More than 100 writers and students — including Chomsky , J.K. Rowling and Malcolm Gladwell — have signed a public letter decrying cancel culture and therefore the rising “intolerance of opposing views.”
Published in Harper’s Magazine on Tuesday, the letter argued that the recent “needed reckoning” on racial and social justice has also “intensified a replacement set of ethical attitudes and political commitments” that tend to stifle the norms of debate and tolerating differences.
“The free exchange of data and concepts , the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted,” the letter states.
It warns that censorship, while something “we have come to expect this on the novel right,” is additionally spreading more widely on the left through “an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and therefore the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues during a blinding moral certainty.”
“The democratic inclusion we would like are often achieved as long as we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.”
The letter doesn’t cite specific examples but notes that “institutional leaders, during a spirit of panicked control , are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments rather than considered reforms.”
“Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class…,” it reads.
“This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the foremost vital causes of our time,” the letter adds. “The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those that lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.”
Some of the 150 notable figures who signed on include ny Times op-ed contributors David Brooks and Bari Weiss, Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias and novelists Rushdie and Margaret Atwood.
The letter sparked backlash on social media from pundits and journalists on each side of the aisle, with some saying it had been whiny or self-pitying, remarking that a lot of of these who signed it have access to large platforms.
Others called the letter hypocritical, noting that a number of the signees took no issue when “cancel culture” came for conservatives.