A Place to Argue about Political Correctness & Cancel Culture

xec

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The mob. As it has always been. It's just that the mob is now somewhat disconnected from the elites.
I'm not so sure about that. I'm not very knowledgeable of how this played out in other times and societies, but my impression is that today's mobs are motivated by the Pieties of the Current Year, and it's also my impression that those Pieties are mostly established by various elites in various fields (and these elites are not necessarily the same elites from which you say the mob has become disconnected)
 

Blackbird

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Who gets to define what constitutes a "controversial" opinion?

Society has come a long way from "I may disagree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it" to "You better not say anything I disagree with or I'll mount a social media campaign to destroy your life as much as possible".
I’m sorry if I don’t rally behind your right to say “Germany did a good thing by gassing the Jews”. We’re not exactly discussing the merits of Brutalism here.
 

George_Apley

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I'm not so sure about that. I'm not very knowledgeable of how this played out in other times and societies, but my impression is that today's mobs are motivated by the Pieties of the Current Year, and it's also my impression that those Pieties are mostly established by various elites in various fields (and these elites are not necessarily the same elites from which you say the mob has become disconnected)
Yeah I wasn't super clear. By "elites" I meant the cultural elites who generally dominated social morés in "polite society" from "the days of yore" through the late-20th Century. The WASP aesthetic mostly, which was enforced via elite institutions in government and industry. Those elites aren't in charge of society anymore, in a shift that ramped up post-1960 but really finished in the 1990s.

So I agree with you.

The "new elites" aren't WASPS. They're mostly left-wing, from historically marginalized groups or allied to those groups. Seems to me that the "new elites" in politics, academia, and entertainment set the acceptability agenda now and both the competition between them and the backlash against them now drives the fickle and toxic arguments around what is acceptable speech and behavior.

Note that most folks who only dip their toes in the water of so-called "cancel culture" sensibilities are holding the line that, "we're just asking people to stop being assholes and when they won't stop, we call them out on it publicly." Obviously there's oodles of room for (and plenty of examples of) overreach and disproportionate responses, and that's something that (small-l) liberals should be wary of lending too much power to.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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"Cancel" culture is just this decade's rebranding of the same punch-down vs. punch-up struggle and 'self-branding' obfuscations therein as to who's discreetly wielding the upper hand (i.e. historically moreso the punching-down crowd) that's been a constant since the dawn of civilization.

Once upon a time Christians used to "cancel" witches by burning them at the stake. While once uponner a time Romans used to "cancel" Christians by burning them at the stake. Your slick Twitter burn being the 501st individual to dunk on some mob-consensus stupid person just continues in that grand old societal tradition. Let's just not get too credulous about the "burn" being literal this time, 'kay?
 

xec

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I’m sorry if I don’t rally behind your right to say “Germany did a good thing by gassing the Jews”. We’re not exactly discussing the merits of Brutalism here.
There's a big difference between not rallying behind something I said and trying to get me fired, deplatformed, blacklisted or whatever because you disagree with what I said.

There's also a very big difference between defending someone's right to state their position on some controversial social topic on the one hand, and defending someone's right to advocate positions that are totally outside the norms of civilized behavior on the other. You're implying that if I defend someone's right to explain why they oppose trans women playing in women's sports it means that I'll also defend someone who's advocating genocide or cannibalism or child sacrifice or some other abhorrent extreme. I believe your statement is an example of what logicians call the fallacy of the slippery slope, or a false dichotomy, or some such thing. I'm not motivated to Google the exact term right now, but I encourage you to do so when you have some free time.

Note that most folks who only dip their toes in the water of so-called "cancel culture" sensibilities are holding the line that, "we're just asking people to stop being assholes and when they won't stop, we call them out on it publicly." Obviously there's oodles of room for (and plenty of examples of) overreach and disproportionate responses, and that's something that (small-l) liberals should be wary of lending too much power to.
To some extent I agree that there's nothing wrong with asking people to stop being assholes and call them out if they don't, but from what I've seen the mob doesn't bother to call the asshole out in public but immediately tries to ruin his life without giving him a chance to change his ways. It also doesn't matter whether the asshole's offenses are ongoing or something he did just once twenty or thirty years ago that wasn't considered offensive at the time. Either way the verdict of the mob is always "Off with his head", with no regard for context or extenuating circumstances or changes in the offender's beliefs and values from what they believed decades ago.
 

KentXie

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I think "cancel culture" is borne out of people saying and doing something bad in the past and either 1) does not show remorse for it and/or 2) was never held accountable for it. Similar to how in hockey, when referees don't enforce the rules and issue penalties, hockey teams employ "enforcer" type players to mete out the punishment on the other team.

"Cancel culture" in its own right, is also protected free speech, in that people are allowed to punish with their wallet, and I believe is necessary in order to protect free speech. If we cancelled "cancel culture" then you're going to see movement to actually criminalize controversial, bigoted, racists, hate and etc., speeches.
 
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bolehboleh

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There's a big difference between not rallying behind something I said and trying to get me fired, deplatformed, blacklisted or whatever because you disagree with what I said.

There's also a very big difference between defending someone's right to state their position on some controversial social topic on the one hand, and defending someone's right to advocate positions that are totally outside the norms of civilized behavior on the other. You're implying that if I defend someone's right to explain why they oppose trans women playing in women's sports it means that I'll also defend someone who's advocating genocide or cannibalism or child sacrifice or some other abhorrent extreme. I believe your statement is an example of what logicians call the fallacy of the slippery slope, or a false dichotomy, or some such thing. I'm not motivated to Google the exact term right now, but I encourage you to do so when you have some free time.



To some extent I agree that there's nothing wrong with asking people to stop being assholes and call them out if they don't, but from what I've seen the mob doesn't bother to call the asshole out in public but immediately tries to ruin his life without giving him a chance to change his ways. It also doesn't matter whether the asshole's offenses are ongoing or something he did just once twenty or thirty years ago that wasn't considered offensive at the time. Either way the verdict of the mob is always "Off with his head", with no regard for context or extenuating circumstances or changes in the offender's beliefs and values from what they believed decades ago.
I agree with what you're saying in both paragraphs. In my original post, I used an example of a CEO wearing a Nazi T-shirt because it would signify their support or involvement in that group. I think that in a civilized society, we should speak out against Nazis and other actual hate groups.

What I do have a problem with, however, is people being labeled a "nazi" for having views that don't conform to a certain extreme left wing ideology. Your point about not allowing transgender athletes participate in women's athletics is fair, and I realize that there are many different points of view on this issue. But for some, to even question such a thing is the equivalent of throwing Jews into ovens, when clearly it isn't.

That doesn't, however, let the right off the hook. Certainly calling out left-wing "snowflakes" for the way that their ideology has infiltrated our daily lives, making it difficult to have good conversations because we're always walking on broken glass, is something that needs to be done. We must also remember that the right has been controlling the narrative of their own "patriotic correctness" for as long as I can remember. Remember when Colin K kneeled during the national anthem to protest police brutality and the right turned into an argument against our troops (even though he consulted a soldier about an appropriate to show his displeasure). Remember how the right called out anyone who opposed Bush's illegal war and claimed they were Unamerican? Remember how we spend $700 billion per year on the military and for anyone to question it, they labeled "anti-military."

All sides do it, and quite frankly, I'm fucking tired of it.
 
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TallIsGood

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I’m sorry if I don’t rally behind your right to say “Germany did a good thing by gassing the Jews”. We’re not exactly discussing the merits of Brutalism here.
The point of free speech is to have ideas be debated in public so people can see that it is a terrible idea.
 

F-Line to Dudley

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The point of free speech is to have ideas be debated in public so people can see that it is a terrible idea.
And as this current era of dysfunction proves:

The point of free speech is that the pushback against such terrible ideas is able to have an intrinsically equal counterbalancing seat of the table, instead of the loudest and most-connected megaphone in the land simply being able to sow unchecked chaos by getting a free AND hyper-amplified lane via unequal access to power to fly their freak flag on terrible idea-mongering as bad as they wanna until somebody gets convinced to take up arms over that very bad idea being repeated ever so loudly/obnoxiously/unequally/ad nauseam.


After all, didn't we have our great national reckoning and/or guilty conscience on that whole hullabaloo like...Wednesday? :unsure:
 

KentXie

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The point of free speech is to have ideas be debated in public so people can see that it is a terrible idea.
Honestly, debating is a waste of time. I watched the whole debate over whether Pennsylvania's electors should be thrown out and nearly every point brought up by the objectors have been disproven and not based on fact. Until everyone in the world has perfect information and is on the same moral spectrum, you can twist every terrible idea into a good idea and people will believe it. It's how Nazi Germany happened in the first place.

And this is why cancel culture needs to exist, to hold those exercising their free speech to amplify falsehood accountable without criminalizing free speech.
 
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xec

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And this is why cancel culture needs to exist, to hold those exercising their free speech to amplify falsehood accountable without criminalizing free speech.
LOL. Reminds me of that famous line from the Vietnam War: We had to destroy the village in order to save it.
 

JumboBuc

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Honestly, debating is a waste of time. I watched the whole debate over whether Pennsylvania's electors should be thrown out and nearly every point brought up by the objectors have been disproven and not based on fact. Until everyone in the world has perfect information and is on the same moral spectrum, you can twist every terrible idea into a good idea and people will believe it. It's how Nazi Germany happened in the first place.
Sure, some things in life are binary right versus wrong or true versus false with little room for debate. Anybody who decries "cancel culture" as applied to these questions is being disingenuous at best. But plenty of other questions are more subtle and nuanced with room for plenty of shades of grey. And on these topics, I think there is real value in people being able to freely air thoughts and opinions on all sides without fear of "being cancelled."

If you say Hitler is good, you deserve to be "cancelled" and you don't have grounds to complain about it. But if you in good faith air heterodox opinions on some more complicated topics (e.g., exploring the relationship between violent and nonviolent protest tactics and ensuing public opinion and electoral outcomes) you do not deserve to be fired from your job.

The question here (as in everywhere in life) is where to draw the line. Some "cancellations" are appropriate, but others are not. And what makes the whole concept of "cancel culture" so hard to conclusively address is that reasonable people can draw the line between "appropriate cancellations" and "overkill cancellations" in different places.
 

KentXie

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LOL. Reminds me of that famous line from the Vietnam War: We had to destroy the village in order to save it.
It's how to world usually works right? Many evangelical voters would say that Trump's behavior is antithetical to their beliefs but he is pushing their agenda through at an absurd pace so they are willing to sacrifice the stability of the country to save, in their POV, their country.

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KentXie

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Sure, some things in life are binary right versus wrong or true versus false with little room for debate. Anybody who decries "cancel culture" as applied to these questions is being disingenuous at best. But plenty of other questions are more subtle and nuanced with room for plenty of shades of grey. And on these topics, I think there is real value in people being able to freely air thoughts and opinions on all sides without fear of "being cancelled."

If you say Hitler is good, you deserve to be "cancelled" and you don't have grounds to complain about it. But if you in good faith air heterodox opinions on some more complicated topics (e.g., exploring the relationship between violent and nonviolent protest tactics and ensuing public opinion and electoral outcomes) you do not deserve to be fired from your job.

The question here (as in everywhere in life) is where to draw the line. Some "cancellations" are appropriate, but others are not. And what makes the whole concept of "cancel culture" so hard to conclusively address is that reasonable people can draw the line between "appropriate cancellations" and "overkill cancellations" in different places.
I mean that's what I'm saying right? You draw a line, then that means you're creating a law and thus you're criminalizing free speech.
 

George_Apley

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It's worth breaking down the fault lines here. There should be an understanding that there always has been and always will be what is now called "cancel culture," the big debate now is really over *who* is empowered to regulate it in social spaces and what sorts of sentiments are no longer acceptable in those spaces. A lot of the consternation about "cancel culture" from all political directions is in keeping with some amount of hypocritical bad faith.

At the same time there are real changes in the breadth of this sort of cultural regulation through social media and the digital mobs that care little for context, personal growth, or collateral damage, which combines with the squeamishness of 21st Century corporations for weathering controversy to blacklist and blackball folks with relative ease.

Perhaps those two points sound contradictory, but there's enough nuance in there to make room for thinking about it both ways.
 

Blackbird

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It's worth breaking down the fault lines here. There should be an understanding that there always has been and always will be what is now called "cancel culture," the big debate now is really over *who* is empowered to regulate it in social spaces and what sorts of sentiments are no longer acceptable in those spaces.
What a lot of people don't grasp, though, is how private platforms like Twitter and Facebook aren't "social spaces" the same way a public park is. Those corporations are allowed to decide whatever they want about how to regulate speech on their platforms no matter how many snowflakes whine about their first amendment rights.

I also disagree with "squeamishness of 21st Century corporations for weathering controversy to blacklist and blackball folks with relative ease." I don't think that it's mostly corporations reacting to outrage. It's important that Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter were born in the Bay Area; I think they and their employees are pretty rooted in that culture, which informs their tendency to nip hate speech and false information in the bud rather than let them fester in the name of freedom. Amazon and Microsoft have similar tendencies since Seattle is SF-lite.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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It's important that Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter were born in the Bay Area; I think they and their employees are pretty rooted in that culture, which informs their tendency to nip hate speech and false information in the bud rather than let them fester in the name of freedom.
When has Facebook ever had a tendency to do that? They aren't reflective of any culture of place-or-time. They're a dictatorship of Zuck both in top-down decisioning and the voting shares that back it up. Did he not say in the face of the last/stiffest advertiser boycott: "They'll be back"?


And frankly when has Twitter, for that matter, ever acted ahead of the curve to shut down hate speech when it's felt arsed to act at all. They're notorious for having the second-slowest hook in the game behind FB...usually requiring a conflagration to get a hashtag-of-the-hashtag blowing up over management's non-response to it in order for them to feel the requisite pressure to take action. Jack Dorsey's a glibertarian through and through and it shows in spades through some of the horrible individuals he follows on his personal feed. That's not exactly exhibiting a "Bay Area" cultural bulwark, either, in corporate M.O....though at least Dorsey has a well-demonstrated healthy fear of activist investors self-curbing his speech allowances unlike the Zucktator.

The others--Google, Apple, MS--are wholly more "conventional" creations in where/how they feel social pressure. But Twitter definitely still reflects its founder's ideological sympathies with its habitual lax enforcement and goes more fringe as a result. Whereas Facebook simply stands on a planet of its own in terms of being the living embodiment of the moral scruples of its psychopath-in-charge.
 

Blackbird

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When has Facebook ever had a tendency to do that? They aren't reflective of any culture of place-or-time. They're a dictatorship of Zuck both in top-down decisioning and the voting shares that back it up. Did he not say in the face of the last/stiffest advertiser boycott: "They'll be back"?
We might just need to agree to disagree about the bolded. Everyone I know who works for Facebook/Instagram seems to be pretty aggressively, bleeding-heart liberal. It might seem like Zuckerberg is a one man show, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's a lot of behind-the-scenes pressure for Facebook to be a City upon a Hill of sorts.

And frankly when has Twitter, for that matter, ever acted ahead of the curve to shut down hate speech when it's felt arsed to act at all. They're notorious for having the second-slowest hook in the game behind FB..
I admittedly don't know much about Twitter's corporate culture, but they did take the lead by banning Trump after the DC riots.

The others--Google, Apple, MS--are wholly more "conventional" creations in where/how they feel social pressure.
I mean, Apple and Google teamed up to deliver a crushing "police or fold" ultimatum to Parlor..

Edit: Besides being San Francisco companies, I also think it’s pretty intuitive for social media companies to support things like globalism, diversity, inclusivity, etc. The people who rail against Twitter and Facebook for censorship are also the ones who desperately want the US to be a Christian, Euro-centric monoculture.
 
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F-Line to Dudley

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We might just need to agree to disagree about the bolded. Everyone I know who works for Facebook/Instagram seems to be pretty aggressively, bleeding-heart liberal. It might seem like Zuckerberg is a one man show, but I wouldn't be surprised if there's a lot of behind-the-scenes pressure for Facebook to be a City upon a Hill of sorts.
Everybody you know at Facebook has collectively less than 50% voting share. These issues have gotten barked up to the highest levels time and again, and when push comes to shove it's Zuck's singular worldview that "higher engagement is always a force of good" that shapes the stakes...particularly when it's the worst actors creating the "highest" engagement. Ever read the articles about the bottom-barrel morale on the moderation team in the face of this? Tons of internal pressure, all for naught, and quite a lot of deputies turnover at the top because no amount of common-sense pressuring seems to stick when it's at odds with "engagement" dogma. They're already re-reviewing Trump's ban on those grounds despite the still-ongoing radioactive fallout. NOBODY else is taking that up for review while this is still flaming hot...nobody.

Zuck believes fervently in the city on a hill concept, alright...but his city doesn't look like anything the real world has seen or wants. This is why they are being treated as such an outsized antitrust threat by world governments. He literally has final say over every decision, and there's all kinds of pathological bad juju with an empathy-eschewing worldview like that informing the decisions.

I admittedly don't know much about Twitter's corporate culture, but they did take the lead by banning Trump after the DC riots.
As the primary platform where most of that fire was stoked in advance...the ultimate too-little-too-late move. Jeezus...the Trump Retweet Bot account got sanctioned harder, more often, and earlier for the literally same/simulcast speech in accordance with community standards before the man himself did. They sucked at that teat until the very second it was no longer good for business. They didn't "lead" with anything.

Twitter acted its 'glibertarian' part from beginning to end: "What's good for profits is good, so STFU." But they do have a voting board not under any founder's thumb, so management does feel 'conventional' pressure from the outside in ways that FB is explicitly structured to avoid. It's just shareholder-responsive on that pressure rather than user-responsive...so the toxic cleanup is almost always farcially too little too late. But at least it sticks, unlike FB which is already fiddling with the lock on Pandora's Box. Dorsey's survived 1-2 attempted Board insurrections in the last 4 years; whatever his "principles" about courting dangerous voices, he at least is risk-averse enough to want nothing to do with incurring threats to his own leadership. But "lead from last-place" is definitely more Twitter's style at doing the barest minimum to defuse those internal threats.


I mean, Apple and Google teamed up to deliver a crushing "police or fold" ultimatum to Parlor..
"Conventional"...and also very different beasts in how they run. With Google/Apple/MS also providing (along with Amazon) the bulk of the hardware, middleware, and/or cloud infrastructure the Internet runs on and being loaded with government contracts worldwide, they have to be more reactive to those pressures. If major contracts for city, state, or public agencies (not to mention huge number of nonprofits) go under peril because customers don't like them hosting threats to the social order...their problems multiply in a damn hurry. That wholly explains their relative conservatism and reactive orthodoxy...because these are the companies primarily dealing in the supply chain for the medium over the medium itself. But in a mixed-enough environment that their handling of speech media directly subjects their mega-lucrative supply chaining to variable risk.

Culturally different...but also different at a very fundamental business level.
 

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