Last week 150 public intellectuals – mostly lefties – signed an exemplary letter opposing their own kind’s cancel culture.
Their missive called for an end to the “intolerance of opposing views” and “vogue for public shaming” now growing on the left.
Titled ‘A Letter on Justice and Open Debate’, it was rightly applauded:
The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.
The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted….
The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away... As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences.
But just one day after the letter was published by Harper’s Bazaar, one signee was apologising, another was retracting their signature and yet another was under fire from his employer.
Transgender writer Jennifer Finney Boylan regretted signing the statement against cancel culture because it didn’t cancel someone she disagreed with: fellow signee J. K. Rowling.
Blind to her own sheer hypocrisy, Boylan took to twitter to let the world know how sorry she was to have signed a letter supporting free speech with someone who’s free speech she doesn’t support:
I did not know who else had signed that letter. I thought I was endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming. I did know Chomsky, Steinem, and Atwood were in, and I thought, good company.
The consequences are mine to bear. I am so sorry.
Rowling, highly celebrated author of Harry Potter, has been ravaged by cancel culture for siding with facts over feelings in the transgender debate.
Her ‘controversial’ comments include insisting that only women menstruate.
One Nation leader Mark Latham MLC said Boylan is a case study in the left’s groupthink: “[If] you can only sign the letter about open speech and debate if everyone agrees with you, well what’s the point in signing the letter in the first place?”.
Couldn’t agree more, Latham.
Historian Kerri Greenidge, one of the original signatories to the letter, also backtracked and asked for a retraction.
And as if to further prove the point of the letter, signee Matt Yglesias – a perfectly progressive writer for Vox – was criticised by a fellow employee and shutdown by his boss.
“I don’t want Matt to be reprimanded or fired or even asked to submit an apology. Doing any of the above would only solidify, in his own mind, the idea that he is being martyred for his beliefs,” Emily VanDerWerff posted on twitter.
Yglesias’ boss also took to twitter to shame him:
A lot of debates that sell themselves as being about free speech are actually about power. And there’s *a lot* of power in being able to claim, and hold, the mantle of free speech defender.
Yglesias then declined to engage, announcing, “I have committed to not doing contentious stuff on Twitter anymore.”
Few things are certain in this life, but one thing we can count on with ironclad surety: the left turning on its own.
Wedded to cancel culture, they can’t allow even their fellow lefties to fight for free speech.
Because without cancel culture, they’d actually have to defend their ideas.