JK Rowling Noam Chomsky
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J.K. Rowling and Noam Chomsky
More than 100 writers and scholars — including Noam Chomsky, J.K. Rowling and Malcolm Gladwell — have signed a public letter decrying cancel culture and the rising "intolerance of opposing views."

Published in Harper's Magazine on Tuesday, the letter argued that the recent "needed reckoning" on racial and social justice has also "intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments" that tend to stifle the norms of public debate and tolerating differences.

"The free exchange of information and ideas, the lifeblood of a liberal society, is daily becoming more constricted," the letter states.

It warns that censorship, while something "we have come to expect this on the radical right," is also spreading more widely on the left through "an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty."

"The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides."

The letter doesn't cite specific examples but notes that "institutional leaders, in a spirit of panicked damage control, are delivering hasty and disproportionate punishments instead of considered reforms."

"Editors are fired for running controversial pieces; books are withdrawn for alleged inauthenticity; journalists are barred from writing on certain topics; professors are investigated for quoting works of literature in class...," it reads.

"This stifling atmosphere will ultimately harm the most vital causes of our time," the letter adds. "The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation."

Some of the 150 notable figures who signed on include New York Times op-ed contributors David Brooks and Bari Weiss, Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias and novelists Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood.

The letter sparked backlash on social media from pundits and journalists on both sides of the aisle, with some saying it was whiny or self-pitying, pointing out that many of those who signed it have access to large platforms.

Others called the letter hypocritical, noting that some of the signees took no issue when "cancel culture" came for conservatives.