8 Matching Annotations
  1. Last 7 days
    1. A Letter on Justice and Open Debate

      I read this letter with growing unease as it seems to be participating in the increasingly common rhetoric where otherwise well-meaning progressives get caught up in what I think is a "panic" manufactured by rightist propaganda. The panic about "cancel culture" and a progressive undermining of free speech seems like the evolution of the older rightist culture wars panic about "political correctness".

      A couple of other readings have helped me think about this more deeply. You can read and respond to my annotations on each at the following links:

    1. The absence of deliberation in chastising bad actors, misconstrued as the outcome of cancel culture, is a fault of the elites’ inability to adequately conceive of the impact social media connectivity has for shifting the power dynamics of the public sphere in the digital age.

      Wow. Clark takes the Harper's letter signatories to task for not understanding how public spheres work now with social media in the mix. Reminded of how nostalgia for "the way things used to be" (but never really existed) runs deep in all critiques like that letter...

      See my growing list of works I read to augment my thinking about the cancel culture moral panic and that letter in Harper's.

  2. Oct 2020
    1. But what I think is largely responsible for this phenomenon they’re observing—without understanding—is Twitter.

      I was chagrined to see this move to put communication infrastructure as the root cause of a social-political phenomenon.

      It seems like Loofbourow buys the primary claim in the Harper's letter that there is a crisis in free speech, but wants to shift the blame from progressives to Twitter and Reddit et al. Rather than accepting the existence of the crisis in the Harper's letter (which pops up in other places too), I would instead focus on how that story of crisis has itself been generated and who benefits from its telling.

      The panic about "cancel culture" seems to grow directly out of the earlier panic about political correctness, continuing the rightist tradition of fear-mongering whenever new voices start to be heard.

      Notice that every example of information disorder Loofbourow outlines and blames on the Internet is a rightist challenge to broadening voices and identities. Is Twitter causing a crisis? Or are rightists using Internet platforms to sow discord and worry about that discord's effects?

      Blaming this manufactured crisis on the Internet smacks of technodeterminism, as if Twitter created not only the opportunity to troll, but the trolls themselves. The bigotry behind the trolling existed long before Twitter. The alarm we should sound is not that "cancel culture" has gone too far, but that otherwise well-meaning progressives are getting sucked into the rightist crisis narrative that all the new voices we are hearing are a threat to free speech.

      That all said, I certainly agree with Loofbourow that Internet platforms present serious issues, all the way from Twitter's inconsistency in managing violations of their terms of service, or Facebook's practice of accepting disinformative political advertising, up to whether ad supported social platforms can ever support healthy discourse.

    2. You can’t cut the far-right out of the picture, as if “censorious” rhetorical strategies emerged out of a void.

      Exactly, although I differ with Loofbourow on where to put primary focus to fill this void.

      Loofbourow is certainly correct that Internet platforms shape discourse, but I think there is another set of activities beyond the Internet that has been working hard to generate not just "'censorious' rhetorical strategies", but also a manufactured "panic" about their causes, scope and effects.

      Rightists would have us believe that there is a crisis in free speech, that it is ending civilization, and that it is caused by progressive political correctness run amok. At the same time that rightists are using the Internet precisely to foment all the bad faith conversation Loofbourow describes (and often baiting progressives to join them), they are also using the information disorder they generate as proof of their larger argument that political correctness and "cancel culture" are a significant threat. I don't buy it, and neither should the signers of the Harper's letter that inspired Loofbourow's response.

    3. Illiberalism Isn’t to Blame for the Death of Good-Faith Debate

      Join the annotated conversation around the original Letter on Justice and Open Debate in Harper's that inspired this response and other responses from various points of view.

    1. A Deeply Provincial View of Free Speech

      Join the annotated conversation around the original Letter on Justice and Open Debate in Harper's that inspired this response and other responses from various points of view.

    1. A More Specific Letter on Justice and Open Debate

      Join the annotated conversation around the original Letter on Justice and Open Debate in Harper's that inspired this response and other responses from various points of view.

    1. Freedom Means Can Rather Than Should: What the Harper’s Open Letter Gets Wrong

      Join the annotated conversation around the original Letter on Justice and Open Debate in Harper's that inspired this response and other responses from various points of view.