By: Nandika Chand | Last Updated: July 8, 2020
JK Rowling, has warned of an ‘intolerant climate’ for free speech on social media in an open letter which has been signed by 150 authors and academics. The signatories have denounced the so-called ‘cancel culture’. This refers to online shaming of individuals who have done or said something that social media users consider objectionable or offensive.
The Harry Potter author was recently attacked on social media for making comments that offended some transgender people. The open letter welcomed the need for reckoning but argued that it has intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that weaken norms of open debate. It pointed out that 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,” it said.
The signatories also highlighted the US President Donald Trump as a real threat to democracy but made a counter argument that resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma.
The open letter has also been signed by novelist Salman Rushdie and cognitive scientist Noam Chomsky.