Free Speech

Jonathan Rauch on Cancel Culture and the 'Unending Battle' for Free Speech

"The idea that wrongheaded, dangerous, heretical, and blasphemous ideas should be not only allowed but protected is preposterous," says Rauch. And yet, it's "the single most successful social principle ever invented."

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We live in a world where a Boeing executive was forced to resign over a 33-year-old article opposing the idea of women in combat and a respected art curator was pushed out of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for saying he would "definitely still continue to collect white artists." The editor of The New York Times opinion page left his job after publishing an article by Sen. Tom Cotton (R–Ark.) and TV host Nick Cannon was fired by ViacomCBS after voicing anti-Semitic comments on his podcast.

What is driving such instances of what many call "cancel culture"? To answer that question, Nick Gillespie turned to Jonathan Rauch—a fellow at the Brookings Institution, a contributing writer to The Atlantic, and a signatory to the recent open letter in Harper's warning that "the free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted."

In 1993, Rauch wrote Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought, an influential defense of free speech and open inquiry that was excerpted in Reason. Is free thought under unprecedented attack? And if it is, what's driving the repression? Rauch, who is currently working on a book tentatively titled The Constitution of Knowledge, answers those questions and discusses the best way to engage censors and cancelers.

Audio production by Ian Keyser.

NEXT: Sending Secret Police To Do Protester Snatch-n-Grabs Is Bad, Mmmkay?

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  1. Free speech comes from Facebook, Twitter, and Google, right? THAT is why we need to pass laws to prohibit these DANGEROUS companies (which, ugh!, the BASTARDS, put profits above people!)!!! We must pass new laws to retract “Section 230” and FORCE the evil corporations to provide us all (EXCEPT for my political enemies, of course!) with a “UBIFS”, a Universal Basic Income of Free Speech!

    1. Yes, being deprived of special legal protection from suit that no other publisher has, is forcing speech.

      You called it retard. Life must be so hard being as stupid as you appear to be.

      1. Whiners and crybabies run crying and screaming to Government Almighty, when cake-bakers won’t bake them a gay wedding cake.

        OTHER whiners and crybabies (whose names I won’t mention here, lest they cry ANOTHER river of tears!) get kicked off of FaceBook (unfriended by their disloyal so-called “friends” for too many right-wing nut-case rants), and so, they, too… You guessed it! … run crying and screaming to Government Almighty, saying that the EVIL KKKorporations, Facebook, Twitter, and Google, should be FORCED to publish their lies and bullshit!

        We even had Damikesc here a few weeks ago, literally saying, after Facebook, Twitter, and Google are forced to publish your horseshit, and, as a result, advertisers and buyers boycott Facebook, Twitter, and Google… The solution then is to FORCE consumers to STOP their evil exercises of free will (boycotting), and be FORCED to patronize Facebook, Twitter, and Google!!!!

        1. The only people running to the government were the social media companies who ran to the government to get special protection from liability no other entity has ever gotten.

          They absolutely have a right to ban anyone they want. But when they do that, they are then responsible for every word that is published on their platforms. The only crying going on here is losers like you who can’t understand that freedom and responsibility come together. You are a typical immature leftist piece of shit who never got past being mad at your parents because they made you turn lights off to save electricity. Your entire worthless existence is one long scream about how there is no such thing as free lunch and there should be. You and everyone like you is nothing but worthless garbage and stain on the entire human race. You are like some sort of sub human species that is unable to reason or mature past the age of 10.

          Sadly, you end up being manipulated and turned into useful idiots for actual human beings who have malevolent purposes. Cannon fodder for the smart and the evil is all you are.

          1. “…get special protection from liability no other entity has ever gotten.”

            So, in the past, there have been cases of newspapers punished for the writings of letters to the editors. Can you justify that morally or ethically? As long as Government Almighty has “legally” done a certain thing in the past, that makes it right, so long as YOU agree with it, right, John?

            So Government Almighty blesses punishing one person for the doings of another. USA Government Almighty ALSO blessed slavery, no voting rights for women, stealing the lands of Native Americans (even after they learned the ways of whites and competed against them successfully, as in, Cherokees), and sending them to concentration camps. Also, concentration camps for Japanese-Americans as well…

            Might does NOT make right! Now please justify the above mis-deeds of Government Almighty, in terms of ethics and morality.

            If a guest uses the air that I own, in my house, to transmit sound waves that contain slanderous words and concepts, am I responsible? If I sell pens and paper that are used to libel someone, am I responsible? More importantly… SHOULD I be? If there is no force involved, WHY should you and Government Almighty be entitled to say which of my words (or my guest’s words) are “responsible”, to the extreme extents that both left and right are now power-grabbing?

            You’re just looking for the “deepest pockets” to sue, when they won’t transmit your fascist, anti-freedom ideas. Go buy a Go-Daddy web site if you feel put upon, it is that simple. Go-Daddy has NOT yet been targeted by your pet fascists in Government Almighty.

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          2. HERE below is your past example of UTTERLY FASCIST comments on these here pages, by a “conservative” who would PUNISH people for engaging in boycotts, to MAKE their speech control fascism work!!!

            SQRLSY One
            June.24.2020 at 10:33 am
            I see a problem with this… Suppose that the judges (after long-drawn-out fighting and lots of money spent) determine that totally outright, nasty racism (in comments) is “Constitutional”. Reason.com is then suddenly SWAMPED with racist comments that they can NOT remove! SOME of the racist comments will even be “false flags” comments by leftist mobs! For the explicit purpose of pissing off SOOO many people, that they will boycott Reason.com, the Reason magazine hardcopy, and all who advertise on Reason web site or magazine! Now, to “protect” Reason from this meddling here, are we going to REQUIRE readers and advertisers to support Reason, to protect Reason from boycotts? Boycotts that were CREATED by your meddling in the first place?

            Try and THINK IT THROUGH on unwanted side effects!!!

            damikesc
            June.24.2020 at 11:11 am
            “I see a problem with this… Suppose that the judges (after long-drawn-out fighting and lots of money spent) determine that totally outright, nasty racism (in comments) is “Constitutional”.”

            Which, mind you, it undoubtedly is.

            “Reason.com is then suddenly SWAMPED with racist comments that they can NOT remove! SOME of the racist comments will even be “false flags” comments by leftist mobs!”

            So be it. Sounds rough.

            “For the explicit purpose of pissing off SOOO many people, that they will boycott Reason.com, the Reason magazine hardcopy, and all who advertise on Reason web site or magazine!”

            So it’d be like…now?

            You realize that Reason is Koch’s charity case and not a remotely self-sustaining enterprise.

            “Now, to “protect” Reason from this meddling here, are we going to REQUIRE readers and advertisers to support Reason, to protect Reason from boycotts?”

            Yup. Basically. Sounds rough.

            (Etc.)

            See https://reason.com/2020/06/24/the-new-censors/#comments

            1. You obviously didn’t understand what he said.

              “  SQRLSY One
              July.2.2020 at 5:11 pm
              Port-a-potties ARE buffets”

            2. All Hail Der TrumpfenFuhrer, Full of Grace
              Savior of the human race!
              Never mind, us all, He’ll disgrace!
              Conservatards, above all, MUST save face!
              In glory, a glaze of Vaseline,
              Behold Stormy Daniels, our Queen!
              What a scene, what a scene!
              The Donald? NEVER so obscene!
              Now don’t you DARE throw a fit,
              It won’t matter, not even a bit,
              We mustn’t ever, EVER quit,
              We be saved, by The Trumptatorshit!

          3. “They absolutely have a right to ban anyone they want. But when they do that, they are then responsible for every word that is published on their platforms. The only crying going on here is losers like you who can’t understand that freedom and responsibility come together. You are a typical immature leftist piece of shit who never got past being mad at your parents because they made you turn lights off to save electricity. Your entire worthless existence is one long scream about how there is no such thing as free lunch and there should be. You and everyone like you is nothing but worthless garbage and stain on the entire human race. You are like some sort of sub human species that is unable to reason or mature past the age of 10.”

            That was beautiful, John.
            Bravo!

            1. “They absolutely have a right to ban anyone they want. But when they do that, they are then responsible for every word that is published on their platforms.

              Yahoo and the daily caller have both closed their comment sections this month.

        2. Squirrelly, head to the crematorium. Tell the, you’re ready to go. If you don’t want to be alive during the process, drink some Drano.

          1. Do you recall the awesome enchanter named “Tim”, in “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail”? The one who could “summon fire without flint or tinder”? Well, you remind me of Tim… You are an enchanter who can summon persuasion without facts or logic!

            So I discussed your awesome talents with some dear personal friends on the Reason staff… Accordingly…

            Reason staff has asked me to convey the following message to you:

            Hi Fantastically Talented Author:

            Obviously, you are a silver-tongued orator, and you also know how to translate your spectacular talents to the written word! We at Reason have need for writers like you, who have near-magical persuasive powers, without having to write at great, tedious length, or resorting to boring facts and citations.

            At Reason, we pay above-market-band salaries to permanent staff, or above-market-band per-word-based fees to freelancers, at your choice. To both permanent staff, and to free-lancers, we provide excellent health, dental, and vision benefits. We also provide FREE unlimited access to nubile young groupies, although we do firmly stipulate that persuasion, not coercion, MUST be applied when taking advantage of said nubile young groupies.

            Please send your resume, and another sample of your writings, along with your salary or fee demands, to ReasonNeedsBrilliantlyPersuasiveWriters@Reason.com .

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  2. At the risk of being banned again by Reason and getting all my comments deleted – I agree completely.

    1. The only way you get hammed is the Buttplug way. By posting child porn links.

      Did you do that that?

      1. Government Almighty sure KNOWS that you can NOT get ban-hammered around here, for being utterly moronic and empty-headed! Even a NEGATIVE IQ will not get you banned! Shitsy Shitler and Tulpa (and R Mac and others) have FOR SURE amply demonstrated THAT to us all!

        1. Fuck you’re retarded.

          1. What a BRILLIANT and original comment!!! Do you write your own material, or does your mom write it for you?

  3. “…wrongheaded, dangerous, heretical, and blasphemous ideas”

    Says who?

  4. Yes, free exchange of ideas is important to the maintenance of a liberal society. The problem being that the people behind cancel culture do not appear to see much value in a liberal society. They want to replace the values and morals of our current society with their own and do not accept dissent.

    1. The so-called progressives treat politics as their religion. Their holy mission is to use the coercive power of the state to remake man and society in their own image, according to an abstract ideal of perfection. Whatever means they use are therefore justified because, by definition, they are a virtuous people pursuing a deific end.”
      With that being said you can’t argue against what they have been indoctrinated to think and believe because the indoctrination also convinces them they are right and everyone else is therefore wrong. Young people that escape the indoctrination go through a process that starts with fear of being ostracized and left out of the group when they begin to think and realize facts don’t agree with their beliefs.
      Doublethink is a process of indoctrination whereby the subject is expected to accept as true that which is clearly false, or to simultaneously accept two mutually contradictory beliefs as correct, often in contravention to one’s own memories or sense of reality.
      In the field of psychology, cognitive dissonance occurs when a person holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values; or participates in an action that goes against one of these three, and experiences psychological stress because of that. Once they work through it the discomfort is relieved and they feel renewed.

      1. Based on your comment, this is why we must be grateful for hypocrisy.

        1. You are grateful for hypocrisy.

          Is that how you get through the day as a homosexual?

          NOBODY wants to be disordered like you, perpetually conflicted and lying to yourself and others.

          Cancel culture that.

  5. People like Rauch have sat around and either cheered or did nothing as conservatives have been canceled and virtually made extinct in academia and the media. Now that the monster they helped create and did nothing to stop has come for them, they are suddenly interested in free speech.

    Fuck them and fuck Rauch. Sorry but we will get around to stopping this after it has canceled Rauch and a few other people that justice demands be canceled. As it is, I couldn’t give a shit less about Rauch finally getting the treatment he thought would only happen to conservatives and deplorables.

    1. No one ever seems to remember the “soft” Mensheviks, and that they were extinct within a few years of the revolution.

      1. No. And every idiot center leftists thinks being a good leftist will save him from the far left. It never does and they never learn. People like Rauch are so arrogant and stupid, it is nearly impossible to have any sympathy for them when the far left finally comes to eat them.

      2. I think at this point we are hoping to still avoid the revolution.

      3. And the Rosenbergs were innocent as well…ha ha

    2. I don’t see what good that will do outside of providing you with some sort of perverse pleasure. We need everyone we can get standing up for free speech right now, even if they haven’t always done so or are doing so out of self interest.
      It’s possible that at least some of the people you are railing against here have seen the error of their ways and improved. And even if they haven’t and are hypocrites, we still need any voice we can get defending free expression.

      1. Respectfully disagree. We’re better off without weak links like Rauch.

  6. Interesting article on the google secret list that temporarily removed conservative sites from searches. They issued an oopsie non apology but revealed their intent.

    https://www.mediaite.com/news/ex-google-engineer-says-glitch-blocking-websites-including-drudge-breitbart-could-have-revealed-a-mysterious-list/

    1. These people are in bed with Communist China and see communist Chinese society as the wave of the future and an ideal society. They are among the most evil people who have ever lived. They just don’t have the power to do what they would like and have the impulse control to wait until they do to finally go through with it.

        1. The progtards here love that shit.

  7. I have said for many years that if you shake the MSM/corrupt academe/entrenched deep state/big tech censors/Russian collusion/Ukraine impeachment tree(s) hard enough, something ChiCom will fall out.

  8. A pro police in Denver was “cancelled” by “mostly” peaceful” protesters who “encouraged” the speakers of the event to leave the stage.

    from C. S. Lewis:
    Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

  9. Cultural Marxists like this guy created this crap…its straight from the universities of Vienna, Bolshevik revolutions in Munich, Hungary, and of course Russia to our own universities, media, and “non profits”…you play this game and eventually the woke mob will come after you sir…

  10. Presenting any argument isn’t bigotry.

    Refusing to consider any argument is.

    Cancelling free speech, refusing to consider arguments, is bigotry.

  11. As a gay man perhaps I have something to say more than others as I have found myself on the front-lines of this battle before the average American even knew it was going on. Thirty years ago I had a face-off with a group of gay teenagers in my gay youth group in downtown DC. I was accused of self-hatred (this was before the term homophobia was vogue), that I wished I were straight, and not coming to “terms” with my homosexuality. What I had innocently uttered was, I hope some day they legalize gay marriage. I was 17 and somewhat old-fashioned, but comfortable enough in my sexuality have hopped on the Metro each Saturday that summer to attend the gay youth group. I realized that I was different even among gay people. I also started to notice that among minority groups in the Western world, they tend to embrace far left ideology, even though in countries in which such politics is the norm gay people and other minorities are often imprisoned or killed for their identities. I didn’t understand the attitudes then and I don’t understand them now. The only difference from then and now is, 30 years ago we disagreed and I was jeered but afterwards we all went for something to eat or share a joint; today I would be vilified as a serial killer and never allowed to associate with them again.

    1. Yes you are part of the cancel culture and instead of helping you understand the problem perhaps it hinders your objectivity.

      The only specific example you gave was gay marriage. Before the cancel culture, the definition of marriage was “ between one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others.” This is also the only relationship that celebrates the nuclear family and the continuum of life.

      If you think dictionary definitions should change then you are already caught in a circular loop of faulty logic.

      If the meaning of words should change then any argument you make has changed before you can even deliver it.

      All past present and future recorded information, all science and logic becomes meaningless, erased like the statues that are being torn down.

      Maybe that’s your goal.

      After all, if you’re too stupid to understand the meaning of anything, the only way to compete is to make everything meaningless for everyone.

      It is too bad for you that you joined a disorder support group instead of seeking professional help when you were 17.

      1. “erased like the statues that are being torn down.”

        Another one having a conniption about the confederate flag and confederate traitor statues…Oy.

        1. You just can’t handle the truth of history.

          Primarily that there were thousands of black slave owners proving that slavery wasn’t racially motivated.

          Cancel culture dipshits like you can’t compete with free speech.

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