It was the letter that launched a thousand tweets. Maybe even ten thousand—many of them, as happens so often on social media, brimming with insults and recrimination.
And that doesn’t even account for several impassioned essays, some pro but mostly con, that the so-called “Letter on Justice and Open Debate” has provoked among the self-avowed intelligentsia—a tiny yet purportedly influential group of academics, artists, philosophers and journalists—since it was released on Tuesday by Harper’s magazine.
“The controversy surrounding the letter shows the venom that these anodyne statements produced—statements that wouldn’t have been inflammatory ten years ago,” Harper’s Vice President Giulia Melucci told The Daily Beast on Wednesday as the tweets and manifestoes continued to pile up. The critics were reacting to a 532-word document that celebrates untrammeled free expression above all and rebukes the so-called “cancel culture” that might take offense and try to muzzle it.
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