by Freddie Sayers
Wednesday, 8
July 2020
Video
17:44

Steven Pinker: They’re trying to cancel me

by Freddie Sayers

Steven Pinker – world famous linguist, evolutionary psychologist and Harvard professor — is in the middle of a ‘cancellation’ attempt. It looks like he will survive it unscathed, but a group within the Linguistics Society of America have written an open letter detailing various transgressions on Twitter and elsewhere in which he was deemed to be insufficiently robust on race and gender issues.

He told me about it, the open letter he has signed to Harper’s magazine in defence of free speech, and the way in which ‘crazies’ from his university days went on to get tenure and have been indoctrinating students in extreme ideas ever since.

Have a watch above, key quotes below:

  • “The suppression of free speech on intellectual and artistic life has created a chilling effect and I fear for the republic of ideas”
  • “I hope the [Harper’s Letter] will contribute to a return to sanity, similar to that of the late 1960’s and early 70s”
  • “Nourishing the soul isn’t high on the agenda of enlightenment goals compared to reducing poverty, illiteracy and violence etc”
  • “There are some cosmically ironic similarities between Right-wing authoritarianism and the illiberal Left because they both adhere to racial identity politics”
  • “Bad ideas that could be refuted get a second wind precisely because they are being repressed rather than refuted”
  • “There are no more easy targets, which might explain the cultivation of finer and finer forms of offence like the ‘dog whistles’ that trigger the ire of the Left”

Join the discussion


  • August 1, 2020
    Thank you for those two quite detailed comments. As you can probably guess we are unlikely ever to agree. The rather contemptuous way you caricature the conflicting positions suggests you have little patience with opposing views. However, I do have one or two questions. You may regard these a... Read more

  • August 1, 2020
    You seem kind of upset. Outraged, even. Read more

  • August 1, 2020
    Let's play this one out. Suppose an employee is caught on tape screaming, "America is a cesspool and I hope someone bombs US back to the Dark Ages!!" It gets posted online and everyone has an opinion about this guy, many of them negative. The online mob does their "research." They find out who the... Read more

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