Who defends free speech more aggressively than Dennis Prager?
The veteran talker welcomes divergent views on his nationally syndicated radio show, eager to engage critics in a fair, polite manner. Prager even made a movie about free expression -- last year’s superlative docudrama “No Safe Spaces.”
Lately, though, Prager has some competition from an unlikely source.
Progressive author J.K. Rowling.
The mind behind the “Harry Potter” universe is a newly christened culture warrior. Rowling is using her celebrity clout to strike down Cancel Culture, the scourge of free expression. She’s arguably the biggest name to sign a new open letter demanding an end to Cancel Culture. She joined such disparate voices as author Salman Rushdie, Noam Chomsky and Margaret Atwood in a missive hosted at Harper Magazine’s web site.
“While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: 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,” they add….
“This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time,” the letter continues. “The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.”
Rowling doubled down on the message via her Twitter account, which has 14.3 million followers.
I was very proud to sign this letter in defence of a foundational principle of a liberal society: open debate and freedom of thought and speech.https://t.co/noh8VRHMyN
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) July 7, 2020
Why is Rowling suddenly embracing an oh, so conservative movement like free speech? She’s progressive to the core, even retconning her Potter universe to include gay characters.
Cancel Culture came to take her livelihood away. That’s why. It didn’t matter than she aligned with 99.45 percent of the progressive playbook. It wasn’t enough. You’re never, ever woke enough, a lesson too many people forget.
It’s why she’s standing her ground now, counter-punching against Cancel Culture scolds. And it never would have happened if she hadn’t been the target of cancellation.
Consider recent headlines surrounding Lin-Manuel Miranda. The maestro behind “Hamilton” watched as #CancelHamilton trended just as his signature show debuted on Disney Plus. The production honors the Founding Fathers from a progressive lens, mainly via color-blind casting.
It was a smash success, but now its subject matter is considered off limits in far-Left quarters.
Miranda himself addressed the issue in the blandest way possible via Twitter. He probably realizes the Cancel Culture mob isn’t truly interested in his play. Or perhaps he suspected the “movement” against his show was so small it wasn’t truly a threat.
Still, he didn’t apologize or suggest the show shouldn’t go on. And, if the #CancelHamilton movement returns with more vigor, chances are he’ll have his own Rowling-like moment.
It’s something we’ve seen with two other liberal artists. Both Sarah Silverman (far-left) and Jim Gaffigan (center-left) saw Cancel Culture differently when it knocked on their door.
We need more, not less, of these awakenings on the Left.
Now, Rowling and co.’s open letter is dubious on multiple fronts. It savages President Donald Trump, a leading voice against Cancel Culture. It’s also a meaningless gesture if it’s not followed up by action.
Okay letter signers, here’s your chance to speak up. https://t.co/p1PoRigsKO
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) July 8, 2020
Still, it’s a start, and perhaps something more vital than a virtue signal. As is, it allows liberal free speech defenders to draw a line in the digital sand.
That isn’t an empty gesture. Right now, at the height of Cancel Culture’s ferocity, it’s actually brave.
The Dispatch suggests conservatives build alternate cultures and platforms to counter Cancel Culture, essentially abandoning mainstream USA.
We need to instead form alternative nodes of culture and information. Not just ones where conservatism or right-wing thinking reigns but more ecumenical outlets and institutions where people from the right to center-left can feel more at ease. If the Great Awokening wishes to crush moderate discourse, then we must re-create it somewhere else.
That means we need to integrate into or build universities and institutions that are less vulnerable to woke pressure and open to becoming nodes of conservative-oriented discourse. We need production companies for all sorts of culture that will aim not to just make money, but which will aim to be an alternative to the present Woke Capital model prevalent throughout America, with its immediate kowtowing to every progressive fad of the moment. And for them to truly succeed, they will need to similarly be big tents.
That may be partially successful, but it still represents a minor attempt to correct a cultural virus. And it certainly won’t help in the short term. It could take decades to fully implement. Imagine the damage done by that point. Heck, look at the damage done to America in the past month alone.
Plus, why should we abandon the culture at large?
No, conservatives must swallow hard, “support” Cancel Culture by applying it consistently (sorry, “Hamilton”) and show how it will bite the Left… hard, just as it’s doing to the Right right now. It’s why many on the right dragged the media, kicking and screaming, into covering Jimmy Kimmel’s blackface past.
If he’s able to walk away sans punishment while the more neutral Jimmy Fallon undergoes a re-education process, Cancel Culture emerges even more powerful than before.
Call it Mutually Assured Destruction if you will. It’s the only way to recruit more Mirandas, more Rowlings, and put a stake through Cancel Culture’s God-forsaken heart once and for all.