The first step in fighting the Cancel Culture that is infesting the book industry, veterans say, is to refuse to issue, demand, or listen to groveling apologies. The recent exposure of social media Cancel Culture bully Chrissy Teigen may start a trend. If what Teigen did exposes her to legal action, other social media trolls will be duly warned. Whether she is sorry for what she did is her own business, not the public’s.
Some people in the communications industries are beginning to adopt this approach. For example,
- Best-selling science fiction author Jon Del Arroz forced WorldCon 76 (a huge science fiction convention) to pay compensation, not just issue an apology, for banning him and tarring him as a racist with no real evidence: “The ban came about when Del Arroz asked Worldcon for security measures because he feared for his safety due to the mob-like attacks on him and his family from industry insiders.” (June 5, 2021) He had been targeted by social justice warriors for some time due to Incorrect views.
- A University of Washington AI notable, Pedro Domingos, was threatened with Cancelation when he questioned “ideological litmus tests” in his discipline. He not only sidelined the well-known industry bully who was targeting him and his university but he published a list of Fifteen Strategic Principles for beating back Cancel Culture.
- Best-selling psychologist Jordan Peterson, beset by other troubles, has survived an attempt at Cancelation of his recent book, Beyond Order, an attempt that featured the familiar crybully technique: “During a tense town hall, staff cried and expressed dismay with the publishing giant’s decision to publish ‘Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life.’”
- J. K. Rowlings, famously, survived the transgender lobby’s attempt at Cancelation, but it has taken a toll. Commentator Mark Steyn notes “Ms Rowling will pay a price — in the future books that will not be published by big houses, in the old books that will disappear from library shelves, in the film options that will not be exercised. With all her dough, it is still a courageous stand.”
Is the tide turning?
Many would like to believe so. Christian Toto points out that recently, comedians Kevin Hart and Jon Lovitz, as well as sports analyst Charles Barkley, have weighed in against the mob, along with actress Rita Moreno. So far, so good. But that claim has often been made before, only to be followed by fresh news of another humbly accepted Cancelation.
Some threatened authors might be toughened if they kept one thing clearly in mind: Social media like Twitter make it easy for people who can’t write to destroy people who can. Malicious envy was always out there; it just could never assemble so large a mob before. But these mobs can be fought off and many are summoning the courage to do so.
As philosopher Roy Meredith reminds us at New Discourses, “Ending Cancel Culture is up to you… We should call out patently abusive behavior for what it is. If you and I agree that threatening others’ livelihood is morally bankrupt, we must acknowledge that doing nothing to stop it is also wrong. We should call out abusers even if it puts us within their line of sight. To share the cost of speaking up reduces its burden.”
Alternatively, the irreverent Babylon Bee offers its own 8 ways to protect yourself from being Canceled by an angry mob, including “6. Be perfectly sinless from birth until your death: No sins, no cancellation, right? Jesus was able to do it, and– no, wait– he still got canceled. Nevermind.”
See also: Part 1: Books: Cancel Culture as an invisible army of censors. The new censorship is different from traditional “banned” or “challenged” lists because a younger, much more active crowd is behind it. Some demand that Random House Cancel best-selling atheist Richard Dawkins’s books. Even ideas as fashionable as Darwinism are not safe.
You may also wish to read: Comedy: An endangered art form in the Age of Rage
In Big Tech World: the journalist as censor, hit man, and snitch. Glenn Greenwald looks at a disturbing trend in media toward misrepresentation as well as censorship.