And others went on the attack… like JK Rowling who responded directly to Boylan: “You’re still following me, Jennifer. Be sure to publicly repent of your association with Goody Rowling before unfollowing and volunteer to operate the ducking stool next time, as penance.”
Harper’s Magazine circulated an open letter against “cancel culture,” signed by top writers, artists, musicians, and journalists… who agreed that free speech was under attack by online mobs.
Unfortunately, they were all promptly “cancelled” by the online mob… for standing against cancel culture.
The letter had been published with a 150 top names from all across the political spectrum–including feminist icon Gloria Steinam; top authors Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, JK Rowling, and Martin Amis; jazz legend Wynton Marsalis, journalist Matthew Yglesias and Fareed Zakaria; and economists Deirdre McCloskey and Noam Chomsky; among many others.
Their stance was not especially controversial–just a full-throated defense of the First Amendment’s importance on society.
The letter wrote that, “The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted… it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.”
“We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other,” the letter concluded. “As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences.”
“If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.”
The online mob, of course, had a field day–with Twitter trolls coming after their colleagues and friends over the letter.
Most notably, far-left Vox journalist Matt Ygelsias, who signed the letter, was reported to his employee by colleague Emily VanDerWerff, a transgender Vox writer who now feels “unsafe” at work.
“As a trans woman who very much values her position at Vox and the support the publication has given her through the emotional and physical turmoil of transition, I was deeply saddened to see Matt Yglesias’s signature on the Harper’s Weekly letter,” she wrote.
“Matt’s opinions and experiences are his own… but his signature on the letter makes me feel less safe at Vox and believe slightly less in it[s] state goals of building a more diverse and thoughtful workplace,” VanDerWerff added.
“I don’t want Matt to be reprimanded or fired or even asked to submit an apology,” VanDerWerff continued. “Doing any of the above would only solidify, in his own mind, the idea that he is being martyred for his believes. But I do want to make clear that those beliefs cost him nothing.”
Yglesias did not directly issue a statement about VanDerWerff’s statement… but some signers quickly capitulated to the mob.
Transgender journalist Jennifer Finney Boylan quickly apologized for her role in attempting to defend free speech.
“I thought I was endorsing a well meaning, if vague, message against internet shaming,” Boylan wrote. “I did know Chomsky, Steinem, and Atwood were in, and I thought, good company. The consequences are mine to bear. I am so sorry.”