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Monday 13 July 2020

Cancel Culture - It Really Isn’t

Hardly a weekday passes without a representative of Spiked, so called because it should have been long ago, being featured on the breakfast show at Talk RADIO, hosted by the less then benign presence of Julia Hartley Dooda, and bleating that people are being cancelled. There is, we are assured, something called Cancel Culture, and it is happening to people Here And Now. But all is not as it seems.
The first sign that this is the same media establishment, er, fluid in a differently labelled bottle is that those accused of involvement in Cancel Culture are inevitably on the left. No-one notices that the right have been very visibly trying to have those of whom they disapprove “cancelled” for years now, as witness the bigots at Turning Point and their insidious “Professor Watchlist” scheme, aimed at removing their opponents.

Moreover, there are the campaigns by the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, often against media figures they don’t like (hello Owen Jones) and also against left-leaning politicians like Emma Dent Coad and Laura Pidcock. This, somehow, is not Cancel Culture. Because Cancel Culture is only of the left.
He gets cancelled ...

So it is that the loathsome Toby Young whines plaintively about people having their free speech circumscribed, only to be then given a platform by the increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph to peddle a pack of potentially highly dangerous lies about the Coronavirus pandemic. He can then point to the justified and severe criticism of his efforts as another manifestation of Cancel Culture. And so the charade is perpetuated.

What is actually happening is that the right-leaning media establishment has devised yet another way of demonising those who call it out for racism, homophobia, sexism, misogyny, and other assorted forms of bigotry. In the past, this was called Political Correctness Gorn Mad. More recently is has been slapped down as Woke. Neither of these deflections has succeeded. So now we have the equally fictitious Cancel Culture.

As Michael Hobbes at the HuffPost has put it, “If ‘cancel culture’ is a term that encompasses both the famous and the nonfamous, social media mobs and risk-averse employers, firings and consumer boycotts, then it means nothing at all. It is, like ‘political correctness’ before it, simply a name people give to things they do not like”.
... but he doesn't. Spot the political difference

Nesrine Malik in the Guardian put it this way: “The people who are waiting to pile on you, dox you (spread private information about you online with malicious intent) and get you fired broadly have little in common apart from the urge to tear someone down … It’s a broad church. All of humanity is here”. Anyone who has experienced a pile-on (and doxxing) from the far right knows the idea criticism only comes from the left is a fantasy.

It is certainly a media establishment thing in the UK: Spiked kick off about it because they get their credibility from that same establishment granting them broadcast appearances, giving them columns, promoting their alumni into Government. Toby Young whines because he, too, wishes to preserve his place within sight of the top table.

Social media certainly makes any backlash a more immediate thing. But it is not in the pay of the left. The media establishment are there too. Their problem is that they now have someone else’s tanks on their lawn. And their sole response is to throw a mardy strop.
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Anonymous said...

So who's doing this "cancelling" then?

Who are this "liberal elite"?

I can name many far right tory gobshite editors, propagandists, "reporters" and bribed front men and women in corporate media. But I'm buggered if I know who on the Left has any power whatever. Even most universities have become little more than monetised degrees-factories run by compliant hirelings.

The trumped-up allegation would be laughable if it wasn't so tragic for the mental health of this country.

Anonymous said...

As Tim has said before, grifters gonna grift. However, I disagree with the proposition that "the right-leaning media establishment has devised yet another way of demonising those who call it out for racism, homophobia, sexism, misogyny, and other assorted forms of bigotry". It's not a right versus left thing. It's the media establishment in toto. Look at Freedland or Cohen's articles in the Guardian. You may quote Malik - and could have quoted Billy Bragg - pointing out the obvious in their pages, but they're outliers. You've still got Cohen saying "No honest observer can deny that the dominant factions in the modern progressive movement reject freedom of speech. They punish opinions they disagree with when they have power; and the more power they have, the more they will punish. You may think the censorship justified, but to deny its existence is absurd." If only. It's only sites like this, free of corporate influence, and relying upon logic and evidence to argue its points, that I trust. And I think I'm not the only one.

Anonymous said...

I must have imagined Jeremy Corbyn getting cancelled by the entire British establishment with special help from JK 'Cancelling is bad' Rowling.

Nope. That really happened.

Anonymous said...

Who are this "liberal elite"?

Funny you should say that, a while back was experimenting with the Youtube app on my telly. Just used it for watching vids, not logged-in, no active account. Curiously it would recommend a vast amount of right-wing stuff. Watch a climate change video - recommends climate denial channels. Watch a left-wing film critic - recommends some bearded alt-right types whining about Captain Marvel. Fox news got recommended a lot, as did Jordan Peterson. Watch something about real-life political skulduggery, get recommended right-wing conspiracy dolts.

Sure I'm not alone in thinking Youtube's algorithms are somewhat suss. Like to see if there's balance out there but mysteriously the Internet is not littered with videos complaining about left-wing Youtube recommends.

Anonymous said...

People are being forced out of their jobs for wrongthink though. Not rightwing gobshites like Toby Young and Julia Hartley Brewer, but ordinary, non famous, mostly left wing women are being fired and harrassed for their feminist views. Look up Maya Forster, Gillian Phillips, Selina Todd. These things are happening, and grifters like Toby Young are able to make mileage out of it because so many men on the left simply dont seem to care.

Lord Kobel said...

I'm a moderator on a forum, and it's a tough balance between people having opinion and those having dangerous ones.

The most abusive are usually the ones who listen least.

Anonymous said...

Who are this "liberal elite"?

Having read Simon Jenkins latest piece of a claptrap, yesterday I clicked a lick provided by another lovely commentator which demonstrated Jenkins in 2016 claiming the precise opposite of what was in his article. In the claim he railed against "what the elite are saying" despite a banner underneath identifying him as SIR Simon Jenkins. As you point out, it's not the right who are suffering.

"ordinary, non famous, mostly left wing women are being fired and harrassed for their feminist views. ... many men on the left simply dont seem to care." Citation so desperately needed.

N said...

Grow up. You're exactly the same as Toby Young.

Cancel culture does not exist.

By the way, you seem a little confused. Maya Forstater and Selina Todd are prominent anti-feminists. They're people who try to suppress women's rights, and who are opposed by the entire international feminist community when they do so. They're also allied with far right evangelical groups from the USA. I'm not quite sure where you're getting your information from.

By the way, Forstater wasn't fired. She bullied her workplace colleagues and they therefore decided not to renew her freelancer contract. Pretty standard when someone bullies others.

N said...

I must have also imagined JK 'Disappeared Their Poop With Magic' Rowling constantly threatening to sue anyone who disagrees with her on Twitter.

Almost like she really wants to silence her critics.

Anonymous said...


"Look up Maya Forster, Gillian Phillips, Selina Todd". I did. At least two of those three are TERFs and, despite the nomenclature, are neither radical nor feminist. Let's see what an actual feminist says:

"I always thought I don’t care how someone becomes a woman or a man; it does not matter to me. It is just part of their specificity, their uniqueness, like everyone else’s. Anybody who identifies as a woman, wants to be a woman, is going around being a woman, as far as I’m concerned, is a woman." Catherine MacKinnon

Best trolling I've seen in a while though you should, perhaps, have spelled Maya Forstater's name correctly given your implied claim to care about her so much.

Anonymous said...

How do you "go around being a woman?" Is there an instruction manual?

Anonymous said...


Exactly! And yet TERFs and their apologists act as if there was. To quote MacKinnon again:
"there is no relation between the biology of sex and the meanings socially enforced on it, other than the very real consequences of the social system of sexual politics that does that forcing. This does, of course, raise the question: if it is all a social construction, why intervene in the biology of sex? That is a real political question, not a challenge to individual people’s decisions about the social presentation of their bodies, which in my opinion do not have to be justified."

As a good faith actor - and not someone trolling out of prejudice - I am sure that any further questions can quite easily be answered by googling either of the two quotes I have provided and reading the article and links for yourself. Of course, if you're not ...

P Staines said...

Great news if Ireland accrue 13bn from Apple.
What company would cheat on taxes Tim?

I'd never use an iPhone...