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How do we think about cancel culture? Show more Show less

In June 2020, cancel culture claimed its latest victim: the popular children's television show Paw Patrol. It was claimed that its protagonists - animated dogs who operate as police in a fictional universe - were being derided. These pieces said critics saw its positive portrayal of law enforcement strengthened a culture of deference to the police. Headlines around the world stated cancel culture had gone mad. But none of this was true. What began as a joke about cancel culture had grown into a conspiracy tearing across the internet. This crisis underpinned the bigger picture: anyone can be cancelled, and it has gone so far it can reach the international news without questioning. In recent years, the practice of withdrawing support for public figures who hold controversial views has exploded. And not just amongst the cartoons. Michael Jackson, JK Rowling, Louis CK, Woody Allen: the list of its celebrity victims is growing. The boom has divided opinion. Some believe it is a form of online activism that helps the marginalised hold the powerful to account. Their opponents see it as a devastating attack on civil liberties. So, who are these groups, what do they stand for, and why?

Cancel culture must be cancelled Show more Show less

This approach argues that cancel culture exposes a crisis of individual liberty. It considers freedom of expression to be an inalienable right. Disagreement is being weaponised to silence those who hold unpopular views.
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Cancel culture exists to promote a ruthless mob mentality

Cancel culture promotes a ruthless mob mentality that celebrates intimidation. It exists solely to victimise not only public figures, but anyone who happens to draw the ire of the mob.
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Context

The Argument

Proponents of cancel culture refer to it as a form of activism. But this method of activism is wholly misguided. Activism aims to enact positive change felt throughout society. But that is not what cancel culture accomplishes. What it does accomplish is something much more sinister. Cancel culture promotes a ruthless mob mentality that celebrates intimidation. It exists solely to victimize, not to correct. When a larger population decides for themselves that a certain individual is “evil,” they exact their own brand of vigilante justice on them by isolating or insulting them. Frequently, attacks are indiscriminate, without careful deliberation or consideration of the target. Social media users jump onto bandwagons to tear down their victims without wanting to engage with the issues they are fighting for. Cancel culture’s activist spin is just a front. For many, the appeal of cancel culture is in its thrill as a blood sport rather than an opportunity for positive change. For them, the point is not justice, but to satisfy their own wrath. The result is a sort of lawless judgment across the internet, and across the world at large.

Counter arguments

This argument tries to paint the targets of cancel culture as helpless victims. In reality, cancel culture targets powerful, influential people who spread harmful ideas. Such people need to be held accountable for their words and actions. But no one else will make them take responsibility; except the common people who unite against them.

Framing

Premises

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

Further Reading

References

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    This page was last edited on Thursday, 16 Jul 2020 at 20:24 UTC