Does Calling People Out On Social Media Represent Accountability Or Unjust Punishment
Given that cancel culture can mean different things to different people, the survey also asked about the more general act of calling out others on social media for posting content that might be considered offensive and whether this kind of behavior is more likely to hold people accountable or punish those who dont deserve it.
Overall, 58% of U.S. adults say in general, calling out others on social media is more likely to hold people accountable, while 38% say it is more likely to punish people who dont deserve it. But views differ sharply by party. Democrats are far more likely than Republicans to say that, in general, calling people out on social media for posting offensive content holds them accountable . Conversely, 56% of Republicans but just 22% of Democrats believe this type of action generally punishes people who dont deserve it.
Within each party, there are some modest differences by education level in these views. Specifically, Republicans who have a high school diploma or less education are slightly more likely than Republicans with some college or at least a bachelors degree to say calling people out for potentially offensive posts is holding people accountable for their actions. The reverse is true among Democrats: Those with a bachelors degree or more education are somewhat more likely than those with a high school diploma or less education to say calling out others is a form of accountability .
The Rise Of Cancel Culture
Colemans interest in cancel culture was sparked by the boycott of Chick-fil-A after CEO Dan Cathys antigay marriage comments. I read about the boycott and I thought, Oh, wow, thats an interesting use of people power, she says. The US has a strong tradition of prohibiting the legal regulation of speech, but at the same time, it has a very robust system of social regulation of speech. And were constantly broadening the definition of speech that can be socially regulated and censored.
So when did social regulation of speech tip into full-fledged cancel culture? I think its a confluence of factors. Social media played a role because it has made it easy for local communities to take action across time and space. Social media allows minorities in a community to use nationwide boycotts to pressure their local majorities, she says. Social media has also made peoples private lives more visible. Normally if someone says something offensive over lunch with a friend, they arent going to lose their job as a result. Now with social media and cell phone cameras, what used to be private violations of speech norms have become public, with public consequences.
In some ways, cancel culture is a uniquely American problem, says Coleman, who is associate director of the Law Schools East Asian Legal Studies Center and had lived in Korea for six years.
The Debate Around Cancel Culture Began As A Search For Accountability It May Ultimately Be About Encouraging Empathy
Its not only right-wing conservatives who are wary of cancel culture. In 2019, former President Barack Obama decried cancel culture and woke politics, framing the phenomenon as people be as judgmental as possible about other people and adding, Thats not activism.
At a recent panel devoted to making a nonpartisan Case Against Cancel Culture, former ACLU president Nadine Strossen expressed great concern over cancel cultures chilling effect on the non-famous. I constantly encounter students who are so fearful of being subjected to the Twitter mob that they are engaging in self-censorship, she said. Strossen cited as one such chilling effect the isolated instances of students whose college admissions had been rescinded on the basis of racist social media posts.
In his recent book Cancel This Book: The Progressive Case Against Cancel Culture, human rights lawyer and free speech advocate Dan Kovalik argues that cancel culture is basically a giant self-own, a product of progressive semantics that causes the left to cannibalize itself.
Unfortunately, too many on the left, wielding the cudgel of cancel culture, have decided that certain forms of censorship and speech and idea suppression are positive things that will advance social justice, Kovalik writes. I fear that those who take this view are in for a rude awakening.
Such an antagonistic approach effectively treats public debate as a battlefield, he wrote. He continued:
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Are People Rushing To Judge Or Trying To Be Helpful
The most common area of opposing arguments about calling out other people on social media arises from peoples differing perspectives on whether people who call out others are rushing to judge or instead trying to be helpful.
One-in-five Americans who see this type of behavior as a form of accountability point to reasons that relate to how helpful calling out others can be. For example, some explained in an open-ended question that they associate this behavior with moving toward a better society or educating others on their mistakes so they can do better in the future. Conversely, roughly a third of those who see calling out other people on social media as a form of unjust punishment cite reasons that relate to people who call out others being rash or judgmental. Some of these Americans see this kind of behavior as overreacting or unnecessarily lashing out at others without considering the context or intentions of the original poster. Others emphasize that what is considered offensive can be subjective.
A Transatlantic Event Co
This April, three leading French cultural organizations based in New York will bring together more than a dozen thinkers from the U.S. and France for a transatlantic festival investigating the state of liberté dexpression or free speech in the age of what has been called cancel culture.
Presented entirely online over the weekend of April 23 to 25, the conference features three in-depth conversations, each one centering on a hot-button issue: Religion, April 23 at 1pm Sexuality, April 24 at 1pm and Race, April 25 at 1pm. Additionally, Tania de Montaignes performance Noire, a theatrical adaptation of her eponymous book about the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., will be available to stream throughout the weekend. A live talk with Tania de Montaigne will take place on April 24 at 5pm. All programs are free to the public, and times are ET.
Throughout this conference, writers, philosophers, journalists, and artists from France and the United States will try to understand and clarify misunderstandings of the respect of freedom and its limits in both nations, focusing on the subjects of religion, sexuality, and race.
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Very Few Canceled Public Figures Suffer Significantcareer Setbacks
Its true that some celebrities have effectively been canceled, in the sense that their actions have resulted in major consequences, including job losses and major reputational declines, if not a complete end to their careers.
Consider Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, R. Kelly, and Kevin Spacey, who faced allegations of rape and sexual assault that became impossible to ignore, and who were charged with crimes for their offenses. They have all effectively been canceled Weinstein and Cosby because theyre now convicted criminals, Kelly because hes in prison awaiting trial, and Spacey because while all charges against him to date have been dropped, hes too tainted to hire.
Along with Roseanne Barr, who lost her hit TV show after a racist tweet, and Louis C.K., who saw major professional setbacks after he admitted to years of sexual misconduct against female colleagues, their offenses were serious enough to irreparably damage their careers, alongside a push to lessen their cultural influence.
A few months later, 58 British public figures including playwright Tom Stoppard signed an open letter supporting Rowlings views and calling her the target of an insidious, authoritarian and misogynistic trend in social media. And in December, the New York Times not only reviewed the authors latest title a new childrens book called The Ickabog but praised the storys moral rectitude, with critic Sarah Lyall summing up, It made me weep with joy. It was an instant bestseller.
Antisemitism Appears In A Variety Of Forms From Hate Speech And The Propagation Of Lies And Stereotypes To Acts Of Open Violence And Terror
The recent Detroit News opinion piece by columnist Karen Dumas portrayed Kanye West as a victim of cancel culture.
This disregards the blatant antisemitism in Yes recent comments and loses sight of the importance of protecting free speech while condemning hate speech that can lead to violence.
The column also suggested that Ye was silenced by those who control the platforms, reinforcing the notion that Jews wield a monolithic influence over the media and other levers of power, which is itself a long-standing and pernicious antisemitic trope. The many companies who distanced themselves from Ye did so out of abhorrence for the views he has espoused.
As leaders and representatives of the Detroit Jewish community, we are grateful for the swift and sincere efforts of the paper to acknowledge and rectify this by editing the piece. The Detroit News has been a staunch supporter and ally to the Jewish community, and we know they will continue to stand up against antisemitism, as well as against all forms of hatred and intolerance.
This is a critical and urgent issue for the Jewish community. Contrary to the corrosive narrative of outsized power and influence, Jewish individuals today remain uniquely vulnerable.
Due to Israeli conflicts with the terrorist group Hamas, for example, attacks against synagogues and Jewish Community Centers rose by 61% in 2021.
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Im A Conservative Who Got Heckled At Yale Law School But Not By Who You Think
The anti-free speech culture we see at law schools today permeates the legal world, and on both sides of the political spectrum.
Woolsey Hall stands on the Yale University campus on April 27, 2016. | Pat Eaton-Robb/AP Photo
11/20/2022 07:00 AM EST
Sarah Isgur is a graduate of Harvard Law School who clerked on the Fifth Circuit. She was Justice Department spokeswoman during the Trump administration and is the host of the legal podcast Advisory Opinions for the Dispatch.
This spring, I spoke at Yale Law School. The atmosphere in the gothic classroom was tense from the beginning. The students slouching in their seats look bedraggled. Things went fine enough, and the room started to relax. Then a conservative student launched into a tirade because he had seen me hug the associate dean of students earlier in the afternoon. Id known her since I was a first-year law student at Harvard more than 15 years ago. Though I was the president of the Harvard Federalist Society and she was a well-documented liberal, she had helped me innumerable times on campus. She supported me when the faculty and administrators selected me as class day speaker at graduation. A few years later, we stood together at the White House when our former dean, Elena Kagan, was confirmed as an associate justice to the Supreme Court. When I hugged her at Yale this spring, she had just congratulated me on having a baby at the height of the pandemic.
How did we get here?
Americans And Cancel Culture: Where Some See Calls For Accountability Others See Censorship Punishment
People have challenged each others views for much of human history. But the internet particularly social media has changed how, when and where these kinds of interactions occur. The number of people who can go online and call out others for their behavior or words is immense, and its never been easier to summon groups to join the public fray.
The phrase cancel culture is said to have originated from a relatively obscure slang term cancel, referring to breaking up with someone used in a 1980s song. This term was then referenced in film and television and later evolved and gained traction on social media. Over the past several years, cancel culture has become a deeply contested idea in the nations political discourse. There are plenty of debates over what it is and what it means, including whether its a way to hold people accountable, or a tactic to punish others unjustly, or a mix of both. And some argue that cancel culture doesnt even exist.
To better understand how the U.S. public views the concept of cancel culture, Pew Research Center asked Americans in September 2020 to share in their own words what they think the term means and, more broadly, how they feel about the act of calling out others on social media. The survey finds a public deeply divided, including over the very meaning of the phrase.
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Cancel Culture And The First Amendment
As the Freedom Forum Institute points out, the First Amendment protects freedom of speech but not without some key exceptions, such as obscenity, defamation, blackmail, and perjury. With this in mind, it would be reasonable to view cancel culture as a multifaceted issue that cannot be clearly divided into two categories of always good or always bad. The issue is that sweeping generalizations in favor or against cancel culture often in the form of brief, emotionally charged social media posts or polarizing rants from news commentators tend to distort what could have been constructive conversations about what someone did, why it might be interpreted as offensive, and how common ground may be achieved.
To better understand what cancel culture is, why it has become such a prominent issue in the U.S. and what the potential/actual consequences are, lets explore how this controversial concept is typically understood by others and how it relates to the First Amendment.
What is Cancel Culture?
In one such article arguing that cancel culture does not actually exist, The New Statesman describes cancel culture as a mob mentality, a series of mass movements seeking to end the careers of public figures whose thoughts or opinions deviate from a new set of left-wing norms.
If theres not a readily agreed-upon definition of cancel culture, what influences different individuals and groups understanding of the term?
Round : Reflecting On The Conversation
Take 2 minutes to answer one of the following questions:
- What was most meaningful / valuable to you in this Living Room Conversation?
- What learning, new understanding or common ground was found on the topic?
- How has this conversation changed your perception of anyone in this group?
- Is there a next step you would like to take based upon the conversation?
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Free Speech Needs To Win
When it comes to cancel culture, free speech principles need to win. While cancel culture started with good intentions, the evolution has caused it to become a true threat to free speech in the United States. This is an issue for everyone, because of the acceptance of silencing voices. Where and when people cannot speak because of fear, free speech will not exist.
How 17th Centurys Britains Cancel Culture Can Help Us Understand The Importance Of Free Speech
Free speech is the right to express ones opinions without censorship or restraint. It is a cornerstone of modern liberal democracies. Nowadays, it is considered a basic right in the UNs 1948 and it is is enshrined in British law.
Yet, free speech is neither historically well established nor widespread.
In many parts of the world, authoritarian governments have prevented citizens rights to free speech through censorship, mass detentions, surveillance and harassment. At the same time, within liberal democracies there has been growing concern about the overreach of cancelling or no-platformingthose with controversial views.
Arguments against free speech have been made for centuries. In 17th century England, saying or writing something blasphemous would have got your tongue bored through with a red-hot iron. That is what happened to the Quaker James Nayler in 1656.
Nayler engaged in a calculated provocation. He imitated Jesus Christ during a time when many of his religious contemporaries thought that the world was about to end. Other than having his tongue pierced, he was whipped through the streets of London and had his forehead branded with the letter B for good measure.
As a punishment for blasphemy, James Nayler was whipped through the streets of London and had his forehead branded with the letter B.
Área de University of Wisconsin-Madison, History Department
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Is Calling Out Others On Social Media Productive Behavior
The second most common source of disagreement centers on the question of whether calling out others can solve anything: 13% of those who see calling out others as a form of punishment touch on this issue in explaining their opinion, as do 16% who see it as a form of accountability. Some who see calling people out as unjust punishment say it solves nothing and can actually make things worse. Others in this group question whether social media is a viable place for any productive conversations or see these platforms and their culture as inherently problematic and sometimes toxic. Conversely, there are those who see calling out others as a way to hold people accountable for what they post or to ensure that people consider the consequences of their social media posts.
From Reference To Social Movement
In 2014, cancel cultures use was changed. As The #MeToo movement became more prominent, call-out culture was a focus. For this new movement, that means calling out individuals that have sexually harassed or hurt women in the work environment. This could even include male employees who could be facing the same issue but are less likely to report.
As a culture, this is fine. After all, it was supposed to bring to light individuals that were getting away with terrible things. This would allow action to be taken so their power would be canceled. A great example of someone who probably deserves the wrath of cancel culture is R. Kelly. And it has worked against shrinking his influence over people by calling out his behavior. Overall, this is the most appropriate way to use cancel culture in this authors opinion. After all, anyone who commits those sexual harassment and assault against others does not deserve to hold their position of power. However, the use of cancel culture expanded beyond canceling people who deserve it.
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