Davenport: “Boycott Anti-Choice States”

John Davenport has a nice piece in Ms. magazine, “Fight Abortion Bans by Boycotting Anti-Choice States” (July 21). I couldn’t agree more. It’s so good–for a change–to encounter an advocate of boycotts who isn’t me.

Nothing talks louder than money in the U.S. With over half of states on their way to banning abortion, the only choice is to fight with a boycott movement bigger than this nation has ever seen.

I’ve run John’s proposal by some pro-choice people on Facebook, many of whom seem to regard it as quixotic and pointless. I don’t agree. I’ll paste some of my responses to them in the comments here, just to give a flavor of the potential disagreements with John’s argument from people otherwise on his (our) side of the issue. Continue reading

The Right to Boycott

As many readers of this blog will remember, earlier this year, we had a months-long discussion of the pros and cons of “cancellation” and related topics, initiated in part by this long post of mine in December, and this long rejoinder by David Potts a few weeks later. Feel free to click the “cancel culture” tag to follow some of the preceding and subsequent discussion, which eventually petered out (at least on my end) less through any dearth of topics left to discuss, or desire to discuss them, than from the lack of time to pursue the discussion to a proper conclusion. That said, I thought that the discussion was a useful airing-out of some contentious issues.    Continue reading

Cancelling China (2)

In part 1 of this mini-series, I mentioned David Potts’s comments on China from an earlier post, promising to respond more directly to them. DP’s comments on China fall into three parts: a condemnation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on grounds of its systematic disrespect for human rights; an accusation of hypocrisy against activists for their relative indifference to China’s human rights record; and a skeptical shrug of the shoulders about collective action against China.

I put my summary response to his argument this way in part 1:

Either his remarks are meant to rebut my claims or not. If they are, I don’t see how they do; if they’re not I don’t see why they’re there.

I’m going to focus here on the first of these conditionals, assuming that his remarks were intended to rebut my claims, and arguing that they don’t. Continue reading


Suppose I’m a judge in state (government) S1 and, in the judicial system of this state, due to cultural and institutional factors that do not prominently include explicit bigotry or anything like this, those in the non-dominant ethnic groups are twice as likely to get a death sentence than are those in the dominant ethnic group. If I’m in this position, it seems morally objectionable for me not to speak out and do something (or this or that specific thing) about the situation or my connection to it. It is not just that speaking out and doing something (or some particular thing like organizing for change or quitting) is morally best, morally ideal, apt for moral praise (as supererogatory acts are).

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Cancelling China (1)

In his post critiquing my original post on cancellation, David Potts has a long passage about the politics of our dealings with the People’s Republic of China (the PRC). Instead of quoting it at length right now, I mention it as preface to what I want to say about China in this post; I’ll respond directly to DP’s comments in part 2 of this post. For now, suffice it say that one of the things I find puzzling is how DP’s discussion of China relates to, or rebuts, anything I’ve said in defense of cancellation. Either his remarks are meant to rebut my claims or not. If they are, I don’t see how they do; if they’re not, I don’t see why they’re there. But let me save the development of that thought for part 2. For now, I want to say something more directly about the idea of cancelling the PRC. The tl;dr here is: I’m all in. The PRC is on my list of countries that badly need to be cancelled. Continue reading

Cancellation and the Great Resignation

I realize that I’m very late on responding to comments, but my plan is to press forward with all the cancellations on my initial list (still a handful left), then double back to respond to comments. I wish I had the time to do both things at once–post and comment–but I don’t. Cancel me.

In a pair of earlier posts on cancellation, I described “cancellation” (as currently used in specifically ideological disputes) as an “anti concept” designed to cast unwarranted aspersions on the concept and practice of moral accountability outside of legal contexts, and defined “cancellation” (in a broader, and to my mind more legitimate sense) as “the nullification of a prior arrangement or expectation on grounds of justice.” The existing understanding of “cancellation,” as conceived by its critics is, in my view, tendentious and question-begging: it identifies ill-conceived or badly executed cancellations with cancellations as such, then insists, by repeated iterations of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, that no cancellation qualifies as a “true” cancellation unless it’s ill-conceived or misapplied by the critic’s standards. Continue reading

To Cancel or Not to Cancel

To cancel, or not to cancel, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.

–Hamlet* in Shakespeare*’s Hamlet*

That’s the question, all right. For some reason, critics of cancellation seem to be under the impression that advocacy of cancellation in some cases requires advocacy in all, or at least advocacy that leads to a slippery slope involving all. The one claim is an obvious misinference, the other a much bigger assertion than its proponents have proven, or even tried to prove. To argue as they do is like claiming that litigation either entails or necessarily leads to frivolous lawsuits, or that law enforcement either entails or necessarily leads to abuse. No one (or almost no one) thinks that when it comes to litigation, arrest, or prosecution. And yet, when it comes cancellation, they do. Continue reading

Excuse Me While I Kiss This Guy

“Dude, holy shit! Those guys are gay! They’re holding hands…they’re actually gay!”
–Me to my cousin Waseem, on our first visit to Greenwich Village, summer 1981

“Dude, was Hendrix gay? How is that even possible? What if a lot of people are gay?”
–My cousin Waseem to me, on mishearing “Purple Haze” later that summer

I’m going to assume from the outset that homosexuality is morally on par with heterosexuality. If so, gay relationships and families are morally on par with straight ones, and those who denigrate either are guilty of a bigotry of sexual orientation. Bigotries of sexual orientation, like those of race or gender, are an injustice whose advocates and supporters deserve, among other things, cancellation.

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