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Media's "Cancel Culture" Debate Obscures Direct Threats to First Amendment

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/08/02/medias-cancel-culture-debate-obscures-direct-threats-first-amendment

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As usual… ‘spot on’ Alan. I particularly was pleased when you pointed out how lawsuits are used to crush smaller businesses that dare to speak truth to power. This is a very big reason why the U.S. may devolve into civil war. The fact that anyone or any group that challenges the establishment, can be suffocated via the legal system that currently has close to 7,000,000 citizens that are under the control (in prison or on parole) of the Prison-industrial-complex and is growing each day, should be particularly worrying to the 99%.
The wealthy have reason to feel secure. The government and the mainstream media serve corporate America. A large enough segment of the population, which is incidentally the most armed, are also willing to slaughter fellow citizens on behalf of their corporate enablers as we regularly witness the brutality of the police, the military and various law enforcement agencies when dealing with peaceful protesters.
It is no easy task to reverse generations of brainwashing by these same corporations. Every family out there has loved ones who believe that either the government, immigrants, minorities, foreigners, socialists, communists, etc. are responsible for their misery, yet they refuse to condemn the actual corporations that created this false narrative. I would also venture to say that a majority of Americans don’t view themselves as racist even though they inadvertently support a racist system.
A few chinks in the corporate armour still give the citizenry a chance to build a democratic society free of corporate influence. If the 99% for example could get rid of all of the corporate Democrats and Republicans from Congress, we could actually improve the lives of most Americans, but currently most Americans do not participate in these important elections and a corporate media goes out of their way to maintain the appearance of fair and honest congressional races. To educate Americans about the importance of Congress and how to exercise critical thinking skills to prevent the usual band of compromised candidates from getting elected, is a monumental task.
I would like to think that Americans will one day figure out the root causes of their suffering, but I am not hopeful that this will occur in time to save our planet from extinction.

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Challenging Power when challenges are due because of corruption that only benefits the few, is the responsibility of the People.

Any attempt to stifle those challenges must be met head-on, and efforts must be redoubled.

The “Endeavor to Persevere” must never be abandoned.

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“And when we had thought about it long enough, we declared war on the Union. I didn’t surrender neither.”

I want to just say, " Well, duh! ", when I read articles like this. The Corporotocracy ( Statist & Neo-Fascist by default ) owns us, after all. Why wouldn’t they want to suppress and cancel us?
Why not publish Abbey Martin’s thoughts on free speech and censorship, the role of the state in suppressing dissent, etc. She would point out the obvious, correct? That’s why she’s mentioned here and used as the poster child example.
Oh yes, it’s to protect Israeli political interests, so nothing to see here ( 28 states, either ) and let’s all move on. It’s always to protect the PTB’s favored position ( Israe certainly is one ), their interests, in the pecking order, at the public trough, etc. etc. Barnyard analogies work well in describing this perpetual " unlevel playing field ", btw. The symptoms of censorship and real leftists being cancelled; by university and think tank liberals, conservatives and statists ( fascists ) always smells the same, imo.

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Yeah well Thomas Chatterton Williams, the main drafter of the Harper’s letter, said he didn’t have Glenn Greenwald, one of the main champions of freedom of speech and opponents to censorship who has been pretty consistent about it too, sign it because he was “outvoted on that” by the other signatories. In other words, they “cancelled” Glenn in the anti-“cancel culture” letter. Can’t make this up. In fact, they had a whole list of names they “cancelled” beforehand from being able to sign the letter.

All that shows is that they don’t actually care about free speech, they are just cynically weaponizing its concept to shield the powerful from criticism and scrutiny and accountability, which is something that Glenn Greenwald has been doing consistently actually. That letter was signed by mostly frauds (and Chomsky was used to lend legitimacy to it), eager to protect their own status, not the principles. They did not care about having people on there who have been defending these principles for decades, not as a way of protecting honored elites from criticism, but by defending those with no power punished for their views: often by people like those who signed The Letter (Bari Weiss etc)
A large number of the Letter’s signatories don’t give the slightest shit about principles of free speech & discourse as many have been at the forefront of “cancelling"

Ultimately cancel culture is about rules & administrative protocolos for speech being imposed in institutions that affect the powerless. We are at a point where virtually every corporation, newsroom & campus are undergoing radical changes in how people can communicate, what punishments are doled out for violations, what ideas can be heard and are acceptable and which not.

The most glaring, indisputable and direct attack on free speech in the US is the dozens of states legally barring Americans who advocate a boycott of Israel from receiving government contracts, along with related sanctions on campuses. When they wrote the Harper’s anti cancel culture letter, protecting activists for Palestine (i.e the powerless) wasn’t part of speech they were protecting. Most of these people do believe in punishing people and denying them jobs (as was done with a teacher in Texas who refused to swear allegiance to the state of Israel as a condition of employment) if they exercise their first amendment right with respect to Palestine.

At the end of the day, I will never understand this idea of punishing someone for their thoughts and words and beliefs. The essence of any free society and the foundation of a democracy really are the free flow of ideas - no matter how inconvenient and offensive some of those thoughts are. We can and should criticize people for what they say, challenge those words and ideas, but to demand that there will be material consequences to them in terms of not just jail time, which is the worst case scenario, but things like ruining their careers and cancelling them goes against the very essence of freedom of speech and freedom of thoughts and ideas.

Ultimately the biggest danger in embarking on this path really is, as the article points out, that it will be those who challenge power structures and the status quo and those who are pushing back against the powerful that will be the first they will come after. People who support the cancel culture and think it is only going to be used to go after the “bad” guys while the “good” guys (as defined by whom? ) will be spared, is in denial. In reality empowering institutions to help censor ideas and speech will mean the left will be the first victims. Because what is offensive and unacceptable changes over time too and depending on who is in power.

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Just after Liberal or Libertarian Bill Maher went on and on about this on his show this week with 2 guests who were on that page. Weiss is in her element complaining. She claims the NYT is effected by this nonsense. Just like New Yorkers who say it was Bernie or COA or AOC? who prevented Bezos from putting a building on Long Island and getting 3 billion in tax breaks from-me and you. Bezos could care less about Bernie. Just as the NYT could care less about anyone who does not support their neo-con agenda. If you are a celebrity just don’t read this stuff. Most of the twitter twat is a big money maker for them, think how much the Cancel Culture made at Berkeley for Anne Coulter and the gay flame thrower with the odd name. By stopping them from speaking they gave them millions in free ads for their respective books. This is nonsense go back to bread and butter issues.