JK Rowling Strikes Back with Open Letter against Cancel Culture

Cancel culture doesn’t provide any space for innocent until proven guilty. 

Evidence and the right to a fair trial fall victim to the mob, which plays judge, jury, and executioner on Twitter.

Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, has grown tired of this new reality. Now it seems -- so have hundreds of others.

BBC reports that some 150 writers, academics, artists, and activists have affixed their signatures on an open letter, which denounces “a vogue for public shaming and ostracism,” along with “blinding moral certainty.”

Preserving Good-Faith Disagreements

With the way this open letter is sparking a vicious debate online, you’d think it consisted of controversial, highly-contested opinions. However, a close look at the correspondence published in Harper’s Magazine would reveal there is nothing but reason. 

 "The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted," reads the letter. “It is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response of perceived transgressions of speech and thought.”

In signing this letter, Rowling is hitting back at a cancel culture which has crucified her more than once for airing her honest opinion on issues surrounding gender and race.


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"I was very proud to sign this letter in defence of a foundational principle of a liberal society: open debate and freedom of thought and speech," the writer said in a tweet.

The letter warned that the world’s long-held and well-celebrated traditions of free speech and open debate are quickly eroding.

“Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class -- the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal.”

Others Withdrawing Support

Ironically, threats of reprisal has forced several signatories to withdraw their support.

According to an ABC News report, one of the signatories -- transgender author and academic Jennifer Boylan -- has regretted signing the correspondence.

“I did not know who else had signed that letter. I thought I was endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming,” Boyland said. “The consequences are mine to bear. I am so sorry.”

Rowling, along with other public figures like feminist Gloria Steinem, authors Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushidie, as well as activist and linguist, Noam Chomsky, are standing their ground, at least for now.

Given the raging backlash against this letter, the next couple of days will be telling if the open letter got it right with this poignant warning:

“The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.”

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Posted 
July 10, 2020
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