A statement signed by 150 people incl. Bill T. Jones, Wynton Marsalis, Jennifer Finney Boylan, Noam Chomsky, J.K. Rowling, Margaret Atwood, and Salman Rushdie expresses concern over the illiberal trend intensified by our national reckoning.
I was very proud to sign this letter in defence of a foundational principle of a liberal society: open debate and freedom of thought and speech.
🚨At a time when the range of acceptable discourse is narrowing on multiple fronts, I'm proud to have signed this Letter in Defense of Justice and Open Debate. Our resistance to the authoritarian threat mustn't be allowed to harden into dogma or coercion🚨
People are asking me what I think of the Harper's letter. 1. I think anyone defending free speech and viewpoint diversity right now deserves support. So I support the general point of the thing. Still, I have to say this statement is pretty messed up.
1. This letter perfectly illustrates my issue with the "cancel culture" trope The signatories of this letter have bigger platforms and more resources than most other humans. They are not being silenced in any way
As someone with extensive personal experience with the suppression of debate by ideological conformity, I'm happy to see names from all over the political spectrum signing this open letter about its rise in the free world.
Cancel culture is finally provoking a serious immune response. Look at the list of people who've signed this letter.
Here is a joint letter signed by Noam Chomsky, J.K. Rowling, David Brooks, , Wynton Marsalis, Salman Rushdie, , and 140-odd other people, in case anyone's in a mood to argue.
"The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation." Proud to sign this important open letter.
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate — in ⁩ The breadth of signatories is powerful in my view.
Cool to see Jennifer Senior and Malcolm Gladwell, both of whom cheered on the destruction of a newsroom by a billionaire because he didn't like its reporting, sign onto a letter urgently supporting the principles of freedom of speech and open debate
I firmly believe that the best response to speech that one disagrees with is to offer better arguments in refutation, not to silence people. But an open letter like this one in Harper's is pretty unpersuasive, to the point of being anti-productive. (1/n)
Today this letter from came out with a fairly innocuous message on defending the free exchange of ideas. I signed it because anything that encourages discussion over diatribe, and debate over violence is something I wholeheartedly subscribe to.
I like and respect many of these people. But i continue to struggle with the concept. The distinction between “silencing” and more/responsive/critical speech eludes me. I see instead the problem of the preferred first speaker.
A couple of ironic bits about the Harper's letter: 1. they are condemning ... the very thing they are supporting .... speech. They want controlled speech without consequence. That's just not how speech works. Enough people pipe up, there are consequences
i really wonder if some of the people who signed this thought long and hard about whose names they'd appear next to. i really do wonder that.
the academia version of the gal gadot "imagine" video
"Resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma, which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides."
"The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument,and persuasion"
This is just embarrassing. If you read it and thought ‘yes, how could anyone disagree?,’ please look again: “The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure...” We KNOW this is false. Vaccine/COVID conspiracy theories are KILLING people because it is false. 1/n
I signed this because I think the problems facing journalists and academics who sometimes like to voice locally unpopular political opinions are literally the most important issue in the country — if not the world world — today.
How could anyone sign this letter, calling for the right to free speech unthreatened by “dire professional consequences,” alongside Bari Weiss & Anne Marie Slaughter—who have both sought to deny people employment as retaliation for views they dislike?
So I guess this means that Harper's won't fire people for forming a union now?
"The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away."
"The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away." Excellent letter in signed by et al.
I'm proud to be among the signatories of this finely-worded and deeply necessary statement in . I'm also made hopeful by how well it augurs for the future of free thought. Stifled discourse serves no one, least of all those it purports to protect.
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate | Harper's Magazine
Calls for civility, "openness" and "freedom" by people who institute and enact structural violence on the regular, but feel like their freedoms are eroded when they are challenged, can bite me.
I agree with this letter completely. Self-appointed witch-finders hounding people for perceived moral slip-ups while trashing reputations, destroying careers, shouting down women & pursuing cancel culture is the opposite of free speech & reasoned debate.
Some writers I like here, others I don't, others I'm not familiar with, but we should read these sorts of statements as efforts to protect one's status and turf. This is fear on display, not courage.
I wouldn't want to harm any colleague. Nor would . But feeling unsafe, per se, isn't sufficient reason not to write or publish an argument. You need to explain why the argument is wrong or pernicious. The letter he signed is neither. Read it:
Terrific we-the-undersigned letter in , decrying the new Maoist climate of intolerance
“The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other.”
"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."
"Whatever the arguments around each particular incident, the result has been to steadily narrow the boundaries of what can be said without the threat of reprisal."
I am honored to have been asked to sign this letter in support of the open debate that is the elan vital of intellectual life and progress.
As I’ve said many times here we are losing the battle on free speech because its defenders are making the same rhetorical mistakes over and over again and nowhere is this better illustrated than in the weak and desperate pleading of this letter
It's heartening to see so many illustrious names endorse a call for liberal values and open debate
The responses to this letter are much more interesting than the letter itself - the unending “whack-a-mole Whataboutism” intended to obscure the fact that liberal efforts to stifle debate and uncomfortable ideas is a real phenomenon
In a world with real problems, who even knows what this is actually about?
I finally looked at that anti-cancel-culture letter. Since I’m a numbers guy, I did a quick estimate of average age of the signers which comes out to be around 60. So really I only have two words for these people. OK boomer.
"The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other." Some thoughts on 2nd-best solutions: 1/
If "open debate" requires me to nod and smile politely while other people decide whether I should be allowed the simple dignity of going to the bathroom in peace then... nope, I'll pass thanks
Two members of the Woke religion disagreeing with a reasonable and necessary letter because they disagree with some of the signatories. Proving why the letter is required.
A good statement, from an impressive group of people, but I suspect if the statement condemned a specific act of censorship many of these people wouldn't have signed. (1)
I’m heartened to see several prominent liberals—J.K. Rowling, Salman Rushdie, Wynton Marsalis and others—sign the Harpers letter defending free speech. Let’s now see how many of them stand firm while the thuggish Left tries to batter them into submission
Excellent letter in Harper’s, signed by many leading intellectuals.
Welcome to the Intellectual Dark Web, everybody who signed this letter. You have now been granted guest membership. You're a bit late, but happy to have you.
"We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other."
My opinion on The Letter is that there's nothing objectionable about it, what it's describing is well-known and widely complained about in private, and some unprincipled hacks and people with bad politics signing on doesn't invalidate the basic point.
A necessary & overdue statement against censorship & censorious behavior in which people attempt to silence, cancel or even get fired anyone who strays from the orthodoxy, which was established yesterday afternoon. Bravo for heterodox thinking & thinkers
"Whatever the arguments around each particular incident" carries a lot of freight here. If the signatories don't agree about the specific cases under consideration, how can they make a shared general argument?
"The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away." You'll want to read this much-needed letter by writers/public intellectuals on justice and open debate. All praise to those who signed it.
VERY honored to have my name on this letter and I hope it circulates widely.
Would somebody please explain to me why #Trump “represents a real threat to democracy.”
Wow hopefully this will work and these prolific writers with access to massive platforms with international reach will no longer be stifled.
I've long maintained a hard personal policy against signing any group letter. But I applaud this one, associate myself with its ethos, and encourage you to read its formidable and correct arguments.
This letter has provoked a lot of Twitter dunks but I’ll gladly say I would’ve signed it
what is the point of this lmao
“The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.”
After the virtue-signaling opening paragraph, there's nothing I disagree with in the "Letter on Justice and Open Debate." It's good to see so many prominent liberal intellectuals standing up for free speech: 1/13
Genuinely honored to be among the signatories on this letter. Here's to curiosity, tolerance, and openness to persuasion.
1. The #Harpersletter on free speech is excellent: carefully worded, thoughtful, important. I would wholly subscribe to it. One point where we should dig deeper, though, is the extent to which this is an inter-generational conflict... (short thread)
“When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression. (It’s not.)” - Me
Honored to be included with this illustrious group (and Jesse)
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate. A superb statement of concern about our national moment. I wish there were university presidents actively standing up for these values. ⁦⁦
Excellent, spot on letter on 'cancel culture' (which doesn't exist, obviously) in Harper's Magazine
The problem this letter ID's is that B and C list twitter celebs learned to drag people for likes, which sometimes goes badly. Time was, the only real (instead of merely the main) way to get chattering class members fired was to mobilize right-wing radio.
It is unbelievable to me that this is considered controversial in any way
Okay, folks, buckle in because I have THOUGHTS.
Absolutely agree with this statement and am not surprised to see that Noam Chomsky is a signatory. I disagree with most of what he says. But very much respect his embrace and defense of free speech.
Harper's publishes letter w lots of recognizable signatures. "It is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought."
Nice try, , but no cigar. One party has purposefully and systematically developed a political machine over the last few decades built on racism and xenophobia - intolerance of opinion to the highest degree. You've misidentified the problem.
My only real thought about the Harpers letter right now is: Wynton Marsalis?
Did you read the letter on open debate in Harpers magazine this week? If not, it's here - . Our editor-in-chief has interviewed one of the 150 signatories, Nadine Strossen, on why she is speaking out
The letter cautions against "...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's a fair point. I've done this. Have you? Let's do better.
I'm very proud to be a signatory to the following letter, along with many others
Could also just log off Twitter, but ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
Im happy to be a signatory on this letter. And, I hope it sparks robust debate: A Letter on Justice and Open Debate | Harper's Magazine
"But resistance [to Trump] must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion."
Curious how you guys got left off of this as signatories? Oversight? Not asked about it? Or is there some disagreement? I think it's well-crafted, clear and concise. I agree with it.
I would have signed this letter too. It points out ideas that have concerned me for years and defends ideas fundamental to the functioning of our democracy. It’s great to see so many people whose names I recognise have put their names to it. A good day 😊
“An intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming […], and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty” which worries et al. is also increasingly relevant to social science.
Atwood, Chomsky, Rushdie, Steinem, Yglesias, Teachout, Gladwell, Buruma, Amis, Hochschild and others sign letter: "This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time."
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate - Harper's Magazine via thanks
The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time. Let's not blow it, folks.
From the letter. "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."
Noam Chomsky and Salman Rushdie are among the 152 public figures to criticize "cancel culture."
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate | Harper's Magazine.
"The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away" Important letter here
Bunch of writers, academics sign letter: We're supposed to be resisting Trump, not shooting ourselves in the foot...
This is a strong statement, with impressive signatories, against “the restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society.” The (related) causes of liberal democracy and liberal education are not lost.
Sorry, but these constant "open letters" -- even if I roughly agree with the basic message -- are still incredibly lame and intended primarily to flatter the egos of the signatories
"The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other."
Not only do I agree with the letter, but the signatories contain some of the people I read most avidly and admire. Share widely!
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate | Harper's Magazine
Honored to be a signatory to this letter, published today in . This is as strong and compelling a message as I could hope to be a part of Please read and share
A major statement on the sweeping intolerance of society, not just on the Right but on the Left especially, with many famous and liberal signers. It was just published in Harper’s, Le monde, Die Zeit, La Repubblica, and El País. Spread the message!
400 writers and artists with politics spanning from [email protected]@[email protected]@[email protected] (all over the map): "We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences."
Probably the only time you will see the likes of Noam Chomsky & Anne Applebaum be on the same side on any question
I was happy to sign this
Vital letter by ,, Chomsky, , Atwood et al.
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate | Harper's Magazine
Overtly oozing acrimony for the right’s illiberalism as if to distract from their participation in the left’s—until their side went too far. But I’ll take it.
I was not asked to sign this letter. I would not have signed if asked. Colleagues and friends did sign. Had it not been posted on the web, it would have had zero effect. But the letter is not native to the web. It has no links. This, I think, is a clue.
A welcome statement against the rough beast of “Woke” autos-da-fe, signed by many good people and even Noam Chomsky
PLEASE READ AND CIRCULATE: "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate"
That Harpers letter is nonsense, which is clear from its "all sides" framing. Not all ideas are good, have merit, or respect others, and calling out those ideas is important to make room for ideas that do value lives. It's literally protecting hate.
Good statement. Postscript: Those who've been unjustly driven from their jobs should be reinstated with apologies. That would show we're calming down and getting sensible.
150 authors, scholars and public intellectuals sign a letter on “justice and open debate.”
Look at it again. What don't you see? was correct about the invite list. And the timid, partizan text speaks for itself. This was an opening offer delivered to a movement that knows it has no need to negotiate--as the blow-back attests.
The real question I have about this open letter is how long is print lag? This appears online today but "will be appearing in the Letters section of the magazine’s October issue."
"[C]ensoriousness is 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."
Sorry to keep repeating myself on this but: one thing an "open letter" can never be is an instance of the culture of debate & inquiry this one calls for. (Notice language: "must" "need" "raise voices" etc. A manifesto is not an inquisitive document.)
Open letter of some profound thought leaders calling for free speech...
Famous intellectuals: "We want to be provocative!" Twitter: *provoked* Famous intellectuals: "No, not like that!"
This is the letter that Yglesias's colleague claims increases, through its contents, the likelihood of harm befalling her. Absolutely astounding.
I know it was a risk for some people, particularly those in the literary arts, either as writers and/or academics, to sign this letter. Thank you for your bravery.
"The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away." Signed by notables such as , and , this letter will hopefully receive a wide audience.
Don't agree with every word of this, but would gladly add my name to the illustrious list of signers...
When it comes to progress and the exchange of ideas, more is more
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate
One thing about this letter. It's not a license for certain people in the academy to still be sexist, racist, homophobic jerks. Sorry if this isn't a sophisticated observation.
“We are already paying the price in greater risk aversion among writers, artists, and journalists who fear for their livelihoods if they depart from the consensus, or even lack sufficient zeal in agreement.” An open letter on open debate
See also: the frantic, breathless rush to dismiss this (pretty benign!) letter
The Harper's letter struck me as big-time public figures worried about access to big-time outlets. If any of them really want to say it, they can start a blog, podcast, or ebook and it would instantly be read by thousands.
This statement posted by , in the form of a letter signed by numerous authors, academics, and public intellectuals, is a step forward in opposing the rising authoritarianism on all sides. Good for all the signatories.
reading this
Specifically: this letter requires you dis the President in order to get into the club of letter signators. That seems to contradict the letter's own message of open exchange. How about just such an otherwise sensible letter... minus that line?
Q: What do Gloria Steinem, Francis Fukuyama, and David Brooks have in common politically? A: Not much, except a genuinely *liberal* commitment to freedom of inquiry and expression.
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate | Harper's Magazine
“The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides. The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted.”
I'm glad that Harper's published this. I'm also glad that it didn't mention "free speech" anywhere. I tend to favor a high degree of intellectual tolerance, but I think there are good arguments on either side. I'm optimistic more people are engaging.
Frequently disagree on policy, but pleased to see that of the signed the Harper's Letter on Open Debate.
Here's an interesting thing... The words "cancel culture" actually appear nowhere in this letter.
Here's an open letter I signed. So did a lot of people I really respect
"The free exchange of ... ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted. While we have come to expect this on *the radical right*, ..." And how about the radical left? No constriction of the free exchange of ideas there?
If J.K. Rowling wasn't one of the 150 people who signed this letter would people still be losing their shit over this? Or would it even make the news? Does the fact the Rowling agrees with the letter's message really change the contents of the message?
In other words, #intolerance is intolerance, regardless of where you are on the #political spectrum. If I was important enough to be asked, I'd be signing this letter too! "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate" via
The Cesario/Johnson retraction and the Harper's Letter apologies show that liberal intellectuals in the West (including Fukuyama!) STILL have not learned the lesson of the Cold War: If you kowtow to the Leninist Left you are no better than them.
"The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation." #cosign
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate | I support fully 👇
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate, which I'm proud to have signed
a mob opposing mobs
We are not entering a new age of censorship - we're entering a new age of every frickin' idea that comes to our collective minds being broadcast for all to see. Sort of the opposite really. So, this just seems weird to me.
Anyone would think cancel culture was real. A Letter on Justice and Open Debate | Harper's Magazine
*Gulps* Regarding this widely circulated letter "on justice and open debate" published in : Imagine you were asked to sign the letter (for the purposes of the poll, it's okay that you already know who has signed it). Would you sign it?
“...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.”
An important defense of the liberal society. #harpers
Writers letter in Harpers on justice and open debate: The needed reckoning on racial & social justice has intensified attitudes that weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favour of ideological conformity.
Critics of the idea of “cancel culture” point to things like the letter and say “those authors aren’t canceled so cancel culture isn’t real. But that misses the point. 9/
A letter on justice and open debate
Value open debate because it might reveal one of your cherished beliefs to be mistaken. So don't combine support of free speech with a statement doubling down on the righteousness of your beliefs and the supposed evil of those that oppose them.
We have many problems in this country, but rich and influential people not having platforms to broadcast their bad takes is not one of them.
This is the climate in which and others signed the letter (linked). & many others on & off campus () hear from people afraid to speak up. Some articles about “The Letter” in the next few tweets: 10/
I don't think I've actually shared the Harper's letter yet. Thoughts? Seems strikingly innocuous...
A letter on justice and open debate in Harper's Magazine with multiple well-known signatories. I long for a return to kindness and forgivingness instead of the current trend for rush to judgement and public shaming.
"The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away" - spot-on opinions of a bunch of smart people. I'd love to know how research backs this statement up, from those in the know.
"The restriction of debate...invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation. The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away."
The US has long awoken from the "Land of the Free" dream. Hoping this madness doesn't creep too much elsewhere.
A perhaps shameful admission: Inverting Groucho, I don't want to be a member of a club that has such sanctimonious arses as founders & I'm finding it difficult to get excited about their holier than thou epistle. I look forward to their squabbles.
A pitch for open debate, against heavy-handed conformist pressures from the Right & the Left.
Fareed Zakaria, CNN / CFR is a signatory to the Harper's letter. Other luminaries are in there, like David Frum. No way Biden gets anywhere close to the White House, now that he's aligned with BLM/SJQ/AOC/SQUAD.
I have taken the Harpers’ letter to heart and so will make a point of pushing back against intolerance for opposing views, public shaming and ostracism, and blinding moral certainty. That is to push back against cancel culture, as understood in the letter.
I support this message. Cancel me you poorly adjusted babies.
An incredibly valuable open letter signed by Salman Rushdie, Garry Kasparov, Margaret Atwood and many others who strongly oppose the illiberal moralism in the U.S. that has given rise to cancel culture, ideological conformity and the suppression of speech.
So far, is the only name removed from the letter AFAICT. I'm impressed by the number of people who have kept their name on, in spite of the calls to remove them. I'd subscribe to Harpers today if I weren't already a subscriber.
A Letter on Justice and Open Debate | Harper's Magazine
Surprised and happy to see this from . Tellingly, it's still written from the perspective that conservative = bad. But it's a start.