Our North Manchester group welcomed guest speaker Rob "the American", one of the organisers of the Manchester Meetup Group "Cancelling Cancel Culture".
Cancelling Cancel Culture
Rob’s Meetup group Cancelling Cancel Culture evolved from a Jordan Peterson meet-up group and regularly gets 30 to 50 people attending. His group meets once a month on Sunday afternoons in The Britons Protection pub in Central Manchester.
Members of the earlier group became concerned about the rapid rise of what they saw as a new anti-scientific and anti-commonsense orthodoxy that brands some viewpoints as “correct” or “worthy” while trying to close off debate, what has come to be known as “Cancel Culture”.
Rob argued that Cancel Culture decrees which opinions are the ‘right’ opinions and are therefore acceptable and which are ‘heretical’ and not acceptable.
Cancel culture does not tolerate free speech or diversity of opinion. It cultivates self-censorship and intolerance of evidence-based argument by ‘cancelling’ (silencing and punishing) people who express a different point of view. It has the effect of shutting down open debate – presumably to safeguard the ‘right’ opinions against scrutiny in case they falter.
The “Right” and “Wrong” Opinions
We had a lively discussion on what seems to have been decreed to be acceptable opinions or actions.
- voting Remain in the EU referendum (Leave voters were racist)
- agreeing with government responses to Covid (doubters are Covidiots/refuseniks)
- endorsing the Net Zero agenda (dissenters are climate change deniers)
- following ‘The Science’ (alternative views are conspiracy theories)
- accepting illegal immigration (opposers are racist)
- worshipping the National Health Service (critics are social deviants)
- supporting the war in Ukraine (any sympathy for the historical context of Russia’s predicament is ‘fascist’)
- surrendering women’s rights, spaces and competitive sports (defenders of these rights are ‘anti-trans’)
- accepting BLM at face value (scrutineers of the movement’s wider agenda are racist)
- confining discussion of slavery to Britain’s role in the North Atlantic Slave Trade (drawing attention to other forms of slavery is revisionist).
Why is This Happening?
We moved on to wondering why Cancel Culture exists and who benefits.
Could it be that campaigns which categorise people into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can be a powerful tool for social control? The desire to conform and signal one’s virtue to peers and the wider audience, and the fear of confrontation or of being unpopular, can make people afraid to speak up. The young, and people employed in certain occupations, such as teaching, can be especially vulnerable to this.
Be Brave. Speak Up
“Cancelling Cancel Culture” is a group which challenges cancel culture by encouraging free speech and encouraging its members to speak out in situations where diversity of opinion is oppressed. Rob urged us all to refuse to stay quiet, to speak up more.
Debate is powerful. Being the first to speak out can embolden others to do the same. Be brave