Flat White

A turning point on cancel culture?

30 June 2021

3:10 PM

30 June 2021

3:10 PM

“There will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance,” says the Gospel of Luke — and today there’s a glimmer of hope that sanity (and liberty) might prevail in the war against cancel culture.

One major metropolitan newspaper has editorialised in favour of free debate — and it’s not one of the News Corp stable. It’s not the West Australian. It’s not the Canberra Times. It’s the… Age.

Yes. The Age. And as you pick yourself up off the floor, dust yourself down and start breathing normally again, consider this. The editorial is still available for everyone to read online, so unless Nine has been hacked again, it’s not just the product of a technical issue with the print edition.

And before you read any further, you might like to put some cushions on the floor, as you’re going to fall off your chair once again.

The conclusion is something you might even read in the SpecOz:

We would not wish emotional distress and anguish on anybody, least of all those members of the community who have daily struggles with prejudice and discrimination. But a university must also insist on the ability of well-educated, intelligent adult students to conduct open conversations without unduly hemming in the broad sweep of ideas and inquiry, however controversial.

It’s sometimes said we should learn to disagree better, on social media, in our daily lives and on campus, because debate moves knowledge forward. The alternative is putting some ideas and discussions off limits, the opposite of a university’s purpose.

If that doesn’t lift the mood of a locked-down nation, whatever will?

Of course, we need to wait for the next few days to see what appears in response in the opinion pages and letters to the editor. But Age staff — always keen on a walkout — haven’t downed tools and started picketing their building, even though we’re told the weather is cool but clear in Melbourne today.

Now, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

And even if it is just a flash in the pan it’s still good, for one brief shining moment, to see the light of liberty.

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