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Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Clamour of the mob

Resignations in UK media in aftermath of the Harry-Meghan interview are a disturbing extension of 'cancel culture'.

By: Editorial |
Updated: March 13, 2021 9:14:34 am
It would be easy to be cynical about Bajwa's outstretched hand, and with good reason.

Many of Piers Morgan’s views are quite distasteful, his manner abrasive. And Ian Murray, former executive editor of the UK Society of Editors, a media industry body, certainly over-stated the case when he said categorically that the British media was not racist. But that both these individuals have resigned, under pressure from their employers as well as a section of society, is arguably a disturbing extension of the so-called “cancel culture”.

In the aftermath of the Harry-Meghan interview, in which Harry stated that the “British press is bigoted”, and that a member of the royal family made racist comments about their then to-be-born baby’s skin colour, Morgan questioned their motives and truthful­ness on a talk show. He was even incredulous about the duchess’s mental health issues. With over 40,000 letters asking for his resignation, the ITV brass, his employers, met with him and he resigned immediately after. In Murray’s case, he resigned after a guest refused to participate in an event organised by his erstwhile employers, citing his views as the cause.

The intersection of royalty, celebrity and race did not bring out the best in the British press, particularly among conservatives like Morgan and the much-maligned tabloids. But sanitising the public conversation of that which is distasteful is neither liberal nor progressive. Leading newspapers and media personalities have spoken up against Morgan’s views and highlighted instances of racism in the coverage of the royal family to counter Murray. They have engaged with, and countered, the rhetoric of false conservative outrage. That is the way it should be. Bigotry, like pornography, will indeed find a voice in a society that encourages free speech. But “cancelling” those that espouse such views does not remove them from society, or change minds. In fact, it may just reinforce the divide.

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