opinion

Some People Say Cancel Culture is Damaging

It can ruin lives and careers. For some who have been "canceled," it's hard to recover. Public figures can topple from grace seemingly overnight. Some critics say that those "cancelations" are not always merited—and moreover, that cancel culture creates an atmosphere that is damaging to society at large, stifling free speech.
December 4, 2020Updated 1 month ago
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Critics accuse cancel culture of going overboard, saying that people’s lives are being irreparably damaged and the ability to learn and be given a second chance is becoming less available. Even former President Barack Obama criticized it in a youth summit in 2019. “I do get a sense sometimes now among certain young people, and this is accelerated by social media, there is this sense sometimes of: ‘The way of me making change is to be as judgmental as possible about other people,’” he said. “That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do," Obama added. Cancel culture has arguably only accelerated in the past year. From TV host Ellen DeGeneres to singer Lana Del Rey, to a host of business leaders, a number of public figures have been "canceled" in 2020. Some people have lost their jobs or lucrative ad campaigns as a result. A number of writers and creative professionals spoke out against what they call a culture of shrinking public debate. In an open letter published in Harper's, they wrote: "As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us."
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Obama on Call-Out Culture: ‘That’s Not Activism’
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate

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