Cancel culture: real problem or bogus threat?

The term "cancel culture" has become a buzzword in public debate. It refers to systematic damage to the reputation of persons who express unpopular positions, resulting in the restriction of freedom of opinion. While some commentators fear that "cancel culture" could have a devastating impact, others question whether it even exists.

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Daily Express (GB) /

No one dares to talk openly anymore

The effects of "cancel culture" on interpersonal relations are disastrous, complains the Daily Express:

“Cancel culture has roots in goodness; to stop the spread of hate. But it’s not just the hateful that are affected by this culture. The unsure, the inquisitive, those that are keen to grow, learn and connect are also stifled. By attempting to stop the spread of hate through cancellation we are also killing human beings' ability to communicate, learn, and grow openly without fear of saying something wrong. Without these freedoms, authentic connection will continue to dwindle and our ability to grow as humans along with it.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

How a minority gets its way

Corriere della Sera fears the emergence of a new conformism:

“When a minority succeeds in asserting itself and dragging a much larger group of people along with it, this establishes a new conformism. It is crucial to understand who this 'silent majority' consists of. ... It is essentially made up of chameleons and submissive people. Chameleons are the ones who stand up for every new idea, no matter what it is. ... The submissive, on the other hand, are afraid of disapproval and marginalisation by their friends, by those who are (apparently) enthusiastic supporters of the new ideas. Together, the chameleons and the submissive form the troop that is manoeuvred by the generals (the dominant minority). They are to thank for the establishment of a new conformism.”

Le Monde (FR) /

The end does not justify the means

In Le Monde, sociologist Nathalie Heinich calls on the left to bring the debate to a close:

“One cannot be content to condemn the excesses of these radical activists yet at the same time suggest that the end justifies the means in spite of everything. The only truly valid question must urgently be asked: to what extent are the methods used by the new censors legitimate and legal? Otherwise, the left is in danger of relapsing into the totalitarian temptations that have darkened its past, from revolutionary terror to Stalin's atrocities. Otherwise we will no longer live under the rule of law and democracy, but amid what was once village gossip and is now going on in exactly the same way in social networks: social control that is irreversible, without mercy and without the possibility of resolution.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

The fear of right-wing conservative journalists

The Tages-Anzeiger explains why people are lamenting the loss of freedom of opinion:

“Because some people clearly have a problem with the fact that they are being criticised. By this we do not mean left-wing activists who are often accused of being so sissified that they always play the victim ... . The problem lies with the many right-wing conservative journalists of a more sedate age ... - albeit for strategic reasons: because they have a problem with the fact that public spheres have been created on the web against which, quite frankly, little can be said, but which undermine their own claim to power in the shaping of opinion. This is why they are conjuring up the spectre of cancel culture: so they can play the role of heroic defenders and at the same time that of the first victims of a supposed extremism.”