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November 9, 2021
Cancel Culture Is Toxic

You know the drill. Someone does, or says, something offensive. A public backlash -- typically on Twitter -- ensues. Then come the calls to "cancel" that person, brand, or institution. That usually means the loss of cultural cache, political clout, and often a job or career. While the term "cancelling" has roots in a misogynistic joke, it has come to be one of the most prominent tools of progressive activists. Many see "cancelling" as a modern-day means of holding people to account, calling out injustice, and breaking down ingrained systems of prejudice and exploitation, particularly for the historically marginalized. But others see it differently. They are sounding alarms about the emergence of a new cancel culture where digital mobs police our speech, invade our rights, and even put our physical safety at risk. They argue that cancel culture has created a society ruled by online censorship and eroded our public discourse. Against this backdrop, we ask: Is cancel culture toxic?

 
Post-Debate
Winner

Against the Motion
23 %
70 %
For the Motion
7 %
Undecided
Pre-Debate
Against the Motion
15 %
67 %
For the Motion
17 %
Undecided
Breakdown
Against the Motion
13% - Remained For the Against Side
5% - Swung From the For Side
5% - Swung From Undecided
For the Motion
2% - Swung From the Against Side
60% - Remained For the For Side
8% - Swung From Undecided
Undecided
0% - Swung From the Against Side
3% - Swung From the For Side
4% - Remained Undecided
Post-Debate
Winner

For the Motion
76 %
20 %
Against the Motion
4 %
Undecided
Pre-Debate
For the Motion
69 %
13 %
Against the Motion
18 %
Undecided
Breakdown
For the Motion
2% - Swung From the Against Side
64% - Remained For the For Side
9% - Swung From Undecided
Against the Motion
11% - Remained For the Against Side
3% - Swung From the For Side
7% - Swung From Undecided
Undecided
1% - Swung From the Against Side
2% - Swung From the For Side
2% - Remained Undecided
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2021-11-09 Iq2us Cancel Culture Debate #196 Vod Final V3
About The Debaters
For The Motion
An image of Kmele Foster
Kmele Foster − Political Commentator & Co-Founder, Freethink
Kmele Foster is a media entrepreneur and political commentator. He is the co-host of The Fifth Column podcast and... read bio
An image of Garry Kasparov
Garry Kasparov − Russian Chess Grandmaster
Garry Kasparov came to international fame in 1985 as the youngest world chess champion in history. He was 22 at the... read bio
Against The Motion
An image of Erich Hatala Matthes
Erich Hatala Matthes − Author
Erich Hatala Matthes is a scholar and philosophy professor who researches the ethics, politics, and aesthetics of... read bio
An image of Karen Attiah
Karen Attiah − Washington Post Columnist
Karen Attiah is a Washington Post columnist who writes on issues related to race, international politics, gender,... read bio
Main Points
For The Motion
  • Cancel culture is inherently exclusionary and antithetical to principles of free speech and democracy. When we ostracize individuals for perceived offenses without chances for redemption or investigation, we stifle the free exchange of ideas.
  • Cancel culture does not allow for nuance, as the internet mobs rise against individuals before the individual can defend themselves.
  • Cancellations often go too far, especially in cases where ordinary people may have made mistakes, resulting in the loss of jobs. However, attempts to cancel the famous, wealthy, or powerful often do not work at all; in fact the additional media coverage sometimes results in greater support for the individuals.
Against The Motion
  • Cancel culture is a way for the disenfranchised and marginalized to voice their discontents at the powerful in society. Additionally, the act of cancellation is a natural continuation of boycotting and public shaming, useful tools to enforce social norms.
  • Rather than a threat to a free society, cancel culture is an exercise in democracy – the act of non-elite citizens coming together to hold those in positions of power accountable.
  • Cancel culture has been utilized in defense of those seriously wronged, from women who experienced sexual abuse to trans communities to African American communities. Defending these groups is a just cause in a liberal society, and cancellations help these causes come to light.