Weekly Newsletter from Christian Vegetarian Association CVA - March 21, 2021
From Christian Vegetarian Association (CVA)

  1. Dangers of Cancel Culture
  2. All-Creatures.org

1. Dangers of Cancel Culture

Social media mobs have ruined the careers, and sometimes the personal relationships, of many innocent people. Most victims have been accused of being racist, sexist, or otherwise contemptible because they used forbidden words in a benign context or expressed views that contradicted the prevailing progressive orthodoxy. The harm extends beyond the unfortunate few who get caught in whirlpools of self-righteous indignation.

Forbidding the expression of ideas that contradict “woke” views has the attribute of preventing some members of historically mistreated groups from claiming (perhaps truthfully, perhaps not) of being hurt or offended. It also assists some redistribution of wealth, which might or might not be just. It has several major drawbacks.

First, the free expression of ideas is central to representative democracy. An informed public is a precondition for the democratic process. Cancel culture prohibits articulating views that deviate from the orthodoxy. In a free speech environment, wrongheaded ideas can be corrected and correct, however unpopular in the moment, can prove valuable in the long run. Ironically, cancel culture appears to be most prevalent at universities, which historically have been the places where innovative, sometimes “offensive” ideas should be articulated, discussed, and debated.

Second, because the taboos associated with cancel culture are frequently ill-defined and constantly changing, and because a person might be cancelled for “insensitivity,” “appropriation,” and other vaguely defined transgressions regardless of their intent and the actual content of their views, many people are hesitant to present any substantive views. In the public sphere, this tends to terminate meaningful, important conversations in favor of relatively banal conversations, such as music performer preferences and sports. This discourages critical thinking, which is crucial for social justice (including animal advocacy). Those who don’t think critically will generally fail to identify injustices or seek creative solutions to the more obvious injustices. This, perhaps, is why so many companies have mandated workshops that focus on cultural diversity and instituted severe penalties for “insensitivity.” The educational components of these policies are desirable to the extent that they promote respectful dialogue and treatment, but the punitive components discourage meaningful conversations, which can include unjust work conditions.

Third, cancel culture breeds resentments. There are many people who feel victimized by attempts to correct for past injustices against various groups. Sometimes, resentful people express their grievances when they vote. If they no longer feel free to discuss and debate issues that impact their lives, they will be drawn to autocrats who promise to protect them. However, autocrats are always violent and unjust. They always exploit the populace, including those who brought them to power. The United States is far from perfect, but impressive gains made in racial, sex, gender, and other issues are threatened by the reaction to cancel culture.

How does this relate to animal issues? “Woke” is a double-edge sword that can harm anyone working for social justice, including animal rights. Those who abuse animals or sponsor the abuse of animals can accuse animal advocates of racism, sexism, or other abominations. I recall an article in a major newspaper in which some people have condemned anti-fur activism as racist. They insisted that opposition to fur prevents Blacks from making a fashion statement.

Also, animal activism requires a democratic state that permits free expression of unpopular ideas and espouses ideals of justice. Even though the record of the United States on animal issues is abysmal, there is virtually no hope for resistance to injustice in autocratic regimes.

Next, I will consider the counter-argument that cancel culture is necessary for the powerless to confront the powerful, and how this question relates to animal issues.

I welcome comments to this essay, which some people might find controversial.

Stephen R. Kaufman, MD

2. All-Creatures.org Ministry

Newsletters: These are recent editions of our all-creatures Newsletter, which we hope you like and share with others to help end the exploitation and killing of animals:



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