Why Not Cancel “Mulan”?

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

What’s Wrong with “Cancel Culture,” Again? “A Case Study”

“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

Lauren Hall on Adele, Local Norms, and…Cancel Culture

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

Kevin Vallier on “Cancel Culture”

Kevin Vallier has an interesting blog post on cancel culture at his blog, Reconciled. Check out the post and the blog itself if you haven’t.

Vallier’s argument is nicely structured, but isn’t, in my view, sound. The first part goes something like this:

  1. For any X, if we cancel X, we (must) reliably know that X deserves it.
  2. But we don’t reliably know that any (given) X deserves it.
  3. 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

Cancel Culture Blues: The Strange Case of Steven Wilson

I need to stop reading stories like this, because if I do, I’m in danger of lapsing into Michael Young’s running dog reactionary views on cancel culture.* I’m still a big fan of cancellation as an idea, but if this is what “cancel culture” is going to be, then my thought is: leave me the hell out of it. But this isn’t what cancel culture has to be. We have a choice about what form it will take.

[Steven] Wilson was the chief executive of Ascend, the consortium of central Brooklyn charter schools he built, beginning with plans devised on his dining room table in 2007.

But Mr. Wilson was effectively barred from celebrating with his students.

Several weeks earlier, he had written a blog post embracing the values of a classical education; some younger members of his staff perceived it as racially traumatizing. Others found it simply tone-deaf. He was in a kind of purgatory, still employed by Ascend but taken out of its day-to-day operation.

Continue reading

That Zola Commercial

Here it is:

As you’ve probably gathered, the Hallmark Channel pulled this ad because the couple’s kissing–at their own wedding–supposedly violated Hallmark’s “policies on PDA.” Apart from the obvious hypocrisy and disingenuousness involved in invoking this excuse–what channel runs an ad that violates its own policies?–surely the question has to arise: why would any company adopt so idiotic a policy in the first place? Are articulable reasons involved, or just inarticulate fears? Continue reading