If there's anything the wealthy love more than oppressing people, it's droning on as verbosely as possible about how unfair it is that people get mad at them for oppressing people. That's clearly what motivated at least some of the writers and various intellectuals who added their names to a truly stupid open letter arguing that Political Correctness Has Gone Too Far published by Harper's Bazaar yesterday.
The letter is titled "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate," but with the attention span of your average reader being what it is these days, it should have been titled "But." Yes, bigotry is bad, but you can't just go around giving people consequences for being bigots. Yes, our democracy is crumbling, but that's no excuse to yell at people just for swinging a wrecking ball around. You get the idea.
It's all couched in lofty terms of "good faith" and "ostracism" and other words that tend only to be heard within the echoes of one's own ass, but the mask drops pretty quickly with their examples of the "dire professional consequences" suffered by people who dared to disagree with anyone. "Editors are fired for running controversial pieces," they warn. "Books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics." Ironically, they don't question whether maybe writers and their bosses shouldn't publish articles that cause harm or books that exploit and appropriate oppressed cultures. No one has a right to a job they suck at. "Professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class" they go on, (oh, no! Not an investigation!), "a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study," (he was definitely chiding Black Lives Matter protesters for perceived violence), "and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes." Oh? Perhaps it was a "middle-aged moment?"
Yeah, you know J.K. Rowling was among those who signed the letter. You know, that lady who totally didn't mean to like a transphobic article but her li'l finger did a slippy and later turned out to be a fully frothing transphobe. Also included was professional flamebaiter Bari Weiss, whose endorsement basically amounts to, "Please keep paying me to say outrageous things but kindly refrain from being outraged." Other notable signers included Salman Rushdie, who is maybe the only one with a legitimate beef with cancel culture, and Noam Chomsky, who they almost certainly just caught napping. Also, there's Malcolm Brenner, who, uh, banged a dolphin, and "had some experiences with the family dog--"
It appears to be a fairly even split between people with ulterior motives and those who are impressively old and/or had no context for what otherwise appears to be "a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming." That's how writer trans writer/activist Jennifer Finney Boylan described what she signed, not knowing what she was implicitly supporting. She's not the only one with regrets.
Oh, incidentally, Harper's Bazaar is run by a rich maniac with a history of firing editors for crimes ranging from objecting to an anti-feminist article to redesigning the cover, so ... maybe just forget all that and ignore them. Also, don't bang dolphins or diddle your dog.
Top image: Executive Office of the President