It is ironic that the conservatives who responded to the much-discussed letter from 150 public intellectuals on the importance of civilised debate in a liberal democracy (‘‘Libs laud ‘pushback on cancel culture’’’, The Sunday Age, 12/7) focused wholly on criticising extreme left ‘‘cancel culture’’.
If they had actually read the document they would know that while the signatories – a diverse group from Noam Chomsky to Francis Fukuyama, and from Salman Rushdie to J.K. Rowling – do call out the current ‘‘vogue for public shaming and ostracism’’, they are equally concerned about any ‘‘restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society’’.
The ‘‘Libs’’ quoted by you are complicit in their own government’s push for some of the most draconian and repressive anti-free-speech legislation of any Western nation, and in the in-camera prosecution of whistle-blowers and hounding of journalists. If the woke Twitter trolls don’t get you, then Peter Dutton’s foot soldiers will.
With ‘‘elected despots’’ like Putin, Erdogan and Trump burgeoning around the world, liberal democracy is under severe threat from all sides. Now is the time for all its supporters to stand up and be counted, before it is too late.
President Emeritus, Rationalist Society of Australia