Let's Cancel Cancel "Cancel Culture"!



  • https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/17/opinions/harpers-letter-free-speech-bari-weiss-andrew-sullivan-avlon/index.html

    I chose this link from CNN because it included details about the departure of Bari Weiss and Andrew Sullivan from the New York Times.



  • I agree that we need to address Cancel Culture. However, I think we need to be careful to recognize the issue for what it is.

    #1 This is essentially a presentation issue in UX. We don’t need to force people to honor other opinions so much as we need to expose them to them in a constructive manner. We live in bubbles with very little casual exposures to others. Technology has significantly altered humanity and its effects are largely ignored by politicians. We need voices for the sciences at the forefront of policy making.

    #2 We also need to address the underlying concerns by appealing to a common denominator. This leads us I think to a need for more empathetic, elastic legislators. Certainly there are these people available even in the midst of cancel culture. These people must be raised up and championed, not kicked to the curb for being neither black nor white.



  • I certainly agree the culture around speech has changed over the last few years, and definitely for the worse. UNC did a survey last year and found a pretty depressing culture of illiberalism. For example, conservatives were more than twice as likely to self-censor in class as their liberal classmates. Only 1.5% of liberals routinely (>10 times) self-censored in class, while 17% of conservatives did. Conservatives were 16 times (!) more likely to be concerned their peers would have a lower opinion of them if they knew their politics. And that fear seems to be well-grounded in reality. 69% of liberal students perceived conservative peers as racist and sexist (only 30% of conservatives felt that way about liberal students). 22% of of liberal students felt UNC would be better off without conservative students entirely, which seems bonkers to me if we think universities are places of open debate and conversation. 19% of liberal students felt it was appropriate to create an obstruction so a campus speaker couldn’t express their views or block students from entering an event to hear controversial ideas (3% and 1% for conservative students, respectively.)

    Not to just dump on liberal students, conservatives have their own free speech issues as well. It seems like there’s an illiberal instinct taking over on the “woke left” and nationalist right that is seeking to upturn the liberal democratic order we’ve been under since, like, forever. I firmly believe sunlight is the best disinfectant, and shouting down/canceling people is a very, very bad way to debate ideas. It’s true Bari and Andrew weren’t canceled in the pure sense, but Bari was definitely subject to a hostile workplace environment for the horrific crime of doing the exact job the Times hired her to do (and she’s a Jewish lesbian to boot, but alas). I’ve become increasingly convinced over the last year or so that the real divide isn’t progressive vs. conservative or Democratic vs. Republican, but liberal vs. illiberal. I have many progressive friends who I have deep disagreements with on issues of public policy, but we can have those conversations because we believe in the foundational liberal values of free speech and open debate. The far left with “speech is violence” and the far right with “free press is the enemy of the people” are similar threats to these values and ought to be excised from the culture so we don’t have a poor guy getting fired for innocently making an “ok” sign or a researcher getting fired for retweeting a paper that said nonviolent protest was more effective than rioting. If the Times wants to go down this road, they should just drop the moniker “All the news that’s fit to print” because I’m not sure they believe it anymore. If New York Magazine wants to be a lefty outlet, that’s fine too. Just don’t say both you’re a nonpartisan outlet and then say they have to be careful about how they write about certain topics (meaning, publishing Andrew Sullivan, hardly a right winger).

    All this to say I’m tired of this and people need to become adults.



  • @FarmerJayhawk well put 💯



  • @FarmerJayhawk Agree a million percent. Liberals claim to be tolerant but a very small number actually are. I have a co-worker that pulled his kids from KU (graduate of KU himself) because of the constant push toward socialism/democratic views in non political studies. I’d argue that about every soul on this page that even showed slight conservative views is attacked. Heck recently someone was attacked for merely saying Trump was a businessman. Sociology 1-0-1 says the main thing you accuse others of, is what you are guilty of yourself. If your significant other is constantly accusing you of cheating with no evidence or means, their probably wanting to justify their own actions. Democrats screaming racism and Nazi at every opposition, while supporting socialism, taking away 1st and 2nd amendments rights. Me reading a books on history thinking hmm… that’s exactly what the Nazis did. Now conservatives definitely at their own issues with big businesses and oil greed as well wanting too many weapons.



  • @kjayhawks Trump is a horrible businessman. I think Trump was attacked when you mentioned him more than you were attacked. People wanted to add a disclaimer, because Trump is an idiot. And it’s hard to call anyone a thing they are really bad at. 6 bankruptcies. 🤷♂ is someone who can’t catch fish a fisherman? Is someone who can’t teach a teacher? I think you were suggesting that his actions were in line with those of a businessman. It’s just that a lot of his actions, like tanking the economy by bungling a pandemic in a circus freak show assortment of ways, make one think he would never be a businessman if he wasn’t Fred’s golden boy.



  • @approxinfinity said in Let's Cancel "Cancel Culture"!:

    @kjayhawks Trump is a horrible businessman. I think Trump was attacked when you mentioned him more than you were attacked. People wanted to add a disclaimer, because Trump is an idiot. And it’s hard to call anyone a thing they are really bad at. 6 bankruptcies. 🤷♂ is someone who can’t catch fish a fisherman? Is someone who can’t teach a teacher? I think you were suggesting that his actions were in line with those of a businessman. It’s just that a lot of his actions, like tanking the economy by bungling a pandemic in a circus freak show assortment of ways, make one think he would never be a businessman if he wasn’t Fred’s golden boy.

    “Trump is a horrible businessman.”

    You’re adding a qualification to statement that had none which is exactly what you and others did the when I said Trump was a businessman. That’s part of the problem is a lot of people here are incapable of staying civil when Trump’s name is brought up. When I said Trump was a businessman, and yes @kjayhawks is referring to a post I made a few weeks back, you and several others here immediately jumped down my throat for saying Trump is a businessman despite the fact that I didn’t adding any adjectives (positive or negative) in front of businessman.

    I also said in that same post that I liked a couple of the trade deals he had made for the US because I believed they were beneficial to the US and that got spun into me being full blown Trump supporter instead of being someone who is capable of judging actions and decisions based on the actual outcomes of those decisions regardless of who made the decision.

    At the end of the day, when Trump does something well, I’m actually willing to give him credit for it just like I have no problem criticizing bad decisions he makes such as basically every decision he’s made in regards to COVID-19. I was the same way with Obama. I think DACA is step in the right direction in regards to immigration, and I believe some variation of the DREAM Act that allows DACA recipients to eventually become citizens should be a goal. I was also highly critical of the ACA (Obamacare) because the reality is that it hurt a lot of businesses and made a lot people’s insurance worse or more expensive to keep the same coverage. The intention was good, but that’s something that quite frankly needed to be a bipartisan bill.

    My line of reasoning behind this is because I studied history at KU so that’s the mindset I take in regards to looking at how something will play out. I look at the last to see how it affects the future.

    I have a cousin who’s pretty extreme alt-right in her beliefs now after being liberal most of her life and she posted a meme on Facebook awhile about the difference between moms back then (Boomers and Gen X generations) and moms today (Millennials) in how they raise kids and didn’t really appreciate or see the irony when I pointed out that mom’s then are the ones who raised mom’s now.



  • @Texas-Hawk-10 I hear you. Trump’s trade deals were among the less offensive things he’s done in office. Also, I don’t have a problem with your criticisms of ACA and talking about how it could be improved. Those things are things we should be able to discuss and debate as a country, and the success or failure of which should determine outcomes of future elections.

    It’s clear why Trump triggers people. Its not attacking ACA or trade deals that make him an awful President, obviously. He’s a very real threat to this country, as are those that enable him. We made a grievous error electing him and we’re paying for it. As far as hearing each others perspectives, Trump is a poster child for divisiveness, and he needs to get gone before we can start to break down the extremism that is getting a stronger foothold in this country.



  • Ok I have some honest questions.

    How is self censorship anyone’s problem but the person doing the censoring? Are conservatives in the study above self censoring because they are afraid they will be punished by the state vs being perceived differently by their peers?

    Wouldn’t a free market punish those with bad ideas leading them to either self censor or change their beliefs?

    If we continue to hear from all these people who have been “cancelled” talking about how bad cancel culture is, have they actually been cancelled?



  • @benshawks08 said in Let's Cancel "Cancel Culture"!:

    Ok I have some honest questions.

    How is self censorship anyone’s problem but the person doing the censoring? Are conservatives in the study above self censoring because they are afraid they will be punished by the state vs being perceived differently by their peers?

    Wouldn’t a free market punish those with bad ideas leading them to either self censor or change their beliefs?

    If the person self-censors as a result of bullying or fear of reprisal, it’s a cultural issue. In the above study, almost half of conservatives feared they’d receive a lower grade if they expressed conservative opinions. And since UNC professors are state actors, there’s a certain element of state action,. 90% were concerned their peers would have a lower opinion of them if they expressed conservative opinions. So there’s immense cultural pressure to not speak out. It takes a certain level of disagreeableness to express a minority opinion when 80% of your peers disagree with you (we know that to be the case since we poll test our intro policy students each semester).

    New survey out today found almost half of liberals would support firing a business executive if she privately donated to Trump’s campaign. I don’t have any problem with a boycott (even though I think they’re dumb and ineffective) but calling for someone’s job for a private action is over the line. In the inverse case, conservatives on Biden’s campaign, less than 1/3 believe someone should be fired for donating to Biden. Ideally those numbers would all be zero, but alas, the culture of illiberalism is real.

    Adding a bit to the culture conversation, as conservatives gain more education, they become more worried their politics could harm them at work. My theory is most public institutions tend to attract a lot more liberals than conservatives. For example, my department at UNC has zero Republicans. Zero. There are some unaffiliated folks who are fairly moderate, but there’s nobody firmly on the right other than yours truly. I don’t feel censored or anything, but it can certainly be socially awkward to make a right of center point in those discussions. I don’t really care that much because I’m highly disagreeable and always march to the beat of my own drum, but for someone else I’m sure it would be unbelievably difficult to speak their mind in that kind of situation.

    A free market, assuming no state protection for speech, would result in preference falsification. People would toe the popular line since there would be real consequences for not doing so. It likely wouldn’t change the underlying beliefs of those individuals.

    All this to say cancel culture isn’t about people being above criticism. I think constructive criticism and conversation are good things! But the increasing support for sanctions like going after someone’s livelihood or deplatforming just for differences of opinion is extremely unhealthy for a vibrant democracy. I look at it a lot like open carry. Sure, you have a right to open carry and call for someone’s job, but in both cases you look pretty stupid and insecure.



  • The question then is do conservative students actually get lower grades based on their beliefs. That would be a major problem. One I’m very cognizant of as a teacher. I work hard in my classroom to make sure every voice can be heard and respected (unless that voice is continually disrespectful of others). As a teacher all I can do though is create an environment of openness. I do all I can to make sure my students don’t know my opinions on most matters because I don’t want them adopting my positions rather than figuring it out for themselves. Just about every educator I’ve ever met works to do the same, minus a few ultra conservatives believe it or not But I think that is more about this cult of Trump than real conservative thought.

    I remember being taught abortion was evil and killing babies in school and being afraid to speak up because it seemed like everyone agreed. And while I now think that was wholly inappropriate in a public education setting, and I self censored, looking back I still feel I had the opportunity to speak up and didn’t. That’s the real crux of free speech to me. Not what is actually said or not. But what opportunity is there. That KSU student was free to say all the racist things he wanted and was rightly not removed from school, but nobody has to like him or take his views on race seriously. Getting a large backlash on Twitter and maybe losing some friends and clubs or whatnot is the consequence for that action.

    People don’t have to like each other and if you need to be liked to feel comfortable in your job, welp, better censor yourself on the ideas you know people won’t like you for. Free speech isn’t, say whatever you want and you are free from criticism. It’s really the opposite. Say whatever you want but be ready for the criticism.

    It maybe I’m like you @FarmerJayhawk and just pretty much think and say what I want. Some of that I do think comes from being in a position of power as a Straight white male (Sorry HEM) all of my life and knowing what I say or do only reflects on myself and not everyone else of my gender, sexuality or race.



  • https://twitter.com/kloeffler/status/1285978579394793472?s=21

    I look at tweets like this from an elected official on her verified twitter account reaching a large enough audience for me to see on my feed and wonder how that person could perceive of themselves as cancelled, censored, or anything else.



  • @FarmerJayhawk Trump has made everyone compromise their morals for and against. He has violated the social contract. Why it is so important to have people of high character only as politicians. And really in all positions of authority, as we’ve seen with the riots.



  • @approxinfinity you proved my point lol, never said anything about him being successful. You could debate on his success for sure but the fact of the matter is his dad gave him 1 million dollars, he turned that into much more. Probably by being a complete crook but still did it.





  • What ideals remain in the Republican party that a true conservative still believes?

    Fiscal responsibility? I haven’t seen any the past two Republican presidents despite both being left a balanced budget.

    First amendment crusaders? See Nike, the NFL, HBO etc. Cancel Culture is on both sides and it is silly to think otherwise. The President himself attacks free press almost daily. The left is more aggressive about it. But my dad a Chiefs fan of 55 years won’t watch Football this year. So don’t tell me the right isn’t petty. I’ve never seen more people simultaneously argue that private companies can tell you to do whatever you want and then throw a hissy fit when private companies tell them what they can and can’t do. “THEY CAN’T MAKE ME WEAR A MASK AT THE GROCERY STORE THATS A FIRST AMENDMENT VIOLATION.” And Also same person: “IT IS OKAY TO REFUSE SERVICE TO GAYS BECAUSE THEY’RE GAY. THAT"S A PRIVATE BUSINESS.”

    Small government? Last I saw, Federal LEOs have just been sent to a dozen cities across the U.S. and protesters were illegally detained in Portland.

    I mean what cornerstone of conservatism is actually left in the Republican party? I am way more conservative than I would get credit for here. I voted Republican up until Trump. But those traits are non-existent in the Republican party anymore.

    So am I surprised people defending beliefs that their own party doesn’t even stand for are self-censoring? Nope. It is hard to have a discussion when your position is indefensible.



  • What is “Cancel Culture?”

    Cancel Culture is, at least in my mind, an act of protest. It is the idea that I will not invest my money in people and businesses that do not match up with my personal ideals. We all do that to some extent. I have a bad customer service experience at a business, I stop going there. If the experience is really bad, maybe I even tell my friends and family about it so they won’t go there, either.

    As @Kcmatt7 said, “Cancel Culture is on both sides and it is silly to think otherwise.”

    Remember when people wanted to boycott Nike after the Kaepernick ad? You know why it didn’t work? Because there were not enough people that opposed the ad strongly enough to even make a blip on Nike’s radar. Same with Keurig and other companies. They made a lot of noise on social media, but when it came right down to it, there weren’t enough people interested in that form of protest to mean anything other than a lot of capitalized posts on social media.

    Boycotts are a non-violent form of protest. I don’t understand why anyone even complains about it, honestly. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, there were many that were saying that the protesters needed to remain nonviolent. Cancel Culture, and the act of boycotting, are absolutely nonviolent.

    So why should we cancel (or even want to cancel) a nonviolent form of protest?

    Unless the real motive is to protect the status quo and ignore the issue that is being protested. Hmmm…



  • @justanotherfan I am sure there is no need to remind you, but most people today seem to have no clue that the early civil rights boycotts, like the Montgomery bus boycott, resulted in criminal charges of illegal conspiracy against the organizers. Whites passed all types of laws trying to break Montgomery but did not succeed.



  • As to “cancel culture,” our right wing friends may need reminding of the decades long effects of anti-communist investigations and coercive government threats against anyone who expressed even mildly socialist beliefs. The most infamous example was the Hollywood Blacklist, but Joe McCarthy canceled the careers of numerous innocent government employees using only innuendo and rumors as his basis. Ford, US Steel, and other corporations hired rampaging armies of thugs from the 1880’s to the 1930’s to break up unions. Watch “Grapes of Wrath” for a reminder of how vicious the institutional response to left-wing ideology was before labor organizing was made legal in the 1930’s. The FBI tried to cancel the influence of MLK by destroying his reputation. And review the anti-union language of right-wingers like our own former governor Nikki Haley to see modern cancel culture in action.

    Cancel culture goes way back. In WW 1, people ate “liberty cabbage” instead of sauerkraut, and cut German out of school language classes. More recently, when France was not sufficiently pro-US, the right wing made a point, silly as it seems, of boycotting or renaming French Fries. Religious fundamentalists (overwhelmingly right-wing) fight to exclude evolution from textbooks, and The American Library Association compiles an annual list of “undesirable” books that are challenged by those same forces in hundreds of locations around the country.

    Any conservative decrying cancel culture would do well to remember that historically, the US has reacted more violently in an effort to stamp out left-wing and liberal ideas than it ever has reacted to conservative movements. We remember the 60’s for the Vietnam protests, but it really wasn’t until after Kent State in 1970 that the country turned to widely support them. Before that, the “my country right or wrong” hardhats cheered anyone breaking up marches with pickaxes.

    Cancel culture a left-wing tool of oppression? Cry me a river. History is moving on, and people wishing to preserve their unchallenged feeling of superiority need to adapt or disappear.



  • @mayjay You’re kidding yourself if you think Cancel Culture only goes back to WWI. The French Revolution, American Revolution, Crusades, Rome trying to snuff out Christianity just to name a few examples. Cancel Culture isn’t something to really worry about because it’s largely ineffective and doesn’t usually change things.

    Unless it affects the bottom line, cancel culture rarely has any meaningful impact on something. How many people have “cancelled” Nike over Colin Kaepernick or China? How people have “cancelled” LeBron over his hypocrisy involving BLM while refusing to condemn China because that would hurt his bottom line. How many people actually quit watching Nascar over the Bubba Wallace noose incident?

    Cancel Culture in the 21st century is largely people complaining about something they disagree with. Nick Cannon only lost his podcast deal with Viacom because it lost sponsors. Cancel Culture doesn’t work of it doesn’t affect the bottom line.



  • @Texas-Hawk-10 said in Let's Cancel Cancel "Cancel Culture"!:

    You’re kidding yourself if you think Cancel Culture only goes back to WWI.

    I didn’t even suggest it started then. I tried to keep it within the memory of someone possibly alive today…although probably that would not include anyone active on this Board!

    The Inquisition is another good example, as are China’s 2 huge disgraces of the past 50+ years–the Cultural Revolution and Tianneman Square.



  • @benshawks08 said in Let's Cancel Cancel "Cancel Culture"!:

    The question then is do conservative students actually get lower grades based on their beliefs. That would be a major problem. One I’m very cognizant of as a teacher. I work hard in my classroom to make sure every voice can be heard and respected (unless that voice is continually disrespectful of others). As a teacher all I can do though is create an environment of openness. I do all I can to make sure my students don’t know my opinions on most matters because I don’t want them adopting my positions rather than figuring it out for themselves. Just about every educator I’ve ever met works to do the same, minus a few ultra conservatives believe it or not But I think that is more about this cult of Trump than real conservative thought.

    I remember being taught abortion was evil and killing babies in school and being afraid to speak up because it seemed like everyone agreed. And while I now think that was wholly inappropriate in a public education setting, and I self censored, looking back I still feel I had the opportunity to speak up and didn’t. That’s the real crux of free speech to me. Not what is actually said or not. But what opportunity is there. That KSU student was free to say all the racist things he wanted and was rightly not removed from school, but nobody has to like him or take his views on race seriously. Getting a large backlash on Twitter and maybe losing some friends and clubs or whatnot is the consequence for that action.

    People don’t have to like each other and if you need to be liked to feel comfortable in your job, welp, better censor yourself on the ideas you know people won’t like you for. Free speech isn’t, say whatever you want and you are free from criticism. It’s really the opposite. Say whatever you want but be ready for the criticism.

    It maybe I’m like you @FarmerJayhawk and just pretty much think and say what I want. Some of that I do think comes from being in a position of power as a Straight white male (Sorry HEM) all of my life and knowing what I say or do only reflects on myself and not everyone else of my gender, sexuality or race.

    I try to do the same, probably to the frustration of many who want their views affirmed rather than challenged. I had a few professors back in the day who openly mocked conservative views and I found it very unprofessional and not conducive to learning. Anyone who considers themselves of that persuasion would feel alienated and less likely to speak up and learn from that professor. I just really don’t like speech chilling environments.

    @justanotherfan I would define it differently. To me, it’s the use of disproportionate sanction in relation to speech someone disagrees with. For example, trying to get someone fired for donating to a political candidate they don’t like.

    @mayjay as someone of VERY German ancestry (my great grandpa was named Adolph after all) I’m fully aware of the anti-German bigotry that went on back then. They even had to change their last name to avoid some of the worst discrimination. But to my point, that’s precisely the issue here. There’s creeping illiberalism on the left and right and I think it’s dangerous. Back then, at least there wasn’t social media and the internet that made it much, much easier to track someone (and possibly their employer) down and demand their metaphorical head on a pike. Bringing up past instances of bad behavior doesn’t excuse bad behavior now. I don’t want to mimic the police that turned firehoses on black protestors just because of their willingness to speak out. I also don’t want a culture where it’s socially acceptable for the paper of record to foster a work environment hostile to anyone who doesn’t toe an ideological line or get a guy fired for making an ok sign or tweeting a rather benign study. It’s not about left vs. right, it’s about liberal vs. illiberal.


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