Right Opinion

Cancellation Nation: The Building Backlash

Tony Perkins · Jul. 14, 2020

First it was pancake syrup and Paw Patrol. Now, even Scrabble isn’t safe. You can forget the triple word score on at least 236 “slurs” the North American players association is stripping from the group’s lexicon. The goal, these gamers say, is to make the game “friendlier” for all types of people. Of course, no one has seen the official list of “potentially offensive” words — leaving many to wonder if this new vocabulary is just W-O-K-E.

George Orwell used to say that if you control the language, you control the people. And the fringe has certainly taken that advice to heart, putting a bullseye on phrases as pedestrian as “peanut gallery,” “no can do” and the ever-inflammatory “eenie meenie miney moe.” A grammarian, writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, argued that all of these phrases are linguistic bigotry and should be blacklisted. (Actually, he didn’t use that word, since it’s almost certainly offensive too.) The point, NRO’s David Harsanyi warns, is that “attempting to dictate what words we use is another way to exert power over how we think.”

But is it working? New polling says no. If anything, a growing number of Americans — including an impressive number of prominent liberals — think the cancel culture has worn out its welcome. In an astonishing turn, 153 of them, including well-known authors, intellectuals, and public figures, signed on to an open letter in Harper’s magazine, calling for an end to the “public shaming and ostracism” and a new tolerance for “opposing views.”

“The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted… [There is a new] 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… [This] stifling atmosphere… invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.”

Signed by a collection of people who no one would mistake for conservatives, the mainstream pushback was just one of the signs that the honeymoon with the mob is over. Even more telling is the surprising shift of public opinion away from groups like Black Lives Matter — which, 70 percent of Americans insist — isn’t improving race relations. In fact, many believe the movement has done more harm (38 percent) than good (26 percent). That decline in public approval has been especially steep over the last month, as more Americans realize George Floyd’s death was just an excuse for radicals to hijack the conversation. “Some 40 percent of Republicans in early June thought the ‘underlying anger of the protesters’ was fully justified after the killing of Floyd," Liz Peek explains. "Later in the month, only 18 percent thought so.”

The woke crowd is on shaky ground, Mark Hemingway agrees. Friday, on “Washington Watch" with Sarah Perry, he warned that a lot more people in this country care about free speech than the media would like to admit. "And they’re getting frustrated,” he said, pointing to the open rebellion of letters like Harper’s. If you want to blame someone for this unrest, Mark insisted, try academia. It’s our colleges and universities who created this chaos by allowing certain Marxist theories to take hold of U.S. campuses.

“In the last 20 years, it’s reached critical mass,” he pointed out. So much so that “the point of education [is now] to rectify injustice and to create activists, not to impart knowledge. And I definitely think that that has taken hold among younger people that haven’t really even, frankly, been that well educated on competing ideas regarding basic things like free speech or free enterprise. And that’s a problem. They’ve been taught that [only] one set of ideas only is correct.”

If we want to save our country and stop these forces from remaking America, then we’ve got to reassess education. Obviously, Mark points out, public schools and universities aren’t going away any time soon. “But I think people care about their kids learning some basic ideas that have made Western civilization, such a belief in absolute and transcendent truth. The belief that the way to be prosperous and happy is to engage in the free exchange of ideas… And I think if you can inculcate that in a future generation, or — at the very least — create enough of a sizable group of people that exists outside of this current dominant thinking, in 10 or 20 years then you might have something.”

We’ve seen the homeschooling movement start to drive that counterculture, along with uncompromising Christian colleges, parents, and churches. It will take all of them to undo what the far-Left have done to the one thing we should all have in common: freedom.

Originally published here.

Facebook Tags Therapy for Possible Ban

While the rest of Big Tech openly uses its power to censor, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has stood out. Unlike his peers, he’s had the refreshing sanity to reinforce free speech — a position that hasn’t exactly endeared him to the intolerant Left. Now, months into his First Amendment experiment, one of the lone holdouts on open debate is considering a policy that would silence the voices keeping some users alive.

Everyone is entitled to information, Facebook has argued. Except, maybe, people struggling with their sexuality. According to European sources, Zuckerberg’s platform, along with its subsidiary Instagram, may be trying to keep those hurting users from getting the information they’re looking for. On the table, CNN says, is a proposal to block positive reviews or testimonials about sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE), including counselors who specialize in the field. One British group, Core Issues Trust, has already been affected — at least temporarily — and executives warn that U.S. advocates may be next.

Other platforms have been more proactive. “A Twitter spokesman said their platform already enforces against content that promotes conversion therapy under their ‘no harm’ rule,” which is ironic, FRC’s Peter Sprigg points out, since the whole point of SOCE is to help people from being harmed by their lifestyle choices.

Like others beholden to the far-Left, social media moguls don’t want to admit that change is possible because it undermines the whole linchpin of their LGBT activist friends: that being gay or transgender isn’t a choice. So, they ratchet up their misinformation machines, insisting that all counseling is torture. But, as survivors like Walt Heyer would tell you, the real torture is telling people who want help they can’t have it.

If these bans “were in place back in the 1990s, most likely I would have died from suicide,” he’s said of his life when he identified as a woman. Were it not for the access he had to two Christian psychotherapists who helped him walk away from his identity as Laura Jensen, he might not be here today. And while SOCE therapy isn’t a “magic switch,” by any means, people have had tremendous success freeing themselves from the sexual bondage and attractions that gripped their lives. To rip that hope out of their hands isn’t “tolerance,” it’s cruelty.

Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) who’s seen this kind of censorship take hold at Amazon and in other corporate board rooms, has warned:

“We don’t want to start having a society where, on controversial issues, people will only have access to one viewpoint… That’s what’s made America different than others. [SOCE may be] an emotional topic, but we need to have more information out there for people so they can make decisions… We have to remember these are individuals… And if people are struggling with something so personal, and they want more information, they should have access potential help… To just to have one group say, ‘No, our way is the only way, and we’re not going to let any other American hear about another alternative way to think about a condition or a subject’ — that’s what we’ve seen in other countries in the past, and that’s a scary place to go.”

There’s also a great irony in the fact that Facebook, the place where you can choose from more than 50 gender identities, doesn’t embrace people’s same autonomy when it comes to sexual orientation. “It’s outrageous,” Peter insisted, that companies would even be considering silencing the viewpoints of people who only want to “help people reach the goals they voluntarily choose for themselves when it comes to their sexuality. Media organizations should resist the increasingly totalitarian demands of LGBT activists that they censor all opposing viewpoints. Neither democracy nor science can thrive without a free exchange of ideas.”

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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