So-Called “Cancel Culture”, Social Media and Bullying

It appears to me that you misunderstood a term. (Apologies if I’m wrong.) Social justice is a completely different concept than mob justice. To greatly simplify it, social justice is the concept that we should fight to eliminate bigotry.

So they’re not defending mob justice as a whole. They’re saying that, in this particular case, they think that the negative consequences the person is receiving are in fact proportional to their crime. That, because they were so bigoted, the negative speech they are receiving are properly balanced.

I won’t argue either way. But I will say this points out the dichotomy with mob justice. On one hand, it is dangerous. As a whole, it isn’t very discriminating, and can very easily go after the wrong person or balloon into much more than that person deserves.

But, on the other hand, it can be the only way that people face consequences for acts that very much are wrong, like bigotry. Even though such things are just as harmful as many crimes, they can’t be criminalized. The only punishment possible is the approbation of society.

That’s why I don’t talk about “mob justice” as a single thing, but discuss different tactics as right and wrong. I continue to say that voicing your disapproval isn’t wrong. That saying someone should be fired isn’t wrong. That choosing not to do business with someone isn’t wrong. Where it crosses the line is when it become harassment, violent threats, and such.

For example, while your link (in your subsequent post) actually talks about a woman who was harassed, its headliner is a woman who really wasn’t. The only consequences J.K. Rowling faced is of people telling her she’s wrong, not giving her money, and telling others not to do so.

And, given how horrible what she did was–vilifying an innocent minority as some sort of threat to women’s rights–that’s entirely proportional. She’s tried to say she cares about trans people while doing the one thing they asked her not to do–misgendering them, trying to erase their existence. If a trans woman isn’t a woman, then she’s not trans either, and thus she doesn’t exist.

That is hateful, and causes harm to so many. Not only trans people, but those of us who have trans friends. It does harm to any anti-bigotry fight since the argument is classic bigotry: someone is different than you, and you treat them like a threat, even though there are more of you. It’s the same bigotry that was involved in making black people into rapists and thieved, gay people into pedophiles, and women into succubi types.

It’s wrong. It’s hurtful, and it sets back the fight against bigotry which she previously claimed to support. That people don’t want to do business with her, and will tell her directly that she’s wrong–how is that disproportionate to her hatefulness?

Lumping together things like speaking out against things you think are wrong and harassment and death threats under “cancel culture” or “mob justice” often leads to people defending both or decrying both, when they really should be evaluated separately.

Not that even this is perfect. But I think it’s a start. We’ll get nowhere if one side is talking about free speech while the other side is talking about harassment.

@Inigo_Montoya will have to clarify exactly what he meant, but my point is that even if the cancellee really did what they are accused of, the punishment can easily be totally excessive and disproportionate to the ‘crime’.

Rape and death threats aren’t harassment in your view? What is?

You may well guess that I don’t share your view of JKR in the slightest, but you should be able to understand that the kind of harm you accuse her of causing is the same you do yourself; by ‘speaking out’ and declaring someone an acceptable target, you give license to the harassers, bullies and the violently unhinged. JKR was also speaking out about something she believed in, using her platform to draw attention to a serious issue, and so far as I can see tried hard not to vilify anyone. The same certainly cannot be said for her detractors.

I find your ‘logic’ in this somewhat baffling, but I’m happy to reply to your points about Rowling in more depth. However, it would be off-topic for this thread and we already have one for JKR, so if you give the word I’ll reply to you there. (Or feel free to make a new one if you’d be more comfortable that way.)

Can you show me the “how horrible” part of what she said? I’m genuinely curious. To my eyes, it appeared insufficiently horrible to justify the venom she got. It seemed fairly nuanced.

I’m happy to re-read it and comment then.

I didn’t read the article, but JK Rowling and Taylor Swift haven’t been “cancelled”.

I think the term “cancelled” is being somewhat misunderstood or misused in this context.

JKR will almost certainly never be “cancelled” in the sense that she will disappear from popular culture and awareness. She has made too large of an impact with her books and movies based on her books. Taylor Swift might have less longevity. If neither one ever publishes another book or releases another album, neither one is likely to ever be poor or lack for recognition.

To the extent that the above is true, their detractors will always be able to claim that they have not been “cancelled”. Based on that point of view, any criticism they may have faced or may still face, is not seen as being particularly damaging and perhaps even justified in the minds of many.

Better watch out or Taylor will sic the Tay-Tays on you for dissing her like that. :wink:

Criticism is fine. Threats are not. JKR hasn’t come close to being “canceled”, but that doesn’t mean threats against her are okay. But the threats don’t mean that she can’t be criticized.

And the threats are bullying, right?

Parse these sentences for me.

She’s not cancelled because she’s still rich and famous?
As long as she is rich and famous she will never be cancelled?
Short of being threatened, she deserves to be criticized until she is cancelled?
Threats are bad but a massive social multi-media pile on by a largely anonymous crowd cannot be construed as threatening in any way by someone as wealthy and famous as JKR?
JKR’s views are so extreme and bigoted that she deserves the public opprobrium?

Which, if any, of the above is applicable?

I’m trying to understand the reasoning behind the moral justification for the position of: ‘He/she’s not cancelled so it’s okay’.

Bill Cosby was cancelled. So was Harvey Weinstein. So was Matt Lauer (to a lesser degree). Their public careers and high dollar success are over. And rightfully so.

I’ve seen no evidence that JKR’s public career and high earnings are over. She’s not even close to canceled.

I think she deserves to be criticized for some of the things she’s said, and I’ve criticized her for some of those things. I don’t know if she deserves to be canceled, and I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to buy her next Cormoran Strike novel, a series which I’ve greatly enjoyed.

I think there is reasonable concern over the threats, but not the criticism. I think calling her “canceled” or anything close to that is a joke and not even worth considering.

Most people dislike or are disgusted by trans people, based on the polling I’ve seen. Her views (including the hateful ones) are well within the mainstream, unfortunately. She’s in no danger of being canceled.

It’s no longer considered socially acceptable to bully people because they’re disabled or the wrong colour, but the impulse to bully remains. So the bullies go after people who make off-coloured jokes and those with the wrong opinions instead, and are given a pass.

What hateful views? No one’s answered that yet. All I’m seeing is ‘saying biology matters and standing up for women’s rights’ = hateful, while death and rape threats aren’t harassment and anyone who disagrees with the official line on an issue deserves to lose their job and be disowned by their friends.

Out of curiosity, is this cancel culture?

It seems that that is much more like the censorship that is so feared, than criticizing her for the views on social issues that she has chosen to champion.

I don’t know if it’s cancel culture, but when you find yourself burning Harry Potter books alongside the religious right, maybe it’s time to reexamine your philosophy of life?

I pointed out the very specific things she said that I call hateful in the other thread, and we beat it to death there; I see no need to repeat that dead horse beating here.

Irrelevant. Two of those are convicted criminals. Matt Lauer, like Kevin Spacey, are skeevy as fuck and it was their employers, and potential employers, that decided to distance themselves.

So all criticism is fair and right as long and until cancelled? No quarter until the public lust for opprobrium is satisfied?

What would JKR have to do in order to get you to buy her books again?

So, criticizing people based on what positions they champion is abhorrent, but you seem to be pretty happy with guilt by association.

As you noted, it’s censorship out of ignorance and religious zealotry. It’s a different thing than the cancel-culture that I think we’re discussing.


Criticism is always fair and right. At what point do you think people should be required to hold their opinions to themselves about what others advocate for in public?

Stop writing about wizards. Maybe improve her prose a bit.