What gives them the right to use their platforms to harass others into silence, especially writers with smaller platforms and less institutional support, while preaching that silencing writers is a problem? It is impossible to see how these signatories are contributing to “the most vital causes of our time” during this moment of widespread reckoning with oppressive social systems. Instead, it claims that the reason many of the signatories are paying attention to it now is because they are being challenged in ways they hadn't before, and that the examples they choose to highlight shade the message towards what they actually find troubling, rather than the longstanding cancellation that has been present for others. The signatories...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. A recent Twitter hashtag highlighted that even when Black and brown authors do have book deals, they are not compensated at anywhere close to the same rates as their white colleagues. Harper's recently published a letter that touched on "cancel culture" and freedom of speech titled, "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate. Manuscripts for books written by nonwhite authors are not given such leniency. In truth, Black, brown, and LGBTQ+ people — particularly Black and trans people — can now critique elites publicly and hold them accountable socially; this seems to be the letter’s greatest concern. Ironically, these influential people then use that platform to complain that they’re being silenced. The signatories claim that “professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class.” This could be a reference to Laurie Sheck, a New School Professor, who said the N-word when referencing a James Baldwin piece in class. A similar incident occurred with Princeton professor Lawrence Rosen, whom Princeton defended. Signing that “Letter on Justice and Open Debate” looks to have gotten one fairly prominent left-wing writer muzzled — proving the point of the letter. The Times chose to solicit and amplify a perspective from a senator, and backlash ensued, which is similar to what’s happening in the Harper’s letter — prominent people with huge platforms complaining they don’t have enough latitude to share their views. For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml. DISCLAIMER: The statements, views and opinions expressed in pieces republished here are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of TMS.
Yet, everyone who signed the letter has reinforced the actions and beliefs of its most prominent signatories, some of whom have gone out of their way to harass trans writers or pedantically criticize Black writers. 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. Bennet lost his job because he didn't do it, with a side does of lying about it as well, which is covered in that section.