Or speak to them?

Discussion (23)¬

  1. jean-françois gauthier says:

    yeah, decapitation is the ultimate cancellation, jesus, you should take note. maybe you should have a chat with your evangelicals walking around with pictures of you wielding an assault rifle and a maga hat. they may be railing against cancel culture but they don’t seem very cancelled to me.

  2. cjsm says:

    The idea of cancel culture is strange. When I was young, we boycotted. (don’t know if anyone remembers the grape boycott in the 60s) If enough people agree, maybe a change will be made. Cancel culture seems to be made up by those who have unpopular views.

  3. Martin Benson says:

    I don’t remember the grape boycott. But in the seventies, students boycotted Barclays Bank because of their South African interests. It worked, too.

    But cancel culture is basically a form of boycott, surely? Someone does something – so everyone says (normally via Twitter) “Hey, you can’t do that – we’re going to ensure you don’t work any more.” So enough people agree and a change is indeed made – and the poor bugger who said something slightly careless loses his job.

  4. paradoctor says:

    Boycotting is when like-minded individuals take on a corporation. Cancel culture is when like-minded individuals take on an individual. The former is punching up, the latter is punching down.

  5. jb says:

    In addition, I would say that the goal of boycotting is to effect change (i.e., the corporation changes its practices), while the goal of cancellation is punishment and intimidation (“watch your tongue or you’ll end up like this guy”).

  6. Donn says:

    That’s good – punching down vs. up, I’ll remember that. Also, typically the offense is somewhere at the margin of acceptability, not like advocating mass murder of schoolchildren or something. Maybe that’s why “culture” – an assertion of a cultural norm that isn’t universally accepted.

  7. Laripu says:

    I’m not sure it’s punching down. It’s making more publicly known what was already public.

    It used to be that people with horrible views (e.g. that blacks are inferior) kept those views to themselves or spoke about them only to like-minded people. If they went into work and harassed black co-workers, they could get fired.

    Social media is public. Anyone can read it, so it constitutes harassment, even intimidation to the target. To like-minded people, it’s recruitment

    If you let his employer know what he does in public, it’s morally the same as letting them know that he’s walking around with a racist sign in another part of town in front of the home of a black employee. No good people want that public intimidation.

    It was his choice to go public. His employer’s choice to fire him. It’s not punching down, it’s preventing intimidation.

  8. Shaughn says:

    Cancelling is digital lynching. No more, no less.

  9. MattR says:

    “Digital lunching”? While the comparison might be distasteful it’s essentially a fair one. Though I’ve not thought of ‘cancel culture’ as a digital phenomenon. I thought it was as much about preventing people speaking (literally) in public.

  10. Rrr says:

    Not sure what you mean by “digital lunching”.
    Munching numbers?
    Biting fingernails?
    Finger food?

  11. Laripu says:

    Let’s examine the view stated by Shaughn and MattR.

    Lynching consists of a mob depriving a person of their life, because the mob hates an unalterable feature of that person – their skin color. This is what lynching looks like:

    “Digital lynching” is not a thing. It doesn’t exist. You can say something that’s grammatical but still nonsense: “a geometric figure that’s both round and square” or “I have a pain in your knee”. That’s what “digital lynching” is: inflammatory nonsense.

    When people get together and refuse to do business with a person – what is call cancelling (again inflammatory) – they are not killed, and they aren’t being ostracized for an unalterable feature, but for horrible opinions that they themselves made public.

    (In fact, the opinions for which they’re being ostracized are often the same ones held by the people who participated in real lynchings.)

    These two things are nearly opposite:

    Lynching: An mob unites to kill a person for unalterable characteristics. They’re doing something illegal that destroys a person’s right to life.

    Cancellation: A group unites to refuse to do business and/or socialize with a person who makes their horrible opinions public. They are exercising their own right not to associate with people that have horrible opinions.

    Let’s have an example:

    Mr X works for a company that sells some harmless product. He goes on social media and posts pictures of himself in front of a swastika flag. Posts his opinions that blacks are inferior and Jews are a race that enslave the world. Posts that blacks are “mud people” and that Hitler didn’t go far enough, that he should have “finished the job”.

    Some of his customers discover his horrible opinions and are disgusted. Not only will they not do business with him, they make his publicly posted opinions even more public, so that others will not do business with him. The company for which he works doesn’t want to lose business by being associated with such horrible opinions, so they fire him.

    He’s not dead, like a victim of lynching. He can go to work for a different company, perhaps one that manufactures Nazi flags. He can associate with like-minded people. His civil rights have not been violated, and in fact the people that won’t associate with him only asserted their own civil rights.

    “Digital lynching” – paugh, I’m even disgusted by the phrase. The use of it seeks to cast victimizers as victims.

  12. Shaughn says:

    Eaux d’ire, Laripu.
    Did I touch a raw nerve? So sorry. Calm down, have a beer.

    Just as ‘inflammatory nonsense’ and ‘ostracized’, ‘digital lynching’ is a figure of speech: “a word or phrase that possesses a separate meaning from its literal definition”. ( . If for example you use ‘ostracized’ I don’t expect literally shards of broken pots and tiles, nor do I expect real flames and high temperature when you call something ‘inflammatory’.

    Where lynching originally required a rope and a tree, cancelling in its usual form required a keyboard with access to social media. Hence: digital.
    Both lynching and cancelling involve a mob being judge, jury and executioner and someone they disapprove of (JK Rowling, to name one). Both take what they consider justice, in their own hand. Both mean to harm their victim, to harvest their grapes of wrath. Mind you: no actual harvesting or fruit involved, just another figure of speech. For me, those similarities justify the figure of speech. And if you disagree, so be it. I will lynch nor cancel you. I rather heap burning coals on your head (biblical, figure of speech: no actual heaping, burn, coals involved!), buying you another beer.

  13. Shaughn says:

    Afterthought, Laripu, your description of cancellation is what I’d call a boycot.

  14. Donn says:

    Note that “horrible opinion” depends on the hearer. Islamic apostate, for example, not that horrible to me. Doesn’t believe in souls would have been sort of scandalous a few generations ago.

    A society that really respects freedom of thought, has to also respect freedom of expression, right? If someone argues that blacks are inferior, and makes exquisitely good pastries, we have a range of options.

    – Official sanction – fines, prison camp, decapitation or whatever

    – Mob sanction – organized response within legal limits (cancel culture)

    – Individual sanction – if you happen to have been exposed to the offending opinion

    – Tolerance

    Which of these will have the best outcome – where everyone’s views are really best aligned with reality and a better world for everyone?

  15. Rrr says:

    Sorry, this discussion is already far beyond me. It seems too many people are dancing on the same pinhead.
    And Shaughn, I mean that in a figurative manner of speech. No need to feel pinpointed; unless you want to.
    Fart like a butterfly, sing like a bee, or whatever the pugilist minted.

  16. jb says:

    Laripu — Your Nazi example completely mischaracterizes the phenomenon of cancelling. Nobody is getting upset over what happens to the very very tiny number of outspoken Nazis. What’s upsetting is when ordinary people have their lives turned upside down over a silly joke, or an innocent hand gesture, or any open dissent from Woke orthodoxy. J K Rowling was never going to be cancelled — she’s too rich and popular — but the woke mob went after her anyway as an example for those who are not so secure. “If we can do this to her, just imagine what we could do to you!” Cancel culture is a very serious, widespread problem — worse than the McCarthy red scare IMO — and it should not be trivialized.

  17. M27Holts says:

    Aye. In my peer group. Any mention of national socialism loses the argument via the whataboutism clause…

  18. Laripu says:

    M27Holts, in my country, they’re advisors to candidates. Here it’s beginning mainstream

  19. M27Holts says:

    Aye. The USA is frightening maelstrom of fundamentalist opinion…but I am being urged by a humanist group in the UK to write MP about a deletion (from the human rights act) sanctioned by the UK govt that appears to be bending the knee to religious anti-abortionists, so maybe the UK will return to being more of a theocracy than in the past….

  20. mcalex says:

    From the desk of Paul: Ha! You young whippersnappers and your ‘cancel culture’ and ‘boycotting’. Give someone a proper shunning, I always say. Just ask those perverted sinners in Corinth.

  21. postdoggerel says:

    M27, here in the United States the first clause in the Bill of Rights states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” Well, that doesn’t seem to be clear enough for some people. Cockwombles.

  22. Alverant says:

    Would it be fair to say that the McCarthy hearings of the 50s were also a form of “cancel culture”?

    Also, I’m not sure I buy the idea that it’s always “punching down” since sometimes the people who are “targeted” are more powerful individually than groups of others.

    jb “Nobody is getting upset over what happens to the very very tiny number of outspoken Nazis.” Wrong. Senator Greene does and so are a bunch of other GOP members. In my experience, the only people who complain about “Woke ideology” are the ones who want to dehumanize minority groups and not get called out on it.

  23. Donn says:

    The Army-McCarthy hearings were an investigation of charges made by the US Army in connection with his investigation of infiltration there. They put him in an unflattering light and contributed to his decline in popularity. You’re probably thinking of the subsequent Senate censure. I don’t think most of us would call that cancel culture.

    For one thing, politicians essentially sell a political act, and it will be subject to criticisms and opposition, and may eventually become unpopular. Just like comedians or any other performer. No one calls that “cancel culture”. But if a comedian were to become unpopular because he hung out with Boris Johnson, for example, that would be.

    The J K Rowling story is a better example, where to an objective observer the crime is very conceivably an honest, well intentioned opinion that may be shared by a significant fraction of the populace. It’s a question of how much freedom our society gives people.

    Not sure where you’re going with Greene etc., but it seems to me you may have misconstrued something in the conversation between laripu and jb.


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