On Scott Adams, Free Speech, And The Ongoing Obsession With The Harper’s Letter
This is not the gotcha some of you think it is
On Monday I missed my flight home from Mexico City to JFK. The guy at the Delta counter told me they were completely booked for flights on Tuesday — even connecting ones. That seemed crazy to me (I guess it had something to do with all the wintry weather in the States), but I had no real choice but to accept a free switch to a Wednesday flight.
I found this very demoralizing. I’d been on the road for two and a half weeks and was eager to get back to the lush beauty and easygoing vibes of early-March Brooklyn. I trudged, luggage in tow, to some tables I found by a Starbucks and pulled out my laptop to figure out lodging for the next two nights.
While I was poking around on Hotel Tonight (a consistently useful site I recommend, #NotASponsoredNewsletter), I got an email with the subject line: “MEDIA INQUIRY: Scott Adams Comments (Deadline 2/29, 12 PM Eastern).” It was from a writer at Popular Information, the progressive writer and activist Judd Legum’s very successful Substack:
My name is Rebecca Crosby and I write for Popular Information, a political newsletter that reaches 233,000 people.
As you are likely aware, Scott Adams, the creator of the comic strip Dilbert, has recently been dropped by his syndicate and scores of major papers due to his comments on race. In a YouTube video last week, Adams “described people who are Black as members of ‘a hate group’ from which white people should ‘get away.’”
In July 2020, you were among a group of writers that signed a letter saying that “it is now all too common to hear calls for swift and severe retribution in response to perceived transgressions of speech and thought.”
My questions are:
Do you object to Adams being dropped by major papers and his syndicate? If not, why not?
Is what happened to Scott an example of “cancel culture”? If not, how do you distinguish what happened to Scott from “cancel culture”?
I can include any response I receive by Wednesday, February 29 at noon Eastern.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Setting aside the fact that February 29th is not a real date most years, including this one, I found this annoying, and not just because I received it mere minutes after having found out I had missed an international flight. I thought it reflected what can only be described as an obsession with the Harper’s Letter that can really only be explained once you accept that there are a lot of folks on the left who just plain don’t like the free speech philosophy expressed in it. As Freddie deBoer put it at the time, “what does it say when a completely generic endorsement of free speech and open debate is in and of itself immediately diagnosed as anti-progressive, as anti-left?”
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