To address the coercive cultural turn across many western artistic, educational, business, and entertainment institutions, CIS hosted a discussion with Claire Lehmann and Peter Kurti and Monica Wilkie. Many cultural forces continue to weed out books, tear down statues, and shame celebrities, who buck fashionable opinions. As a result, the cultural putsch in many western institutions strikes at liberal values. We are told these purges are necessary to “prevent harm.” In any case, society has “moved on” from the past.
But is cancel culture simply about fending off “harm”? Is it just about redressing past western sins? Or is what the critics say is a ferocious campaign of political conformity threatening the fabric of our liberal public discourse and civil society? Is it a proxy war on the Western liberal democratic tradition? Is anyone or anything safe from cancellation?
Claire Lehmann, the founding editor of online magazine Quillette, has been a vocal opponent of cancel culture. She has recently released a collection of essays, Panics, and Persecutions: 20 Quillette Tales of Excommunication in the Digital Age.
Peter Kurti is the author of Cancelled! How ideological cleansing threatens Australia. He is director of the Culture, Prosperity, and Civil Society program at the Centre for Independent Studies.