Tag: cancel culture

This week on Hubwonk, host Joe Selvaggi talks with Noah Rothman, associate editor of Commentary magazine, about his recently released book, The Rise of the New Puritans: Fighting Back Against Progressives’ War On Fun, examining how the attempt to remoralize American culture mirrors similar social movements in the past and what concerned onlookers can do to better manage this frenzied phenomenon.


Cancel Bots and Trolls, Not People: A Cancel-Culture Update


When the US Supreme Court announces major earth-shaking decisions, as they did several times last month, not much attention is focused on the attorneys who argued and won their cases. But there may be one exception this year: Paul Clement and his law partner, Erin Murphy.

Paul Clement is arguably the most effective appellant lawyer in modern times. He served as Solicitor General – the government’s chief litigator before SCOTUS – during the Bush 43 Administration. As Clement was preparing to leave the Bush administration following the 2008 election, he was referred to as “The LeBron James of law firm recruiting,” referencing the best professional basketball player of that era.

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So, apropos of absolutely nothing going on in the news, I’ve been thinking about the range of responses available to us when confronted with a joke that we do not find funny. The first, most basic, and most time-honored choice is simply not laughing. We deprive the comedian of the desired response, determinedly withholding our […]

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Maus: Censorship from the Right?


Maus is a graphic novel (fancy talk for comic book) by cartoonist Art Spiegelman. In the story, Spiegelman interviews his father about his experiences as a Holocaust survivor. It features anthropomorphized versions of the players in these events: Jews are mice, Germans are cats, Poles are pigs, Americans are dogs, and so on. As a fan of sequential art, I can attest to it being very well done. It is also the only graphic novel to win a Pulitzer Prize.

It’s also been in the news as of late. Apparently, it’s the latest victim of right-wing Holocaust denial and censorship. Take a look at some of these articles:

‘Maus’ controversy: A Tennessee school board removed the graphic novel about the Holocaust from curriculum – CNN

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Gerard Robinson and Cara Candal talk with Bari Weiss, former New York Times op-ed editor and writer, and author of How to Fight Anti-Semitism. Bari shares what motivated her to write this book, its reception, and key lessons for teachers and students alike.

She also explains why we’re now seeing a rise in anti-Semitism, how educators can best combat it, and the connection she observes between the current upsurge in anti-Semitism and cancel culture. Bari discusses her experiences on the editorial boards of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and her courageous decision to resign from the Times, as well as the public praise and criticism she’s encountered since her resignation.

Elite Universities’ Fall of Failure on Free Expression


It probably doesn’t come as much of a shock to Ricochet readers that America’s most elite colleges and universities are often far from elite where their performance on free speech is concerned. Even so, as we’ve been writing at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) over the last couple of weeks, their cultures of free expression have been showing some signs of seriously ill health. A quick rundown:

  • Yale University attracted nationwide scorn this fall for its treatment of a law student, whom it pressured to issue a public apology over an email promoting a social event that made a joking reference to a “trap house.” But as my colleague Adam Goldstein and I wrote recently, another, less ballyhooed incident likewise raises serious concern. Psychiatrist and author Sally Satel delivered a lecture to the psychiatry department at the Yale School of Medicine (where she is a visiting lecturer) discussing the year she spent working in rural Ohio treating people struggling with opioid addiction. Following her lecture, a group of “Concerned Yale Psychiatry Residents” demanded that Satel be stripped of her lecturer title for her “dehumanizing, demeaning, and classist” remarks, seizing upon, of all things, a reference to an “artisanal coffee shop.”
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology came in for heavy criticism after its department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences rescinded its invitation for University of Chicago geophysicist Dorian Abbot to deliver its annual John Carlson Lecture. The reason for Abbot’s disinvitation had nothing whatsoever to do with the scientific nature of his planned lecture; it was because he’d previously published a column criticizing university diversity, equity, and inclusion programs and proposing what he believed to be a fairer alternative. As my colleague Komi German documents, that’s only the most prominent in a string of free expression challenges that has seen MIT stumble.
  • Most recently, the Stanford University Undergraduate Senate denied funding to the Stanford College Republicans, who sought to bring former Vice President Mike Pence to campus for a lecture. Audio recordings of the senate’s vote make clear that viewpoint discrimination played a role in the decision. ​​One student senator is recorded saying that “if you’re against the individual speaker, then I think it’s fine to vote in that way.” Or, put differently, it’s perfectly fine to let your personal politics and morality supersede your duty to treat funding requests in a viewpoint-neutral manner.

Cancel Culture Comes for Dad Rock


President Trump was mocked for suggesting that after tearing down Confederate statues, they would move on to statues of Washington and Jefferson. History has proven he wasn’t wrong, he merely underestimated how far the left is willing to take the Culture Wars. (The Culture Wars polite Republicans and “principled conservatives” think we should have no part of.) They came for Robert E. Lee, they came for Stonewall Jackson, and conservatives-with-dad-bods did nothing. Now, they’re coming for Eric Clapton and the Rolling Stones.

The past several years have seen a reassessment of our country’s many mythologies — from the legends of the generals of the Confederacy to the historical glossing over of slaveholding founding fathers. But as we take another look at the sins of our historical figures, we’ve also had to take a hard look at our more immediate past and present, including the behavior of the creators of pop culture. That reassessment extends now to the people who wrote some of our best-loved songs. But what to do with the art left behind? Can I still love their music if I’m appalled by various events in the lives of Johnny Cash or Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis? Or by Eric Clapton’s racist rants and anti-vaccination activism?

A theater professor refused to express anger at something that wasn’t meant to cause anger. Coastal Carolina University wants to fire him for it.


If you haven’t heard of Coastal Carolina University’s absurd punishment of theater professor Steven Earnest (and you made it through that headline without frying too many brain cells), you might take a couple of more minutes to read through this week’s press release from FIRE:

On Sept. 16, a visiting artist was working with two students of color after class, and one student expressed that she felt isolated and would like to get to know other non-white students in the department. The visiting artist asked about whether it might be helpful for non-white students to connect as a group, and she and the students wrote out the names of other non-white students on the classroom whiteboard while brainstorming ideas. 

Ayaan speaks with Lawrence Krauss about the new religion of wokeism and how it spread throughout academia. They discuss the impacts that political correctness and cancel culture have on science, and what it means for the future.

Lawrence Krauss is an internationally known theoretical physicist.

My Statements About Trans Fats Were Wrong And Hurtful


Recently I wrote a (since deleted) blog post about my experience on the “keto” diet. In it, I wrote that a diet rich in fats was both healthful and useful for weight loss. However, I also made a distinction between “healthy fats such as those found in nuts and fish” and so-called “trans fats, which raise cholesterol and increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.”

These words were not merely clinically inaccurate but hurtful acts of violence. It pains me terribly to think of the danger in which I put the readers of my reckless words. That I am an older man who grew up in a much fitter and more active era than today’s slackers and 24/7 social-media users is no excuse. I now know that my words constituted an act of violence against tater tots, nondairy creamer, women, pre-prepared cake frosting, microwave popcorn, people of color, vegetable shortening, fried fast food, the undocumented, frozen pizza, stick margarine, Muslims, pie crusts, fried chicken, the differently abled, cookie dough, onion rings, and the gays.

My thoughtless words were not only wrong from a scientific perspective but from a moral one. Oprah, Rosie O’Donnell, the director of the Food and Drug Administration, the leadership at the National Association To Advance Fat Acceptance, and more than 200,000 (and counting) Twitter users have helped me to understand what should have been obvious to me at the time: trans fats are fats, full-stop.

The Culture’s Guide to Cancelling Me


Once upon a time, political priors were no match for a great comedy – funny was funny. Today many great jokes elicit an anxious over-the-shoulder glance to ensure that the culture’s tastemakers – or your firm’s 22-year-old social media intern – don’t disapprove. Rolling with it is a thing of the past.

No longer is a comic’s greatest fear having his sitcom but his entire career – canceled.  With airlines, sports teams, and soft drink manufacturers climbing over one another to bow before the Woke Mob, what is a corporate event planner to do? She must now not only ensure the comedian she hires is funny (or even funny and clean) but also has the correct views.

This means scouring the internet for comedian’s social media posts, blogs, columns, affiliations, and more: all in search of something which might be disqualifying, like that hilarious five-minute bit of yours about how men can’t get pregnant.

This week on “The Learning Curve,” co-hosts Cara Candal and Gerard Robinson talk with Kristina Arriaga, president of Intrinsic, a strategic communications firm, and former vice chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. Kristina shares her family’s experiences fleeing Castro’s communist regime in Cuba and other hardships, and how her background has shaped her commitment to religious liberty. They discuss the current political situation in Cuba, and the lessons American citizens, teachers, and students should learn about communism’s impact on human rights. She shares her work to advance religious freedom as former executive director of The Becket Fund, where she honored courageous Cuban political prisoner Armando Valladares and so many other human rights activists, and through her service on several noted international commissions. Finally, they discuss parallels Kristina highlighted in an October 2020 USA Today op-ed, between cancel culture in America and some of the features of communist Cuba, such as speech codes, political correctness, and social shaming. They delve into why cancel culture is so dangerous to the free exchange of ideas and a healthy civic life, and how parents, teachers, and professors can combat it.

Stories of the Week: The Biden administration is extending the moratorium on federal student loan payments and interest – originally scheduled to expire next month – through early 2022. But exactly who is eligible? The New York Times reports that 340,000 of the one million children who did not report for school during the pandemic were in kindergarten, with the sharpest declines in low-income neighborhoods.

The Mob and the Banjo Player


The banjo player is, of course, Winston Marshall, recently of the hit band Mumford & Sons. The mob is the usual band of angry twits, the censorious harpies of Twitter and Antifa who can’t stand the thought that someone, somewhere, isn’t prostrating himself before the pile of dung that is their hateful and dishonest political ideology.

I don’t care for banjo music, and I’m at best lukewarm about Mumford & Sons. They have a few songs I like, but they’re too folksy for my tastes and so rarely come up in my playlists. Since I’m not particularly interested in music I didn’t realize that the band had become big: I stumbled across them a decade ago, thought they were a little boutique group with a few hits, and never had reason to revise my view until friends, big fans of the group, assured me that they’d achieved mega-band status. Who knew?

Canceled for Opposing Arson


I ran across a couple of news articles about the composer Daniel Elder this week. Perhaps you’ve seen them. Elder is (or was) an up-and-coming choral composer living in Nashville.

Listening to Elder’s work, it’s clear that he is a fine composer with much to offer. I have not heard enough of his music to offer generalizations about his style, but I’m willing to bet you will find Ballade to the Moon worthy of repeated listenings.

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Good news. Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia – a town that is also home to the state-supported Virginia Military Institute and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, and an ignominious restaurant called the “Red Hen” – will not be changing its name to remove Robert E. Lee. So say their Board of Trustees. And it wasn’t even close. If you’ve […]

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Member Post


Good news. Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia – a town that is also home to the state-supported Virginia Military Institute and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, and an ignominious restaurant called the “Red Hen” – will not be changing its name. So says their Board of Trustees. And the vote wasn’t close. If you’ve […]

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This is a members-only post on Ricochet's Member Feed. Want to read it? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Join Ricochet for Free.