- Nov 2021
Anne Applebaum looks at the ideas of public humiliation and cancel culture as a potential slippery slope toward authoritarianism. She provides numerous examples of people experiencing forms of cancel culture without any arguments for or against them, but instead explores the cultural space around it and what its consequences might possibly be.
Many of her examples focus on spaces related to academia rather than broader life, a space which needs further exploration as the scope and shape for those may differ dramatically.
She also brings up the broad phenomenon of "university justice" (my descriptor) and generally secret tribunals and justice administered by them rather than traditional governmental means.
This brings up some excellent avenues for thought about who we are as a country and a liberal democracy.
Right here in America, right now, it is possible to meet people who have lost everything—jobs, money, friends, colleagues—after violating no laws, and sometimes no workplace rules either. Instead, they have broken (or are accused of having broken) social codes having to do with race, sex, personal behavior, or even acceptable humor, which may not have existed five years ago or maybe five months ago. Some have made egregious errors of judgment. Some have done nothing at all. It is not always easy to tell.