Cancel Culture is Everywhere.
Don’t kid yourself, there are “cancelers” all across the political spectrum.
Cancel Culture is the negation of debate. Its objective is to prevent debates by preventing other opinions from being spoken or taken seriously. Conservatives do this when they claim their adversaries are “communists”, liberals do this when they claim their adversaries are “fascists”, and even centrists do this by claiming the others are “extremists”.
Still, dealing with Cancel Culture is much more difficult than it looks like. Let’s think about it for a bit.
How Cancel Culture works
Cancel Culture is different from full blown censorship in that it is not run by the government. The main force behind it are groups of people acting in such a way as to prevent other people from being heard in some way. They normally act this way when someone makes something they consider outrageous, such as making a racist or homophobic remark, taking a pro-transgender stance, or refusing to take a stance in a controversial matter.
This commonly takes the form of “deplatforming”, that is, depriving someone of the means to be heard by large groups of people, such as by preventing speeches and lectures and banning them from social media. This is something that arises from societal pressure, in the form of physical and digital protests, calls for boycott, and maybe even lawsuit threats. It is something very spontaneous and very explosive.
Enforcing Free Speech?
So, how do we deal with that? Can we enforce free speech?
Say, if a university bans someone from giving talks within its campus, should the government intervene to lift the ban?
You see, universities need to have autonomy. This autonomy is what makes them scientifically trustworthy: it means that what they do isn’t influenced by financial or political interests. Political interventions could damage that. Also, should a university really be prevented from banning any speaker? Should they allow notorious scientific fraudsters to give lectures, for example? That is something that could also damage their reputation.
What about private companies? If they choose to endorse Pride Month, should they be forced to endorse “Straight Month” or something? If they make a conference, should they be forced to invite speakers from the entire political spectrum? A private company, being the property of an individual or group of people, should have the right to do what it wants, as it is part of their right for economic freedom. Trying to enforce free speech this way would get in the way of their freedom of action.
What about the “cancelers”? If someone is involved in a canceling campaign, should they be prevented from having a platform? Should the cancelers be canceled? While that seems justified, it is also a tad hypocritical, as it means suppressing freedom of speech. Canceling isn’t even considered a crime to warrant a punishment. As weird it may sound, advocating for deplatforming someone is exercising one’s right to free speech. While people shouldn’t be prevented from speaking, is it right to prevent those who want others to be prevented from speaking?
Is there a way to enforce free speech without damaging other freedoms? Or even without damaging freedom of speech itself?
The Need For a Debate Culture
As always, in order to solve a problem, you’ve got to go for its root. Cancel Culture is basically a consequence of another problem: that people don’t want to hear each other. People everywhere have been isolating more and more in their groupthink bubbles, creating hostile views of other groups. To get rid of Cancel Culture altogether, it needs to be replaced with a Debate Culture. You May Also Like: Jailbreaking VS Rooting
Still, it’s easier said than done. It means taking the effort to understand all sides and make them understand each other. It means challenging your own views about everything and opening yourself up to new ideas. It is something that can be very uncomfortable, and not everyone may be up to it. The internet is a great place to do that, considering you may find many platforms and even create your own if you so need. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.
This is the kind of matter in which we need to change ourselves and then change others. There doesn’t really seem to be an easy solution. However, things need to change soon, as all of this polarization can easily spiral out of control and have devastating consequences.