Thursday, October 14, 2021
La révolution mange ses enfants
In 1789 the French Revolution happened. By 1793 the revolutionists had gone from guillotining royals to guillotining rival revolutionists, causing one of them to declare: "La Révolution est comme Saturne : elle dévore ses propres enfants", frequently cited as "the revolution eats its own children". Browsing US news I had to think of that quote, when I heard that about trans employees of Netflix insisting to cancel a show of David Chappelle, because Chappelle had said that trans women aren't real women in that show. Chappelle is very much Team Woke and makes very progressive stand-up comedy, but argued in defense of JK Rowling that a feminist can feel about trans women the same way that African Americans feel about white people putting on blackface. So the woke revolution is now turning the guillotine of cancel culture against its own children. Probably because it has run out of "royals", I mean, when was the last time you saw a right wing stand up comedian on Netflix?
Ultimately there is something fundamentally wrong with the idea that content should be censored just because it is offensive to somebody. "Inoffensive" isn't exactly a quality attribute for content, especially not for stand up comedy. Everybody locking themselves into echo chambers where they never even hear a dissenting opinion is exactly what is wrong with media right now. And obviously there are questions where both possible alternatives are offensive to somebody. It gets worse if the divide isn't along the clearly established frontier line of the culture wars. Who has the greater right not to be offended, extreme feminists or extreme LGBTQ+ activists?
We should also get away from the idea that the end justifies the means. A lot of people are okay with Trump being banned from Twitter. I doubt that the same people would be okay if Twitter banned AOC. The question shouldn't be who deserves to be banned, but rather whether we feel it is okay if a private company holds so much political power. Twitter's ban of Trump hurt him more than two impeachment trials. Do we really want to fight elections by making sure that the respective political opponent doesn't even get heard? And do we want big corporations to decide which politician gets heard and who isn't?