Should Cancel Culture Be Canceled?

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Cancel culture is the enemy of free speech. One would think that liberals who lived through the red-baiting of the McCarthy era in the 1950s — the apogee of cancel culture — would know better. But according to Dan Kovalik, our guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, they are some of the worst offenders. 

Kovalik, labor lawyer, professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, and author of Cancel This Book: The Progressive Case Against Cancel Culture, makes the case that it is progressives who should be leading the charge against cancel culture and favoring a fact-based, objective approach to verbal transgressions. Instead, he points out that Twitter’s loudest voices are setting the ground rules on what is, and is not, acceptable speech.

Kovalik explains why, to today’s virtue purists, intention no longer matters. What rules the day are subjective feelings about someone’s speech, rather than any objective analysis. He argues that worrying about small microaggressions and “safe spaces” — a contrived concept from academia — takes the focus away from the real work of making a difference in the world. 

Responding to hurt feelings, he says, has become a substitute for genuine activism.

In Kovalik’s view,cancel culture has become a kind of false religion, which enthusiastically practices shaming and punishment — but allows no avenue for redemption.

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Related front page panorama photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Carlos Smith / Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).

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Author: Jeff Schechtman


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