Typically in the past, people agree to disagree, without being disagreeable.
Not anymore, says Don Wilson, lawyer and leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party.
Wilson noted that because of cancel culture, many people are now afraid to express their minds.
Their opinions may be controversial and unpopular, and if they dare speak, they’d get punished.
They are denied venues and platforms to express their views. Some lose their jobs. In short, they “suffer”, according to Wilson.
“The tradition of agreeing to disagree entails that the people in the conversation can continue to be friends, or at least, neighbours afterwards, and put the disagreement aside or put it in its place,” Wilson told the Straight in a phone interview.
Cancel culture is different, and according to Wilson, it’s a danger to a free society that holds liberty sacred.
“If you don’t like what someone has to say you got to ‘cancel’ them; you got to take active steps to ensure that they’re de-platformed,” he said.
In speaking out against cancel culture, the New Westminster-based libertarian delivers a withering criticism against the Left.
He started by recalling that progressives used to rail against censorship.
Now, Wilson said that it’s mostly elements from the Left that are suppressing conservative voices.
“It is ironic,” he said.
More significantly, Wilson noted that the Left has essentially abandoned class analysis as its main starting point.
“Instead of fighting against economic inequlity or inequality between economic classes, the Left is now focused on sort of inequality between social classes, between, you know people, of different races, of different sexes, different genders [and] sexual orientations,” he said.
Wilson said that this is what is known as identity politics.
“That’s become the real focus of the Left. It’s become really central to the Left to divide people up by these metrics,” he said.
And all of these have come together in what is now known “intersectional politics”, or simply, intersectionality.
Wilson said that it has come to a point when saying all people should be treated equally before the law is seen as wrong.
“Even something like that could be viewed, and is often viewed, as racist or at least, a dog whistle towards racism or sexism,” Wilson said.
According to Wilson, political correctness is similar and related to cancel culture.
“It’s an acceptance that there could be offence without somebody really being offended, that’s theres a proper and improper way to speak,” he said.
It’s “Victorian in an odd kind of way”, he said. It’s “oddly kind of conservatism in a way”.
“It’s very dangerous to liberty. It’s very dangerous to freedom,” Wilson said.
When people no longer fully enjoy free speech due to cancel culture, one thing happens.
They “self-police” and “self-censor”.
Because of this, it becomes difficult for society to advance ideas, Wilson said, because ideas can no longer be tested in public discourse.
“It’s turning dialogue into a war, on a small scale,” the B.C. libertarian said.