As many as 150 writers, activists and academics, including the likes of Margaret Atwood, JK Rowling and Salman Rushdie, have signed an open letter in Harper’s Magazine, objecting to the ‘cancel culture’ that is believed to be a variant of the ‘call-out culture’, denouncing “a vogue for public shaming and ostracism”, usually of celebrities.
Titled ‘A Letter on Justice and Open Debate‘, the letter comes just days after JK Rowling faced heavy criticism for her tweets that likened transgender hormone replacement to gay conversion therapy. The Harry Potter author also faced a lot of backlash for her other such opinions in recent times, with some people even going to the extent of labelling her “transphobic”.
According to the letter, which was published July 7, while “powerful protests for racial and social justice are leading to overdue demands for police reform, along with wider calls for greater equality and inclusion across our society, not least in higher education, journalism, philanthropy, and the arts”, “this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity”.
The letter states that the “free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted”. “This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time. 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,” it says in the letter.
Besides Atwood, Rushdie and Rowling, the letter has also been signed by other prominent people, namely academic Noam Chomsky, writer and activist Gloria Steinem, and journalist Fareed Zakaria, among others.
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