All posts filed under: Cancel Culture

Bruce Gilley vs Cancel Culture

Professor Bruce Gilley of Portland State University is a man not unfamiliar with controversy. In 2017, he wrote an article titled “The Case for Colonialism,” which argued that Western colonialism was “both objectively beneficial and subjectively legitimate in most of the places where it was found.” Soon after the article appeared on the website for Third World Quarterly, the journal where it had been accepted for publication, two petitions were launched demanding its retraction. One of these, which got more than 7,000 signatures, claimed that sentiments expressed in the article “reek of colonial disdain for Indigenous peoples and ignore ongoing colonialism in white settler nations.” (The other petition, incidentally, got more than 11,000 signatures.) By the time the dust settled, Third World Quarterly’s editor had received “serious and credible threats of personal violence,” 15 members of the editorial board had resigned, and Gilley’s article had been retracted. For Gilley, however, things were just getting started. A group of current and former students from Portland State University wrote to his bosses to express their “collective outrage, …

The Denial of Cancel Culture

On August 3rd, Remi Adekoya, Tom Simpson and I released a 120-page Policy Exchange report on Academic Freedom in the UK. The report received bipartisan support. On the Left, Ruth Smeeth, an ex-Labour member of Parliament, wrote the foreword and Ruth Kelly, another former Labour MP, backed the report. Lord Sumption, a former Supreme Court judge, and Trevor Phillips, an ex-Equalities czar, rounded out the list of those writing endorsements. A range of broadsheets from across the political spectrum, from the Telegraph and Times to the Guardian, had good things to say about it, noting the significant level of political bias in academia in which left- and right-wing academics discriminate against each other at relatively similar rates. The glaring outlier to the positive coverage was the academic activist Left, who laid down a barrage of fire on Twitter in an attempt to divert attention from the unmistakeable story jumping out of the data. New evidence I have collected since replicates precisely the same pattern. Before addressing the critics, however, let’s revisit the findings. The report …

The Floridian Inquisition

I’m an attorney representing a professor at the University of Central Florida who is being subjected by the university to what can only be called an inquisition after expressing opinions on Twitter that led to widespread calls for his firing. UCF is a public institution—an instrument of the state—and is now bringing its full power to bear against a man who dared to question the prevailing orthodoxy that has quickly descended over so many of this country’s institutions. I cannot bear witness to what the university is doing to this man without speaking out against it. If we do not challenge this egregious abuse of power, things will only get worse. Professor Charles Negy is a wonderfully eccentric man, someone who teaches extraordinarily controversial subjects—Cross-Cultural Psychology and Sexual Behavior—with bluntness and humor. He is exactly the kind of professor you want in college: someone who is passionate about his subject, who will challenge your deeply-held assumptions, and who encourages free and open discussion in the classroom. Negy’s bluntness has occasionally ruffled feathers over the years, …

How to Fight the Enemies of Academic Freedom

According to a 2019 Cato Institute study, 75 percent of immigrants who are American citizens are very proud to be American compared to only 69 percent of native-born Americans. Based on my own experience, I expect the discrepancy to be much greater if you compare the sentiments of all immigrants to those of American-born elites, especially the young. I escaped communist Romania in 1975 and came to the US to pursue my dream—attracted to the United States, as millions of other immigrants have been, by its reputation as a country that values freedom and rewards hard work and talent. I came with nothing but a strong desire to become a research mathematician, yet have been able to succeed far beyond my expectations. This is the result partly of my own efforts and whatever talent I may have, but a larger part of the credit is due to the sheer good fortune of being able to pursue my career in the US within an academic system which has been, at least until today, the freest, most …

PODCAST 103: Evolutionary Biologist (and new Quillette Managing Editor) Colin Wright on the State of Academic Science, Gender, and His Latest Career Move

Quillette Managing Editor Colin Wright explains why scientists no longer always feel free to speak up in the face of pseudoscience, and why he gave up his hunt for a job as a professor in the field of evolutionary biology for a career in journalism. Colin recently wrote about being cancelled because of his non-conformist views on gender for Quillette.

Cancel Culture and the Republican Concept of Liberty

In June, an opinion piece published in the New York Times by Senator Tom Cotton arguing for federal troops to rein in the protests in Minneapolis sparked a political firestorm. The piece led to the firing of the editor in charge and a rare corrective from the op-ed department. The Times’s institutional response is now a familiar pattern in recent months. It reflects a wider cultural phenomenon, whereby those who espouse controversial or hateful opinions (either in the past or the present) can be punished by affiliated institutions. Cancel culture refers to the practice of pressuring institutions in the hopes that they punish a member with a controversial public profile. At the start of the #MeToo era, the targets of cancellation were often figures that had conducted themselves in morally reprehensible or inappropriate ways. Since then, however, the targets of cancellation have broadened significantly to include those who espouse controversial views. In this arena, cancel culture abandons debate and argumentation in favor of an institutional sanction. The essence of cancel culture lies herein: a form …

PODCAST 97: Professor Eric Kaufmann on America’s Maoist Moment

Politics professor Eric Kaufmann talks to Toby Young about his Quillette essay The Great Awokening and the Second American Revolution. Professor Kaufmann believes America may be going through something akin to China’s Cultural Revolution in which many aspects of American society, from the constitution to the name of the country, could change.

PODCAST 60: Jesse Singal on Being Harassed by a Slate Journalist

Jesse Singal, contributing writer at New York magazine, talks to Jonathan Kay about being targeted for cancellation by Nicole Cliffe, a well-known left-wing journalist. It is the latest example of the harassment he’s endured at the hands of the social justice Left since writing a controversial cover story for the Atlantic entitled When Children Say They’re Trans. Singal wrote about being smeared by Cliffe for his newsletter Singal-Minded.