Some of the public figures who signed an open letter decrying the rise of cancel culture retracted their support, presumably fearing they too might become a victim of it.
As we highlighted yesterday, 150 intellectuals, authors and activists including Noam Chomsky, Salman Rushdie and JK Rowling signed the letter, which was published by Harpers Magazine.
The letter criticized how “the free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted” as a result of “an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.”
“Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes,” states the letter.
Following its publication and pushback from leftists, some of the signatories caved and publicly withdrew their support.
“I did not know who else had signed that letter,” tweeted author Jennifer Finney Boylan Dog. “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.”
People who signed a letter concerned about cancel culture being concerned they'll be cancelled for being concerned about cancel culture due to guilt-by-association makes the point way better than the letter itself ever could. https://t.co/RMnG9CQFwJ
— DatNoFact (@datnofact) July 8, 2020
“The consequences are mine to bear. I am so sorry,” she added.
Historian Kerri Greenidge also tweeted, “I do not endorse this @Harpers letter. I am in contact with Harpers about a retraction.”
— tsar becket adams (@BecketAdams) July 7, 2020
Vox journalist Matt Yglesias was also reported to his own employers by a transgender colleague because she claimed his support for free speech and his association with JK Rowling was an ‘anti-trans dog whistle’.
Matt Yglesias has been reported to his employer by a colleague for signing an open letter which argues that a climate of conformity, fear, and mutual surveillance has descended upon public intellectual life. pic.twitter.com/1ybwS68T7u
— Jesse Singal (@jessesingal) July 7, 2020
Is it any wonder that free speech is in such dire straits when this is the reaction to a letter that simply expresses support for it?
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