Have I told you lately how much I detest Cancel Culture?

The mission of the Problematic People Wing of Cancel Culture is to remove bad people from roles in society for which they are perceived by the good people at Cancel Culture Central (CCC) to be morally unfit. This may sound sweet to you in theory, but the devil is in the practice.

Last year, I was excited as I learned that Harper’s Magazine had put forth a letter criticizing the alleged (by critics like me) censoriousness of our current cultural predicament. My merriment quickly dwindled, though, as I realized that, as ever, the most common response from CCC was to avoid discussing the principles under consideration (such as freedom of expression, freedom of association, cultural appropriation theory, the separation of art from the artist, and so on), and instead to focus on irrelevant matters such as who was making the argument.

For illustration of such an ad who-minem critique of the Harper’s letter, I’d like to look at an interview presented on the radio program, On the Coast (a Vancouver-based discussion show living on the airwaves of my ideological nemesis, and CCC council member, CBC Radio). In this case, the host Gloria Macarenko surprised my rolling eyes as she went off brand and asked a Cancel Culture apologist, Professor Hannah McGregor, some reasonable questions about whether the Harper’s letter writers might have a point. But, not to worry, the spinning academic quickly renewed my faith in my lack of faith in mainstream media discussions of these matters. While she didn’t directly call for restrictions on free speech, she did come precariously close. For instance, she said:

 “…maybe it’s a good moment for a lot of people who are saying, you know, ‘Oh, we need more free speech,’ to say, ‘Who’s free speech? Is it yours right now? Is that the speech that’s needed? Maybe somebody else’s speech would be better, and maybe our job right is to do a little more listening.’ ”

So, in protest, I asked my namesake and colleague at SethFM to retroactively add himself into the conversation so as to counter Dr. McGregor’s scary arguments. Feel free to like or dislike, but please don’t cancel.

8 thoughts on “WHO DARE YOU?”

  1. Thanks Tom! I believe that people who disagree could get so much more collaborative work done if we could recognize that free speech is a vital first foundational plank for negotiations.

  2. Seth, this is a very good illustration of why it is impossible for Woke folk to debate. Their ideology (religion?) excludes the legacies of Western Civilisation such as intellectual or logical discussion.
    Hence, her position that, “white cis,” people have said enough. They should shut up and listen, at least until there is a takeover. Then, maybe, they will get to express an opinion.

    I enjoyed your journey through the muddled thinking of this Professor (Lord help us.) More please. This really could be an important series.

  3. Thanks Louvain! Yes! I think there is a crucial divide on principles between the pro-Cancel-Culture and the anti-Cancel-Culture people because it’s not just that we disagree on social justice, but also who gets to speak about it. Surely, their way is anti-enlightenment thinking that could return us to a dire authoritarian situation. I wish I could persuade such folks that they can have their woke cake without demanding that everyone bake from the same recipe.

  4. I thought you did a nice job of inserting your opinion as a point of debate came up and your counters were well thought out. I’m wondering if Cancel Culture allows this type of intense analysis.

  5. Thanks Tom2! Yes, hee, hee, on the surface it may sound like a contradiction that Cancel Culture is so pervasive, and yet can still be criticized by so many of us. But I note that Cancel Culture is not Annihilation Culture (at least not yet), and so for now it contents its collective self with eliminating individuals from participating in particular projects. If it jumped to eliminating all dissent immediately, it may be more obvious to more people how sinister it is. So, instead, it seems to be trying to gradually build our tolerance for its censoriousness, while simultaneously gaslighting us with arguments that it doesn’t exist at all. If we allow it to scare most of its critics away, then I’m confident that it will aim to cancel those that remain.

  6. I’m virulently pro free-speech too, but are we certain that the call for certain of us to speak a little less / listen more isn’t simply a recommendation and not a threat to enshrine into law?

    I hear a ton of critiques of Cancel Culture these days (I acknowledge CC can be toxic); the movement has started to look more and more threadbare and it’s safer to offer dissent now. One might even say that there’s a Safe Space to do so.

  7. Thanks Tarrin the Tarranical! You have a delightful name despite your threadbare commentary. Hee, hee. 🙂

    To your first point, I don’t see Cancel Culture as a legal call (yet); instead, to my thinking, it is a scary cultural force. But, to the spirit of your argument that Dr. McGregor’s request for people to listen might be a friendly recommendation as opposed to a dangerous aid to Cancel Culture, I considered that during my response video as well. However, I think that interpretation only works if we take the remark out of the context of the discussion she was having. That is, if the dialogue were about better ways to engage in civil discourse, and how to better hear each other out, I might support it, myself (although, I cannot support her racial and gender basis for determining the person to whom we should most listen). In actuality, her remark was in relation to a discussion about Cancel Culture; in that context, I read her comment as a suggestion that those on the wrong side of Cancel Culture (especially those possessing certain identities) should consider doing a little more listening. IE, if you’re worried about being cancelled, just stop speaking your mind so much, and you’ll be fine. That to me is a clear attempt to collaborate with the bullying and silencing efforts of Cancel Culture without admitting it.

    To your second point, I hope you’re right that criticism of Cancel Culture is on the uptick, and that it’s getting safer to take part in such dissent. But, to my ear, we have a long way to go before we find our “Have you no decency, sir,” moment (which I’m told precipitated the fall of McCarthyism). As we are right now, I still see many successful calls for cancellation. Recently, a Jeopardy host was cancelled for jokes he made long before he was the host of the show. I glanced over some social media comments celebrating this result, and they were debating who to cancel next, and who they would let be the next host. Every comment was entirely focussed on the proposed host’s legitimacy as a moral agent as opposed to whether they might be good at the job. That, for me, is the heart of Cancel Culture, which is still beating rapidly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *