16 votes

Cancel culture is the marketplace of ideas at work

24 comments

  1. [2]
    moonbathers
    Link
    It disappoints me that the phrase "cancel culture" is even a thing. It's used by people who are mad that people they like are being called out for being shitty. What's happening is that people who...

    It disappoints me that the phrase "cancel culture" is even a thing. It's used by people who are mad that people they like are being called out for being shitty. What's happening is that people who have been victimized by others can finally speak up with (less) fear for their job and their safety. People absolutely go too far on the internet, and there is an abundance of all-or-nothing thinking, but everyone who uses the phrase "cancel culture" does the exact same thing, dismissing the other side outright by calling them emotional (there's no such thing as being unemotional or pure logic in any discussion outside of math), or a mob, or comparing them to 1984 or Nazis. They claim that being woke is performative because they can't imagine speaking up for other people unless it's useful to their cause.

    To handwave away what's been going on in this sphere as a culture war dismisses what one of the sides is about. People's well-being, whether it's black people being harassed by police, women being harassed by people they're playing video games with, or other issues of literal life and death, is way more important than Team A vs Team B in some sport you don't care about. Calling yourself rational and above the fray just means you're ignoring what people are speaking up about.

    What makes the comparisons to a lynch mob or a which hunt even worse is that a lot of the people who have gotten "cancelled" still have a career. J.K. Rowling still has hundreds of millions of dollars and a voice that reaches lots and lots of people. She can probably still write books and get them published if she wants to. As far as I know Louis C.K. and Aziz Ansari still have their careers. Witch hunts and lynch mobs not only completely made up accusations against their targets, those targets were killed and their killers often never brought to justice. Donald Trump is president despite recorded evidence of him being a predator and Brett Kavanaugh is a Supreme Court justice despite crying about one of his accusers being listened to, calling it a Clinton conspiracy.

    That article has two comments supposedly by Sarah Braasch, who claims she's been cancelled. I didn't know who she was so I looked her up and it turns out she called the cops on a black student sleeping in the main room of their dorm floor at Yale. She says she's not racist, and maybe she's not, but what she did was racist. Maybe she didn't know that calling the cops could have ended up with that student being killed, but I'm sure the other student did. She claims innocence, but it doesn't matter if you didn't know something you've done would hurt someone when you did it. It doesn't mean she should have been harassed, but from what she wrote she's not interested in reflecting on what she did. She's more interested in claiming to be a victim and disregarding criticism by calling the people doing it hypocrites.

    Appealing to civility as she and many other people on that side of the divide have when they have no interest in having an honest discussion means nothing, as summed up by a picture I have bookmarked. You can say or do whatever terrible shit you want as long as you're polite. You can get innocent people killed as long as you claim you felt threatened, you can harass them as long as you feign concern (and before this gets turned around on me for the people harassing Braasch, I said she shouldn't have been harassed in the last paragraph).

    I'm really sick of writing these novels multiple times a week, but I'm not about to let people who think it's ok for minorities to be bullied and victimized take over the only place on the internet that I have where I don't have to justify my existence sometimes.

    22 votes
    1. Akir
      Link Parent
      You are completely correct. I am sick and tired of people on the left constantly being bamboozled by these ideas that empathy towards our fellow man is somehow problematic. Why on earth should I...

      You are completely correct. I am sick and tired of people on the left constantly being bamboozled by these ideas that empathy towards our fellow man is somehow problematic. Why on earth should I feel guilty when standing up for a minority group?

      Today it's "cancel culture". Yesterday it was "identity politics". Before that it was "value posturing". And we just keep taking the bait. So here is my message to everyone: know that your empathy is real and don't apologise for it. The expression of that empathy is how we affect change for the better.

      7 votes
  2. JadoJodo
    Link
    I think there needs to be a distinction between a person's freedom to boycott a company or organization and what is effectively the doxxing of people by the mob. If a person disagrees with the...

    I think there needs to be a distinction between a person's freedom to boycott a company or organization and what is effectively the doxxing of people by the mob.

    If a person disagrees with the political stance of a CEO (e.g. Starbucks/Chik-Fil-A) or company (CloudFlare/Hobby Lobby), they should 1000% vote with their dollars (and let the market decide). But it's completely asinine to think that if that same position is held by a "regular" person and they are "found out", that they could be hunted down and made to be unemployable. I wouldn't want it to happen to me, and I would never, ever want it to happen to people with whom I vehemently disagree.

    12 votes
  3. [20]
    vegai
    (edited )
    Link
    Yep. It was previously called bullying. As someone who has been bullied, I'm disgusted that is has now been elevated to the status of "culture". Of course, some people actually do deserve it. Like...

    There is, thus, nothing especially new in cancel culture, although thanks to social media the mechanisms by which it operates are more virtual than ever before.

    Yep. It was previously called bullying. As someone who has been bullied, I'm disgusted that is has now been elevated to the status of "culture".

    Of course, some people actually do deserve it. Like Harvey Weinstein or Bill Cosby. Did Roseanne Barr deserve it?

    16 votes
    1. [4]
      Omnicrola
      Link Parent
      I don't think bullying is the the correct word here. Bullying to me implies foremost an individual, but also a sustained pattern of abusive behavior toward another individual. Cancel "culture" IMO...

      It was previously called bullying.

      some people actually do deserve it.

      I don't think bullying is the the correct word here. Bullying to me implies foremost an individual, but also a sustained pattern of abusive behavior toward another individual.

      Cancel "culture" IMO is simply mob rule. A mob is an emotional, reactive, and volatile entity that lashes out at a perceived threat ostensibly to protect itself. Now in the information age the mob has gained the ability to form more rapidly, consist of far more members, and doesn't require being in the same physical space. All of which contribute to the volume of their shouted outrage.

      The reason I think the distinction is important is that I think a bully is never justified in bullying. Stopping their bullying is therefore always appropriate. A mob though, is sometimes correct (Weinstein, Cosby, etc) even if their pitchforks are not the actual solution.

      22 votes
      1. [3]
        NaraVara
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        It’s not entirely just the mob though. There’s a fair number of people who make a habit of provoking the outrage mobs and have developed taking things out of context, maliciously framing...

        It’s not entirely just the mob though. There’s a fair number of people who make a habit of provoking the outrage mobs and have developed taking things out of context, maliciously framing narratives, creating wildly bad faith readings of things people say and do, and consciously playing the victim into an art form.

        The Internet of Beefs sums it up pretty well. The cultural default is to interpret anything but unconditional support for a given side of an ideological line as a reason for conflict. Even if that puts you in hypocritical or dissonant positions.

        The irony is that a lot of the elite publication pundits who complain about cancel culture the loudest can also be some of the most active participants in this kind of thing. They just don’t see it that way since they’re publishing in a broadsheet instead of on Twitter.

        11 votes
        1. skybrian
          Link Parent
          It seems like quantity and audience size has a lot to do with it. A couple of angry tweets is not a big deal but thousands of them is something else. Unfortunately people don't dial things back...

          It seems like quantity and audience size has a lot to do with it. A couple of angry tweets is not a big deal but thousands of them is something else. Unfortunately people don't dial things back based on how many others are doing the same thing. In part, injustice can comes from not being aware or not caring what everyone else is doing.

          In many-to-one communication, quantity matters and a pile-on is the default. You have to work to avoid it.

          4 votes
        2. Omnicrola
          Link Parent
          That was a really good read, thank you for that.

          The Internet of Beefs sums it up pretty well.

          That was a really good read, thank you for that.

          1 vote
    2. [15]
      TheJorro
      Link Parent
      Yes. Anyone that uses their platform the way she did deserves to have it removed from them. This was the norm for decades, it only paused as people figured out that Twitter replaced talking heads...

      Did Roseanne Barr deserve it?

      Yes. Anyone that uses their platform the way she did deserves to have it removed from them. This was the norm for decades, it only paused as people figured out that Twitter replaced talking heads and in-person talks where such things were usually addressed in this way, and it has now resumed as people realized inaction has led to the resurgence of previously dying hate. Twitter is a megaphone to the void, and it shouldn't be a surprise that the void eventually bites back.

      19 votes
      1. [14]
        vegai
        (edited )
        Link Parent
        She was not removed from Twitter, but from her work. Having learned that, do you still think this was just? Can we extend this to a general principle, where anyone can be fired for saying...

        She was not removed from Twitter, but from her work. Having learned that, do you still think this was just? Can we extend this to a general principle, where anyone can be fired for saying something that some people don't agree with?

        1 vote
        1. [11]
          spit-evil-olive-tips
          Link Parent
          At-will employment is the norm in the United States. So yes, you can be fired for any reason, including saying something controversial. If the people hand-wringing about "cancel culture" want to...

          At-will employment is the norm in the United States. So yes, you can be fired for any reason, including saying something controversial.

          If the people hand-wringing about "cancel culture" want to talk about reforming labor laws to give workers more job security, that is a discussion I think would be worth having.

          What I don't think we should do is carve out an exemption to at-will employment that only applies to controversial media personalities.

          12 votes
          1. [10]
            tindall
            Link Parent
            Yes, thank you. This is the true point here. "Cancel culture"'s most-criticized outcomes are really outcomes of poor labor laws and the long-lived and perpetually harmful culture of disposability...

            Yes, thank you. This is the true point here. "Cancel culture"'s most-criticized outcomes are really outcomes of poor labor laws and the long-lived and perpetually harmful culture of disposability at almost every company in the nation. Let's hear less about how awful it is to get "cancelled" for saying or doing something racist or otherwise hateful, and more about how "disposability culture" boosts profits for top corporations by destabilizing people's livelihoods and the economy.

            7 votes
            1. [9]
              NaraVara
              Link Parent
              Even with stringent labor laws I'm not sure we'd want to set up situations where people with authority in a workplace can be vocally and publicly prejudiced against certain groups. That can make a...

              "Cancel culture"'s most-criticized outcomes are really outcomes of poor labor laws and the long-lived and perpetually harmful culture of disposability at almost every company in the nation.

              Even with stringent labor laws I'm not sure we'd want to set up situations where people with authority in a workplace can be vocally and publicly prejudiced against certain groups. That can make a toxic work environment for everyone.

              2 votes
              1. [8]
                tindall
                Link Parent
                I absolutely agree with you. However, I do think that some of the worst cases of "cancel culture gone wrong" (for instance, someone's old, deleted tweet for which they've since apologized and...

                I absolutely agree with you. However, I do think that some of the worst cases of "cancel culture gone wrong" (for instance, someone's old, deleted tweet for which they've since apologized and improved their behavior getting them instafired) are really instances of companies being too willing to simply terminate anyone who is any kind of risk to the company, no matter how minute.

                2 votes
                1. [7]
                  NaraVara
                  (edited )
                  Link Parent
                  In smaller communities I've seen it happening a fair bit where people get socially ostracized just because it's acceptable and socially reinforced for everyone to trash them. Wil Wheaton got...

                  In smaller communities I've seen it happening a fair bit where people get socially ostracized just because it's acceptable and socially reinforced for everyone to trash them. Wil Wheaton got shitposted off Mastodon for what was basically a kangaroo court conflating a misunderstanding on his part to him being a bigot. Contrapoints' video on "Canceling" covers the topic pretty well.

                  I will say, however, that I haven't seen some of the worse iterations of this in some time now (like, at least 6 months to a year, though what does time even mean anymore?). I think it was a swing of the pendulum into an extreme zone and it's probably regressing to the mean a bit as people become more savvy about how these dynamics work, more critical of accepting these narratives, and smarter about deleting old content or just not talking in terms that can be weaponized by decontextualization.

                  It still happens sometimes though, mostly with people who are young and don't expect to run afoul of the zeitgeist or with people who are too busy/stressed to pay close attention to what they're saying. I think at this point the term "cancel culture," much like "socialism" or "capitalism," has so much additional baggage attached to them that it's not really a useful descriptor without a ton of caveats on it. Most of what people are complaining about that are relatable seem more like the extreme version of the "Type B" culture discussed in that other thread.

                  2 votes
                  1. [6]
                    tindall
                    Link Parent
                    I completely and unequivocally believe that what happened to Wil Wheaton happened because people don't want celebrities on the Fediverse, or at least didn't at that time, and I basically agree...

                    Wil Wheaton got shitposted off Mastodon

                    I completely and unequivocally believe that what happened to Wil Wheaton happened because people don't want celebrities on the Fediverse, or at least didn't at that time, and I basically agree with that. Celebrities are the worst thing about Twitter and it's a wonderful point of differentiation - the Fediverse is about friendships, free culture communities, and small creators and I really hope it stays that way.

                    Furthermore, I don't think it's fair to say that Wheaton was "socially ostracized" - he still has a huge following both on Twitter and elsewhere, and is extremely professionally successful. He tried to join a community that doesn't want him or ask for him and, frankly, I think he can handle the rejection.

                    That said, another aspect here is that people and communities need better tools for moderation. If there was a Fediverse instance or a few with a strong pro-Wil Wheaton position, the platform should better support them in preventing harassment and abuse regarding that. Mastodon's tooling is already best-in-class here, but that is unfortunately a pretty low bar. There's been an effective defense against fashy/"free speech at all costs" instances for a while, but that's only accomplished by outright suspending every single one from pretty much every other instance. There are initiatives to improve this, but Gargron doesn't prioritize them. (Another strength of FOSS and federation, though: GlitchSoc and Monsterpit do prioritize them and have gotten really far in terms of security and moderation.)

                    2 votes
                    1. [5]
                      NaraVara
                      (edited )
                      Link Parent
                      I'm sorry but this really reads to me as an "ethics in games journalism" level of revisionism. That wasn't what anyone was saying at the time, they were gussying up charges to slander him with....

                      believe that what happened to Wil Wheaton happened because people don't want celebrities on the Fediverse

                      I'm sorry but this really reads to me as an "ethics in games journalism" level of revisionism. That wasn't what anyone was saying at the time, they were gussying up charges to slander him with. What happened to Wheaton was big and public because he's a public(ish) figure. But the dynamic that created that episode is the thing to consider. I don't think anyone can look at a dynamic where a sufficiently large group of people can turn everything to a standstill for a while to slander someone's reputation is a healthy one. It may take a lot of people to do it to Wheaton, but it takes much fewer people to do it to someone nobody has heard of who may not have the "Whatever, that's the price of being notable" filter that someone experienced with being a public figure has.

                      It's also not inherently about "friendships" or "free culture" or "small creators." It ends up that way because it's still small so that's where people who can't be heard on a larger platform can go. And if you want it small scale you can break it off into smaller scales as you want. But it's very easy for small-scale 'influencers' to conflate "keeping the pond small so I can be a big fish in it" with "this is a space for small creators." Besides, it's not even like Wheaton was being bullied out of some niche community, it was Mastodon.Social which is functionally supposed to be the public commons/stopping off point for everyone.

                      He tried to join a community that doesn't want him or ask for him and, frankly, I think he can handle the rejection.

                      Celebrities are still people, and I don't think it'll ever be cool to pile an avalanche of abuse onto people just because you don't like something about them that they can't change. In particular, many celebrities aren't nearly as rich or as well adjusted as social media bullies seem to think they are. Communities that decide basic norms of decency and respect can go out the window if you can pick out an acceptable pariah is exactly the sort of thing people worry about when they worry about "cancelling" going too far. Again, the notable figures are just the canaries in the coal mine. Whatever happens to them can and does happen, on a smaller scale that we don't notice, to regular people who are not nearly as well equipped to deal with it.

                      All that episode suggested to me was that Mastodon is just noxious of a space as Twitter and it cemented my belief that the idea of a platform where the basic interaction is 1-to-many broadcasting simply will be shitty.

                      It's also dangerous to conflate the behavior of very vocal and aggressive voices with the idea that this is representative of ALL the people. It's not like anyone gets to vote or there was some representative body to decide whether he should be there or not. And you can't even know for sure how many people were intimidated into silence by how venomous and intense it got. In a large enough population, it doesn't take very many people to derail everything in service of an agenda. Just 5% of people posting non-stop about something is enough to make it look on the surface like everyone loves or hates a thing.

                      3 votes
                      1. [4]
                        tindall
                        Link Parent
                        Fair enough; I only heard about it at the time, rather than directly observing it, because I personally really don't like Wil Wheaton and blocked him when I found out he was on the Fediverse, so...

                        this really reads to me as an "ethics in games journalism" level of revisionism. That wasn't what anyone was saying at the time, they were gussying up charges to slander him with.

                        Fair enough; I only heard about it at the time, rather than directly observing it, because I personally really don't like Wil Wheaton and blocked him when I found out he was on the Fediverse, so I'm absolutely open to being wrong about that.

                        All that episode suggested to me was that Mastodon is just noxious of a space as Twitter and it cemented my belief that the idea of a platform that's whose basic interaction is 1-to-many broadcasting simply can't be non-shitty.

                        I don't think those two are really logically related. Certainly the Twitter format is not a good one (although Mastodon's modifications do undeniably improve some aspects), but would you say that it's impossible for a Discourse forum or large Discord server to be "non-shitty?" (Or maybe I'm not understanding what you mean by "broadcast".)

                        pile an avalanche of abuse

                        I'm not going to say that this isn't what happened to Wil Wheaton, since you obviously know more about that situation than I do, but I don't think "cancellation" (or deplatforming) implies "an avalanche of abuse" - just not listening to/following/giving money to someone, and maybe informing their employer or collaborators about the perceived offense.

                        just because you don't like something about them that they can't change

                        Of the people whose "cancellations" I've been following recently, I can't really recall anyone being "cancelled" for, say, their race, their sexuality, or their religion. When that happens, we usually call it bigotry and unlawful discrimination. Rather, people are often "cancelled" over their actions. JKR didn't lose huge quantites in book sales this month because she's British or white or even because she's cisgender; she lost that money because she chose to consistently side with bigots and double down on her weird and hateful language about trans people. That's not to say this doesn't happen - of course it does, and it's a much bigger issue - but it's not what I've seen people mean when they talk about "cancel culture".

                        not inherently about "Friendships" or "free culture" or "small creators." It ends up that way because it's still small so that's where people who can't be heard on a larger platform can go

                        I agree completely with this, and I didn't say it was "inherently" about any of those things - in fact, that was kind of my point. It's a fragile state and needs to be defended; this is a big reason why, when people say "the fediverse will never grow as big as [insert corporate social media platform]," my response is "good."

                        It's also dangerous to conflate the behavior of very vocal and aggressive voices with the idea that this is representative of ALL the people.

                        This is true and a good point, although as I said I was following a lot of the discussion around this at the time and since, and what I said is reflective of the opinions of a lot of people over that period of time, many of whom don't really agree on much else.

                        3 votes
                        1. [3]
                          NaraVara
                          Link Parent
                          Discord is fundamentally different because it's a synchronous chat. It's structured as a many-to-many form of interaction instead of one-to-many the way Twitter or Facebook are. I think that...

                          I don't think those two are really logically related. Certainly the Twitter format is not a good one (although Mastodon's modifications do undeniably improve some aspects), but would you say that it's impossible for a Discourse forum or large Discord server to be "non-shitty?" (Or maybe I'm not understanding what you mean by "broadcast".)

                          Discord is fundamentally different because it's a synchronous chat. It's structured as a many-to-many form of interaction instead of one-to-many the way Twitter or Facebook are. I think that one-to-many format contributes heavily to the dogpiling and tribalism. Mastodon does limit how you can quote tweet or retweet, which cuts off one of the worst aspects of it, but it doesn't stop all of the bad behavior.

                          Of the people whose "cancellations" I've been following recently, I can't really recall anyone being "cancelled" for, say, their race, their sexuality, or their religion. When that happens, we usually call it bigotry and unlawful discrimination. Rather, people are often "cancelled" over their actions.

                          This is kind of why I think the term is applied too broadly to be useful. Like I said earlier, the people who whine about it the most (like the Harpers letter signatories) are usually the least worth considering. I'm less concerned about people with large platforms complaining about negative feedback. I have 3 main concerns:

                          1. One is for independent content creators without a big masthead publication covering for them. Natalie Wynn got hit with it which is what prompted her to make her "Cancelled" video. I found this especially troubling because she was being cancelled by her own Trans support community. What's more, she had been pretty open about the fact that she has a tendency to "self-harm" by reading hostile and mean criticism and has admitted to suffering from depression and dysphoria when she starts to go into that spiral. And yet people were still eager to pile onto her on pretty dubious grounds. This is exactly the sort of thing that leads people to suicide and I just don't think it's appropriate. Even if people are high on some self-described sense of righteousness, it's just a really shitty thing to do to someone. The Scarlet Letter is all about how perverse this kind of "justice" ends up being.

                          2. Secondly, (and relatedly) I'm concerned for regular private and semi-private citizens or minor celebrities being dogpiled on. It's really easy to blow up a video or a tweet from someone in the middle of a bad day being the worst version of themselves. And as much as I enjoy laughing at Karens being Karens, I don't know if it's actually healthy for us as a society to engage in this kind of stone-throwing from the sidelines. It feels cruel to me on a pretty basic level and it's not really accomplishing anything in terms of fixing underlying social problems. I don't want to be too hard on people online blowing off steam by sharing these sorts of things, and I do think shame is a useful tool for setting and maintaining social mores. But if there's an appropriate balance to strike here between the two I worry we flip over on one side a little too often.

                          3. And lastly I worry for the people involved in actually doing the cancelling. I think the pattern of identifying appropriate pariahs to get catharsis out of trashing is really unhealthy for peoples' moral and social development. It encourages finding excuses to dismiss or invalidate people instead of trying to understand their perspectives, and it makes discussion really intellectually hollow. It also fosters a sort of 'performative wokeness' that's not super helpful to anyone and risks being both patronizing towards the marginalized groups in question. But more than that, I worry that encouraging people to be on a hair-trigger to take offense, perceive slights, and put on a performance of being wounded/having grievances can tend to flare up underlying mental health issues and rot people's critical thinking skills. This is exactly what happened with the conservative movement. All their media is so hyper-focused around finding things to be outraged by and shunning away any difficult or challenging ideas that they've gone utterly demented and fallen into paranoid delusions.

                          The problem with the "cancel culture" term is that it's so wide and vaguely defined that columnists in prestigious papers complaining about not getting the speaking fees they think they deserve or interpreting criticism of their lazy thinking as 'censorship' can really easy cloak themselves in the language of protecting any of the actually worthwhile stuff I mentioned above. I'd rather separate them out conceptually and address intellectually lazy people who are too thin skinned to deal with being called out on their laziness and lack of education/research as one thing. And then address internet mobs doing the "Scarlet Letter" deal as a separate thing.

                          The third part probably has the most overlap with the sort of "cancel culture" discourse you're talking about, since it does somewhat overlap with the "Just hear me out, maybe Black people really ARE inherently dumber. How can you be SURE if you don't listen to the argument man?" types. This is probably the hardest one to strike a balance on because it really is easy to tell ourselves that things which make us uncomfortable are actually ridiculous or secretly motivated by malicious ideologies like racism. It takes a certain level of self-discipline and sophistication to be able to parse whether we're lying to ourselves to preserve our own worldviews/egoes or if this person really is being an ass. Our bullshit detectors can only be so effective in the contexts where we're typically scrolling through social media, like in between meetings or while sitting on the toilet.

                          1 vote
                          1. [2]
                            tindall
                            Link Parent
                            I've talked about this before, but I don't think that it's productive to talk about "the trans community" or "the LGBTQ+ community." She was "cancelled" because some people made her out to be...

                            One is for independent content creators without a big masthead publication covering for them. Natalie Wynn got hit with it which is what prompted her to make her "Cancelled" video. I found this especially troubling because she was being cancelled by her own Trans support community.

                            I've talked about this before, but I don't think that it's productive to talk about "the trans community" or "the LGBTQ+ community." She was "cancelled" because some people made her out to be involved with a particular older trans person who used some terminology that a subset of younger trans people consider to be very offensive. In my opinion, their viewpoint is ahistorical and kind of ridiculous, and of course in Natalie's case they also decided to harass and threaten her which is obviously over the line. Plenty of trans people, including younger trans people, supported her, and I would imagine that the vast majority of trans people simply didn't hear about the situation.

                            The problem with the "cancel culture" term is that it's so wide and vaguely defined that columnists in prestigious papers complaining about not getting the speaking fees they think they deserve or interpreting criticism of their lazy thinking as 'censorship' can really easy cloak themselves in the language of protecting any of the actually worthwhile stuff I mentioned above.

                            Yes. I absolutely agree with you here.

                            1. NaraVara
                              Link Parent
                              I don't think I had seen your comments about it before. Thanks for sharing it. I didn't mean to say she was cancelled by the whole Trans community, but more specifically big parts of the community...

                              I don't think I had seen your comments about it before. Thanks for sharing it. I didn't mean to say she was cancelled by the whole Trans community, but more specifically big parts of the community of support she had as she was going through her transition.

                              Your point about her being targeted by younger trans people without a sense of history or perspective is kind of my point. You can understand how frustrating it must be for someone to just get a flood of abuse from people who are firmly committed to creating a narrative about you as history's greatest monster. And that mob isn't interested in hearing your side of the story or listening to any sort of reasonable attempts to contextualize what is being said. Nothing about that process seems fair or just to me.

                              Now Natalie Wynn is an extremely intelligent and thoughtful person who is savvy about how she presents herself. I'd put her in at least the top decile of people for being capable of managing their own public image or arguing her position in a way that people will understand or be sympathetic to. What happens to people who aren't as smart or aren't as charming? That's the real struggle there, because I think people are understandably anxious about just letting this kind of Scarlet Letter process just unfold without even having a shared cultural understanding that it's not ideal. Let alone actually doing anything concrete about it, just vocally acknowledging that it's inappropriate to behave this way seems to be an uphill climb.

                              It actually reminds me a bit of the globalization debate in the Econ field. Lots of economists had private misgivings about the direction things were going, but they were so terrified of letting their names be quoted as globalization skeptics that nobody ever said anything in any place that mattered. Being a skeptic meant you were a crank, and your words would be used to way overcorrect and create counter-productive protectionist measures. In reality no one person's words could have had that power, but the taboo was so strong nobody said anything.

        2. grahamiam
          Link Parent
          I'm a teacher. If I had posted something similar to what she did, publicly, I would also lose my job. And rightfully so.

          I'm a teacher. If I had posted something similar to what she did, publicly, I would also lose my job. And rightfully so.

          8 votes
        3. TheJorro
          Link Parent
          I am aware what she was removed from, so my statement still stands. When her show first aired, any overt racism expressed on platforms at the time like, say, breakfast television shows would...

          I am aware what she was removed from, so my statement still stands. When her show first aired, any overt racism expressed on platforms at the time like, say, breakfast television shows would result in a swift boot. I don't see why that has to change because Twitter came about as yet another platform. As a public figure, the consequences of spreading hate on one platform should be the same as any other, whether it's Twitter or Good Morning America.

          And there's no clean way to extend it like that, since it smooths over the bit where she specifically was spreading hate. It was tolerable when she was espousing all kinds of fringe right-wing ideology, but as soon as she crossed into overt racism and then tried to blame it on medication, she crossed all kinds of lines for both basic decency and corporate sponsorships, the latter of which is really a bigger death knell for someone with a TV show.

          4 votes
  4. Thunder-ten-tronckh
    Link
    Rather than spout my own opinions on cancel culture from the premise of the headline, I'll try to respond directly to the text. I don't know if I buy this. The first point makes sense because it's...

    Rather than spout my own opinions on cancel culture from the premise of the headline, I'll try to respond directly to the text.

    What is noticeable in nearly all the critics of cancel culture is that they refuse to engage with the grounds of indignation. Tactically, one understands this move because it helps ferment polarization (and so opportunities for profit) and cement group identity. Morally it is a mistake because one fails to heed the call of justice. Strategically, it is a worse mistake because one, thereby, misses the causal forces that shape the changing directions of the tectonic plates, which are the sediments of and constraints on the marketplace of ideas, of political life.

    I don't know if I buy this. The first point makes sense because it's plain to see the all-or-nothing polarization that cancel culture contributes to in online discourse.

    The second point doesn't feel particularly compelling because distinguishing between legitimate and illegitimate calls to justice in increasingly-polarized communities (an established consequence of cancel culture) is not easy. Just because a mob has attached to an indignant call to justice doesn't make their assumptions about injustice valid. What if the critic is perfectly aware that they will miss a call to justice by protesting cancel culture, but consider that a necessary evil to combat a social force that dilutes the meaning of justice over time?

    And the third point is a head-scratcher for me as well: If I'm reading it correctly, the author is basically saying that refusing to engage in cancel culture prevents one from understanding how the dynamics of discourse shift? Does one need to participate in order to properly observe that? Personally, I'd prefer to observe a 100 car pileup than participate in it. I feel like my understanding of shifting driving dynamics in that situation would be the same.

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