The NYT apparently doesn’t understand freedom of speech

March 19, 2022 • 11:00 am

I was surprised to see this full-editorial-board opinion piece in yesterday’s New York Times. But any endorsement of freedom of speech is okay with me. Yet as I read it, I realized that the New York Times is really attacking “cancel culture” rather than endorsing free speech. Read on to see what I mean (click on screenshot):

From the very upshot the article takes a strange definition of free speech, one not at all coincident with that defined by the First Amendment::

First, the Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

What this means is that the government cannot itself ban or censor speech. The courts have carved out exceptions over the years, prohibiting speech that constitutes libel, harassment in the workplace, false advertising, defamation, some types of obscenity, and so on. This also means that the organs of government, most notably courts and public schools, cannot ban or censor speech. This does not mean that public organizations cannot censor some speech. For example, public schools, as in the Kitzmiller v Dover decision, were not free to teach intelligent design, an act that Judge Jones saw as itself violating the Establishment (of religion) clause of the First Amendment.

And yet here’s how the NYT article starts:

For all the tolerance and enlightenment that modern society claims, Americans are losing hold of a fundamental right as citizens of a free country: the right to speak their minds and voice their opinions in public without fear of being shamed or shunned.

This social silencing, this depluralizing of America, has been evident for years, but dealing with it stirs yet more fear. It feels like a third rail, dangerous. For a strong nation and open society, that is dangerous.

If we’re talking about “fundamental rights” guaranteed by the Constitution, then no, that document doesn’t give Americans any right to say whatever they want “without being shamed or shunned.” There is no “fundamental  {Constitutional) right” prohibiting “social silencing”, which is not really external silencing but self-imposed withholding of speech to prevent disapprobation.

It is this public disapprobation and shunning that the paper is defending, and yet even that has its place. If you publicly call for the gassing of Jews or genocide of Muslims in America, you have no “right” to not be shamed or shunned. Indeed, you should be. What you have the right to do is shout your views in the public square without being physically attacked, or, if you publish your views, to not have them censored by the government. (“Censorship” by private publishers is of course normal, as when Woody Allen’s publisher reneged on the agreement to publish his memoirs.)

What the Times is really calling for, in its confusing piece, is civil discourse—the “right” (and where do such “rights” come from?) to speak your piece without losing your job or being harassed. It’s calling for the kind of thing that Mill called for: the ability to speak your piece without being silenced by anyone—even by being shunned.

And the NYT faults both the Left and Right (mostly the Right, of course) for violating this kind of civility:

Many on the left refuse to acknowledge that cancel culture exists at all, believing that those who complain about it are offering cover for bigots to peddle hate speech. Many on the right, for all their braying about cancel culture, have embraced an even more extreme version of censoriousness as a bulwark against a rapidly changing society, with laws that would ban books, stifle teachers and discourage open discussion in classrooms.

Many Americans are understandably confused, then, about what they can say and where they can say it. People should be able to put forward viewpoints, ask questions and make mistakes, and take unpopular but good-faith positions on issues that society is still working through — all without fearing cancellation.

Now laws that ban books and prohibit certain speech in public schools are indeed violating Constitutional free speech, but the paper generally avoids the distinction between “legal” speech and “tolerated” speech. Only once in the whole article does it mention this crucial distinction, and it’s way down in the article:

It is worth noting here the important distinction between what the First Amendment protects — freedom from government restrictions on expression — and the popular conception of free speech — the affirmative right to speak your mind in public, on which the law is silent.

Yes, the law is silent on that issue. What we need, and what the Times should make clear, is the distinction above, for Americans really need to know what speech can be legally restricted and what what speech cannot. That is, for instance, a huge issue in colleges.

To buttress its misguided conception of “free speech”, the paper presents results from several polls, all of them showing that a surprisingly large number of people self-censor or fear “retaliation or harsh criticism”. But “harsh criticism” comes with the territory, and its not clear what they mean by “retaliation.”

This whole article is in fact a gussied-up version of “A Letter on Justice and Open Debate” published two years ago in Harper’s and signed by a number of luminaries. Her’s an excerpt:

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. 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.

The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. 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. We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes. Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal. We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.

That could have appeared in the NYT editorial. Yet many, especially on the Left, decried the Harper’s letter on various grounds (the signers were entitled, etc.); this link takes you to some some my posts on the criticism of the Harper’s letter.

I suspect that an entirely different article would be needed if you were asking not for legality but civility. (Alternatively, they should have separated the issues more clearly.) Indeed, the NYT has itself violated its own “civil speech” dictum in its own pages, firing staffers for “unwise” tweets and for saying the n-word in a didactic context. And the NYT’s staffers are notorious for their own cancel culture, saying they felt “unsafe” when science writer Don McNeil,  the n-word speaker, said the word several years before, in a didactic context, and on a different continent. (The audience for this editorial should be the paper’s own employees!) The NYT staff rebelled and McNeil was fired.

At any rate, I’m not beefing about this piece’s publication, for I too am an exponent of civil speech. The NYT is late to the party, but its sentiments are fine. But the big lacuna here are these unanswered questions:

a.) How far should First-Amendment style free speech be observed, even in places where it’s not mandated? These include private colleges, statements made outside the workplace, and so on?

b.) Sometimes people should be shamed or shunned for their speech, depending on what it is.  What should not happen is shouting down speakers or deplatforming them once they’ve been invited. In my ideal world, First Amendment free speech should coincide, as far as possible, with private free speech. That is, you have the right to say what you want (save the exceptions delineated by the courts), but nobody should be forced to listen to you.


Addendum (h/t cesar):

Pluribus has collected a number of responses to the op-ed, both pro and con; you can see them here.  A couple:

I’m pleased to see that Greg Lukianoff, president of FIRE, agrees with me:

As does David French:

And Keith Olbermann:

Remember when the NYT abrogated Quinn Norton’s free speech but not equally odious speech from Sarah Jeong?

Several other people, like this one, don’t like the “both sides are to blame” trope, some seeing it similar to what Donald Trump said about Charlottesville:

And this one’s completely off the rails:


28 thoughts on “The NYT apparently doesn’t understand freedom of speech

  1. Always new depth to consider on free speech.

    There’s also the right to decline free speech – e.g. compelled speech by an organization, and right to decline to issue apologies for prior exercise of free speech – e.g. the Met and that opera singer.

  2. I think that the NYT has a point here, interpreting “free speech” purely in terms of government restrictions (and thus the First Amendment) is too narrow. The value of free speech is that we can analyse and criticise ideas, with a view to rejecting or improving them.

    For that to work society needs to accept people speaking their mind without them running the risk of penalties — whether legal or merely social — that severely discourage them from doing so.

    If you’re legally allowed to criticise DEI policies, but your employer will fire you and no-one else will hire you, then you don’t have free speech.

    If you’re legally allowed to say that Lia Thomas should not be allowed to compete in women’s sports, but if you say it then your daughter will be thrown off the swim team, then you don’t have free speech.

    If you’re legally allowed to argue against gender ideology and “affirmation only” responses to trans kids, but you’ll be thrown off your university course if you do, then you don’t have free speech.

    Sanctions, whether from government or private companies or just from “society at large”, that disallow or severely discourage you from speaking up, are a restriction on free speech. Nowadays, that includes being thrown off near-monopoly “de facto public square” platforms such as Twitter.

    1. I suppose the angle of those interested in such outcomes is “inhibited speech”, or as our host says “chilled speech”. It is “free speech, BUT” speech.

      Sigh…. where to begin…

      I suppose at some point, we gotta realize the proverbial “public square” is not a private “tea party” – though with modern antisocial media, they are, in effect, dissolved together – the “public square” is in everyone’s bathroom now, and yeah, I would’t want a rude loudmouth in my kitchen either – they would be asked to apologize or leave.

    2. I agree with Coel that these are the missing elements in the discussion: critics who don’t want to merely disagree with an opinion, but instead want to punish the person expressing it; and institutions or corporations who allow themselves to be the instruments of punishment.

      Many commenters on that NYT editorial missed this as well, and equated punishment (loss of employment etc.) with disagreement.

      Reasoning like Olbermann’s is a kind of motte-and-bailey stance. The critics encourage employers to impose severe “consequences” on employees for merely expressing an unorthodox opinion. But, when caught out in that indefensible no-man’s land of cancel culture, will retreat to safer ground by claiming they are merely engaged in free speech by disagreeing with the speaker’s opinion. It’s shady.

    3. You say:

      “For that to work society needs to accept people speaking their mind without them running the risk of penalties — whether legal or merely social — that severely discourage them from doing so.”

      You go on to say:

      “If you’re legally allowed to criticise DEI policies, but your employer will fire you and no-one else will hire you, then you don’t have free speech.”

      I disagree. People can say what they want, but must be prepared to accept the consequences if they are not protected by the First Amendment and even then there could be consequences. Imagine a non-Jewish employee of a Jewish organization suddenly starts spouting Nazi ideology via twitter and other social media. Are you serious in contending that the organization should not have the right to fire the employee regardless of job performance? Let’s look at a social situation. Imagine you frequently host parties with friends. You are a liberal. Suppose that one of the friends suddenly starts spouting the ideology of white Christian nationalism. You don’t think you would have the right to bar this person from your parties?

      When a person experiences negative consequences from speech, the test needs to be whether the consequences, if any, are fair. This needs to be resolved on a case-by-case basis where different people may reach different conclusions as to the fairness. For example, suppose one of the attendees at your parties announces that he supports Trump. Is it fair for you to exclude the person? There probably isn’t agreement on this.

      No society can remain coherent without there being consequences for speech. Any person that speaks, almost on any topic, must be prepared to accept blowback beyond verbal rebuttal. Free speech without consequences only works for those that are financially secure (and protected by the First Amendment) or have sources of income from like-minded people or organizations and don’t care about potentially losing friendships and relationships. To put it succinctly: free speech is not risk free. And that’s the way it should be.

      1. Imagine a non-Jewish employee of a Jewish organization suddenly starts spouting Nazi ideology via twitter and other social media. Are you serious in contending that the organization should not have the right to fire the employee regardless of job performance?

        If the speech (even abhorrent speech) is unrelated to the work, then yes, I’m seriously saying they should have no right to fire someone for what they say in their non-work life.

        I think such speech should be protected, in the same way that an employer shouldn’t be able to fire someone for being black or gay or Muslim or for voting Trump.

        Let’s look at a social situation. … You don’t think you would have the right to bar this person from your parties?

        I’m not asking to regulate private lives and parties. (In the same way that someone could freely decline to invite a person to their party because they were black or gay or Muslim or a Trump voter.)

        I do think that viewpoint protections should cover employers and organisations such as universities (“public accommodations”). In other words, the current generally-accepted protections for religious opinions should be extended to all opinions.

        1. The 1st amendment protection concerning speech and religion is against the government, not the people. The idea and why it is call the bill of rights is protection from the government.
          A good piece to remember is – It is protection from the government, not incitement to the people.

          1. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 says that employers, universities, etc cannot discriminate against someone for being black or female or on the basis of their religious opinion. I’m just asking for that to be extended to all opinions (that are not directly related to the job).

        2. >. . .An employer shouldn’t be able to fire someone for being black or gay or Muslim or voting for Trump.

          That’s where I think you’re going wrong here. I can’t now fire someone for being Black or Muslim or gay. The reason is Human Rights legislation that sets those out as impermissible reasons to fire or otherwise discriminate. I certainly can fire someone if he told the world he voted for Trump. The two circumstances are different. There is a list of impermissible discrimination reasons. All other reasons, or no reason at all, are permissible.

          As to whether I would fire someone for voting for Trump, that would be my private business decision. If his known and expressed sympathies brought business from Trump supporters and didn’t drive away too much business from the other side, of course I would keep him around, perhaps give him a raise. Certainly wouldn’t fire him. Whatever for? But most businesses aren’t so polarized in the marketplace. I would generally counsel all employees to be circumspect, in the Twitter age, about bringing what I consider harm to my business, which gives them employment.

          You will have a hard time drawing the line at private lives and parties. Should a private club that does not allow public access be enjoined from expelling a member who calls for opening up membership to Jews and Blacks?

          1. The reason is Human Rights legislation that sets those out as impermissible reasons to fire or otherwise discriminate.

            Yes, exactly. And non-work speech should be protected in the same way that being gay or black or female is protected — an employer cannot fire you for it.

            After all, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19:

            “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes the right to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

            1. I’m going to explain why Human Rights legislation in Canada (or the Civil Rights Act in the United States) will never be amended to protect political opinions in the workplace. Saying “we need this to happen” is not the same as saying, “Here’s how we can make it happen.”

              1) Employers are generally hostile to having criteria added to the list of things they are not allowed to use in hiring and promotion decisions, for the simple reason that the longer the list, the harder it is to sideline or dismiss unsatisfactory workers. They would lobby strenuously against such expansion. It could succeed only if the proponents could lobby hard enough in favour to carry the day. But who would these proponents be, other than you?

              2) Political parties in legislatures would see no political advantage in protecting political opinions. The prohibited grounds for discriminating now are there because they are targeted at prospectively identifiable minorities who can be expected to vote a certain way in gratitude. The laws don’t look on their faces like they are designed to attract minority voters but in practice they do. It’s true that a white person could file a complaint against a Black-owned business but none ever do. (Look how long and difficult the fight against reverse-racism at universities has been.) Muslims file complaints against businesses that are presumed to be Christian or Jewish-owned, never the reverse. And no one cares if Muslims and Hindus won’t hire each other — there are no guilty white Christians to haul up before the Human Rights tribunal..

              For a criterion to be enshrined as a protected criterion, there has to be an identifiable polity that agitates for it: Blacks agitate for prohibitions against racial discrimination, trans activists agitate for prohibitions against discrimination against trans people, etc. Political parties, typically Leftist, seek to position themselves to gain advantage by aligning themselves with these minority viewpoints. The list of prohibited discrimination criteria therefore grows ever longer, over the objections of employers. There is always some disgruntled group that some politician can pander to. At election time he can look at a potential voter and say, “Thanks to me, your race, or religion, or right to wear a dress and lipstick at work even though you shave is protected.”

              But there is no identifiable polity that wants political opinions protected. The usual identifiable groups familiar to politicians all want opposing political opinions suppressed, not protected. So the politician asks, “Who is likely to vote for me, instead of against me, if I sponsor a bill to add political opinion to the Civil Rights Act? How will I identify such voters when I am knocking on doors during the election campaign?” The only likely supporters are those on the white Right, but they are also the business owners who, on balance, would oppose the inclusion for the reasons mentioned above in 1).

              So regardless of the merit of legally protecting political opinions in workplaces, a measure enshrining it could never gain enough support to pass. It’s the same reason why gerrymandering works.

              You’re on weak ground when you have to resort to citing the UN Declaration on Human Rights, or any other UN Resolution.

        3. I agree with Coel’s vision of how free speech should be protected. But I would point out two things.

          First, this is a long way from where US law currently stands. Second, a halfway step toward that could be worse than nothing. Ambiguity can and absolutely will be abused, with some people getting more freedom than others.

    4. Consider the consequences of expanding freedom of speech in this way. What would the enforcement mechanism look like? Who tells the employer that he can’t fire you for criticizing his own DEI policy, or tells the university it can’t kick its enrolled student off its swim team, or flunk you from a university course for refusing to be examined on the the course material? (Have to say I’m not clear what you mean by the last instance.). It would have to be the Courts, or some body analogous to a human rights tribunal, and this would greatly expand the intrusion of government into private life. Every private decision, like whom to invite to your next social gathering, would be subject to judicial review as to whether or not you had used the now-forbidden criterion of political disagreement to decide whom not to invite back. Even if that wasn’t the reason, it would give any aggrieved person a lever against you: you would have to prove in Court that you hadn’t. Document everything. Grievance becomes everything.

      Employers have resigned themselves to being periodically shaken down at Human Rights Commissions by various minorities who allege discrimination in, particularly, promotion and firing. So it’s one more reason not to hire them in the first place….and to keep detailed notes about job performance and progressive discipline before finally letting them go. But at least you can predict the trouble-makers in advance. A speech complaint would come out of the blue and affect domains of life where notes are not customarily taken. Is this really where you want the enforcement mechanism of the state to tread into?

      Government censorship is, by contrast, easily policed in the public space. The Courts simply rule that a law that violates the Constitution has no force and effect. That’s all there is to it.

      It’s disappointing that Twitter mobs get people fired for expressing their beliefs but an employer does have to respect the interests of shareholders. If an employee is bad for business, he’s got to go. No hard feelings but the employer is the only one who has to meet the payroll.

      1. What would the enforcement mechanism look like?

        The same mechanism for enforcing rules against firing people for being black or gay or Muslim.

        … or flunk you from a university course for refusing to be examined on the the course material? (Have to say I’m not clear what you mean by the last instance.).

        It was a reference to James Esses, UK student expelled by his university for gender-critical opinions. (It was not about “refusing to be examined” on anything.)

        Every private decision, like whom to invite to your next social gathering, would be subject to judicial review …

        No it would only apply to “public accommodations”, or to those things that the Civil Rights Act 1964 (and similar legislation in other countries, e.g. Equality Act 2010 in the UK) apply to. It doesn’t apply to choices by private citizens.

    5. Exactly, too many people think as the unknown Canadian student who made the following statement on YouTube (In a video since deleted.) did:

      “Free speech is the right to educated speech. If you utilize your right to ‘freedom of speech’ but then are socially or politically apathetic, you don’t vote, educate yourself on social issues, if you are not involved in the community, if you are not involved in being a citizen, an educated citizen, you have no right to free speech.”

      1. So they were talking about themselves!

        Get it? They were talking about silencing “uneducated” individuals, but never considered if they themselves count as “educated”… there’s got to be some fallacy for that…

    6. Amen! The problem here is a cultural one, not a legal one. It should be legal for, say, Twitter to sensor anything it wants for any reason it wants or for no reason at all. But they generally shouldn’t do it because it’s illiberal.

  3. The free speech that concerns me is the freedom of anyone on the internet social media platforms or a television media outlet to spew out lies and propaganda continuously without any legal percussion for doing so. The damage done by this is and has been unlimited in scale. It controls segments of the population and can determine elections. It can change the form of government. The first amendment could not consider this or have any idea of the damage caused. Recently, the Russian government publicly called out Rubert Murdock and Fox as the only reliable and good news organization in America. Russia plays portions of Fox programs on its own TV networks in Russia. This fact and the evidence and history shows this to be true. Yet we call ourselves a free society and do nothing. Russia even takes parts of some of our radical far right speeches by congressmen and women and plays this on their news.

    1. It controls segments of the population and can determine elections.

      Agreed. For example, Twitter, Facebook and swathes of mainstream media acting to shut down the Hunter Biden laptop story in the run-up to the last election, including locking the NY Post’s social media for several weeks. (A story now widely accepted to be accurate.) That action could have changed the outcome.

      But, yes, I agree that there’s a problem and consider that media with a large market share should have a legal duty to be truthful, accurate and politically neutral.

      That still lets Joe Public say what they like.

      1. Twitter and Facebook were used by the far right to coordinate and produce the insurrection on Jan. 6. Then Trump was finally removed from the platforms. So yes, regulation should step in and all this free speech crap needs a lot of regulation. What they did in 1790 does not cut it.

        1. Who decides what’s acceptable, Randall? Does Biden get to decide because he’s President? Does the next Republican President get to decide according to his opinions? No, he doesn’t, because you don’t want that to happen. Censorship, which is what it is, doesn’t make sense in a pluralist democracy.

          1. The president does not decide. The branch that is suppose to make the laws is the congress. We have had a worthless, almost congress for many years. They should be passing better voter rights laws. They should be passing legislation regulating internet platforms, they should be passing women’s rights to abortion. They do nothing. Our govt. is totally broken and unlikely to be fixed. Let the red states make their own laws and you just as well go back to 1850. That is where they are going.

            1. At the risk of being given a penalty for too many men on the ice, I’m saying you didn’t answer DrBrydon’s question. Your frustration about what legislation Congress ought (in your opinion) to be passing, but isn’t, doesn’t help decide what speech is to be permitted and what prohibited. If you believe your country’s government is totally and irretrievably broken, now is not the time to be giving the surviving power-brokers in the wreckage all sorts of vague powers to limit and regulate internet speech you don’t like. In a circumstance like that, it really would be the President of the day winging it with executive orders that last until the next one gets sworn in, insofar as the Supreme Court would let him/her.

              If Congress ever did get around to passing legislation that allowed the Executive to regulate internet platforms, what would you want those regulations to say? Regulations are the purview of the Executive, not Congress. It would come down to what the President was able to talk the appropriate Executive Agency (like the FCC?) into promulgating as to what content would be allowed on social platforms. Surely you are not so partisan as to propose that only far-right speech be regulated out of existence while far-left incitement propaganda leading to, say, the organization of civil disruptions and vandalism of infrastructure over existential climate change be given a free pass in a good cause.

              Besides, the NY Times op-ed was about the question of de-fanging the private-sector cancellers who intimidate people into silence, not about giving more powers to government censors.

              That’s all for me.

      2. The Washington Post ran a column today the Hunter Biden computer story is now widely accepted as accurate.

        “Even today, the full story isn’t clear. Is the story straightforward — Mac Isaac obtained a laptop, thought it might be relevant to national politics and then found only one taker, Giuliani, for the material? Was the material reportedly circulating in Ukraine the same stuff? Nonexistent? Obtained from an iCloud hack independently? Did Guo learn about the laptop from Bannon, with mentions of the material in September following from there? It is of course always easy to ask infinite questions when you’re skeptical, but that the answers to this aren’t known now reinforces the reasons for skepticism 18 months ago”

        Analysis | The forgotten — and ignored — context for the emergence of the Hunter Biden laptop story

        We may never know but it does not appear widely accepted.

  4. I am glad you posted on this. When I tried to read this piece, it was pay-walled. I think we have a censorship problem, rather than a free-speech problem. Ironically, the NYT is part of the problem, along with the rest of the news and big social media companies. They have been complicit in the conspiracy to silence views and information that challenge their social philosophy and political agenda. We should wonder whether we really do have free elections in this country, given their support for the Trump-Russia hoax and their suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop and questions about Joe BIden’s conflicts of interest. Free speech is a right, but it is also a value, and if we discard it, we can hardly hope to survive as a democracy.

    1. Indeed. It is even worse than a censorship problem, it is a viewpoint censorship problem. If you cannot view or read that an alternative view is available how can you distinguish between them?

  5. “The NYT is late to the party, but its sentiments are fine.” They seem OK, but I have my doubts. The NYT is asking for civility in how we react to speech we disagree with, but it adds two key caveats: that it comes from a “place of good faith”, and that it’s not hate speech, which is different from “speech that challenges us in ways that we might find difficult or even offensive” (we should remain civil about the latter). The problem of course is that all this is subjective. Who’s to determine what constitutes “good faith”? And what’s to prevent someone from deciding that difficult and offensive pronouncements constitute hate speech?

    In the end it’s all a matter of the dominant moral sentiment, which right now is that of the illiberal left. The woke can thus pretend to fully agree with the Times and continue to be as uncivil as ever, claiming that everything they condemn is “not coming from a place of good faith” or is hate speech.

  6. Thomas Zimmer’s tweet: “The problem with the “cancel culture” discourse is that it ignores and obscures the fact that there are always norms of what is and what is not acceptable as public speech, and that it has traditionally been the prerogative of elite white men to determine those boundaries”

    Sean Carroll’s tweet: “But much of the current hoopla is about certain people who used to be the *only* ones able to speak freely, now having to think about other perspectives, and they don’t like it.”

    I disagree with these two opinions. Traditionally, “the *only* ones”, the ones with the prerogative, have been religious authorities, and that’s why wokeism – a quasi-religion – is a problem.

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