The Corner

PC Culture

Orthodox Privilege

“Cancel culture” is arguably the dominant force in American life today. Many see the squelching of dissenting views as a threat to free society. A group of prominent, mostly liberal writers recently wrote an open letter in Harper’s denouncing “an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.”

Others, such as New York Times columnist Charles Blow, deny the existence of cancel culture altogether. A response to the Harper’s letter by a group of journalists and academics said firings and denunciations of dissenters take place, but they are “not part of a new trend.”

Tech investor Paul Graham has written a blog post called “Orthodox Privilege” explaining the gulf between these two interpretations of cancel culture:

The more conventional-minded someone is, the more it seems to them that it’s safe for everyone to express their opinions.

It’s safe for them to express their opinions, because the source of their opinions is whatever it’s currently acceptable to believe. So it seems to them that it must be safe for everyone. They literally can’t imagine a true statement that would get them in trouble.

If your views are uniformly popular, it’s hard to imagine the degree of censorship imposed on unorthodox thinkers. Read the full post here.


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