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How do we think about cancel culture? Show more Show less
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In June 2020, cancel culture claimed its latest victim: the popular children's television show Paw Patrol. People 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, what are the pros and cons of cancel culture?

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 strengthens the surveillance state

Cancel culture is a form of ideological policing. Social media has reduced privacy. Simultaneously, trust in the state is being fast eroded. Truth is increasingly elusive in our news, our media and our politics. This crisis of authenticity, and what to believe, means there is no longer a set of agreed upon facts about how to engage with each other, or draw conclusions from what we see. The combination of these two factors has turned us all into informants. In this case, cancel culture is a survival strategy. One built on individual performance of the surveillance state. Proponents include author Kat Rosenfield and key figures in the left wing press including New Republic reporter Osita Nwanevu.
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The Argument

Cancel Culture is harmful to society as it instills fear in those who oppose the masses and has resulted in the forming of a surveillance state.[1]Cancel Culture is the name given to a recent trend in society to shame, verbally attack, and exclude those who either disagree with a certain commonly held belief, or take part in an ethically questionable act. [2] In an era where social media is many people’s main source of news, and information can be spread to millions in just seconds, many believe that Cancel Culture is growing into a disturbing movement. For fear of becoming a target, many people, regardless of how ignorant they are on the subject, feel they must weigh [3]. This has turned society into a surveillance state, people will dig through years upon years of tweets, posts, and pictures to find something problematic to display to the world. Cancel Culture has removed all privacy, and denied any forgiveness, it is the relinquishment of power from the hands of individuals, to that of the uninformed mob.

Counter arguments

Many believe that Cancel Culture is not the sign of the declining values of freedom of speech but simply society at large grouping together to exercise their rights, much like a boycott. Anne Charity Hudley, a professor at the University of California Santa Barbara stated that Cancelling was " a way to acknowledge that you don’t have to have the power to change structural inequality...But as an individual, you can still have power beyond measure [online]”. [1] Hudley and many others believe that instead of a thoughtless mob, bent on destroying free speech, Cancel Culture is simply a collective group of progressives exercising their rights over a digital platform.

Proponents

Premises

Rejecting the premises

References

  1. https://www.procon.org/headlines/is-cancel-culture-or-callout-culture-good-for-society/
  2. https://www.vox.com/culture/2019/12/30/20879720/what-is-cancel-culture-explained-history-debate
  3. https://www.newyorker.com/books/under-review/in-ya-where-is-the-line-between-criticism-and-cancel-culture

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This page was last edited on Tuesday, 15 Sep 2020 at 00:11 UTC

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