Days after dozens of artists, writers and academics, including JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood, signed an open letter decrying the weakening of public debate amid a rise in what they call “illiberalism”, another group has denounced it.
The counter opinion comes amid raging debate over 'cancel culture' where prominent people face a backlash for sharing controversial opinions.
"The signatories, many of them white, wealthy and endowed with massive platforms, argue that they are afraid of being silenced, that so-called cancel culture is out of control, and that they fear for their jobs and free exchange of ideas, even as they speak from one of the most prestigious magazines in the country,' the signatories said in a response published in the Objective.
Earlier, personalities like JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Noam Chomsky, Gloria Steinem and Malcolm Gladwell signed an open letter in the Harper's magazine decrying the stifling of freedom of speech by means of 'cancel culture'.
“The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy,” the letter said. “But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion-which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.”
Rowling, for example, has attracted criticism over her views on transgender issues, which have angered many activists. In a series of tweets, Rowling said she supported transgender rights but did not believe in “erasing” the concept of biological sex.
The comments prompted Daniel Radcliffe and other cast members of the Potter films to publicly disagree with her. Rowling was unmoved, but was attacked for weeks online.
The letter criticized the state of public debate and the “swift and severe retribution” dealt out to any perceived wrongs. It decried an “intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.”
“The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away,” the letter said. “We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other.
(With inputs from AP)