Another company stands up to the cancel culture mob
For quite a while now, we've been treated to the demoralizing and unedifying spectacle of media outlets and corporations bowing down to the mob's cancel culture demands. Authors have been banned, editors fired, Trader Joe's products renamed, statues dragged down, and much more, merely because spoiled, entitled, college-educated snowflakes, secure in their victimhood, have said words or products hurt their feelings and made them feel "unsafe."
Thankfully, after the first shock of this Maoist attack on American institutions, some are beginning to recover their backbones. First, Goya Foods stood up to the mob. Then Red Bull refused to back down. And now the Wall Street Journal has declined to allow its baby journalists to hold its editorial page hostage.
The back story to the Journal's courageous stand is that 280 employees in the News department signed a letter to the publisher, Almar Latour, criticizing the paper's opinion pages. The letter is a marvel of Orwellian writing. It opens by expressing support for the First Amendment and then spends three pages explaining why the paper's opinion page needs to stifle itself because it publishes material with which the letter's signatories disagree. Not coincidentally, they invariably disagree with conservative content.
The greatest offender, according to the letter, was Heather Mac Donald's piece about a pair of academics' cowardly decision to withdraw from publication a study showing the absence of systemic racism when it came to the police shooting blacks in America. The academics wanted to withdraw the piece because Mac Donald had relied on its findings. (N.B.: Mac Donald had not twisted the results; she had merely relied on them.)
Mac Donald wrote about this academic game in the Wall Street Journal's opinion pages, something the letter-writers found unacceptable. Indeed, the MacDonald article caused psychic pain greater than any snowflake should have to bear:
Multiple employees of color publicly spoke out about the pain this Opinion piece caused them during company-held discussions surrounding diversity initiatives[.] ... If the company is serious about better supporting its employees of color, at a bare minimum it should raise Opinion's standards so that misinformation about racism isn't published.
There's more, all in the same vein. The complaining employees suggested several fixes, including the right to challenge the paper's editorial page.
The editorial board was not impressed. It noted, first, that it had no relationship to the news side of the paper. Both sides report to the publisher, but the complete separation "allows us to pursue stories and inform readers with independent judgment."
While the board conceded that it was inevitable that the cancel culture crowd would come for it, "as it has at nearly every other cultural, business, academic and journalistic institution," it was unafraid. Or, as it said, "we are not the New York Times." For that reason, the editorial board wrote a declaration of independence from the censorious cancel culture cabal in the newsroom:
As long as our proprietors allow us the privilege to do so, the opinion pages will continue to publish contributors who speak their minds within the tradition of vigorous, reasoned discourse. And these columns will continue to promote the principles of free people and free markets, which are more important than ever in what is a culture of growing progressive conformity and intolerance.
If enough people develop the kind of courage the editorial board just showed, the cancel culture temper tantrum that is wreaking havoc across a nation already damaged by Wuhan virus hysteria will quickly subside. It's high time that we return to a culture defined by free speech, the marketplace of ideas, and an ability both to tolerate and politely argue against beliefs and values with which we disagree.
Image: Wall Street Journal by Steve Rainwater, Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.