Last week’s open letter in Harper’s in defense of free speech against “cancel culture” produced a response that…well, it didn’t exactly come out in defense of cancel culture. Instead, it followed the usual formula for defending the indefensible:
“This thing never happened. But if it had, it would 100 percent be justified.”
The anti-anti-cancelers would have you believe that this entire phenomenon is all in our heads. Sure, maybe a few people got fired for dubious infractions, but “they are not trends.” Also, if they did get fired it was only because somebody was calling them out for their bigotry.
The “actual meaning” of the pro-free-speech letter, the anti-anti-cancelers claim, is expressed in “coded language” understood only by the signers of this new letter. The people who say they’re in favor of free speech are actually just panicking because “black, brown, and LGBTQ+ people—particularly black and trans people—can now critique elites publicly and hold them accountable socially.”
The anti-anti-cancelers complain that many of the signers of the Harper’s letter are “white, wealthy, and endowed with massive platforms.”
Of course the signers of the Harper’s letter are powerful and established. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have been in a position to sign it, now would they? That’s precisely how all of this is supposed to work: The influential and the established are supposed to use their power to uphold principles that protect everyone else.
Read the rest at The Bulwark.