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Dec 17, 2021Liked by Ted Balaker

I'm so old I can remember when "common humanity" used to be a "progressive" belief.

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I grew up in a time when you could say anything and were encouraged to do so. For most of my childhood and teenager years Republicans ruled the government, the left was the side fighting for free speech. But that has changed. The reason we can’t fight it is simply because we’ve ceded the fight to the right - since most people can’t afford to side with the right it goes unchallenged. Recently my daughter told me she had a really great idea for a novel and wanted to write it. But she said all she could think about was how it would be attacked and how she’d be attacked. She said she was too afraid to write the book. That is the house the left has built. And it’s a damn shame. I told her to write it anyway. I don’t know if she will.

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author

That anecdote about your daughter is so very sad. So many interesting ideas are being snuffed out just as they're being created.

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I know a bright, talented and humane young man who is trying to break into children's writing. Like your daughter, he told me he's constantly self-censoring. In fact, he's decided for the moment not to write a (middle-grade) book he planned with a boy protagonist. It's problematic: the boy acts like a boy. Instead, he's writing one with an officially sanctioned "girl-power" theme. We need new institutions, including new publishers.

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Dec 18, 2021·edited Dec 18, 2021Liked by Ted Balaker

There's another even more pernicious effect that is happening in academic hirings. It is the result of the perfect and awful convergence of two separate trends. One is the silent cancel culture that the author speaks of. The other is a morbid fear institutions have of hair-trigger lawsuits that potential employees can levy against future employers claiming discrimination. So a university will be afraid to hire a candidate that doesn't check all of the politically correct 'boxes', but also will refrain from telling this candidate the specifics of why they weren't hired (or published). So there are a whole swathe of independently minded individuals in academia who have an odd feeling that they are being side-stepped, but are never told directly why, because their potential employers and publishers don't want to be litigiously responsible. It creates this horrible 'elephant in the room' atmosphere where people aren't sure if their ideas are received or rejected. It goes beyond silencing, really. Also, because the rules and nuances of 'equity-speak' change daily, academics can never be entirely sure that they aren't guilty of 'something'. Did they accidentally 'dead-name' a person who has since come out as trans in a conversation? Did they show racial insensitivity in the incredibly subtle way that insensitivity can be parsed? Did they accidentally lean phallocentric, patriarchal or colonial in a paper? Did they use too many 'white male' sources in their research? And because anyone can be offended by virtually anything, you can never be sure. I'm not white, but I do skew markedly cis-gender (though I am a queer ally). Is it enough? What if someone starts to find that my markedly "binary", "masculine" and "non-fluid" appearance is 'unsafe'? Where will it end?

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author

Wow. Very interesting and depressing. In my experience, the film and entertainment industry more broadly is more open about not hiring people who don't check the right boxes. Apart from being illiberal, it will likely fuel more resentment, resentment that will likely pop up in some rather ugly ways.

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And I'm saying this as someone who was all gung-ho about 'plurality' and 'hybridity' in my research focus.

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Good article; the news stories are the tip of an iceberg. The link between cancel culture and labour market precarity is also very unfortunate; if you're economically/contractually insecure, cancel culture is more threatening. And young people are at lower points on career ladders, meaning that they're disproportionately affected. It's very sad that so many younger people are silenced; youth should be a time of spontaneity and self-expression.

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In addition, society itself suffers from youth not being able to express itself. There is often brilliance that stems from this expression that is lost with age. I don't know exactly how it works, but I'm not the first to notice youth as having a particular edge in creativity. Repressing it will have longer term effects that will not be very noticeable in the data, though surely will be there.

I'm preparing for creativity stagnation.

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Dec 17, 2021Liked by Ted Balaker

Thank you for your article.

Resentment will build if this continues in regards to not allowing people to have different opinions and to be able expressed those opinions openly, this in turn will foster an extremism that may never have come to be otherwise.

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Please keep us posted on the documentary — the book is great.

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Any guess as to when the documentary will be public?

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author

It's hard to predict at this point, but we're targeting fall 2022

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Dec 17, 2021Liked by Ted Balaker

Thanx, looking forward to it.

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When John McWhorter is considered "too extreme" you know something has gone terribly wrong

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