Drawing of Martirena

What should my friends do if I am ever targeted by cancel culture the “culture of cancellation”?

Ten years ago, when I was an unknown philosopher writing only for a small circle of specialists, it would never have occurred to me to ask myself the question. But times have changed. Today, any public figure at all must consider the possibility of being brutally pilloried.

A few years ago, I wrote a text that briefly questioned the solidarity of professors with student unions. I hadn’t realized how sensitive the subject was and I was overwhelmed with hate messages, accompanied by several death threats online. In retrospect, this episode did not take on ill-considered proportions and lasted only a few weeks. But at the time, it consumed all my energy. And that was just a preview.

The first reflex: defend yourself

From this period, the most vivid impression I have left is that of the comfort I felt each time someone came to my defense on Twitter: these posts literally lifted my heart. I desperately wanted people to support me. And I wanted to defend myself too. Full of wisdom, my husband stopped me. He was aware of something that I could no longer see: that it was impossible to “win” this war; that every gesture of defence, every sign of loyalty only added fuel to the fire. This explains the strange fact that despite all their defensive strategies, no one targeted by a “cancellation” campaign has ever succeeded in triumphing over their adversaries.

I know a number of those who singled me out for punishment. They are not bad people. It would be wrong to interpret this episode as a confrontation between their camp and mine. There is no camp. We imagine fighting the pack and we end up forming one. And within the pack, there is no place for justice, argument, reflection, questioning or investigation. The only thing to do is not to get into this game.

Say nothing

So here is my answer to the question posed above: if I knew

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The New York Times (New York)

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