Nov 6, 2023Liked by Jacob Hibbard, Justin Stapley

I largely agree with you on a philosophical level but quibble with a semantic point. The term “cancel culture” was introduced in the 2010s largely to refer to a specific phenomenon:

“ In the last eight years, we have seen cancel culture leveled not only against views outside the Overton window, such as white supremacist or neo-Nazi views, but against mainstream views on sexuality, gender, and the role of government held by Jews, Christians, Moslems, and right-of-center Americans.”

Calling the social enforcement of long-held societal norms by institutions and individuals “cancel culture” feels like conceding a stolen base to the people who were in favor of cancel culture for eight years and now want to rediscover free speech when some lefty kids express support for terrorism (or to civil libertarians who want to pretend the right and left are equal opportunity offenders).

It might also be useful to explore the clash between property rights and associational rights on the one hand and expressive rights on the other, as well as to add in a disclaimer about governmental restrictions on speech vs. private actors’ restrictions. These additions to the argument would go a long way towards demonstrating that there is a coherent set of principles which inform your conclusions (and mine) on the specifics of various instances of “cancel culture.” Left-wing critics will claim the only principle is: opposition to cancel culture when the left is doing the canceling and preference for cancel culture when the left is getting canceled (or, free speech for rightists but not for leftists). But that isn’t true.

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Two thoughts:

The New York Times fired James Bennet for running an editorial written by a sitting US Senator, Tom Cotton. Winston and Strawn essentially "fired" Workman for supporting the atrocities of October 7th. Thinking these two show one within and one without the overton window. Bennett should have been retained and Workman deserved her fate.

But second, both the Times and the law firm are non governmental entities. The Sulzberger's and the Law Partners should be able to hire and fire as they see fit (assuming no discrimination laws were broken).

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