Cancel Culture: The Force Behind Student Self-Censorship
Rikki Schlott, a 23-year-old former student, admits to self-censoring her beliefs due to fear of backlash from her peers. As a right-leaning libertarian, she felt the need to hide her political leanings and even her choice of books, fearing verbal attacks or accusations of various 'isms' or 'ists'. This fear led her to drop out of NYU.
Speaking Out Against Cancel Culture
When asked if she would speak out if she had the chance to do it all over again, Schlott confidently replied, "I did speak out! Here I am!" She was referring to her presence in my TV studio, where we discussed her new book, "The Canceling of the American Mind." The book explores the growth of cancel culture on college campuses and its detrimental effects.
Examples of Cancel Culture on Campus and Beyond
The book highlights several instances where cancel culture has led to serious consequences. A teacher in Virginia was fired for misgendering a transgender student. An art history lecturer at Hamline University lost her job for showing a painting of Muhammad. A University of Virginia med student was banned from campus for questioning the significance of "microaggressions." This trend of cancel culture has extended beyond campuses, affecting professionals in various fields.
The Need for More Free Speech
Schlott argues for the necessity of free speech, even when it includes views we find objectionable. She believes that being a true champion of free speech requires defending even those opinions with which we disagree. Her co-author, an employee of the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE), supports the idea that all speech should be allowed, barring direct incitement of violence, willful negligence, or defamation.
The Consequences of Cancel Culture
Schlott acknowledges that while it is within First Amendment rights to cancel and malign people on social media, we should question whether we want to live in a culture where that is the norm. She notes that many young people began using social media as children and have likely posted thoughtless comments. She believes young people should be allowed to make mistakes.
The Impact of Cancel Culture on Younger Generations
Schlott admits that younger Americans, particularly millennials, tend to be more supportive of cancel culture. However, she notes that Gen Z (ages 11 to 26) has a much less favorable view of it, with only 8% expressing a positive opinion. She attributes this to growing up in a society without grace, where they constantly fear being the next target of cancel culture.
Time for Students to Push Back
Schlott believes it's time for students to resist school censorship and advocate for a free speech culture. She encourages students to speak out, noting that courage is contagious. When she voiced her opinions at NYU, she found that many others shared her views and were grateful for her bravery.
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The Impact of Cancel Culture on New Businesses
The growing prevalence of cancel culture, as highlighted by Rikki Schlott's experiences, presents a significant challenge for new businesses. This culture of self-censorship and fear of backlash can stifle creativity, innovation, and open discussion, all of which are crucial for business growth and success.
Navigating the Cancel Culture Landscape
New businesses must navigate this landscape carefully. They need to foster an environment that encourages free speech and open discussion, while also being mindful of the potential repercussions of crossing perceived cultural or societal boundaries.
Embracing Free Speech and Open Discussion
Schlott's stance on defending even disagreeable speech underscores the importance of free speech in fostering a healthy and dynamic business environment. New businesses can take a leaf out of her book by promoting a culture of open discussion, where differing opinions are not only tolerated but welcomed.
Challenging Cancel Culture
In conclusion, the rise of cancel culture presents both a challenge and an opportunity for new businesses. By challenging this culture and promoting free speech and open discussion, new businesses can set themselves apart in an increasingly homogenized business landscape. It's a bold move, but as Schlott's experience suggests, courage can indeed be contagious.