People aren’t mad at that letter and the people behind it because they hate free speech. A spooled thread.

People are at best skeptical of and at worst outraged by the free speech argument being made in the Harper’s letter because when the inevitable shit starts, (like harassment, for example), the best the people with tons of followers and clout can do is post the obligatory “of course harassment is bad” tweet and once that’s done it’s really easy to just walk away.

I have yet to see any of the people railing against cancel culture address the trade-off trans and other minorities are expected to put up with so their free speech rights can be safeguarded.

And by address, I mean in something other than an abstract fashion. Because it’s really easy to just post that “of course harassment/bigotry is bad” tweet and then just go on with your day while the mentions of the person you’ve decided to go after to your tons of followers are a complete trashfire.

If we were operating in a world where there wasn’t near instantaneous communication, like blogs for example, and we were dealing with a situation where harassment and other such could be and would be completely deleted by the original author, then I could totally understand a near absolute free speech stance and would even go along with it.

But we aren’t operating in that sphere, and as high minded as this whole free speech argument is, it’s not the people making it who are bearing the brunt of the fall-out.

And it would be nice if there were some serious discussion of the trade-offs and maybe even some attempts at putting forth solutions that ensure that everyone’s free speech is protected while also ensuring that all the bullshit can be properly addressed.

It would also be nice if there were some serious attempts at limiting what gets labeled as cancel culture.

I’d suggest narrowing the scope to people being fired for posts on their personal social media by online mobs. And by personal I don’t mean the one you do all your public relations/promotion of your work ETC. on.

Until there is some serious grappling with everything surrounding all this, including the inevitable pile-ons and other shit that happens to marginalized people online by the influencers championing the canceled, there are a lot of people who have damn good reasons to be skeptical of cultural free speech, if not legal as well.

And the general idea that a price has to be paid for freedom isn’t going to cut it. Neither is “you just hate free speech.”

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