just. This should not be a difficult concept.

    • "Cancel culture" is just a particular variation on a theme, an appeal defined by its defense of dishonesty, disrespect, disruption, and disparity. Arguments supporting free speech generally appeal to communicative needs. The complaint against "cancel culture" is styled to empower disruption of communication.​

    Maybe you didn't miss it, and are instead merely confused. If that's the case, then the historical consideration↑ about the evolution of conservative complaints through the last several decades, vis à vis the so-called Intellectual Dark Web, might only be even more so. To put it simply, the historical consideration ties the IDW, at least, and implies the same of those who complain about "cancel culture", to the book burners.

    And if we consider a line↑ about the cancel culture complaint in particular, that while there exist in the world examples of overzealous censorship, shaming, and cancellation, basic questions of function have always been effective stumbling blocks for a range of complaints, this, too, refers to the dysfunction of the bawl. To the other, if you were already confused by the basic comparison, that line might seem subtle.

    But the underlying theme, the juxtaposition of what the cancel culture complaint bawls about with actual historical trends in censorship, persists, i.e.: There is a reason why it goes this way; the complaint against cancel culture is the latest in a long line originating among empowerment-majority voices lamenting that something untoward, which they largely have been getting away with, has been called out.

    I also explained that in that long line leading to the cancel culture lament, what distinguishes these complaints from other discussions of censorship is found in what they protect or not, and why. One thing still unclear is why that basic concept would confuse someone like you.

    However, might take the moment to consider your response to that last. Given four examples including both the sort of censorship I refer to and what otherwise looks like "cancel culture", you turned away↑

    "It strikes me as strange that the reporter Michael Hobbes (whoever he is) has not come across any statements from leftists condemning the actions mentioned in those headlines. Or maybe he believes that those people don't qualify as 'anti-cancel culture crowd'."

    —and pretended confusion:

    "It's hard to tell from a Twitter post what he is trying to say. Maybe there were extenuating circumstances which meant that leftists considered these actions of the school authorities to be reasonable, in the circumstances."

    And maybe something goes here about how confused, stupid, or dishonest you want us to think you are, because that really was ridiculous, James. But you also went on to make the point: "From my point of view, none of those headlines is an example of 'cancel culture'. Not in the way I have been talking about it."

    And, yes: You've already made the point↑ about "another side to cancel culture that does give [you] pause for concern", and we find a hint: "Cancel culture" seems to be a political accusation you make against liberalism and leftism. If that is actually the case, then the response is obvious as a question of function, that is, how the components of an argument fit and work together to produce what effect.

    Comparatively, as I already told you↑, the complaint against cancel culture tends toward infamous dysfunction, describes a suicide pact, and has a strange relationship with censorship, exclusion, and cancellation.

    It's like a bizarre episode of self-cancellation and a contrast from American history in which what stands out↑ is the underlying traditionalist expectation:

    • The complaint against feminazis would put women back in their proverbial place, while the complaint on behalf of the [Jewish female] Nazi sympathizer would sympathize with white—and, inherently, male—supremacism, including the genocidal. This is what stands out about the complaint against cancel culture: Its functional role in the discussion of censorship is to empower traditional authority, including censorship.​

    Or, as one reporter suggested: Abstract appeals to free speech can distort or obscure the point that it isn't really about anyone's right to speech, but their access to any given platform while being shielded from public disapprobation. This idea would not be new to you, who wrote↑, "I think that the term 'cancel culture' was probably invented by people on the political left … who were concerned about increasing calls from people the left … to punish people for saying certain things." It's a vague statement of something recognized more particularly in discussions of censorship and cancel culture, such as another journalistic observation↑ of "'cancel culture' … apparently defined as any sort of consequences for displays of bigotry that happen to be driven by social opprobrium". This cancel culture, "is not a real thing", "not a thing that exists", because the very term falsely "implies some sort of systemic phenomenon where being cancelled … is happening regularly and universally". And this usage, for instance, has been popular among "a constellation of … IDW-adjacent anti-'cancel culture' specialists who believe that progressive pushback on bigotries of all stripes is a de facto stifling of speech".

    Explain the connection? It's not hard to perceive: The contrast of complaint and reality only denigrates the complaint against "cancel culture". Maybe I wasn't clear enough when the complaint got so ridiculous that we might wonder↑ if those who complained are even a little bit embarrassed about what they decided to be a part of; it seems↑ a striking contrast between the "cancel culture" complaint and reality. Traditional chauvinism↑ is the heart of the complaint, and the contrast between the "cancel culture" complaint and what really goes on is important to observe.

    What should be a short answer is made long by trying to account for what part you missed. Unless, of course, your point is just to complain about liberals and the left, or whatever. But since that can't be it, who knows. Maybe someday you'll even tell us.


    ¹ And that first one was even recalled↑ earlier on this page of the discussion.​
  21. LaurieAG Registered Senior Member

    This is the text following (from James post that was made a year and a half ago) as quoted and linked in Tiassa's post.
  22. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Maybe we can come at this from a slightly different angle. Here's a question for all interested readers of this thread:

    Do you think, in general, that people have a right (or, perhaps, ought to have a right) not to be offended by the speech of others?
    Consider an example. Suppose person A is overweight (to try to avoid definitional arguments, let's say this means that the person has a BMI generally taken to be in the "obese" range). Now, suppose that person B, refers to person A as "that fat person over there". What should be the consequences, if any, of B's speech, in this case?

    Some people might call for B to be "cancelled" for calling another person "fat". The argument would go something like this: it is highly inappropriate to comment negatively about any personal characteristic that a person might have - particularly if that characteristic is inherent or unchangeable in that person. "Fat shaming" is disparaging to overweight people. Therefore, referring to anybody as "fat" is an immoral act that warrants social sanctioning. In this case, an appropriate sanction would be to exclude person B from any communal space in which person A might be present. This would be reasonable, so the argument goes, because if A was obliged to share a space with B then A would not feel "safe" or "welcome", due to B's overt hostility towards A, as evidenced by A's speech.

    Would this be an appropriate outcome or "solution", following B's behaviour?

    Let's assume that B is indeed "cancelled" due to his or her sub-par behaviour towards (or in respect of) A. Is there any chance of future redemption for B? Can B ever be "un-cancelled", following this speech act? Or is it reasonable to exclude B more or less permanently, in case any overweight people might feel unwelcome or offended by A's speech?

    What would B have to do to gain redemption in this case, if it is possible?

    Extending this example, can it ever be acceptable to use the word "fat", in reference to another person? Or should the word "fat" itself be cancelled, in this usage? (We could still, perhaps, use it to refer to the substance called "fat", just not to refer to overweight people.)

    Do overweight people have a right not to be offended by other people who think they are fat? Presumably, we can't stop people thinking that way about other people. But we can effectively ban the speech by excluding anybody who uses such speech. Is this a good thing to do? Are there any downsides?

    A "cancel culture" would, presumably, be one in which people are routinely excluded from certain places or from participation in certain activities if they do not adhere to "acceptable" forms of speech.

    Can a cancel culture create spaces for discourse that are actually "inclusive" - i.e. such that they actually include everyone? Or does protecting a perceived "right" of some people not to be offended actually, in practice, exclude other people (not in the chosen "protected" groups)?
  23. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 72 years oldl Valued Senior Member

    I would consider calling a fat (description) person fat as being "correctly described"

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