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Ironic: Names are dropping off letter decrying an intolerance of opposing views because of opposing views

This is a difficult post to write, because somehow Vox’s Matthew Yglesias ends up the good guy. Here’s the deal, and it’s been making the rounds of the Twitter elite most of the day. Harper’s Magazine published a letter with some 150 signatories that will appear in the October print issue.


It’s about cancel culture in a way; the first paragraph is filled with the obligatory “we all hate Trump” stuff, but the second paragraph gets interesting:

The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on the radical right, censoriousness is also spreading more widely in our culture: 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. We uphold the value of robust and even caustic counter-speech from all quarters. But it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought. More troubling still, institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms. Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class; a researcher is fired for circulating a peer-reviewed academic study; and the heads of organizations are ousted for what are sometimes just clumsy mistakes.


Sounds good, right? There’s a problem, though: It seems as though some of the cool kids didn’t know some uncool kids, like the notoriously transphobic </sarc> J.K. Rowling would be signing too. So in a piece about the open exchange of ideas, signatories are getting called out for allowing the open exchange of ideas by other signatories.

For example, Emily VanDerWerff, a trans woman and critic-at-large for Vox, told Vox she was very disappointed to see Yglesias’ name on the letter next to so many anti-trans voices.

“But his signature being on the letter makes me feel less safe at Vox.”

Author Jennifer Finney Boylan also didn’t know who else’s names were attached to the letter:

You should be sorry.


Again, this letter was supposed to be a warning about the shrinking free exchange of information and ideas among lefties.

Historian Kerri Greenidge, whose name did appear on the letter, has gone missing.

Seems Greenidge succeeded in getting her name removed:


It’s a shame when progressives better than ourselves can’t agree that the open exchange of ideas is a good thing — but it’s the right-wing that’s all about censorship.



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