It’s Going to Be The Left That Needs To Cancel Cancel Culture
On Tuesday, the internet was abuzz with talk of a letter put out by Harper’s Magazine that warned against the raising prominence in certain circles of cancel culture and the erosion of tolerance for open debate. It was not a letter signed by rabid right-wingers. The signatories say, “The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy. But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion — which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting.”
Still, defending the concept of free and open debate did not sit well with some. Vox’s Emily VanDerWerff, in response to colleague Matt Yglesias signing the letter, tweeted an edited version of an e-mail she sent Vox’s higher ups:
According to VanDerWerff, she does not want Ygelsias fired, she just want to shame him to the editors and also to the whole world via the internet because he signed a letter calling for society to uphold ideas of free speech and open debate.
VanDerWerff and Cancel Culture proponents have realized that every society that values decency needs an Overton Window and that there is great amounts of cultural and political power to be had in shifting that window to the left to where conservatives are viewed as unacceptable. The goal is simple: if the left can dominate the terms of acceptable discourse, they can control the culture, academia, and politics.
In this specific instance, VanDerWerff cites anti-trans beliefs as being dangerous and problematic. Under this logic, anti-trans beliefs could lead to transgender individuals feeling unperson-ed which in turn could lead to depression which could lead to suicide.
Presumably by “prominent anti-trans voices,” VanDerWerff was referring to people like J.K. Rowling, who signed the letter and has previously expressed concern that the transgender movement is in times in conflict with women’s rights. For example, she has cited her concerns as a survivor of sexual assault and abuse, she has problems with eroding the concept of women’s restrooms because doing so is “offering cover to predators.”
Even beyond the idea of restrooms, Rowling has pointed out that biological sex means something. Not only does denying biological sex diminish women, but it also diminishes gays and lesbians:
Rowling’s point is that being a woman (or a man) is more than a feeling. This is not, or at least historically has not been, controversial and usually Rowling’s fellow lefties would not have a problem admitting so.
The progressive looks at the world and sees many inequalities and it is the job of the progressive to fix that. One of these inequalities is between men and women. When a progressive says they are for women’s rights or think the government should do more for women’s health. By adding the adjective they are saying that being female is different than being male.
But, another, more recent inequality the progressive seeks to right is the one between transgender and non-transgender individuals. One way to fix this is to recognize the transgender individual's perception of reality. To do otherwise is deny personhood and since only bigots would deny a human being personhood, to not allow a person to live their life as a member of their perceived gender is a cancelling offense.
Often times people who claim to be in business of female empowerment are also the same people who advocate for transgender rights, but it is not hard to see the contradiction.
The people who claim to be for equality among the sexes embrace an idea that would end women’s sports. In a previous time, anyone who used the term “front hole” would be accused of enabling rape culture by viewing women as nothing more than a piece of meat with a series of holes for men to have sex with, but now such language is “gender inclusive.”
All of this has been pointed out by conservatives, but nobody listens because nobody on the social left cares what we have to say. But, when one left-wing cause brushes up against another and someone like Rowling realizes that, people are forced to at least acknowledge the argument's existence and it forces the left to attempt to reconcile the logical problems behind their larger worldview.
If certain corners of the left won’t even allow debate amongst itself, why would it allow it with the country as a whole? Ultimately, the debate about what it means to be a liberal or a progressive or even a feminist might end up doing more to finally end cancel culture than anything else.