Constitutional Vanguard: Is Neil Young’s Protest Against Joe Rogan “Cancel Culture”?
I wrote virtually everything I am thinking about the Joe Rogan/Neil Young controversy here. I think this one will be informative in various ways for everyone who reads it — for insight into the nature of the misinformation Rogan is spouting, for some clarity about the facts of the controversy, and for some challenging examples that show that, at times, even principled conservatives might justifiably want to engage in protests of speech that some might call “cancel culture.” The piece also recognizes that cancel culture exists, and looks for reasonable ways to distinguish between valid criticism and cancel culture:
[T]here really is such a thing as “cancel culture.” I don’t particularly care for the term, but we have all seen it a million times, and we can give countless examples. The music professor who was canceled for showing his class Laurence Olivier playing Othello. The San Francisco art museum curator who resigned because he “ended a presentation about new acquisitions by artists of color by saying, ‘Don’t worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.’”) The UCLA business communications professor who was suspended for teaching students about a very widely used “filler word” in Chinese that happens to sound like a racial slur. These and countless other examples are an affront to common sense and a clear attack on free speech. (And isn’t it curious how often these controversies revolve around trumped-up phony race issues?)
The people who complained about the music professor, about the art museum curator, or about the UCLA business communications professor were all technically exercising their right to free speech. But I think we can all agree that those complainers were morally wrong to do so. They are purveyors of cancel culture. Their actions, even if they constitute protected speech, are wrong and deserve condemnation.
So: how to distinguish between these examples of “cancel culture” and legitimate forms of boycotts/complaints/protest as I detailed in the previous section?
I poured my heart out into this one. (It’s nearly 5,000 words.) I was motivated to write it by the fact that there are people paying to read my stuff, and so I made this one for paid subscribers only — but it also hurts a bit that it will go to a relatively small audience, given the effort I put into it. So, for the non-paid subscribers, I’ll make you a one-time deal. If you contact me by email (patterico AT gmail DOT com) or by DM on Twitter, and give me an email address to send it to, I’ll forward it to you for free. (Don’t worry, I’m not collecting the email addresses, and I won’t use your email for any purpose except to forward you this one piece.) Maybe, if you like it enough, you’ll decide it’s worth becoming a paid subscriber. Maybe you won’t, and that’s fine too. At the very least, I will have had the opportunity to more widely share a piece that I think has a lot to say.
Also, paid subscribers are free to forward this one to anyone they like. And I want to give a shout-out to the paid subscribers. I wrote this for you. I hope you like it.