Civil Discourse or Bust – How Cancel Culture Threatens Our Society
We’ve heard calls for civility time and again in the past several years, but many aren’t even aware of the history behind civil discourse and why it matters so much in a Democratic society. It is, in fact, one of the most important parts of maintaining a civil society and fairly debating controversial ideas.
Part of our freedoms in the United States include the freedom to assemble, speak, and debate. Efforts to eliminate these gatherings or stop controversial voices from being heard demolish productive, civil discourse and curb the creation of new ideas and courses of action to solve problems.
Whether or not certain segments of the population like it, freedom of speech includes things like using offensive language and engaging in symbolic speech, like burning a flag in protest. Today, there are attempts to shut down even lesser offenses. You’ve heard of it. It’s called “cancel culture” – and it’s no joke.
Cancel culture isn’t a legal term, but it has significant personal implications – sometimes leading to job loss or social ostracization. Online shaming for holding the “wrong” ideas or speaking in a way that’s not in line with the current, cultural narrative about the environment, the economy, sexuality, or otherwise is slowly erasing civil discourse.
In the past several years, speakers and writers like Ben Shapiro, Charles Murray, Heather Mac Donald, and Jason Riley have been disinvited from college campuses because of their “unacceptable” views – and that’s just a small percentage of the names I could mention. Whereas college campuses used to be the hot spot for a good debate, these days students demand only speakers whose thinking aligns with current, progressive ideas. That list of ideas appears to grow smaller and more fine-tuned every day.
Civil discourse on even unpopular ideas allows people to speak openly and honestly, often in a persuasive manner, and to present their best arguments. Ultimately, it allows us to live peacefully together, even when we disagree, because we are willing to listen and let citizens fairly hear all arguments and make a judgment for themselves.
When unpopular arguments are silenced, it creates a society where even good ideas may never be heard. In a constantly changing world, the need for civil discourse on all manner of issues is unquestionable. Whether trading goods, ideas or jabs, keeping free trade and free speech in high supply helps maintain a free society where people of different beliefs can work together to accomplish the great work of leading, creating, innovating, and living together in harmony.
Does civil discourse still matter? You bet. The dissipation we’ve seen as of late is a detriment to our society.
Want to hear more? Check out Ericka’s interview with author Alexandra Hudson.