Cancel culture and the failure of imagination
As usual, Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti get to the bottom of whatever it is they're getting to, which in this case is cancel culture:
Well, as a friend of mine says, "antagonism towards free speech and free opinion comes from those who have no logical argument." If you don't like someone's opinion, you're supposed to spend some time learning the arts of argument, to develop a contrary opinion of your own, and to make sure the opinion you develop will survive the challenge of those who are arguing against you. Cancel culture appears as a substitute for that process. With cancel culture, if you don't like someone's opinion, cancel them.
The other easy option is, I suppose, to change the subject, which is cancel culture in a more sophisticated form. Here's Ted Rall:
Which brings us to the point of why bother to promote your own opinions at all. It is not enough for you to voice an opinion; someone must also be listening when you speak, or reading when you type. But it's not just that: they must be listening or reading critically, and responding in a way that reveals that they actually received your communication. Dialogue is a game for at least two, but, to be sure, a fair number of opinions in our society, including those which are being canceled, are not in fact worth our time or trouble to respond to. They are noise, instead of signal. They are so lacking in imagination that they could be computer-generated, and not using a current program, but rather using programs like BASIC, which is what I studied when we did "computer science" in my high school in 1979. If such people are canceled for voicing their opinions, that's a shame; but it's not the shame it would be if the canceled opinion were something we could learn from.
So these are the dominant opinions. Your Trumpy opinions are like this: COVID-19 is a hoax, there's no such thing as white privilege, police lives matter, unborn lives matter, no one owes you anything, distrust the far left, I stand for the flag, Jesus saves, blame China, and so on. Or there are the standard defenses of Biden by his supporters: he wasn't my first choice but now he's the only choice, defeat Trump, there are only two candidates, wait for the VP selection, Biden can be pressured by people who are going to vote for him anyway, Trump is the worst President evah, and so on. You want to tell the people who voice these opinions things like: "if you want to improve the reception of your opinions you might consider, say, addressing those who disagree with you, or relating your opinions to the personal experiences of your audiences," or something like that. If they can't do it, that will present you with evidence of the failure of imagination.
America could, come to think of it, rise up as one mass and reject both of the Presidential candidates who have been selected for it. We could all say: "we reject Donald Trump for his mishandling of COVID-19 and for his general tendency to hire incompetent subordinates like Betsy DeVos; and we also reject Joe Biden for his mental incapacity and for his long record of reprehensible policy moves. Instead, we are going to make the Presidential race about Howie Hawkins and Jo Jorgensen." We could do this, as a people. The fact that practically nobody is entertaining such an idea, that everyone is buckling down to conformist belief in narratives of inevitability spun by the mass media and the voices they privilege, is a first and obvious indicator that the failure of political imagination has acquired the characteristics of a terminal disease.
Ultimately, in your political voices, you want to voice opinions which elicit sophistication, experience, and imagination from your audiences. Cancel culture appears as an attempt to shun those who voice worthless opinion, but as a reaction it does nothing to assure that worthy opinions will indeed be voiced, and recognized as such.