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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 is rooted in the ethics of white supremacy

Despite its supposed social justice agenda, cancel culture actually has its roots in white supremacy. Its practice of shutting down dissent perfectly matches oppressive tendencies of the past.
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Context

The Argument

The term "cancel culture" does not quite communicate how drastic the actual practice is. At its heart, it is the decision to overrule an idea or person by wiping them from the present, and "cancelling" their existence. They are not only boycotted, but ignored, shunned, and in many cases verbally abused. But this practice should be eerily familiar to those familiar with Western history. The ethical foundations of cancel culture come from white supremacy. Historians point to American slavery, and European colonialism as older forms of cancel culture, in which certain groups were stripped of any meaningful identity to subordinate and control them. Cancel culture uses similar methods. They not only reject a person's ideas or views, but then go on to negate their whole identity. The arena may now have shifted from farmlands to the internet, but this authoritarian style of power-grabbing remains unchanged. Cancel culture is an old power wielded in a new way. But it doesn't change how harmful the practice can be.

Counter arguments

The argument that cancel culture is a white supremacy tool is laughable when one considers that it's precisely the white supremacists, and their associated beliefs, that cancel culture targets in the first place. Cancel culture empowers minorities and all those who have been marginalized, and takes down those who abuse their power and platform to oppress those people. It is literally anti-oppression; it is about as far from white or supremacist as one can get.

Framing

Premises

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

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    This page was last edited on Thursday, 16 Jul 2020 at 20:21 UTC