'Cancel Culture': Porn industry and paedophilia are better targets for angry activists – Gina Davidson

The rage of the ‘Cancel Culture’ movement is putting free speech at risk. It should be directed against the damage caused by pornography and paedophiles operating openly on social media, writes Gina Davidson.

Salman Rushdie, along with JK Rowling and Gloria Steinem, was among 150 writers and academics to warn of growing intolerance and threats to free speech (PIcture: Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images)

Cancel culture is all the rage. So much so that 150 writers drawn from a variety of political walks put their names to a letter earlier this week warning against a growing “intolerance” in social discourse around differences of opinion, an intolerance which has moved beyond the withdrawal of invitations to speak on university campuses to people losing their jobs.

The letter, the idea of a black New York Times writer, Thomas Chatterton Williams, has perhaps all too unsurprisingly been decried as too white, too liberal, too middle-class and even fascist. Some have read it as the privileged trying to protect their positions and platforms and calling for “moderation against hate”, while others see it as a last stand in the fight to protect free speech, and a recommendation not to immediately condemn out of hand views that may be contrary to those you hold. These arguments are raging on social media and never the twain shall meet.

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New publishing platforms have been a boon for raising the voice of the marginalised and the dispossessed, and undoubtedly will have made many professional “opinion-makers” feel threatened. However along the way in this move to the democratisation of opinion, much nuance has been lost. Everything is a binary.

There is no room to read a person’s views and admit they may have a point, even if it’s not one strong enough to change yours. No room for people to say their piece without being shouted down by one “side” or another. You’re either for us or against us. Views are entrenched and hardened. Ripostes become increasingly aggressive and hostile. The chances of bringing people together, vanish.

Of course in Scotland we’re used to this culture, which has expanded exponentially since the 2014 referendum to now encompass everything from the constitutional question to the wearing of masks in shops to protect people from Covid-19. Indeed a random sample of Scottish Twitter would lead you to believe that the mental health of the nation is not in a good place.

I’m not one for shutting down discourse. But if we really are in the era of cancellations, especially on social media, let’s begin with closing all those accounts on Twitter who call themselves MAPs – the new so-called “socially acceptable” word for paedophiles. Accounts which openly brand themselves as people who are attracted to minors, complete with cartoon avatars, seem to be able to flourish without any problem.

Over on Reddit, it happily hosts paedophiles discussing why they shouldn’t be criminalised for their “sexual orientation”. All of this will sound familiar to those who remember the Paedophile Information Exchange and its seedy tactics. Cancel them all.

While we’re at it let’s also cancel the porn industry; an industry which has damaged too many people, women physically and men mentally; an industry which has allowed the idea to take hold that women should be hairless forms of unnatural body shape, with filler-bloated lips formed in a perpetual state of “oh”; an industry which has allowed “rough sex” including strangulation, to become permissible defences when women are killed.

If people want to be outraged about something, be outraged that these things have not been cancelled, that women have had to campaign to ensure that there is legislation to rule out “consent for sexual gratification” as a defence to protect them from serious physical harm.

And let’s also cancel the massive video porn site which allegedly allows rape, sexual trafficking, abuse and exploitation videos to remain online for others’ sexual gratification. Shut it all down.

Don’t agree? Let’s cancel you too.

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