Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Spiegel Online and Cancel Culture

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Looking for some information on the current heat-wave, I made the mistake of visiting the truly loony Left German magazine Der Spiegel/Spiegel Online.* I found nothing on the heat-wave, but stumbled on a frightening and frighteningly ignorant piece on “cancel culture”. I will not even try to analyze this (additionally confused and poorly written) piece in detail, but a few remarks that show how absurdly the Left sees and/or distorts the world:

*A very large proportion of the main newspapers and magazines in Germany are paywalled. Der Spiegel is an at least partial exception.

The main thesis appears to be that the term “cancel culture” is an evil rhetorical trick to avoid justified criticism—an outrageous insult to the many who have been canceled and lost jobs, friends, whatnot, over often harmless or scientifically correct opinions.

That the criticism is justified is taken as a blanket truth, again quite contrary to what is seen in real life. Indeed, the vast majority of all such accusations that I have seen have at best been exaggerated or out-of-proportion, and quite often outright wrong. (Cf. a number of older texts.)

The effects of cancellation are trivialized through claims like “In Einzelfällen verlieren die Kritisierten dadurch einen Job, kriegen aber oft sehr schnell einen anderen.” (“In individual cases* the criticized lose a job, but often rapidly find a new one.”). Not only are these “individual cases” quite common,** but far from everyone manages to find a new job in a timely manner, and even those who do find a new job might pay a major price through a loss of income, a career reset, the need to relocate, …

*“Einzelfälle[n]” has a stronger note of rarity than “individual cases”.

**Indeed, as I recently noted, even a spouse with the wrong opinions can be grounds for a firing in the U.S. The situation is not as dire in Germany, but it is bad and growing worse. Idiocies like the linked-to text do further harm.

The cancellation* of an appearance by Lisa Eckhart** during a literature festival (“Literaturfestival”) is taken as a non-issue: her appearance was canceled at short notice for fear of attacks or whatnot and the author of the linked-to text has the audacity to speak of “ein Gespenst”***. In a best case scenario, this amounts to a dubious “there was nothing to fear but fear itself”; in a worst case, it puts the entire phenomenon of “cancel culture” on the level of “just imagination and exaggeration”. The latter is born out by the rest of the text, which to a large part makes that claim; the former could be a contextual half-truth, in that the fears that lead to the cancellation might have been unfounded. That does not remove the damage done to Frau Eckhart and it sets a dangerous precedent for Germany that follows an established U.S. pattern: “We really do support free speech and would love to have you appear. Buuuut: We simply cannot take the risk.” That too, reduces freedom of speech, the spread of opinions, and whatnot, and ultimately it does not matter how someone is brought to an involuntary silence—only that someone was brought to an involuntary silence.

*Note that some of the variations of “cancel” that appear here are literal.

**She was not previously known to me, so I will not speak on details around her. She is alleged to, as a professional comedian, have made homophobic/racist/whatnot jokes.

***Contextually, “phantasm” or other imaginary threat. However, note “Ein Gespenst geht um in Europa” and how that once turned out.

This is the type of blind-to-the-world (or the-truth-does-not-matter) Leftist populism and extremism that makes Spiegel Online unreadable, a news source for idiots, the type of thing that really would need to be canceled. It is also a proof that there is a “Lügenpresse” and/or an “Inkompetenzpresse”.


Written by michaeleriksson

August 12, 2020 at 8:27 pm

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