What We Talk About When We Talk About 'Cancel Culture' : 1A Some say "cancel culture" is an attack on free speech by the so-called "woke." Others believe it's an overdue move to call out powerful people and companies for views and policies that oppress the powerless. Is it a force for good? Or a threat to free thought and expression?

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What We Talk About When We Talk About 'Cancel Culture'

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What We Talk About When We Talk About 'Cancel Culture'

1A

What We Talk About When We Talk About 'Cancel Culture'

What We Talk About When We Talk About 'Cancel Culture'

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/893034155/893195184" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Is it a useful tool for social justice or a form of censorship? Either way (or neither way) the debate over cancel culture is raging. ROBYN BECK/ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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ROBYN BECK/ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Is it a useful tool for social justice or a form of censorship? Either way (or neither way) the debate over cancel culture is raging.

ROBYN BECK/ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

By now, if you're a person who spends any time at all on the internet, you know the routine.

A person or brand does something considered offensive or problematic. Social media lights up, when posts are written and shared about it. The incident snowballs. The firestorm puts pressure on that person or organization until that entity is effectively "canceled."

That's "cancel culture" in a nutshell. But there's a large debate about the role it has been playing in our society — whether it goes too far, whether it's effective for social change and whether it even exists.

Harper's recently published a letter that touched on "cancel culture" and freedom of speech titled, "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate." Subsequently, a response was published in The Objective newsletter titled, "A More Specific Letter on Justice and Open Debate."

Thomas Chatterton Williams, co-author of the Harper's letter, Gabe Schneider, co-author of The Objective response and Faithe Day, a post-doctoral fellow in data curation and African American studies at Purdue University, joined us to talk about what we talk about when we talk about cancel culture.

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