You can follow me (John) on Twitter, you know. I don’t actually tweet a ton, and when I do it’s usually a (tedious) self-reference joke. Anyway, in all my time away from here I spent a lot of time there. I haven’t done much arguing there (when I do it rarely goes well for me). I don’t actually like arguing anyway. That’s even in my bio.
Anyway, I just ran into this:
It is now common to see writers judged not by the totality of their work, or their most valuable contributions, but by identifying whatever moment or viewpoint the judge finds most odious, presuming the least charitable explanation for it, and judging on that basis alone.— Conor Friedersdorf (@conor64) July 17, 2020
I suppose people have written a ton about “cancel culture”–too much for me to add anything new, I’m sure.
If I did write anything, I’d probably start with a taxonomy. On that score, I will say that what strikes me as interesting about this remark (other than the “now” business that seems completely false) is the version of “cancel culture” on offer. The canceling here is really not canceling in any unique sense at all, but rather just judging someone partially and badly (allegedly at least). I’ve no doubt this happens (because I’ve done it myself–don’t be insufficiently dialectical!), but this can’t be one of the main versions of the thing everyone is worried about. Besides, this strikes me as too high a burden: I don’t have time to read every one of this guy’s articles before I decide maybe I don’t need to read any more (I haven’t actually resolved this yet).
In the end, to stretch this out a bit, you’ve have something of the Aristotle problem: you’ll never be able to cancel anyone until well after they’re dead, and by then, they’re already cancelled.