Cancel culture

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warumich
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by warumich » Sat Sep 12, 2020 5:22 pm

Really good thanks
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by Bird on a Fire » Sat Sep 12, 2020 8:36 pm

Yes, that's well written, well thought-through (I think - but I did agree with it so maybe there's some confirmation bias! ;) ) and I enjoyed reading some of the other linked pieces too.

Thanks for taking the time for that, EPD.
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by bjn » Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:33 pm

Nice once EPD.

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Re: Cancel culture

Post by secret squirrel » Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:55 am

Good take. Complaining about 'cancel culture' is the new grift for right leaning commentators. Not that twitter mob outrage and employers' readiness to fire employees who become mildly inconvenient don't badly and unfairly affect ordinary people, but that this is leveraged primarily in the service of people who are actually powerful and secure. E.g. Bari Weiss, as mentioned upthread. She invokes the specter of cancellation in the case of her leaving the NYT, but the actual circumstances she describes are that she chose to leave her extremely sought-after position, which she obtained in large part due to the opinions she claims she's not allowed to have, because other people at her work, who know her in person, didn't like the things she was writing. So, if we are to take her complaints at face value, we must conclude that Weiss thinks that not only should she have cushy job writing hot takes for cash, but also that people in her professional circle shouldn't even be allowed to voice negative opinions of those hot takes.

Anyway, here's a related article.

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Re: Cancel culture

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Sun Sep 13, 2020 5:26 am

Thanks everyone for reading it :)
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by individualmember » Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:18 am

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 12:40 pm
I wrote a blog on cancel culture, on how it's not new and it's an expression of, not a threat to, free speech. Whether you think it's a bad thing or not reflects more on your thoughts on the limits of free speech, and who they should apply to, than anything else.

https://thingssamthinks.wordpress.com/2 ... in-danger/

Warning: it's long. Soz.
Nice. Thanks.

One thing it made me think of is Jon Ronson’s book So You've Been Publicly Shamed, which was published in 2015. This stuff isn’t new at all.

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Re: Cancel culture

Post by Millennie Al » Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:05 am

secret squirrel wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:55 am
Anyway, here's a related article.
That article says that there's no such thing as prevention of free speech. Not directly, of course, but it makes the argument that if people are complaining about lack of freedom of speech, they must have it. So if people complain, there's freedom of speech, and (presumably) if they don't, it's because there is nothing to complain about, so overall there must always be freedom of speech.

In fact, of course, that is a completely absurd proposition. The reality is that when free speech is being suppressed, it's quite possible that some sufficiently powerful and privileged people can afford to speak out when other cannot. This leads to those who oppose freedom of speech to point to their power and privilege in an ad-hominem manner as well as making the bogus claim that speaking out proves that there is still sufficient freedom of speech.
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by Millennie Al » Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:14 am

El Pollo Diablo wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 12:40 pm
I wrote a blog on cancel culture, on how it's not new and it's an expression of, not a threat to, free speech. Whether you think it's a bad thing or not reflects more on your thoughts on the limits of free speech, and who they should apply to, than anything else.

https://thingssamthinks.wordpress.com/2 ... in-danger/

Warning: it's long. Soz.
That's ok. I'll just make a point per headline.
Cancel culture isn’t new
Neither is racism. So what?
Cancel culture is poorly defined
Then if you're going to write an article about it, you'd better define it and stick to your definition.
When it does happen, it isn’t always bad
Like heart attacks. Occasionally a serial killer dies of a heart attack and thereby avoids future victims.
“Cancelling” happens everywhere
So does diease and death.
Cancel culture is itself a mass expression of free speech
Not unless you have a very strange definition of free speech. Someone losing their job over something they say is not their employer or anyone else exercising free speech.
Cancel culture is a natural result of democracy and capitalism
That also justifies mob rule and any kind of sufficiently popular bigotry.

That ariticle could have been written 100 years ago to support forms of discrimination which we now recognise as wrong.
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by secret squirrel » Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:22 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:05 am
secret squirrel wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:55 am
Anyway, here's a related article.
That article says that there's no such thing as prevention of free speech. Not directly, of course, but it makes the argument that if people are complaining about lack of freedom of speech, they must have it. So if people complain, there's freedom of speech, and (presumably) if they don't, it's because there is nothing to complain about, so overall there must always be freedom of speech.

In fact, of course, that is a completely absurd proposition. The reality is that when free speech is being suppressed, it's quite possible that some sufficiently powerful and privileged people can afford to speak out when other cannot. This leads to those who oppose freedom of speech to point to their power and privilege in an ad-hominem manner as well as making the bogus claim that speaking out proves that there is still sufficient freedom of speech.
No, the argument is that if you're complaining about not having free speech in the opinion piece you're paid well to write for a major newspaper, or in one of your many high profile and extremely lucrative speaking engagements, then you actually do have free speech.

As pointed out in the blog you also mischaracterize, the problem is not that these people don't have free speech, but that other people also have free speech and use it too.

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Re: Cancel culture

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:10 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:14 am
a load of pointless guff
Nah mate.
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by Woodchopper » Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:40 am

secret squirrel wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 6:22 am
Millennie Al wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 4:05 am
secret squirrel wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:55 am
Anyway, here's a related article.
That article says that there's no such thing as prevention of free speech. Not directly, of course, but it makes the argument that if people are complaining about lack of freedom of speech, they must have it. So if people complain, there's freedom of speech, and (presumably) if they don't, it's because there is nothing to complain about, so overall there must always be freedom of speech.

In fact, of course, that is a completely absurd proposition. The reality is that when free speech is being suppressed, it's quite possible that some sufficiently powerful and privileged people can afford to speak out when other cannot. This leads to those who oppose freedom of speech to point to their power and privilege in an ad-hominem manner as well as making the bogus claim that speaking out proves that there is still sufficient freedom of speech.
No, the argument is that if you're complaining about not having free speech in the opinion piece you're paid well to write for a major newspaper, or in one of your many high profile and extremely lucrative speaking engagements, then you actually do have free speech.

As pointed out in the blog you also mischaracterize, the problem is not that these people don't have free speech, but that other people also have free speech and use it too.
That point s fair concerning the specific people mentioned in the article. Its difficult to see how Jordan Peterson prevented from expressing himself.

As a general rule, I''m not so sure. It is a feature of restrictions on freedom of expression that sometimes they aren't uniform. People may be allowed to write an op ed in a newspaper but face restrictions elsewhere. For example, Berlusconi was able to control a majority of the TV channels in Italy even though Italian newspapers were free to publish what they liked (except perhaps the newspapers owned by Berlusconi). Berlusconi didn't care about op eds as their readership was tiny compared to his captive TV audience.

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Re: Cancel culture

Post by Bird on a Fire » Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:06 pm

As always, context is quite important I think. Some people have more reach than others, which means that the choices they make in exercising free speech have more impact. It's the combination of somebody's reach and their choices that determines the fairness of targetting them for criticism.
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by secret squirrel » Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:17 pm

Woodchopper wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 8:40 am
That point s fair concerning the specific people mentioned in the article. Its difficult to see how Jordan Peterson prevented from expressing himself.

As a general rule, I''m not so sure. It is a feature of restrictions on freedom of expression that sometimes they aren't uniform. People may be allowed to write an op ed in a newspaper but face restrictions elsewhere. For example, Berlusconi was able to control a majority of the TV channels in Italy even though Italian newspapers were free to publish what they liked (except perhaps the newspapers owned by Berlusconi). Berlusconi didn't care about op eds as their readership was tiny compared to his captive TV audience.
True but then we start to get into difficult questions about what constitutes infringement of free speech. We don't, for example, generally want to take the position that free speech gives someone the right to compel others to platform their views. It's clear that there's a lucrative industry of high profile people 'saying things you can't say', and it's also clear that lots of people without much apparent influence behind them are able to say similar 'things you can't say' in e.g. blogs, comments sections, social media, forums etc. Given the tremendous amount of evidence that the supposed suppression of these apparently verboten views is, at best, extremely ineffective, I think the onus is on the people calling out 'cancel culture' to specify exactly in what way free speech is being suppressed, and how exactly their 'side' is the victim of it more than anyone else.

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Re: Cancel culture

Post by Tessa K » Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:21 pm

secret squirrel wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:17 pm
Given the tremendous amount of evidence that the supposed suppression of these apparently verboten views is, at best, extremely ineffective, I think the onus is on the people calling out 'cancel culture' to specify exactly in what way free speech is being suppressed, and how exactly their 'side' is the victim of it more than anyone else.
Exactly right. Too often it means 'I want the right to say what I want without being challenged on every available medium'.

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Re: Cancel culture

Post by raven » Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:30 pm

individualmember wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:18 am
One thing it made me think of is Jon Ronson’s book So You've Been Publicly Shamed, which was published in 2015. This stuff isn’t new at all.
Every time I dip into this thread I think of that book.

Which kinda ties in with the bit of that unthinkable thoughts: call out culture in the age of covid-19 piece BoaF linked too that reasonated most with me. This bit:
to start with, i have been trying to discern when a call out feels powerful, like the necessary move, versus when it feels like the witch trial/lynch mob energy is leading.

it feels powerful when there have been private efforts for accountability.
it feels powerful when survivors are being supported.
it feels necessary when the accused has avoided accountability, particularly (but not exclusively) if they have continued to cause harm.
it feels necessary when the accused person has significantly more power than the accuser(s) and is using that power to avoid accountability.
it feels powerful when the demand is process and consequence based.

it feels like a lynch mob when there are no questions asked.
when the survivor’s healing takes a back seat.
when there is no attempt to have a private process.
when there is no time between accusation and the call for consequences. and when the only consequence is for the accused to cease to exist.
when the accused is from one or more oppressed identities.
when it feels performative.
when the person accused of causing harm does what the survivor/crowd demands, but we keep pulling up the rope.
That meshes pretty well with what makes me uneasy about some of this stuff, particularly the bits than can & often do get amplified by the interwebs: The lack of due process, the knee-jerk nature of it sometimes, the 'punching down' involved when the target is an ordinary person, the 'punishment' not fitting the crime, people losing their livelihoods which can affect more than that person, that there seems to be no way back out of the hole once you dig yourself into it...

There's a lot of issues around this I find problematic. And I'm basically anti-censorship at heart. If someone's commited a 'crime' with just their words, my response to that would usually be to tackle their words. Not them, iyswim.

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Re: Cancel culture

Post by Millennie Al » Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:39 am

secret squirrel wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:17 pm
I think the onus is on the people calling out 'cancel culture' to specify exactly in what way free speech is being suppressed, and how exactly their 'side' is the victim of it more than anyone else.
If you support free speech there are no sides - you support everyone's free speech, even those who disagree with you on every other matter.

Any why is it relevant to specifiy exactly how it is being supporessed, or even approximately how? Evidence of the suppression itself should be sufficent to show there's a problem. An example might be the response to the famous Harper's letter, https://theobjective.substack.com/p/a-m ... on-justice which end with "Many signatories on our list noted their institutional affiliation but not their name, fearful of professional retaliation. It is a sad fact, and in part why we wrote the letter.". There is nothing in that letter which should result in any signatory fearing anything worse than criticism from those who disagree.
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by secret squirrel » Tue Sep 15, 2020 2:29 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:39 am
secret squirrel wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:17 pm
I think the onus is on the people calling out 'cancel culture' to specify exactly in what way free speech is being suppressed, and how exactly their 'side' is the victim of it more than anyone else.
If you support free speech there are no sides - you support everyone's free speech, even those who disagree with you on every other matter.

Any why is it relevant to specifiy exactly how it is being supporessed, or even approximately how? Evidence of the suppression itself should be sufficent to show there's a problem. An example might be the response to the famous Harper's letter, https://theobjective.substack.com/p/a-m ... on-justice which end with "Many signatories on our list noted their institutional affiliation but not their name, fearful of professional retaliation. It is a sad fact, and in part why we wrote the letter.". There is nothing in that letter which should result in any signatory fearing anything worse than criticism from those who disagree.
'Cancel culture' is invoked almost invariably to attack the 'woke'. It is more than a universal demand for 'free speech'. Even if it were just a demand for 'free speech' in an absolute sense, it would be incoherent, as 'free speech' also covers twitter harassment, calls for sackings, etc, which is primarily what people bemoaning 'cancel culture' complain about.

Sometimes people lose their jobs over things they've said or written, but it's still not clear how 'free speech' is being violated. Does 'free speech' demand that employers, usually private or autonomous entities, not let go employees they find problematic? I think there are good general arguments for better protection of the rights of employees, but that does not change the fact that the issue is not 'free speech', but rather that it can be too easy to fire people for trivial reasons.

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Re: Cancel culture

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:39 am

Millennie Al wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 12:39 am
secret squirrel wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 12:17 pm
I think the onus is on the people calling out 'cancel culture' to specify exactly in what way free speech is being suppressed, and how exactly their 'side' is the victim of it more than anyone else.
If you support free speech there are no sides - you support everyone's free speech, even those who disagree with you on every other matter.

Any why is it relevant to specifiy exactly how it is being supporessed, or even approximately how? Evidence of the suppression itself should be sufficent to show there's a problem. An example might be the response to the famous Harper's letter, https://theobjective.substack.com/p/a-m ... on-justice which end with "Many signatories on our list noted their institutional affiliation but not their name, fearful of professional retaliation. It is a sad fact, and in part why we wrote the letter.". There is nothing in that letter which should result in any signatory fearing anything worse than criticism from those who disagree.
Your point contradicts your post in reply to the blog post you didn't read, which deals with this issue. Make your mind up, fella.
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:41 am

raven wrote:
Mon Sep 14, 2020 9:30 pm
individualmember wrote:
Sun Sep 13, 2020 10:18 am
One thing it made me think of is Jon Ronson’s book So You've Been Publicly Shamed, which was published in 2015. This stuff isn’t new at all.
Every time I dip into this thread I think of that book.

Which kinda ties in with the bit of that unthinkable thoughts: call out culture in the age of covid-19 piece BoaF linked too that reasonated most with me. This bit:
to start with, i have been trying to discern when a call out feels powerful, like the necessary move, versus when it feels like the witch trial/lynch mob energy is leading.

it feels powerful when there have been private efforts for accountability.
it feels powerful when survivors are being supported.
it feels necessary when the accused has avoided accountability, particularly (but not exclusively) if they have continued to cause harm.
it feels necessary when the accused person has significantly more power than the accuser(s) and is using that power to avoid accountability.
it feels powerful when the demand is process and consequence based.

it feels like a lynch mob when there are no questions asked.
when the survivor’s healing takes a back seat.
when there is no attempt to have a private process.
when there is no time between accusation and the call for consequences. and when the only consequence is for the accused to cease to exist.
when the accused is from one or more oppressed identities.
when it feels performative.
when the person accused of causing harm does what the survivor/crowd demands, but we keep pulling up the rope.
That meshes pretty well with what makes me uneasy about some of this stuff, particularly the bits than can & often do get amplified by the interwebs: The lack of due process, the knee-jerk nature of it sometimes, the 'punching down' involved when the target is an ordinary person, the 'punishment' not fitting the crime, people losing their livelihoods which can affect more than that person, that there seems to be no way back out of the hole once you dig yourself into it...

There's a lot of issues around this I find problematic. And I'm basically anti-censorship at heart. If someone's commited a 'crime' with just their words, my response to that would usually be to tackle their words. Not them, iyswim.
This is good, thanks
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by Bird on a Fire » Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:54 am

Yes, thanks raven.

As is often the case with these things, I think the merits of "cancellation" depend on circumstances. It's much more interesting to focus on which sets of circumstances make it acceptable, than to try to set up a spurious "cancellation: good or bad" dichotomy (which seems to be a tactic exclusively used by people claiming it's universally bad).

"Free" does not, never has, and never will, meant "anyone can do anything they like to anybody and everybody, whenever and wherever and however they like". What we're seeing is a shift in who faces consequences, and who has the ability to make their hurt or anger heard.

The Devil is in the details, as usual.
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by raven » Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:23 pm

You're welcome, but most of those words weren't mine...

The most worrying thing on that unthinkable thoughts blog piece was the part that talked about the fear of not being seen doing the right thing, of being labelled an apologist for bad people if you question this stuff, or of becoming a target yourself if you say wait, let's stop and think about this, etc etc.

And that's a real thing - there's been a hardening of attitudes that can lead to people just shouting each other down and not listening to the other side. I don't like that. I think it stifles debate.

(Btw, I saw the infamous Rowling/Rushdie/etc letter as a not unreasonable reaction to that shouty-ness...)

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Re: Cancel culture

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Wed Sep 16, 2020 8:57 am

raven wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:23 pm
The most worrying thing on that unthinkable thoughts blog piece was the part that talked about the fear of not being seen doing the right thing, of being labelled an apologist for bad people if you question this stuff, or of becoming a target yourself if you say wait, let's stop and think about this, etc etc.

And that's a real thing - there's been a hardening of attitudes that can lead to people just shouting each other down and not listening to the other side. I don't like that. I think it stifles debate.
I agree with this. But the problem is not one of free speech (as the Harper's letter implied), it is of not listening to what people are saying. But, like I say in the blog, those who accuse "woke" people of suppressing debate are typically guilty themselves of refusing to listen to those who have problems in society. And they themselves again are incredibly guilty of the same behaviours, just within their own moral paradigm (see the 15,500 racist c.nts complaining to Ofcom about a f.cking dance). But those complaints to Ofcom, or overreactions on Twitter to Rowling supposedly having written a really transphobic book which, it turns out, probably isn't (the Telegraph just wrote an odd and inflammatory review, and no one can check yet because the book hasn't been released and even when it does get released, it's 900 f.cking pages long for f.cks sake, who can honestly be bothered) are all themselves instances of free speech. Incorrect speech, perhaps, but free nonetheless.
(Btw, I saw the infamous Rowling/Rushdie/etc letter as a not unreasonable reaction to that shouty-ness...)
An overall message of "let's all just chill out a bit, everyone" is fine, but suggestions that cancel culture is suppressing free speech are wrong, whilst demands for no comeback to opinions that the signatories vomit out into the world is, in contrast, a suppression of free speech, and incredibly unreasonable. Chilling out is more likely if corporations stop sacking employees at a moment's notice, if governments put in place better employee rights, and if social media networks better moderate and control bad behaviour, especially the abuse of women and minorities. Focusing on those who have opinions and speak about them is the wrong target.
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Re: Cancel culture

Post by raven » Wed Sep 16, 2020 5:31 pm

The thing is these issues don't fit into nice neat boxes.

If people become afraid to speak openly about something, that is in a sense interfering with free speech, even though that's self-censorship rather than a government or other external body penalising them. And even if it might be happening for the best of reasons - especially as what I think is a good reason might not be what the guy nextdoor thinks of as a good reason....

I guess my worry is that all this shouty-ness (for want of a better term) will make people keep schutm about their real opinions and then it's going to be very difficult to challenge and change them if they need that, and it'll be difficult to have a free exchange of views so you can understand where other people are coming from, which is the first step to finding common ground that you can build on to find a consensus.

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Re: Cancel culture

Post by secret squirrel » Thu Sep 17, 2020 3:02 am

raven wrote:
Wed Sep 16, 2020 5:31 pm
The thing is these issues don't fit into nice neat boxes.

If people become afraid to speak openly about something, that is in a sense interfering with free speech, even though that's self-censorship rather than a government or other external body penalising them. And even if it might be happening for the best of reasons - especially as what I think is a good reason might not be what the guy nextdoor thinks of as a good reason....

I guess my worry is that all this shouty-ness (for want of a better term) will make people keep schutm about their real opinions and then it's going to be very difficult to challenge and change them if they need that, and it'll be difficult to have a free exchange of views so you can understand where other people are coming from, which is the first step to finding common ground that you can build on to find a consensus.
The mob has always been a blunt instrument, and social media makes getting a mob together for any purpose easier than ever (though fortunately you can't literally beat people to death over Twitter). When has there ever been a time when a person could say what they liked without fear of censure by other people? Self-censorship has always existed. The internet lowers the bar for broadcasting your opinions, and it lowers the bar for other people to respond. It's certainly true that a lot of abuse gets thrown around online, and it is often unfairly distributed. This is bad, but it's not an essentially new phenomenon. There doesn't seem to be much evidence that fringe views are being expressed less because of it. If anything the opposite is true.

I think what is happening is that people whose views are essentially mainstream, and who in previous generations would have hardly ever experienced any push-back for them, have started experiencing criticism from more fringe groups. This feels new to them because previously they were always the ones doing the criticizing, or minority groups were just defensively self-censoring around them all the time. This new direction of criticism is an attempt to change what counts as 'mainstream'. Whatever your view of internet mobs, it's far from clear that polite debate is the best way go about it. A skim through history, even the relatively sober history of science, indicates that it is not. If you want to win an argument, you need good rhetoric and propaganda. Being 'rational' or 'correct' is purely for your own edification.

For me, the bottom line is this. I'm not interested in cultivating an atmosphere where the far right feel comfortable expressing their views. I want them to live in fear. I don't want to compromise or build a consensus with them. I know where they're coming from. They do not argue in good faith, and they are not going to be convinced by reasoned arguments. The only thing you achieve by debating them is raising their profile. You might say `well, the far right feel the same about your views' and of course they do. That's why I need to win.

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Re: Cancel culture

Post by El Pollo Diablo » Thu Sep 17, 2020 5:23 am

I'd say that with the far right, well-publicised, good faith debate is probably one of the most dangerous arenas to allow their airing of their views. Far right politics tends to breed on populism - it's often an easy sell, in the right hands, and with debating tactics like the gish gallop, or false "facts" which are hard, in the moment, to counter (noting that debates don't allow you to say "hang on" and contact an expert - the opponent must respond in the moment), it's easy for their ideas to spread.
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