If I get canceled, let them eat me alive

Because I am only a very minor public figure, not much worth canceling, I think it’s likely I would have to go wrong in both ways — by causing offense, and by falling down on the job — to merit a coordinated public outcry. I am not saying that such a perfect storm is very likely, but it is far from impossible.

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My plan, if I am being canceled, is not to fight it. If I can quickly put an end to the accusations with some clarifying explanation, I will: the public deserves to hear the truth. But my efforts to rehabilitate myself will cease before I get to the point of reorganizing my public persona around the battle to do so. The goal of my public engagement is a certain kind of open-mindedness, and that becomes impossible when all you ever think about is one thing — even if you call that thing “freedom of speech” or “liberal tolerance” or, for that matter, “open-mindedness.”

The most important component of not fighting cancellation is not recruiting friends to my cause. The expectation that one’s friends exhibit the “courage” to speak up one one’s behalf, the inclination to see the cancellation as a test of the friendship, which suddenly requires proofs of loyalty — these are the first step on the road to the friend purge. Here is how it goes: a few of the cancelee’s friends meet the expectation to speak up in support, but those who remain silent — which is most of them — become suspect. New, publicly aligned friends are acquired to take their place. The beleaguered cancelee now feels she sees who her “real friends” are, but in fact she has no friends anymore. All she has are allies. First she turned her friends, and perhaps even her family members, into allies; and then she acquired more allies to fill the ranks of the purged friends. The end result is a united front, but what I would call real friendship has gone missing in the bargain.

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