The problem with Neera Tanden is not, as is now widely being asserted by Republicans, that she’s “partisan,” “divisive,” or “mean.” Nor is her great virtue, as a lot of centrist Democrats seem to believe, that she’s some kind of persecuted truth teller. The problem with Neera Tanden is that she’s full of shit–a lying windbag and reckless big mouth who’s mastered the art of invective without being able to argue her way out of a paper bag on any substantive issue.
Another counter-example to the “Left has a monopoly on cancel culture” or “cancel culture targets the poor, hapless Right” narrative.
Though there’s room to quibble about its exact definition, on some conception of it, almost everyone agrees that pedophilia is wrong–very wrong. When the acts in question involve very young children, and involve obvious reliance on violence or coercion, the issues left to quibble about rapidly diminish to zero. In such cases, we’re just left to stare pure evil in the face. I don’t think it much matters whether the incentives involved include pecuniary ones. Whether you monetarily profit off of pedophilia or not, it remains wrong. Continue reading
The following is an open letter by Professor Nathan Jun, Associate Professor of Philosophy at Midwestern State University Texas (ht: Roderick Long). Please distribute widely.
As many if not most of you are already aware, I was subjected to an intense campaign of doxing, harassment, threats, and vandalism this past summer owing to comments I had posted on social media in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. Although this campaign had waned significantly by August, it has since resumed with a vengeance this past week following a speech I delivered at a campus rally for Breonna Taylor on Thursday, 24 September. Within 24 hours of that event I had already received several death threats. The situation quickly escalated after fascists (acting in concert with local media) disseminated a comment I posted on a friend’s Facebook page.
One of the worst features of “anti-cancel culture” is the strange moral indiscriminateness that lies behind it. Cancellation is merely a tactic or technique. Unless a tactic is somehow intrinsically immoral, or so transparently unjust that it couldn’t serve any legitimate end, you’d think that the value of a tactic was determined by the value of the end or ends which it served. Continue reading
So here’s a campaign of cancellation that even the American Right could like: the calls to boycott “Mulan” over its complicity in China’s repression of the Uighur Muslims, and its authoritarian control over Hong Kong. Instead of giving justice cheap shout-outs from social media, why not refuse complicity in the injustice of Chinese Communism? The American Right is still anti-Communist, isn’t it? At this point, it’s hard to know what they stand for, if anything. Continue reading
Consider the following social phenomena:
- Public denunciation or accusation
- Termination (in the context of employment)
- Regulatory proceedings (e.g., audits, sanctions, and the like)
- Arrest (in the context of criminal proceedings)
I’ve organized them in ascending order of intensity for the person on the receiving end. Continue reading
“Case study” is a bit grand for what follows, but this post was originally a comment I wrote a few days ago on an article in The New York Times. It was buried in the comments of the discussion about Kevin Vallier’s views on cancel culture, but I thought I’d pluck it out and post it here for better visibility. I’ve re-written the comment a bit, partly for clarity and partly for explicitness.
I guess my questions for critics of cancellation/cancel culture are these:
- Is Thompson’s action objectionable? If so, how?
- Is Thompson’s action a cancellation? If not, why not?
As far as I’m concerned, Thompson’s action is unobjectionable. I don’t like the term “cancellation,” but if we stipulate that we must use it, I feel no compunction (given the imprecision of the concept) in using it here. Since things like Thompson’s quit happen all the time, I regard such “cancellations” as entirely justified. I don’t know if this story is representative of what anti-cancellation types regard as a real cancellation, but part of the problem is that they haven’t explained themselves very well on that score. And considering the ridiculous-idiosyncratic-obscure origins of the concept, I would say that they owe us some precision before warning us against the supposed activity to which it refers. Continue reading
Cancel culture is all the rage now, so for once in my life, I’m going to be fashionable and follow suit (so to speak) by blogging the living crap out of it. Lauren Hall has a blog post at Radical Classical Liberals on the recent controversy about Adele and cultural appropriation. The post alludes to cancel culture, so what better opportunity to reiterate my objections to that concept and the discourse that surrounds it? Continue reading
Vallier’s argument is nicely structured, but isn’t, in my view, sound. The first part goes something like this:
- For any X, if we cancel X, we (must) reliably know that X deserves it.
- But we don’t reliably know that any (given) X deserves it.
- Hence we should not cancel.
That argument is a little too neat to capture what Vallier really has in mind, but I think it gets the basic point across. Claim (3) is stronger than what Vallier intends: his point is not that we should never cancel, but that we should rarely cancel. So throw out (3) and replace it with this latter, weaker claim (3*), i.e., “we should rarely cancel.” Continue reading