Blurring the Line Between Legit Criticism and Cancel Culture
Been seeing quite a bit of this lately and it deserves to be pointed out and scorned. A perfect example is this hit piece on the College Fix:
After Campus Reform published a story
about Alyssa Johnson, an assistant professor at Louisiana State
University, over a tweet she had posted in response to an incoming
student’s racist slur, she faced such an onslaught of abuse and threats
that she was forced to leave her home.
The story was picked up by scores of right-wing outlets, including Fox
News, and went viral on social media and on a website for LSU sports
fans, where insults and attacks against Johnson filled chat rooms for
dozens of pages. “I read them all because I just wanted to make sure
that nobody had found my address,” said Johnson, who is Asian American.
She noted that a majority of the online comments as well as hundreds of
emails she received were filled with sexist insults and “racial slurs
about Asian people that I had never even known existed,” she said.
Let's start with the obvious, that slurs and insults are completely inappropriate and threats are quite possibly criminal. Nobody should defend them. But at the same time, criticism of the content of Johnson's tweet is surely allowed? She not only suggested that she would drop any students guilty of using racist slurs from her class, but that a list of such students should be maintained.
It is of course useful to blur the line between one's critics and the loonies who then engage in the insults and slurs and threats. And yes, there is a causal relationship, but it's not intentional. And no surprise the article's tack is that the College Fix is engaging in Cancel Culture; indeed, that's the headline:
A Billionaire-Funded Website With Ties to the Far Right Is Trying to “Cancel” University Professors
No doubt the College Fix suggested that Alyssa Johnson be fired? I mean, that's a basic first step in Cancel Culture. Nope, in fact while it notes that there were calls for her to resign, the article itself takes no stance other than to note that her tweet was inappropriate for an assistant professor at a public university.
Any criticism of the hall monitors like Taylor Lorenz is met with similar line-blurring. Glenn Greenwald criticized Lorenz for some very criticism-worthy behavior, Lorenz gets nasty emails and tweets, Greenwald is trying to cancel Lorenz. Rinse and repeat. These stories are particularly popular because they allow journalists the opportunity to talk about their favorite topic: journalists and how poorly they are treated by the knuckle-dragging morons who don't understand the importance of what they are doing.