Be it resolved: Cancel culture is not a threat to free speech

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Musician Ariel Pink is dropped by his label for attending a Trump rally. A top executive at Boeing loses his job because of an article he wrote decades ago opposing allowing women to serve as fighter pilots. JK Rowling is widely condemned for tweets her critics deem transphobic.

All of the above were subject to social media ‘cancellation’ campaigns they experienced as attacks on their free speech rights and personal reputations. For cancel culture’s critics, shouting down a speaker in a lecture hall or labelling someone a racist for opposing affirmative action has nothing to do with social justice; it is about the intoxicating feeling of being part of a cultural mob motivated by grievance.

To many progressives, so-called ‘defenders of free speech’ are crying foul to protect their positions of power in society. It is high time, they argue, that people are held accountable for harmful words and actions including online. Cancel culture is not a threat to free speech, but a champion of it; it gives a voice to those who have been excluded for too long from important public conversations that challenge the power structures benefiting the privileged at the expense of everyone else.

Arguing for the motion is Malaika Jabali, public policy attorney, activist, and Guardian columnist.

Arguing against the motion is Jesse Singal, contributing writer at New York Magazine and author of The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can't Cure Our Social Ills.

Sources: CNN, ABC, NBC, Fox News

The host of the Munk Debates is Rudyard Griffiths - @rudyardg

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109 episodes