↑ comment by AllAmericanBreakfast ·
2020-06-23T21:38:33.929Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
Tl;dr: A boycott is the central case here, not cancel culture. We need to promote a measured response and keep the Times' perspective charitably in mind.
Is there a difference between cancel culture and a boycott? I think so. Cancel culture inflicts 1) significant emotional, financial, or potentially physical harm on a 2) a specific individual who 3) never signed up for a position of responsibility to field these kinds of threats and 4) can't walk away from the cancellation.
Boycotting uses a much narrower set of tactics, primarily protests and advocating that people not buy a certain product. Typically they target an organization, not an individual. When specific individuals are on the receiving end, their professional role typically is in part to deal with those problems. They can quit if they choose and seek employment elsewhere.
This distinction has its grey areas:
Consider entrepreneurs. They can't necessarily just quit their business, and they're the face of it so even if they did, the accusations might follow them. They didn't start the business to field protests, but to sell products, often when the business was so small that the prospect of the former was remote. Sometimes, they do receive death threats and have their lives permanently constrained for safety reasons.
Furthermore, a successful boycott can get out of control, attracting the attention of psychopaths who'll try to personally intimidate the target. When a group of people coordinates to put a BAD GUY sticker on a corporation, there's no guarantee that the boycott won't lead to a lunatic with a weapon waiting outside the business in question. Nobody organizing the boycott is taking responsibility for the possibility that the boycott spirals out of control, a feature shared with cancel culture.
However, part of being an entrepreneur is shouldering the risks of the business. That includes the risk that it gets big and incites a boycott from which they can't extricate themselves. In exchange for this, successful entrepreneurs are heavily rewarded.
A boycott's not a legal entity, so there's no way for the organizers to be shouldered with the responsibility of even minimal accountability for any potential harmful outcomes. But at the same time, a boycott doesn't come with the possibility of profit.
In this case, the NY Times isn't owned by its founder. So the main reason not to boycott is the threat of it spiraling out of control. A catastrophic result might be that personally-targeted violence is visited on someone at the Times by a psychopath who uses the boycott as their excuse. Another bad outcome would be that we damage our own aspiring culture of measured thought and action, high valence for free speech, and charity for those we see as our opponents.
I've already made my decision about how to respond, but I'll leave it up to the individual conscience of other readers to decide if they accept this reasoning or not, and how it leads them to act.Replies from: ChristianKl
↑ comment by ChristianKl ·
2020-06-24T10:54:03.481Z · LW(p) · GW(p)
a specific individual who 3) never signed up for a position of responsibility to field these kinds of threats
Which would not be the case for a journalists who decided to take the repsonsibility of doxxing someone. That seems like a clear way of signing up for the responsibility.
A catastrophic result might be that personally-targeted violence is visited on someone at the Times by a psychopath who uses the boycott as their excuse.
You might also prevent a psychopath from visiting someone at home because Times journalists might be more careful about writing attack pieces in the future. That likely happens much more often then Times journalists getting visited.
I think what you should actually care about is minimizing the amount of people in general that get visited by psychopaths. It's also good if being more innocent reduces the changes of it happening.