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How the mob can silence you Is it possible to stop prominent figures from expressing themselves?

Was Salman Rushdie 'silenced' by the fatwa? Credit: Sebastian d'Souza /AFP/ Getty

Was Salman Rushdie 'silenced' by the fatwa? Credit: Sebastian d'Souza /AFP/ Getty


December 8, 2020   8 mins

There’s a cartoon that crops up every so often, whenever a particular kind of row breaks out on the internet. In the first panel, an editor tells a columnist that his column is being dropped because it’s too extreme; in panels two, three and four, the columnist gives talks to huge audiences, appears on the front page of a newspaper, and plugs his new book, yelling “I have been silenced!”

It’s funny. Obviously the columnist has not been silenced; there he is, making lots of noise, in places where lots of people can hear him. 

Like lots of good political cartoons, it makes a case quickly and pithily, and it is very hard to argue against. But I want to try. 

The argument, with or without the cartoon, crops up an awful lot. “I’VE BEEN SILENCED!!!! suzanne moore cries, from the front page of a national newspaper,” tweeted one journalist, in response to an interview with Moore in the Telegraph and her piece in these pages last month. “The author of a book on the supposed ‘transgender craze seducing our daughters’ claims she is being silenced. It is a very loud silence,” ran the subtitle of a recent piece in The New Republic, about the author Abigail Shrier.

Or: “I would pause, for at least a few seconds,” wrote a columnist in the Guardian last year, of the historian Niall Ferguson, “if I found myself arguing that my freedom of speech was in a state of extreme jeopardy in this, my column in a national newspaper.” Current Affairs, 2018: “Pretty loud for being so silenced.” Also from 2018, the New Statesman: “If the “Intellectual Dark Web” are being silenced, why must we keep hearing about them?” 

As it happens, Moore never claimed (as far as I know) that she was being silenced: she said that it was becoming harder to express certain views. But the general question remains: is it possible for these people and their opinions to be simultaneously “silenced” and also widely expressed?

Obviously, if we take the word “silenced” to mean “literally made silent; unable to put their words out into the world at all”, then none of the above has been silenced . Their words are out there.

But if the only people who have permission to complain about being silenced are the ones who are literally silenced, then — by definition — we will never hear about it. I would say it is perfectly possible for people to try to silence you. They might even be successful at partially silencing you, or reducing your output, or making you nervous to say things – even if they aren’t able to shut you up entirely. And I would say that even if they aren’t successful in the specific case of the famous person involved, it can still have free speech implications for other people.

A word of warning: I’m going to draw an analogy now. I can imagine that people will read it and say “oh so you’re saying that people being rude on Twitter is the same as a death threat,” so I wanted to get out ahead of that: it is not what I am doing. Philosophical analogies are meant to draw out our intuitions and find out where they break down, not say “X is exactly like Y”. With that said, here’s the analogy.

In 1989, the novelist Salman Rushdie’s book The Satanic Verses was the subject of a fatwa by Ayatollah Khomeini. He spent several years in hiding, under police protection; a $3 million bounty was offered for his death (with an extra $600,000 being added in 2016). The Japanese translator of the book was murdered; the Italian translator was stabbed, and the Norwegian publisher was shot, although both, mercifully, survived.

Was Rushdie being silenced? Well, he wrote several times for national newspapers during his period in hiding. He appeared on television and Radio 4 to discuss it. He even turned up on stage during U2’s 1993 tour promoting their Zooropa album. “I’VE BEEN SILENCED!!!! salman rushdie cries, from the stage of wembley stadium.”

Suggested reading
How the mob can silence you

By Freddie Sayers

To reiterate: I’m not saying that Suzanne Moore or the ‘Intellectual Dark Web’ are equivalent in any sense to Rushdie, or that they have been subject to the same level of threat as a fatwa and $3 million bounty. The point is that, if you accept that Rushdie was in some sense being “silenced”, then you acknowledge that it is possible for people to be simultaneously highly visible, with a platform to say the things they want to say, while also having their free speech curtailed: that it is possible to shout, truthfully, that you are being silenced from the front page of a national newspaper.

Of course, you may not accept that Rushdie was being silenced. This would, in fact, be a fairly reasonable position. The stated aim of the fatwa was not to silence Rushdie, to get him to retract the book, or anything – it was to kill him. According to Khomeini’s office, media reports that the fatwa would be lifted if Rushdie apologised were false: “Even if Salman Rushdie repents and become the most pious man of all time, it is incumbent on every Muslim to employ everything he has got, his life and wealth, to send him to Hell.”

And this brings us to a second point. I’d say that there probably was a chilling effect on Rushdie himself, but you may disagree. But again: the point was not to silence Rushdie. It was to silence other people. In 2006, after the controversy about a Danish newspaper publishing cartoons showing images of Mohammed, the leader of Hezbollah expressed regret that the fatwa had been unsuccessful: “If there had been a Muslim to carry out Imam Khomeini’s fatwa against the renegade Salman Rushdie, this rabble who insult our Prophet Muhammad in Denmark, Norway and France would not have dared to do so.”

Are people less willing to be critical of Islam or to depict Mohammed, in the wake of Rushdie’s fatwa, or the Charlie Hebdo killings, or the recent beheading of the French schoolteacher? Probably. Even if the specific target of an attempt to silence is not, in fact, silenced, other people might be. 

Again: I’m not saying that murder or the threat of murder is the same as being ostracised at work, or having people be rude to you on Twitter, or having people protest outside your talks, or whatever. What I am saying is that it is possible for people to, simultaneously, have a loud and prominent platform, and at the same time for people to be “silencing” them, or at least trying to. And, further, even if the attempted silencing doesn’t work on the individual in question, it could easily have a chilling effect on other people — especially those with less job security. We have been talking about famous people in the public eye, but we won’t hear about the less famous people who hold the same views and are now afraid to express them. The “I’M SILENCED!!! I cry from the front pages of a national newspaper” argument falls down in at least some cases.

So it is possible for a person — or at least their views — to be both loud and silenced. The question is, then (and I’ve avoided it so far): are they? Is Suzanne Moore, or Jordan Peterson, or anyone? Does what they have been subjected to amount to “silencing”, or are other people simply using their own freedom of speech to complain about or protest against them?

It’s worth noting that, although I’ve said that being rude on Twitter is not the same as a fatwa, there have been material threats to some of the people I mentioned above. Moore received messages from people saying “they were going to rape me, decapitate me, ejaculate inside my head, burn me”. Someone turned up at a Jordan Peterson meeting carrying a garrotte. UC Berkeley had to spend $600,000 on security when the IDW member Ben Shapiro made a speech there. I doubt any of them were in as much danger as Rushdie, but I can’t imagine it was pleasant.

But let’s leave that aside. If a prominent columnist has his or her column taken away (as the cartoon was about), or if there are protests outside talks, or if there is simply a storm of people being nasty about you on Twitter, can that be “silencing”, even if that person still has a prominent voice?

To some degree, this is a matter of definitions. Obviously, a lot of people on Twitter calling you nasty names is not as bad as having a fatwa on your head, but it will probably make you less willing to write about the same subject again (I have some limited experience of this). Whether that reaches the threshold of “silencing” is just a question of how you define the word.

I think in some cases it is less ambiguous, though. When an academic resigns over an email defending the right to wear potentially offensive Halloween costumes, or two others lose their jobs after arguing against a “day of absence” on campus for white people — again, it’s not as bad as credible death threats, but losing your job is quite a big deal. I could entirely understand that other academics would worry about making the same arguments, even if those ones in particular are still writing in the Wall Street Journal or whatever about their experience. I’d say there’s some silencing going on there, at least under my definition of the verb “to silence”. I certainly know some academics who tell me that there are things they believe but wouldn’t ever dare say in public. The same goes for some journalists.

Which brings us to the final point. I think that it is possible to be both loud and silenced; and I think that in some cases, even those which fall short of the Rushdie standard of death threats and assassination attempts, it is reasonable to say that this has, in fact, happened.

The question, then, is whether that is a bad thing. The word “silenced” is one of those that most people think is automatically bad, but I don’t think that’s true: silencing Lord Haw Haw during the Second World War would have been absolutely fine by me. Silencing Osama bin Laden, in the sense of not publishing columns by him, or David Duke — also fine.

It might be fine by some means and not others, as well. Boycotts might silence people, but you might be OK with that, when you wouldn’t be with death threats to achieve the same aim.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s reasonable to say that silencing Jordan Peterson or Suzanne Moore is equivalent to silencing David Duke. Lots of people strongly disagree with both of those authors, but they’re both within the body of mainstream opinion. Moore, for instance, seems to believe that trans people should be treated with respect and addressed with the pronouns of their choice, but that they remain their biological sex, and that there should be spaces reserved for biological females. That seems to be pretty much what the British public believe — or, at least, a majority of the public is in favour of using a trans person’s chosen pronouns, but is less likely to consider a trans person to be “really” of that gender (the poll didn’t ask about biological sex). Similarly, a majority is in favour of trans women using women’s toilets, but only in cases when that trans woman has physically transitioned.

Of course, it’s perfectly possible that the British public is wrong. If YouGov had been around in the 1810s, the results of a poll on whether or not slavery was OK would not have determined whether or not slavery actually was OK. And you might argue that people back then should have tried to “silence” Lord Nelson and others who argued in favour of slavery. But it would have been strange to do so on the basis that they were extremist outliers. And if you were to try to get people fired for those opinions, you’d end up with unemployment rates around 50%. It just doesn’t seem viable.

And on the second point, again, you might think it’s not OK to send death threats, but it’s fine to send emails to someone’s boss if they express views you disagree with. Where you draw the line is up to you. I’m fairly absolutist on this — if you disagree with someone’s view, in almost all circumstances, you should express disagreement, not attempt to make it harder for them to express those views. “Bad argument gets counterargument. Does not get bullet. Never. Never ever never for ever.” But I am aware that I am on the more extreme end of that spectrum, and many people disagree; where you draw the line is up to you (and up to society at large, as we all debate these issues).

But being silenced is not a binary condition. Someone can be prominent, and famous, and regularly appear on the television — and they, or their views, or people like them, could still be being silenced. And you shouldn’t get your political philosophy from a cartoon.


Tom Chivers is a science writer. His second book, How to Read Numbers, is out now.

TomChivers

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Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

It’s not the writers and journalists that are silenced, it’s the everyday man and women who are.
Say you disagree with BLM at a company and see what happens.
Say you disagree with white privilege and see what happens.
Say you want to be left alone to live your life and see what happens.
Your not silenced, we are

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

I’m fairly sure that any writer or pundit who says those things will come under enormous fire, perhaps to the point where one of those tedious, meaningless apologies is extracted for having offended the thought police. The difference is that when such a person is attacked, it’s more noticeable since the individual has a bigger pulpit that we proles have.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

This probably won’t be popular but unless your company is paying people to sit around opining on such subjects, why are you even spending work time discussing it regardless of your opinions on the matter? Unless you’re an opinion columnist, seems like you ought to be doing your work instead.

aelf
aelf
3 years ago

You never pass a moment in idle conversation with a co-worker?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  aelf

During work time? No, I’ve never once opined on politics during work. Nor would I pay people to do so. Do you care what the guy in the cubicle next to you thinks about BLM? Or Boris Johnson or Donald Trump?

aelf
aelf
3 years ago

The conversation doesn’t have to be about politics. You should look up Roy Amor.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  aelf

Then you’re responding to the wrong thread. This one is about politics.

aelf
aelf
3 years ago

If you don’t think what happened to Roy Amor was because of politics you haven’t sufficient wit to contribute anything worthwhile to a discusssion.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  aelf

I neither know nor care who Roy Amor is. If your boss pays you to share political views, great for you. Most bosses do not do that.

aelf
aelf
3 years ago

Then you’re not informed enough to comment intelligently then are you?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  aelf

Simply not interested in rabbit holes. This isn’t a thread about Roy Amor.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
3 years ago

OK, but don’t you have breaks during the day where you have chats with your co-workers? Those are mandated by law in the United States – most of it anyway – and I would imagine in the UK as well. Please correct me if I’m wrong about that last statement.

There’s another matter as well. It doesn’t have to be at work any more. Nowadays, at least in the US where I live, we hear of people losing their jobs or suffering demotions for what they say online, just as we are doing now. Do you at least stand against that practice?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Krehbiel

You’re missing my point. And asking if I “at least” stand against people losing their jobs over opinions indicates that you’ve gone far past missing my point.

No one is mandated by law to discuss politics on their break. No one goes to work to hear other people’s political opinions. Unless they’re in the punditry business, of course. What’s more, why do you care what anyone else’s political opinions are?

John Private
John Private
3 years ago

When I was building a wall recently we built the wall to an excellent standard and chatted about politics.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  John Private

And?

angersbeagle
angersbeagle
3 years ago

Andrew Best said that it is the everyday man and woman who is being silenced.
Maybe a couple of his examples were not the best, but, lets take the following examples:
The Eton master who is in the news right now for daring to post an innocuous online lecture that simply conflicted with the school’s new direction (Woke /mob agenda). He may lose his job and no book deals.
The new Man U. signing, responding in a Twitter conversation that used a word that may or may not have been a perjorative. He was banned for a number of games and had to publish an apology.
The young lady in the USA cycling team upvoting a conversation that went against the current Woke (mob) orthodoxy. She has had to publish a grovelling apology and I suspect no book deal here either.
A friend of mine has a son in the Police, who along with the majority of his colleagues, utterly disagrees with the current agenda the force is having to work with. But, they have families and financial obligations, so they toe the official (Woke) line…
Maybe Ms Kralendijk, we see things differently and here at least thats ok. But I see people being attacked by the Woke mob with the intention of setting a very public example, to those not in agreement with their ideas.
I call that silencing of opposing thought, Fascism.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  angersbeagle

I’m not sure what all that has to do with my comments. If you’re not in the opinion business, then sitting at work expounding on your opinions really isn’t appropriate. I’m not sure what a cycling team has to do with that. I’m also not sure why you believe that someone working as policeman would be free to opine around work. If you’re a policeman, then you follow police protocol. If you don’t want to do that, quit being a policeman. My point was, if you’re at work, you’re supposed to be at work. Lastly, not sure how anyone can silence opposing thought. How exactly would that happen?

angersbeagle
angersbeagle
3 years ago

You miss my point.
I gave you examples of people who have been silenced and how. I have also mentioned what the affect will therefore be on other ordinary people going forward.
You use the term opine rather a lot….you say that people should not sit around at work expounding their opinions. Lets be a little less pretentious and use the term chat, its what people do at work and always have done. I don’t know where you are from or where you work, but I can tell you based upon 40 years in the workforce here in the UK that should you try to enforce such a policy on your subordinates you will find yourself in front of the HR Inquisitors so fast your feet won’t touch the ground.
Lastly, you ask again how can opposing thought be silenced ? …you have been given examples already of how people can be silenced, threaten their livelihood and their future, the rest will follow.
Lets be honest, we are hearing reports of lawyers even trying to make conversations in the home actionable….1984 here we come.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  angersbeagle

Chatting is not opining about politics. You can chat about a lot of other things. I’ll use whatever term I want to use. And you can do the same. Speaking of pretentious…..

There’s an awful lot of discussion from and among people who have been “silenced”. How do you even know their views if they have been silenced? You’re here on this site spouting views you claim have been silenced.

Opposing thought cannot be silenced. Unless someone can get into your head. You’re confusing thought with speech. They are not the same.

J A Thompson
J A Thompson
3 years ago

And if your company wants to send you on an unconious bias course or similar?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J A Thompson

Well, you’d have several choices, wouldn’t you? Take a stab at what those might be.

J A Thompson
J A Thompson
3 years ago

Enlighten me.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J A Thompson

Use your brain. You can come up with options unless you’re a helpless infant. People need to think these things through.

J A Thompson
J A Thompson
3 years ago

I love your line in vituperation Really encourages engagement. Have a Merry Christmas.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J A Thompson

I invited you to engage but I can’t make you do it. It’s important to think these days, you know? You have a nice Christmas as well. Ă°ĆžĆœâ€ž

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

For what reason do you think Mr Best was at work and what relevance has this to his comment

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

The words “at a company” are the big hint.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

I think he used the word hypothetically. I do not think you can infer that he was at work

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

What other meaning would “at a company” have?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago

Because we want to be allowed to.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

And? Where did you get the idea that you should be able to do anything you want to do at work?

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
3 years ago

Because woke activists are allowed to.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

Would need some evidence of that.

Dave Hanson Naish
Dave Hanson Naish
3 years ago

Well maybe the employer should install cameras and recorders to make sure-god forbid- individuals who express their opinions during the working day are dealt with appropriately….what would you have in mind exactly?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Doing your job. Is that a far fetched notion to you? Why do you think anyone cares about your political opinions anyway?

Renee Johansson
Renee Johansson
3 years ago

The point is that people are losing livelihoods for personal sentiments expressed outside of work, or because their job involves teaching/ presenting opinion.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

And you think this is new? Universities have been restricted speech locales for a long time. Are you just catching on now? Liberals do not tolerate diversity of opinion.

Renee Johansson
Renee Johansson
3 years ago

What is new is the impact of technology/ social media in tracking
everything that people do or say, what’s new is the proliferation of
videos and smartphones and activists who video anything they don’t like
(without the persons awareness) and display private moments online to go
viral and what’s new is the ability of social media to reach unthinking
mobs to harass employers/ businesses to get rid of anyone they don’t
like. Why do you accept universities teaching one sided opinions as
fact?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Not really. People have always gotten fired for stuff they said or wrote. Liberals are not suddenly less tolerant of diverse opinion, they have always been intolerant. If anything they are even more intolerant today. Try getting a job at a university as a conservative anytime in the last 20 years. This has been going on for decades and now we are supposed to be alarmed? Why wasn’t it alarming all these years?

Is anyone surprised that everything they do or say is open to interpretation and dissemination? That some people are looking to get them fired? If so, they are likely too naive to survive in the world of today.

Mobs can’t be controlled, that’s the nature of mobs. You cannot prevent mobs from harassing people if that’s what they want to do. They can’t be talked out of unreasonable behavior. And sometimes no one even tries. Look what happened this summer in Seattle. And Portland. The mobs were totally in control.

It is fact that universities and some companies are run by intolerant liberals. There’s nothing to accept or not accept, it is fact. Do you believe pretending that isn’t the case is a winning hand?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

This article seems to be a very long winded expression of something that approaches common sense. Namely, that it is the ‘silent majority’ who are indeed silenced by the attacks on Rushdie, Moore and Peterson etc. We have reached a point where they can speak for us, be we are not allowed to speak for ourselves except at the ballot box – for now.

However, I don’t agree that Ben Shapiro is a member of the IDW. His broadcasting operation employs a number of people and his viewing figures often match the likes of CNN.

The writer also seems to suggest it is reasonable for some people to think that it’s OK to email employers about the views of their employees. (As far as I can tell, this is not something the writer would do or advocated). Well I happen to think this behaviour is appalling, just appalling. The fact is that in 30 years, and as demonstrated by this and a number of other developments, we have gone from defeating the Soviet Union to becoming the Soviet Union.

The writer also references Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying. Ironically, their stand against the SJWs has given them a bigger platform than ever. But not without costs. Despite being two of the most thoughtful progressives on the planet, they are frequently accused of being ‘alt’right’ or even ‘far right’. Even worse, Big Tech actually shut down Bret’s Unity platform, an honourable albeit slightly bonkers (in my opinion) attempt to form a new political party/structure than encompassed the Right and Left. We live in very dangerous times.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I’d also add that existential threat isn’t limited to physical death. Threatening an ordinary Joe’s livelihood (perhaps a person with a family and mortgage) – robbing them of their wellbeing and the life in their community they’ve built up for themselves – is also an existential threat. And the silencers know it. It’s wicked.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Yes indeed. Women in particular seem to be subjected to the most bizarre threats of sexual violence. People should be prosecuted for this, but rarely seem to be.

J A Thompson
J A Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

You can be interviewed by the police, but only if your comments go in one direction; the other way seems to have unlimited licence. Look at the comments on the BBC that are allowed to go totally unchallenged. I give you, “Kill whitey!” for one and, “Why stop at milk when you can get battery acid?” for another. How we laughed at those!

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  J A Thompson

I give you Patrick White right now a click away on Unherd, under the “taking the knee’ article

“Black men generally are useless” says Pat

How we laughed. How the Unherd M.oderatirs gave zero sh:ts

J A Thompson
J A Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Freedom of speech involves the giving of offence. Get over there and debate with him; use reason to change his mind.
Incidentally, I am not complaining about what the two I mention said, they have as much right as anybody to be ignorantly offensive, but about the difference in treatment for them compared to what is meted out to, well, Patrick White, perhaps. Would you be as bothered if someone said, “White men are generally useless.”?
You might be; plenty would applaud it and certainly defend the persons right to say it. Whilst I would defend his right to say it, i would be inclined to take issue with it.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  J A Thompson

The unfunny Jo Brand, & Live At the Apollo & Mash report all substandard unfunny Woke Programmes..

James
James
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Absolutely! I don’t know how on earth we’ve got to the point of conceding that losing your job isn’t that big of a deal. We’re being gaslighted by repurposed trolls.

Renee Johansson
Renee Johansson
3 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

I’d also add that young people are growing up in this environment. Teenagers with poor coping skills are subjected to mob punishment with often tragic consequences such as suicide and mental health issues for simply expressing an unpopular viewpoint.

Teo
Teo
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Bizarre how the censorship is mainly being driven by political gangsters, non-state actors and the in house prejudices of corporate publishing platforms. Slightly distracting to compare that insidious censorship of denial of access, (soft) incitement and intimidation with the overt censorship of a totalitarian state such as the Soviet Union. Democratic governments have failed to uphold the principles of open access and free speech by turning a blind eye or in some cases even encouraging the de-platforming assault on free speech. The hollow echoing of madmen is preferable to the tyrannical silence of the dammed.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago
Reply to  Teo

But when lawyers doing the job they are actually required to do are described in the most disparaging terms by members of the government, then state actors are also involved. They just aren’t members of the supposedly “woke” (revolting term) liberal elite.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It is not a “fact” that we have become the Soviet Union, as even a short visit there while it was still extant would have shown you.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

I really miss the Soviet Union.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

he didn’t say ‘become.’ He said ‘becoming.’ Twenty years ago, people across the spectrum would have found cancel culture an outrage and an insult to free people. Today, many not only embrace it, they try to justify it.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

In the Soviet Union, and in East Germany, there was censorship in the news, and propaganda which no-one believed. People didn’t dare speak freely in front of their neighbours or even their children. We have already got the former and may yet get the latter – first in Scotland by the looks of things.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

In its mildest manifestation, the new intolerance compels all of us to speak in coded language about an awful lot of subjects. Beating about the bush, long-windedly as you say, and often in horrible PC jargon, to smuggle what we are trying to say, past the censors, rather than just saying it in good clear English as we used to.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

You say not allowed to express ourselves except at a ballot box, well postal voting ended that! The point of the curtained voting booth was one could vote their way and NO one could know how that is. Postal voting makes this over for many people indeed! People talk of how much they hold a family member in horror for supporting the wrong candidate, well here it is, just watch wile they check the box and likely they will check the box you like if you are adamant. Postal voting is NOT Democracy, and indeed is why Trump Lost!!!! (mostly because special interest radicals got people who know nothing and care less to sign up for postal voting so they could get their vote by telling them which box to check, ones who never would get their self to the poling place.)

James
James
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

It’s not remotely likely that many people had guardians of democracy hovering over them while they ticked boxes, is it?! Democrats took the covid risk seriously, republicans were always prone not to, and were further polarized by the appalling ‘leadership’ (who are still, amazingly, demonstrating the need for masking & social distancing). It’s blatantly obvious!

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Fraser, I wondered about this in the article. What is IDW?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Millwall,Colchester FC Fans let Wokeists go there &see What reception they get??

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s reasonable to say that silencing Jordan Peterson or Suzanne Moore is equivalent to silencing David Duke.
Why not? Does one not have the same rights as the others? Free speech was not meant for your friends. By definition, it is going to include some speech that you don’t like. So, counter it with better speech. Because once you decide that this right does not apply to certain people, then it’ s no longer really a right; it’s more of a privilege to be granted and taken away on the whim of the moment.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I would place other Guardian writers right there with Duke. Semus Milne, Poly Tonybee, and scads of others.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago

The writer makes exactly the same mistakes as all other left liberals: You cannot have one rule for David Duke and one for Jordan Petersen. They are equally free to propound their views and equally constrained NOT to exhort people to violence or murder. Failure to understand the paradox of liberty produces nonsense journalism like this. It also encourages Antifa, KKK etc and their fellow travellers in the Iranian Govt to claim that violence is an appropriate response to the written or spoken word.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

The David Duke thing is a red herring. Almost no organized Far Right organizations exist, few weirdos is all. But – millions of Far Left organizations exist, with HUGE fallowing. And we know Far Left has killed a great many more than far Right in living history. This Far Right trope is always dragged out when ever the Far Left radicals are mentioned, although they out number the far right by many powers indeed.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  7882 fremic

I think the far left has taken the far right’s clothes to the point
there is no room left on the right. So there is the far left and the far
normal – the latter being anyone committed to the pursuit of life,
liberty and happiness under the rule of law. I think ultimately our time
will come back and the far normal will rise again.

Alison Houston
Alison Houston
3 years ago

Lord Nelson did not argue in favour of slavery, the letter he wrote which appears to imply that he did was altered by the anti abolitionists, at a later date, in order to make it look like they had a hero on their side.

Vivek Rajkhowa
Vivek Rajkhowa
3 years ago
Reply to  Alison Houston

Exactly, as always Afua Hirsch has to conflate shit to get her point across.

Dodgy Geezer
Dodgy Geezer
3 years ago

‘Silencing’ is readily distinguished from normal debate by ONE feature. That is, that the ‘silencers/cancellers’ refuse to engage with the point being made.

Instead, these people typically use a mixture of ‘argument from authority’, smear tactics and insult to avoid addressing the point raised, and to mobilise the audience into closing their minds to any argument against their position. This is how the ‘Overton Window’ works.

You see this time and time again. You see it in the comments below. You can see the names of Horatio Nelson and Ben Shapiro being waved about like banners, rather than any reference to or consideration of what these two people actually said.

This state of affairs has rapidly taken over ALL discourse, public and private. No one considers what was said, or what evidence exists. You are either FOR Tommy Robinson or AGAINST him – you are unable to have a discussion of the merits and disadvantages of immigration.

I recall Tom Chivers talking about ‘climate-change denialists’ half a dozen years ago, using the argument from authority to smear anyone who disagreed with the Royal Society, and totally avoiding engaging with any of the technical disagreements with the (modelled) consensus view which is now becoming more and more obviously suspect.

But I don’t suppose that he recognises himself in this silencing process. He has just had his views subtly converted to the ‘one true side’, and will not, I am sure, give any argument that mankind are NOT causing dangerous climate change any kind of hearing – be it fair or otherwise…

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer

As a mask denier myself….

James
James
3 years ago
Reply to  Dodgy Geezer

It’s not argument from authority to talk about the relative strength & consilience of science (even less ‘controversial’ now) or point to consensus or even point out the science – based heuristics we take for granted in everyday life, and can depend on. Not admitting that can leave you open to all sorts of nonsense.

I remember the climategate era well and there was no ‘cancel culture’ to speak of. Indeed some quite famous people were taken in by it initially (such as Clive James, sadly), and voiced their misapprehensions to no ill effect. so your conflation of much-needed & timely criticism with ‘silencing’ is incorrect.

Moreover, if you chose to embrace ‘scepticism’, it was a very lucrative career for a while, with book deals, well-paid public appearances (especially those hosted by the tea party) and blogging opportunities galore. It’s all died a natural death now, as many positions will without our intervention.

Paul Savage
Paul Savage
3 years ago

So the author is “fairly absolutist” on this. That’s a relatively unique position.

m pathy
m pathy
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Savage

He is tip-toeing so hard that he is entirely unaware of the comedic spectacle he is presenting.

andrew.iddon
andrew.iddon
3 years ago

That people can be killed for insulting someone elses beliefs and it is not the cause of mass protest says a lot. It creates an unacceptable social lowest common denominator, and a gross infringement of the boundaries of citizens that underpin personal liberty. Yet no-one is allowed to pull down the nonsense that is claims of islamophobia in response to the terrorisation of society and the denial of freedom to those who are not adherents to this barbaric belief system.

Joe Blow
Joe Blow
3 years ago
Reply to  andrew.iddon

The tragedy is that so many people feel that the cartoonist – not the killer – is in some way partially culpable. They are not, any more than the provocatively dressed woman is responsible for her own assault. This must be made absolutely clear in law and should be underscored in public whenever possible.

It was all made worse with the dimwitted act of incorporating “islamophobia” into law, as a thing that thou shalt not express (Labour Party – quelle surprise…) This has provided cover for some of the most primitive and vicious self-appointed censors our society has seen for a while. We need a proper public understanding that “muslim offence” doesn’t matter. The law must be changed to reflect that.

Not just muslims, of course. Protecting people from being offended (a state that is usually a choice anyway) is not a matter for the law. Satanic Verses offensive to you? Don’t buy it or read it.

I agree with you – it is a shameful business that there are not street demonstrations on this.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  andrew.iddon

Is murder a matter for street protests or a matter for the law? If it’s legal to murder people based on your anger at their beliefs then we do have a matter for street protests. It makes no difference that some people are okay with killing cartoonists because they wrote something or said something. It’s still against the law. After all, some people are okay with domestic violence and FGM but that makes no difference. They’re against the law.

kinelll086
kinelll086
3 years ago

Tommy Robinson has been silenced, agree with him or not. He has many people who want to kill him, lefties AND muslims. Rushdie only had one lot of nutters after him

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  kinelll086

And the extraordinary thing about TR is that if you took various things he has said and published them anonymously, no-one would object.

7882 fremic
7882 fremic
3 years ago
Reply to  kinelll086

I tend to agree with him, I think he is a great man who stands up for what he believes against unbelievable oppression.

Tim Diggle
Tim Diggle
3 years ago

I find it rather odd that so many of the discussions about “the mob crushing free speech” seem to involve so few actual people. I can understand that opinions held by such as Jordan Peterson or Owen Jones can stir up feelings amongst fellow commentators – and I often hear about “Twitter storms”.

However, in my daily life I find that most people have either little or no interest in or no real opinion on the various subject matters being raised. This leads me to wonder whether modern social media outlets are functioning as little more than amplifiers for minority views or single issue fanatics. Too many Twitter storms appear to be journalists arguing vehemently amongst themselves in public with their opinions reprinted to fill space in MSM outlets.

I am not foolish enough to dismiss attacks on freedoms of thought, speech or action but I find that most people seem more concerned about the amount of milk left in the fridge or when the car MOT expires and apply far less emphasis to more abstruse journalistic or socio-political discussions.

Michael Whittock
Michael Whittock
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim Diggle

I think you may be right Tim. But aren’t they being complicit by default about a contemporary phenomenon which is extremely dangerous for our society.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim Diggle

“I find that most people have either little or no interest in or no real opinion on the various subject matters being raised.” Who on earth do you mix with? Just people with their heads stuck in the sand?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

75% of our children used to fail the 11 Plus. QED?

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

What has that do with having an opinion/interest in a current issue?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

Most of the population are brain dead, what else?

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim Diggle

Owen Jones is an interesting case, to me he is the yardstick of free speech… I would fight for his right to publish except where he advocates physical violence, as he did on twitter several times in 2019. Now on to my point, there is a TV series on USA cable called Queen of the South. Its not a tale of Dumfrieshire’s oldest football club. Its a gore-fest of drug cartel violence, flash cars and couture clothing so beloved of many viewers, including several of my family. Early in S4-E4 two Mexican drug dealers with anger issues are insulted by a corrupt apparatchik from the local city licensing authority. Naturally they beat him to a bloody death. The actor looks very much like Owen Jones. Its a bit like Norman Tebbit’s “cricket test”. Take a look if you can find it and see how it makes you feel.

Jules jules
Jules jules
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim Diggle

I agree that most people don’t really care, and that the “amplifiers for minority views or single issue fanatics” become the loudest voices in the room. But that’s the problem. As people are passive and don’t have time/desire to look for themselves, they contend themselves with the labels created by the loudest voices in the room. “Of yeah, I heard of Jordan Peterson, don’t they say he is some sort of right wing ideologue? well… Thanks for sending me his video but I don’t really have time for this right now. I would rather read that book everybody is talking about (i.e”White fragility”…and so on) so I have something to say at the next dinner party.”

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim Diggle

I would say that you’re close in saying that most or many people have no real interest in or opinion of various controversial subjects. But I think people do have opinions on these things, they just aren’t screaming them from the pages of a newspaper. For me it’s more accurate to say that most or many people have little interest in the opinions of people like Owen Jones or Suzanne Moore or even Jordan Peterson rather than in the subject itself. If you’re not already on the far left, Owen Jones isn’t going to help you get there. He can say whatever he wants and it will simply be ignored by great swathes of people. But isn’t that okay?

Renee Johansson
Renee Johansson
3 years ago
Reply to  Tim Diggle

First they came for the celebrities and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a celebrity….

aelf
aelf
3 years ago

For what it’s worth, I don’t think it’s reasonable to say that silencing Jordan Peterson or Suzanne Moore is equivalent to silencing David Duke. Lots of people strongly disagree with both of those authors, but they’re both within the body of mainstream opinion.

Well, that’s one way to drop much of your argument into the dustbin. You’re either in favour of free speech or not. Like pregnancy there’s not an indeterminate state. Deciding that censorship is acceptable if someone isn’t ‘within the body of mainstream opinion’ differs from Khomeini’s stance only in degree.

Steve Craddock
Steve Craddock
3 years ago

I think the silencing of anyone is actually a direct expression of power focused onto the specific individual or group being silenced. I cannot see how it can viewed in a nice constructive way, as it is clearly an act of force or coercion and in some cases genuinely brutal or violent in nature. I think our society has started down a dark and dangerous path which I fear may accidently for most, possibly intentionally for some, lead us back towards gas powered silencing booths. Of course, we would tell ourselves, these would only be for the outcasts in society, you know; those with wrong or wicked ideas.
I believe the one immutable right in these situations where an uncomfortable idea is being expressed is for an individual not to listen, as this act falls firmly within grant of the individual concerned. Eventually I would hope a person with a truely terrible idea would end up speaking to an empty room.
If you do, however, find yourself agreeing with, or at least toying with, the concept of silencing the radical or the heretic, the non conformist, the strong woman or man or just the “other”, imagine how you would grow your response to increasingly disagreeable ideas and the people that hold them. Imagine what you could end up either doing yourself or sanctionng others to do on your behalf.

Daniel Björkman
Daniel Björkman
3 years ago

A perfectly sensible point. I really wish that it didn’t need to be made.

andrew.iddon
andrew.iddon
3 years ago

My thought exactly – how have we got here so fast?

Mark Denman
Mark Denman
3 years ago

Under the present economic conditions the loss of a job, especially for people with families, can be an absolutely crushing blow, and the author appears to understate this reality.

Sean L
Sean L
3 years ago

Depends what you mean by ‘mob’. Covid truth tellers for example are silenced by plutocrat media / big tech / officialdom. Not least UnHerd. If Reiner Fuellmich and Wolfgang Wodarg’s case that the Drosten PCR test is a criminal conspiracy is false then it should be rebutted. But no mention of it is made at all because it’s true. No reasonable person could hear the evidence and conclude otherwise.

Of course it was Wodarg who prevented the plandemic of 2009. A YouTube video of a John Snow report: “Channel 4 News Exposes Swine Flu Scandal in 2010” remains in situ, unlike Fuellmich’s ‘Crimes against humanity’ video which was censored by YouTube from 49 mins to 5 mins, if anyone needs a reminder. Another video from Prof Sucharit Bhakdi was taken down altogether because, according to YouTube CEO, “it contravened WHO guidelines”.

The same ‘mob’ silence dissenters from the multiculturalist orthodoxy, mass marketed as Diversity / ‘anti-racism’: the idea that Europeans alone should have no more right of abode in their ancestral homelands than recent arrivals from Brazil or Burundi; and where the allocation of subsidised accommodation is concerned, less.

destor23
destor23
3 years ago

I very much agree that it’s beyond the pale to call somebody’s boss to protest their ideas. For those who believe otherwise, though, I wonder at what point it stops? Are there only certain jobs the target of your ire can’t have like prominent film director or columnist, or is it all jobs? Would you, for example, call their boss to protest them running a fish hatchery or a bagging groceries, too?

Renee Johansson
Renee Johansson
3 years ago
Reply to  destor23

I think the point is that it has come for all jobs, as well as businesses. There areorganised groups who spend their days trawling for voices they don’t agree with so they can message their employers or organise boycotts. People have even lost jobs for associating with someone with ‘unacceptable’ views, just look at the campaigns against Maria Folau, or the case of ‘San Francisco Karen’s’ husband…

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  destor23

It’s not the jobs, it the views. If you hold conservative views or even slightly liberal views, the mob would like you fired. From whatever your job is. You can’t stop the mob from coming for you, no one can. There are people who have nothing but time to spend trying to ensure that people who hold diverse views are fired.

The solution isn’t mob related. Offense will not work. Sometimes companies will stand up for someone who has offended people with too much time on their hands. A recent example would be the Wall Street Journal where writer Joseph Epstein was attacked by a mob for saying that Jill Biden should not use Dr. as that denotes a medical doctor to the vast majority. Whoopi Goldberg claimed on The View that Jill Biden was a really great doctor until embarrassingly informed that she isn’t a doctor, she has a PhD in education. Demanding the honorific Dr. is pretentious. Anyway the WSJ refused to back down amid cries of sexism, fire Epstein, issue abject apologies to Jill Biden, etc. as the piece was opinion. And said so. That’s the solution.

Renee Johansson
Renee Johansson
3 years ago

Hopefully these professional cancellers are ready to take on the jobs they’ve opened up and have their taxes pay for the welfare of those they’ve cancelled.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

You seem to be under the impression that cancel culture warriors attempt to cancel others in order to get jobs.

The solutions isn’t mob related. You cannot stop people wanting to cancel others.

Chris Milburn
Chris Milburn
3 years ago

As someone who has been silenced, and know others who have been, I will say 2 things:
1) most people who have been silenced never get to talk about it in front of audiences or in the press. We see only the tip of the iceberg.
2) most people don’t speak out and THEN get silenced. They self-censor. In my estimation this problem is an order of magnitude or more larger than deplatforming.

We should be frightened, and have the courage to speak out.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago

The mob cannot cancel anyone without the complicity of the majority.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

The majority aren’t complicit, they are afraid.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

Based on sales of both Peterson and Rushdie’s books, I’d say not too many people are that afraid.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

My copy of ‘Midnight’s Children’ is hidden in a secret panel behind a signed photo of the Ayatollah embracing Jeremy Corbyn that hangs on the parlour wall. I am well prepared…

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

Buying a book is one thing but speaking out is another

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

And you believe that everyone who reads it must or even wants to speak out on Jordan Peterson’s book? I picked it up because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. I found it completely mainstream common sense advice, not at all the type of thing that people who have common sense get all strung out over and demand to speak out about. The people who do speak out are those who don’t want you to even read the book. All they’re doing is selling book for Peterson.

Harold Crow
Harold Crow
3 years ago

You are presuming that ‘speaking out’ refers to the unprompted promotion of Mr Peterson’s or similar ideas in otherwise apolitical environments. Rather, I think Ethniciodo is talking about active and vocal dissent from the radical progressive regime that increasingly dominates public life, including that which you think to be neutral.

You may not care to exchange views on BLM with your work colleagues, but if it is decided that you all must undertake implicit racial bias training, will those who feel this is wrong feel secure enough to say so?

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Harold Crow

Nope. Speaking out in my view is saying whatever you want to say. It’s as simple as that.

I wouldn’t work for a company that demands you take implicit racial bias. But if your company demands that you do, then unless it’s a government employer, yes you’ll wind up taking it. So either take it or find another job. What possible good would it do to tell a company that would demand that you take racial bias training in the first place, that it’s wrong? Companies are not direct democracies.

Harold Crow
Harold Crow
3 years ago

Companies may not be direct democracies, but even the most autocratic dictatorships at some level require the tacit consent of the subjects. They would not push these things if they thought a big enough minority (let alone the vaunted silent majority) would say no.

I’m not sure whether an ordinary man on woman would lose their job for vocally objecting to such training (even in 2020). I’d argue that the main deterrent is actually fear of the low social status that would come from being seen as a troublemaker and a potential racist – though such a reputation would no doubt harm one’s prospects for advancement. In this example, I’m quite sure that people are remaining silent due to fear, irrespective of how many Jordan Peterson books they then buy.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Harold Crow

Saying no and speaking out are not the same thing at all.

The main reason people meekly accept ridiculous things like implicit racial bias training is that it’s simply easier to go sit through a class and text your friends while doing so. For many people, it’s a break from the grind. They don’t actually care what it’s about. I once had to sit through a class on how to sweep an office building for bombs. As if I’d hang around and sweep after a bomb threat rather than run like hell. Sure I’ll go to a class if I can get away from this computer or these customers or this phone. Companies push stupid stuff all the time. I’ve sat through all kinds of stupid classes and presentations over the years. Sometimes, I make grocery lists and others I catch up on FB or Instagram. You can actually attend a class and absorb absolutely nothing if you want. But you can also always leave the company because of stupidity on the companies part. Lots of people do. I’ve never worked for a company that would waste its time in implicit racial bias training but there’s plenty of other stupid training ideas.

As far as being thought racist, that’s lost its terror because it’s been over-used. Shouting racist at anyone you disagree with no longer has the sting it may once have. People know it’s a ploy to stop debate. Do you consider everyone who has been called a racist to actually be a racist?

I don’t see widespread fear in the way that you do. And I haven’t seen any evidence of this widespread fear. It’s much less dark and mysterious than you make out.

Harold Crow
Harold Crow
3 years ago

Saying no and speaking out are not the same thing at all.

Those who are opposed don’t always make the distinction.

I certainly agree that the majority simply take the path of least resistance without much thought. My previous comments concern those who have profound objections to these ridiculous things, yet ultimately hold their tongue and go along with them.

This is not without consequence.

We have recently lived through the greatest loss of civil liberties in centuries, and, in many instances, the justification for this was demonstrably nonsensical. I’ve spoken to many people who hold this view; the vast majority still acquiesce.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Harold Crow

They make the distinction by doing one or the other. Or neither for that matter.

You are likely overestimating the number of people with earth-shattering objections. People are just getting on with life, taking care of their families, getting jobs, losing jobs, losing loved ones, etc. this may be the biggest issue for you but it isn’t for most people. I see no evidence of profound objections to most stupid stuff.

Yes, totally agree there have been many civil liberties atrocities lately. (Although saying it was the greatest loss in centuries is more than a stretch) The justification was indeed nonsense in many cases, in others it was sheer authoritarian power play. And in many cases, the courts slapped them down. That isn’t acquiescence. There will always be power grabs after all, it’s humans running things. But speaking out did zero to stop the authoritarians. They don’t care who speaks out.

Harold Crow
Harold Crow
3 years ago

Those who are opposed don’t always make the distinction.

By the ‘opposed’, I mean those who are being said no to.

My claim about civil liberties is not a stretch with respect to England.

True, there will always be power grabs by aspirant authoritarians, and the more muscular of these can step over much dissent (though again, I’d argue that there must also be some tacit consent from the subjects).

I do however believe that if those who reluctantly held their tongues had instead stood firm, they could have effectively blunted the ‘thin end of the wedge’ tactics so well employed by radical progressives in recent decades. I lament that this opportunity was missed and so no longer hold any faith with notions of the “silent majority” or “common sense values”. As you say, people will continue to “get on with their lives”, scarcely raising a whimper as they meekly accept the new gods amid the ashes of their heritage.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Harold Crow

Of course it’s a stretch, what sort of civil liberties are you imaging the UK had two centuries ago? No need for hyperbole. It’s been quite bad enough without that.

Authoritarians do not care whether you hold your tongue. They care whether they can force you to change. And they are having big problems with that, hence the outrage.

People have far more common sense than you imagine. That’s what the “progressive left” is upset about. They can’t seem to make enough people feel bad about who they are. And yes people will get on with their lives, they always do. Bad ideas come and go, life goes on. If you lose it every time a bad idea comes along, you’re only going to make yourself unhappy. You not only hold faith with the notion of a silent majority, that’s what you most have a problem with, that people aren’t up on their hind legs constantly over the latest outrage. Few people want to live that way and in the end, much of it doesn’t affect many lives.

Harold Crow
Harold Crow
3 years ago

The British government of 1820 did not have the power to quarantine the healthy, or to ban all public worship, or to mandate face masks in places of business. Will such responses to the pandemic prove temporary or will Covid-19 be to health what 9/11 was to air travel?

A more revealing example would be the abolition of ‘double jeopardy’ in England and Wales in response to the murder of Stephen Lawrence. Centuries of common law tradition were overturned to repent for alleged ‘institutional racism’.

People’s lives are much more affected than they realise and it’s only downhill from here.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Harold Crow

In 1820, there were no face masks and no one would have known anything managing pandemics. But let’s review what the British government could do in 1820.

In 1820 an Irish catholic could be elected to Parliament but not take the seat because he was catholic.

Slavery was still legal in 1820. Slavery.

The poor had almost no political rights in 1820. Google the New Poor Law. It introduced a national system of workhouses designed to punish the poor. Families were divided within workhouses and inmates had to perform pointless tasks.

Nearly 30 years later, the Chartist movement was still trying to secure rights such as the vote for all men over 21, the right to secret ballots, and the elimination of property requirements to become an MP. Nearly 500 Chartists were arrested for these efforts.

So yes, your claim that current loss of civil liberties is the greatest loss in centuries is indeed a stretch. You can’t top slavery, workhouses, and land as a requirement to vote with anything going on today. It’s quite bad enough today without resorting to over the top hyperbole.

I agree with you that banning public worship is wrong. Someone should take it to court as happens in the US all the time when government asserts power it does not have. And they win. The difference is that the UK has a state church so it is more tied in with government than could ever happen in the US. Maybe a state church is not a great thing.

Harold Crow
Harold Crow
3 years ago

Slavery in England itself was de facto abolished by the 13th Century.

Political rights are secondary to the more fundamental liberties that free men exercise in their everyday lives. The subjects under a monarchy can often be freer than the citizens of a democracy.

The ‘greatest loss of civil liberties’ means the greatest regression, not the lowest absolute level.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Harold Crow

Nope. 1833

I realize that you mean slavery for white people. I mean slavery period, regardless of one’s race.

By definition, subjects are not freer than citizens.

In my view loss of civil liberties means loss of civil liberties. Nice work trying to wriggle out of this, but it’s not happening.

Harold Crow
Harold Crow
3 years ago

Nope. 1833

I realize that you mean slavery for white people. I mean slavery period, regardless of one’s race.

No legal basis for slavery existed in English common law (as applied within England itself) prior to 1833, irrespective of race. In rare instances, individuals may have claimed ownership over others, but this was not enforced by the state.

By definition, subjects are not freer than citizens.

And yet, constitutional monarchies consistently outperform republics on measures of freedom.

In my view loss of civil liberties means loss of civil liberties.

This sentence is meaningless.

Nice work trying to wriggle out of this, but it’s not happening.

This sentence is delusional.

I think this exchange has run its course, so I shall not reply again. Thank you for your responses.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Harold Crow

Thanks for clarifying that you meant slavery was “de facto” abolished prior to 1833 for white people only. Unfortunately for you I’m not talking only about white people.

That nasty little word “subject” keeps hanging you up, doesn’t it?

I too think you’re out of gas. Thanks for the laughs.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

Have you lost the plot?

The origin point was “The mob cannot cancel anyone without the complicity of the majority.”

My response was that the majority were not complicit but afraid.

You strangely commented “Based on sales of both Peterson and Rushdie’s books, I’d say not too many people are that afraid.”

I correctly pointed out that buying a book is not the same as speaking out.

You took this as meaning that I “believe that everyone who reads it must or even wants to speak out on Jordan Peterson’s book”. How?

I cannot imaging many people feeling compelled to speak out after reading Peterson’s book.

To reiterate it takes courage to speak out and no courage to buy a book. Although it might not be wise to be caught in possession of a Jordan Peterson book on a university campus

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

You live a very bleak existence, sensing fear around every corner. My point, which I’ve made several times, is that most people don’t speak out on any one subject. People are going about their daily lives, not thinking about Jordan Peterson or Suzanne Moore. What you take to be fear running through the majority of people (even the idea is silly) is actually people going about their lives.

Of course you meant it that reading his book would lead to wanting to speak out if people were not afraid to do so. That’s why you claimed that buying it and speaking out are different when no one said they were not. If you now agree that not everyone who reads the book would choose to speak out, great. We agree. No need to contrast buying the book to speaking out, which was my point.

Your idea of speaking out is completely different from mine. You see a cowed and frightened majority. I do not. If we had such a majority, there would not be nearly so many cancellation attempts.

Harold Crow
Harold Crow
3 years ago

Then they are complicit through cowardice.

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Don’t agree. The rulers have the power. you’ll lose your job. M Bloomberg commented on the fact that 95% of wall street money – including his own – went to Obama. There’s a frightening cohesiveness to the views of the elite in positions of power.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

95% of wall street money – including his own – went to Obama
one of the great ironies of our time, and I suspect largely unknown by his cadre of faithful dogwashers.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Similarly, people were surprised when I told them that Biden was the Wall St candidate this year, and the recipient of more or less all their money. This is the problem, nobody knows anything.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

And it sounds as if 100% went this time to the fraudster.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

Gee I wonder where that comes from? Take a step back and look at academia.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

I agree and Jordan Peterson is a good example. As hard as the mob tried to cancel him, they actually did more to promote him and if anything he is more popular now. The public didn’t go along with the cancel efforts. Whereas, someone like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, could be cancelled because the public went along with it.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago

The interesting as well as self-defeating aspect to mob attempts to silence people is that it usually does just the opposite. People like Jordan Peterson make a living getting publicity from mob silence attempts. I’m not saying this is a bad thing and actually it works out quite well for mob targeted people. How many people have bought and read Peterson’s works because they wanted to see what was so triggering to the mob? Lots of people come away thinking this was nothing more than my parents taught me at home. Rushdie too has been dining out for years on mob hysteria. Not saying that is his goal but it sure has worked out well for him. Suzanne Moore seems shocked that the mob has come for her which strikes me as ludicrously naive. It s a mob, it’s not intended to be coherent. She is likely getting far more traction based on mob attacks than she ever would have received as a columnist at the very limited appeal Guardian.

It’s sort of poetic justice in a way and works as a signal to some people. Anyone targeted by the mob must be saying something worth hearing if there are such attempts to stifle it.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago

Their living may be enhanced but that carries a cost. A fair number of people who are told “he’s an alt-right extremist” believe it, ignorant that Peterson is a psychologist and professor, not a political pundit. Those same people were actively cheering over his recent medical problems, which speaks poorly about them but self-awareness has never been their strong suit. The uproar did launch him to a broader audience than might have existed before, but there was a tradeoff involved.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

You miss my point. Peterson was an obscure Canadian academic until the mob came for him. Now, everyone knows who he is and (the important point is) his book sales have skyrocketed. Yes that’s good for him but it also means his books are being read way more widely than they would have been absent mob attack. The mob has helped him spread his message, they haven’t in any way stifled it. Don’t get lost in weeds like people cheering over his medical misfortune. That in no way stops the spread of his message, which is nothing more than people should have learned as children from their parents.

The same applies to Suzanne Moore. How many people would have ever heard of her as an obscure Guardian columnist, much less read anything she wrote, had the Guardian not come for her?

Peter Ian Staker
Peter Ian Staker
3 years ago

I suppose they are trying to draw attention to the fact they have been fired, which points to a bigger issue, freedom of speech or lack there of. They are trying to show up the intolerance of the left, and there are still some outlets where you can get a job doing this. It’s just that a worrying number of institutions would not employ someone with their supposedly extreme views. They are probably afraid for their careers but there seems to be a well trodden career path for people who have been silenced. There is a danger of people making this into their whole thing, after all it feels good to be a famous martyr, fighting against injustice as you see it, but I agree it needs to be said. It’s just that we need more institutions where this isn’t an issue and people can write and debate the important topics without fear.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago

The basic point is true. Trouble is the woke left Twitterati take everything so literally (when it suits them). Just saw a smart-aleck tweet by Ed Morrish about Millwall fans being anti-Marxist (not). They miss the point. Oh, and now I’ve read Nesrine Malik’s article linked in the above piece, I’ve concluded she is a moron. I wish she would be silenced but no, not literally. I’d rather she didn’t have a mainstream platform, but she is given airtime by broadcasters etc for the same reason as those she hates. The polarising conflict shows “balance” and makes good viral content etc.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

I think most of us reached that conclusion regarding Nasrine Malik, and the majority of Guardian commentators, some time ago.

Daniel Goldstein
Daniel Goldstein
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I did this year!

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

What took you so long?

J StJohn
J StJohn
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

You have to admit, The Guardian is fantastically useful. It’s free. They have some great social interest articles. And, if you want to know instantly, which side of a political argument is inherently ridiculous – just check what the guardianista think!

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

I know – and I enjoy their football coverage – but I just can’t bring myself to give them the ‘eyeballs’.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

Don’t ever trust the reporting though.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

‘Comment is restricted, facts are optional’ as they like to say.

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  J StJohn

Cricket coverage is alright though they do manage to get some leftists barbs and quips into the OBO feed, especially in rain delays. They still make up 80% of Pseuds Corner. And if they didn’t exist there may arise an intelligent worker owned leftist paper that can connect with us ordinary folk…..That would never do – Vivat Grauniad!

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago

It isn’t just the “woke left Twitterati”. Trump isn’t a member of that lot, nor is Priti Patel. When we have members of a Tory government trying to delegitimise legal representation, and pretending not to know about the “cab rank” principle, then the political right is behaving just as badly. Seems to me this whole problem is an aspect of the modern “my ignorance is as valid as your expertise” school of thought. Come to think of it, wasn’t that a Goveism?

mike otter
mike otter
3 years ago
Reply to  Robert Forde

Nietzsche tried to argue with some success that ignorance is as
structured as knowledge. IMO despite a few bright moments he was a pretty
basic anti-history story teller, as were many in his time. So you can
see the sort of company that Gove and his neocons plus the leftist
twitterati are keeping. I think they are regressing way past the 19th
Century into the 16th and before. It will be some time before the
grown-ups reassert themselves and stop the party but i really think they
will. Sadly prehistoric pond life like Gove, Malik et al will do a lot
more damage in the meanwhile.

Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey
3 years ago

Abigail Shrier has been silenced, though. Amazon no longer sells her book in the UK.

christopherowens1986
christopherowens1986
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

Available on Kindle, and listed as being available again in book format in January.

christopherowens1986
christopherowens1986
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Harvey

Available on Kindle, and listed for a repress in January.

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 years ago

Of course debate must be silenced by the mob. The easiest way to prevent your argument from being examined, its flaws exposed to ridicule, is to prevent any discussion of it in the first place. The easiest way to elevate yourself among the woke is to tear down those who would even dare question your argument.

Thus those who seek elevation, who vie for greater woke status, compete with fellow adherents to identify and criticise (what reasonable people would see as) vanishingly trivial offenses. You can spend years going along with the progressive herd, but the minute you fall out of lock-step with them on a single contentious issue you will be turned on. Previous adherence to orthodoxy is no defence once you’ve been accused of trans-heresy – should that be (S)heresy?

Each of these trifling missteps – or statements of biological fact – must be campaigned against as if they are proof positive of transphobia – or racism, sexism or patriarchal oppression.

Meanwhile, anyone who is not willing to go to war is compelled to agree with this nonsense, or at the very least stay silent on the matter, for fear that they too will be “cancelled” or face accusations of bigotry.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
3 years ago

There appears to be a silencing policy at Unherd too. My comments just disappear.

Well, two can play at that game. If they are not reinstated, I will just cancel Unherd (unsubscribe in the modern parlance).

Is this not part of the Techno-feudalism era we have now entered? We are free to say what we like as long as (and only as long as) the Tech companies don’t mind it.

rosie mackenzie
rosie mackenzie
3 years ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

Yes, you would expect they would notify you in some way but they don’t. They just sneakily remove them.

Terry Mushroom
Terry Mushroom
3 years ago
Reply to  Jos Haynes

Sure it’s not disqus? It can be very sensitive in an SJW kind of way about certain words.

Jos Haynes
Jos Haynes
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Mushroom

All I know is some of my posts are just “disappeared”.

Have no idea of the relationship between Unherd & Disqus.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

Isn’t that Brendan O’Neil holding that placard in the picture above?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

It certainly looks like it!

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
3 years ago

A lot of people have been permanently silenced by the mob. I am surprised that Tom didn’t mention anyone beyond the Japanese translator of Salman Rushdie’s “Satanic Verses”, killed, not for expressing his own views, but for translating another person’s. In 2004, Theo Van Gogh, the Dutch film-maker, was butchered by an Islamist terrorist for a film attacking Islam. He won’t be making any more films against Islam. Canadian porn star August Ames committed suicide in 2017 at the age of 23. All she had done was tweet that she refused to make films with male stars who had done gay porn films because she valued her health. This precipitated such a vicious reaction from online trolls that she took her life. She won’t be tweeting anymore about gay porn or anything else. In 2020, University of North Carolina at Wilmington professor Mike Adams lost his job after he sent out controversial tweets against the lockdown, including: “Don’t shut down the universities. Shut down the non-essential majors. Like Women’s studies.” Three hundred professors on campus, his so-called colleagues, had called for his dismissal. Professor Adams took his own life at the age of 55. He is absolutely silenced now. There will be no more anti-lockdown pieces from him. One does wonder a little, if Tom himself hasn’t self-censored his views for fear of the mob. Perhaps he is afraid to take notice of the obvious permanent silencing of so many people because he doesn’t want to be called Islamophobic, homophobic, anti-science or whatever.

Mike Gelbman
Mike Gelbman
3 years ago

Good article.

Theo Hopkins
Theo Hopkins
3 years ago

Silencing has its uses … sometimes.
I had never heard of Peterson until I came across an article saying there was conflict at Glasgow University where some students wanted him to bee removed from the slate to vote him in as Student Rector.
Why, I wondered. Who was this person? The article didn’t explain.
Long story short, I became an ‘early adopter’ of Peterson.

Herbert MD
Herbert MD
3 years ago

This seems like a lot of hamfisted rambling that’s only been published to get people in the comments frothing about ‘the woke agenda’.

Nancy Corby
Nancy Corby
3 years ago

Not long ago I saw a Douglas Murray interview in which he quoted Christopher Hitchens about public figures pontificating about political correctness. He quoted Hitch as saying “just make a little note in your little black book and wait… this idiot will one day commit the same offence he is pontificating about in others”. Witness the mob’s attack on Dominic Cummings, like rabid dogs – and bitches – ignoring Covid restritctions and elbowing one another out of the way in an effort to thrust their microphones down his gullet to have him explain why he had visited Barnard Castle. Among the worst of the gloating, gleeful, sneering perpetrators on air? Sky News’s Kay Burley and Beth Rigby. Come back, Hitch. You need to celebrate today’s news about new Covid violations, and, like me, tick off two more names in your little black book.

Renee Johansson
Renee Johansson
3 years ago

Cancel culture undermines our entire legal system. We expect criminals to be given a fair trial, where all evidence is considered to receive a small punishment such as a fine or community service, yet it’s somehow OK for people to lose businesses and livelihoods based on accusation, snippets of sneakily taken camera or video footage and even for stuff that was said or done twenty years ago

Nun Yerbizness
Nun Yerbizness
3 years ago

“Intellectual Dark Web” is an oxymoron.

Zachary Lerer
Zachary Lerer
3 years ago
Reply to  Nun Yerbizness

Where is oxy, dark and web, or intellectual and dark. Mabe it’s between intellectual and web?

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago

I think the important point is less about being silenced and more about polarisation. There is less room on either side of the debate for criticism of the home team. It’s ‘you’re with us, or you’re against us’.

Moore has fallen foul of this on the left. But then her message is eagerly accepted and amplified by the right. She isn’t being silenced, but anyone who shares her views at the Guardian will be extra careful and the polarization increases

I don’t agree with the inclusion of Ben Shapiro in the list though. People like him and Katie Hopkins and Milo Yiannopoulus make their living through being contentious. These aren’t people being silenced, they’re bad actors who use the dissension for personal gain.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

‘Moore has fallen foul of this on the left. But then her message is eagerly accepted and amplified by the right;’

Moore has only fallen foul of the extreme, SJW left. To the extent that they are aware of it, her message would be ‘eagerly accepted’ by the vast majority of the traditional left.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The Guardian is the extreme SJW left? Actually maybe it is

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

The non extreme left may or may not agree with Moore. But they wouldn’t attempt to stop her from being heard by anyone else. That’s a specialty of the SJW left.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

It is not polarisation that is the problem, but intolerance of the expression of opposing views and values.
It would never had occurred to me that I had the right to demand that other people, you for example, should be silenced, but apparently I do. This attitude did not suddenly pop out of nowhere, it has been growing for a long time.

Robert Forde
Robert Forde
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

I agree. But I do think that the intolerance is an aspect of the polarisation. Whatever happened to “I disagree with every word you say, but would defend to the death your right to say it”?

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

“It would never had occurred to me that I had the right to demand that other people, you for example, should be silenced”

Tell me, how do you feel about imams preaching fundamentalist ideas in Western mosques?

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Perfectly entitled to do that. We imported muslims and they bought their religion with them. What did you expect them to do, turn into good little liberals? No use complaining now.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Perfectly entitled to do that. We imported muslims and they bought their religion with them. What did you expect them to do, turn into good little liberals? No use complaining now.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

They are perfectly entitled to do that as far as I can see. We imported people from islamic societies and they bought their religion with them. What did you expect them to do, turn into good little liberals? No use complaining now.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

I’m pretty sure you’re in a very small minority with that view.

Even the wokey/ snowflakey/li btard/sjw/<lefty insult=””> brigade would find imams preaching to bomb the Manchester arena, hard to stomach

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Like I said it’s a bit late to complain

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Like I said it’s a bit late to complain.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

I think you fell into your own trap there

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago

I don’t understand that comment

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

Then let me help you out

You say “There is less room on either side of the debate for criticism of the home team. It’s ‘you’re with us, or you’re against us”

You seem to give credit to Moore as a legitimate voice but in the next breath dismiss Ben Shapiro Katie Hopkins and Milo Yiannopoulus as making their living through being contentious.

Since the article on Moore appeared on Unherd I have seen a few of her pieces and i would say the same description plainly applies

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

the whole point of free speech was for people to whom you object – from Hopkins to Milo to whomever else – to also have access to the public square. You don’t have to agree with them or even listen to them, but if bad actors who use the dissension for personal gain. becomes the line in the sand, precious few voices will be left.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

I agree, freedom of speech means freedom to disagree. But how do you get past a situation where some people deliberately monetize outrage and make a living from it ? How do you get to a position of compromise without calling that out?

David George
David George
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

I don’t think that’s possible – to discover the difference between genuine opinion and deliberate provocation. Katie and Ben and Owen sound pretty genuine, Milo only somewhat but does it really matter. They’re ideas put out in the public square the same as any other, let the stand or fall on their merits.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago
Reply to  David George

It’s true, and it’s made more difficult because they might only be behaving cynically part of the time. Clicks go down, throw some raw meat sometimes, even if you don’t believe it.
For what it’s worth, I’d say Shapiro is at best half honest. He’s a smart guy and he knows when he’s cherrypicking. He’s selling books and advertising.
Hopkins and Milo are standout self-serving liars who couldn’t care less what they say, so long as it works.
Peterson is at least honest, even if he isn’t that smart.
I don’t know who Owen is.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

How do you get past a situation where some people deliberately monetize outrage?

You don’t buy or read their books. VoilÃ¥, you are past it.

But you have it backwards. It wasn’t Peterson who made himself a fortune, it was the mob. His book would not have sold nearly as well absent the outrage.

Jay Williams
Jay Williams
3 years ago

Malcolm Muggeridge wrote an essay “The Train” it always makes me think how easy it is to travel ……..
In the 1970 Bernard Levin said that the future seemed to be going to be run by single interest factions. He called them the SIFs. He died before his comment on the furure became our present.

Arendt’s book on totalitarianism could be required reading by all prospective university entarnts.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago

Funny enough, l don’t put Peterson into that group. I think he’s well intentioned and harmless.
But it’s not me that needs to get past the bad actors , it’s their followers who let themselves get swept up in it.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

If it isn’t you that needs to get past a situation then this….

“But how do you get past a situation where some people deliberately monetize outrage and make a living from it ? How do you get to a position of compromise without calling that out?”

Is a very odd question. What followers are you now saying you meant? You get past it by not buying and reading their books. It’s actually very simple. But in the end, it matters not a bit whether you or anyone else gets over someone monetizing mob outrage.

Kevin Ryan
Kevin Ryan
3 years ago

Maybe I didn’t phrase it well.

I mean how does society have rational, intelligent conversations that hopefully lead to solutions, when part of the debate is being hijacked by people who only want to foment unrest so they can sell books and advertising?

At one level there’s nothing new in populism and mob incitement, but the internet and social media have changed the dynamic of public discourse. I’m asking how we tackle this new version of an old problem.

Annette Kralendijk
Annette Kralendijk
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Ryan

When you say solutions, do you mean that you believe that controversial issues will ever be resolved? If so, I think that’s very naive. And we likely wouldn’t even agree on who is trying to foment unrest, much less on solutions to anything.

The internet and social media are mostly anonymous people spouting off, including you and I. Neither will lead to solutions, it’s just people talking. Why do you believe that social media has the capacity to lead to solutions to existential issues. Would that be true if only one side shut up? Is that likely to happen?

Acceptance of the fact that people will have views that differ radically from yours is part of the human condition. People who can’t accept this, really can’t ever be content.