News 8 July 2020

152 Public Figures Sign Open Letter Denouncing ‘Cancel Culture’

8 July 2020

Over 150 academics, activists and writers have signed an open letter denouncing cancel culture.

The group of public figures say while they “applaud” recent protests for racial justice and equality, they believe there is a lack of tolerance for open debate.

The letter – which was published on to Harper Magazine’s website – has been signed by over 152 figures who are against ‘cancel culture –  which is defined by as referring to “the popular practice of withdrawing support for (canceling) public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable or offensive.”

The open letter reads: “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.

“While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.

“We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.”

Among those who have signed the letter is Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, who recently received backlash for her comments on sex and gender issues.

The letter continues: “The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.

“The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away.”

They also go on to call Donald Trump a “real threat to democracy” but say “resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion—which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting.”

Click here to read the letter in full and to see which writers, activists and academics have signed the letter.