De la Cancel / Call-Out Culture

« La culture du « call-out » (terme pris à l’anglais : call-out culture en l’absence de traduction française) est un concept controversé qui désigne une forme de dénonciation publique dans laquelle les gens identifient les infractions commises par des membres de leur communauté et les dénoncent publiquement, ce qui les humilie ou les punit. Ses partisans viseraient à tenir les individus et les groupes responsables de leurs actions en attirant l’attention sur les comportements qui sont perçus par les premiers comme problématiques, généralement sur les réseaux sociaux.

Une variante du terme : « cancel culture », qui peut être traduit par « culture du boycott », « culture de l’annulation », « culture de l’humiliation publique », « culture de l’interpellation », « culture de la dénonciation » ou « culture de l’annulation et du rééquilibrage », décrit une forme de boycott dans laquelle la personne appelée est également expulsée des cercles sociaux ou professionnels — sur les réseaux sociaux ou dans le monde physique ou les deux. Ils seraient « cancelled ». L’emploi du verbe anglais cancel au sens de la cancel culture remonte à 2015 au moins, et son utilisation généralisée commence en 2018.

Histoire
Avant internet
Selon le politologue spécialiste des États-Unis Jean-Eric Branaa, la « culture de la délation » est présente et acceptée depuis longtemps aux États-Unis, trouvant son origine dans les affiches « Wanted » représentées dans les westerns. Selon Branaa, quand une personne condamnée pour pédophilie s’installe dans un quartier, il arrive que ses voisins placardent des affiches dans les rues avec son nom et les faits pour lesquels elle a été condamnée, sans que ça ne soit considéré comme du harcèlement.

Depuis internet
La manifestation numérique de la culture « call-out » est représentée par des mouvements comme « Me Too » qui permet aux femmes de partager et dénoncer leurs histoires d’abus sexuels et de harcèlement. Ce qui donne parfois lieu à l’humiliation publique de certains hommes.

Comme alternative à la pratique de la culture du call-out dans un forum public, un individu ou une entité peut « call-in ». Cette pratique suggère à l’accusateur de parler à l’accusé ou de lui envoyer un message privé sur sa conduite ou ses comportements.

La culture du call-out peut être perçue comme une forme d’auto-justice, condamnant de facto des individus sans procédure légale et sans motif autre que l’appréciation générale d’un groupe. Plusieurs auteurs estiment qu’elle s’apparente à du cyberharcèlement et risque d’annihiler tout débat. Ainsi, le 7 juillet 2020, dans une tribune parue le Harper’s et traduit dans Le Monde, 150 artistes et intellectuels condamnent l’« intolérance à l’égard des opinions divergentes ». A l’inverse, l’essayiste et historienne Laure Murat estime que la cancel culture génère des excès, mais provient d’un grand sentiment d’injustice.

Critiques
Selon certains auteurs, le concept de « culture du “call-out” » n’existe pas, car il ne s’apparente pas à une culture et les effets négatifs de la dénonciation publique ne sont pas démontrés. Selon ces auteurs, des personnalités comme Louis C.K. ou Harvey Weinstein, dénoncées publiquement, continuent à avoir un certain succès dans la vie publique.

Dans la culture populaire
La série télévisée d’animation américaine South Park s’est moquée de la cancel culture avec sa propre campagne #CancelSouthPark en promotion de la vingt-deuxième saison de l’émission. Le troisième épisode de la saison, The Problem with a Poo, a été décrit comme « prenant » le concept entier de la « cancel culture », avec des références aux controverses sur le personnage des Simpson Apu (dont les caractéristiques stéréotypées ont été critiquées dans le documentaire The Problem with Apu), la cancellation de l’actrice Roseanne Barr après ses tweets controversés et les audiences de confirmation du juge de la Cour suprême Brett Kavanaugh.

Cancel culture est l’un des sujets majeurs du film de comédie stand-up de Dave Chappelle Stick & Stones et du film de comédie stand-up de Bill Burr Paper Tiger. »

Wikipedia

« Cancel culture, also known as callout culture, is the removal (“canceling”) of support for individuals and their work due to an opinion or action on their part deemed objectionable to the parties “calling” them out.

The individuals are typically first called out on social media to magnify the public knowledge of their perceived offense, whereupon the campaign to cancel ensues. The canceling can take several forms, including the exerting of pressure on organizations to cancel the individual’s public appearances or speaking engagements and, in the case of businesses deemed offensive, organizing boycotts of their products.

Celebrities and social and political leaders are frequently the targets of cancel campaigns. Actor and comedian Bill Cosby, who was found guilty in 2018 of drugging and sexually assaulting a woman and accused of assault by more than 50 women, is only one of many, recent, high-profile examples. But everyday people can be caught in the crosshairs as well. A public relations executive, for example, tweeted an offensive joke about AIDS before boarding a plane in London and traveling to South Africa. An uproar on Twitter followed, and by the time her plane landed, she had been “called out,” “canceled,” and fired.

The cancel campaigns are not always so successful or one-sided. In July 2020, after Goya Foods CEO Robert Unanue praised President Trump for promoting an Hispanic prosperity initiative, liberal Latino leaders organized a boycott of Goya products despite Unanue’s similar praise of President Obama. Instead of bankrupting the company, the callout prompted the Bodega and Small Business Association to come to the company’s defense with a “buycott” to support the more than 13,000 shops that sell Goya products and thousands of black and Latino Goya employees.

Anyone who remembers reading Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter knows call out culture is not new. What is new, however, is social media’s ability to boost the speed, scope, and impact of a call out and the influence this has had on traditional bastions of free speech, such as college campuses.

Is Cancel Culture (or “Callout Culture”) Good for Society?

Pro 1
Callout culture allows marginalized people to seek accountability where the justice system fails.
The #metoo movement gave innumerable women (and some men) the ability to call out their countless abusers in a forum where the accusations might be heard and matter.

Olivia Goldhill, Quartz science reporter, explained, “Men have sexually assaulted and harassed women with impunity for millennia. Incredibly, ever since the allegations against Hollywood impresario Harvey Weinstein stopped being an ‘open secret,’ a few famous men have finally faced repercussions for their actions. Where inept courts and HR departments have failed, a new tactic has succeeded: Women talking publicly about harassment on social media, fueling the public condemnation that’s forced men from their jobs and destroyed their reputations.

Constance Grady, Staff Writer at Vox, stated, “Historically, we as a culture don’t do much to the rich and famous and powerful men of the world when women say that those men have hurt them. We give them Oscars and a seat on the Supreme Court and in the White House, and we call their accusers liars or hysterical or unreliable. We treat the men and their power as sacrosanct and the women and their pain as disposable.

By Oct. 2018, the end of the first year of #metoo, 429 people faced 1,700 allegations of sexual misconduct. That cohort included Harvey Weinstein, now convicted of third-degree rape and a first-degree criminal sexual act. The allegations against Weinstein date to the late 1980s, and had long been an “open secret” in Hollywood. Without callout culture, Weinstein may still be in a position of power.

Weinstein is the outlier in terms of criminal justice. Few powerful men are convicted of sexual misconduct. As of July 3, 2020, #metoo allegations have resulted in only 7 convictions and 5 other people charged with sexual misconduct. However, 201 men in positions of power lost their jobs in the first year of #metoo due to sexual misconduct allegations that were posted on social media.

As Jill Filipovic, JD, lawyer and writer, explained, “for the powerful, criminal convictions are rare, in part because these people have better tools to work the justice system and rarely fit the stereotype of a convict. So the court of public opinion ends up being where accusations–and just as often, accusers–are tried.

Beyond #metoo, other movements are able to demand justice. Black Lives Matter has repeatedly called out the killing of black men in particular by police officers. The result was perhaps the biggest global civil rights movement in history when 15 to 26 million people marched globally for black rights in June 2020.

Pro 2
Callout culture gives a voice to disenfranchised or less powerful people.

Osita Nwanevu, MPP, Staff Writer at The New Republic, states, “The critics of cancel culture are plainly threatened not by a new and uniquely powerful kind of public criticism but by a new set of critics: young progressives, including many minorities and women who, largely through social media, have obtained a seat at the table where matters of justice and etiquette are debated and are banging it loudly to make up for lost time.

Meredith Clark, PhD, Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the University of Virginia, elaborates on the power given to disenfranchised voices, “To me, it’s ultimately an expression of agency. To a certain extent: I really do think of it like a breakup and a taking back of one’s power.”

Oscar Schwartz, PhD, author, elaborates, “While there may be instances of collateral damage [in call out culture], even people innocently accused, a more pressing problem to address is how and why institutions we are supposed to trust are deaf to many of the problems facing women and minority groups.

While not everyone has access to legislators or other powerful people, everyone can sign up for a Twitter account. “Canceling is a way to acknowledge that you don’t have to have the power to change structural inequality. You don’t even have to have the power to change all of public sentiment. But as an individual, you can still have power beyond measure [online]” and “for black culture and cultures of people who are lower income and disenfranchised, this is the first time you do have a voice in those types of conversations,” explained Anne Charity Hudley, PhD, Chair of Linguistics of African America at the University of California Santa Barbara.

Dee Lockett, Music Editor for Vulture, summarizes the results of the social media call outs during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests: “It’s been most effective as a collective public display of pointing the finger at a problem. It’s a massive signal boost, but that doesn’t mean it’s valueless. It’s performative … to post these screenshots of our donation receipts, swipe ups to anti-black reading lists, and lying en masse on the grass for eight-plus minutes as George Floyd’s last words are recited over a mic. It’s also the language and currency of this era. Purses are opening. Cops (in one case) have been charged. There’s also a lot of value in seeing your faves turn into grassroots activists overnight. Halsey is a war nurse out of nowhere?! John Boyega is an anointed civil-rights leader. Kehlani is mobilizing on the ground. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Pro 3
Callout culture is simply a new form of boycott, a cherished tactic in the civil rights movement, to bring about social change.

Lisa Nakamura, PhD, Professor and Director of the Digital Studies Institute at the University of Michigan, states that call out culture is “a cultural boycott. It’s an agreement not to amplify, signal boost, give money to. People talk about the attention economy — when you deprive someone of your attention, you’re depriving them of a livelihood.” She elaborates, “Socially irredeemable things are said on platforms all the time” but cancellation provides “a culture of accountability which is not centralized and is haphazard, but needed to come into being.

Hudley, states simply, “If you don’t have the ability to stop something through political means, what you can do is refuse to participate.” Boycotts have long been associated with civil rights movements with the most famous, perhaps, being the Montgomery Bus boycott began in 1955 after Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of an Alabama bus.

Craig Jenkins, Vulture Music Critic, refers to cancel culture as “a redrawing of the balance of power between brands and consumers — a necessary one, I think. I’m thrilled the brands are scared to death of saying the wrong thing for once.

Jenkins’ colleague, Senior Writer, E. Alex Jung responded, “Accountability is a really good way to frame it. It’s actually asking, well, if Amazon is suddenly going to uproot systemic racism (lol), what does that actually mean in terms of their labor practices? Or Twitter trying to stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter even though as a company they haven’t taken racism and misogyny that affected their users seriously for years. The question is how deep this reckoning goes

Meanwhile, at least 800 big brands like Coca-Cola, Unilever, and Ford are using cancel culture to boycott Facebook advertising due to the platform’s refusal to censor the speech of organizations deemed “hate groups.”


Con 1
Callout culture amounts to online bullying, and can incite violence and threats even worse than the original offense being called out.

Sam Biddle, the journalist who retweeted Justine Sacco’s joke about AIDS that resulted in her firing while on a plane to South Africa, later regretted his actions and their results, stating, “it’s easy and thrilling to hate a stranger online.

Asam Ahmad, author and community organizer, notes that canceling an everyday person without compassion for the complexities of that person’s life amounts to bullying: “For instance, most call-outs I have witnessed immediately render anyone who has committed a perceived wrong as an outsider to the community. One action becomes a reason to pass judgment on someone’s entire being, as if there is no difference between a community member or friend and a random stranger walking down the street (who is of course also someone’s friend). Call-out culture can end up mirroring what the prison industrial complex teaches us about crime and punishment: to banish and dispose of individuals rather than to engage with them as people with complicated stories and histories.

Like the incident with Sacco, a single call out frequently snowballs into a mob attack on an individual. Anna Richards, MA, Vice President at The Neutral Zone Coaching and Consulting Services, notes that those doing the calling out are “taking this moral high ground, with a lot of righteous indignation, and inviting others to participate in a public shaming exercise.” And that is frequently counterproductive because the people being canceled “feel as though they’re already on shaky ground and if they have some sort of mistake highlighted it would be drawing from an empty cup. Generally what I see is just a total collapse, where the person’s sense of self is eroded, or a kind of counter-attack, where they double down on their position and don’t want to learn.

Alex Miranda, a high school student, explained, “All too commonly… users feed off the negativity presented in these online boycotts to create a hate train of mass cyberbullying targeted at one specific individual. Death threats are oftentimes among the list of obscene proclamations directed toward canceled individuals, which elevate the resented climate to an even more alarming state and can lead to real-life detriments. From this perspective, social media users’ retaliation against those who are canceled is sometimes more offensive than the exposed behavior of the offender themself.

Sameer Hinduja, PhD, Co-Director of the Cyberbullying Research Center at Florida Atlantic University, stated cyberbullies are “more likely to feel free from social norms and morals and ethics and rules and possible punishments and sanctions when they’re behind a screen and physically distant or geographically separate from the target.

Further, the cancellation can damage both parties if it has devolved into bullying. A 2020 study found 39% of cyberbully victims and 29% of cyberbullies showed signs of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).

Con 2
Call out culture is not productive and does not bring about social change.

President Barack Obama, JD, stated, “Like, if I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right or used the wrong verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself, cause, ‘Man, you see how woke I was, I called you out… That’s not activism. That’s not bringing about change. If all you’re doing is casting stones, you’re probably not going to get that far. That’s easy to do.

As Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter, notes, “People don’t understand that [social activist] organizing isn’t going online and cussing people out or going to a protest and calling something out.Activism is hard work entailing sometimes boring meetings, strategy sessions, building a campaign, and getting petitions signed.

Aaron Rose, Corporate Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, explained, “Mainstream internet activism is a lot of calling out and blaming and shaming. We have to get honest with ourselves about whether calling out and canceling gives us more than a short-term release of cathartic anger.” Rose admitted that callout culture did not give him the conclusions he wanted: “I was not seeing the true change I desired. … We were still sad and mad. And the bad people were still bad. And everyone was still traumatized.

Frequently, callout culture backfires and engenders sympathy for the alleged offender, leading to continued support by fans. Louis CK took what amounts to a 10-month vacation before selling out dozens of comedy shows. After enduring decades of cancellations and documentaries about their alleged misdeeds, both R. Kelly and Michael Jackson’s music saw increases in streaming. Kevin Hart withdrew from his Oscars hosting job but saw no decline in audience for his movies or stand-up specials.

Rose, among others, have promoted individual conversations with people to encourage growth on both sides. Sometimes termed “calling in.

Author and Digital Strategist Maisha Z. Johnson offers “Addressing harmful behavior is important, but so is understanding that everyone is on a different step of their journey, so we all make mistakes. And we all have different strengths – so if someone’s lacking in one area, like knowing vocabulary words, we don’t have to treat them like they’re totally disposable to the movement. We can help them grow in that area, and hope that others would help us in the areas we need to grow, too.

Con 3
Callout culture is a slippery slope and leads to intolerance in democratic societies as people systematically exclude anyone who disagrees with their views.

Loretta Ross, author, deems cancel culture a “cannibalistic maw” that is “[s]ometimes… just ruthless hazing.”

In a July 4, 2020, speech at Mount Rushmore, President Trump stated, “One of (the left’s) political weapons is ‘cancel culture’ — driving people from their jobs, shaming dissenters and demanding total submission from anyone who disagrees. This is the very definition of totalitarianism, and it is completely alien to our culture and our values, and it has absolutely no place in the United States of America.”

Instead of canceling people, we should be encouraging more people to tell their stories, to add inclusivity and complexity. Connecting cancel culture to the dismantling of historic statues, Christian Sagars, Assistant Voices and Opinion Editor for Deseret News, stated, “Instead, they have come for the opportunistic Columbus and the slave-owning Founding Fathers. They have come for Brigham Young, the eponym of my alma mater and the leader of one of the largest religious migrations in the country’s history. It’s healthy to expose the thorny characters of history’s pages — and there’s a distinction for those who fought against their country and those who built it — but to ignore or eliminate wholesale their contributions to the nation’s foundation is a slippery slope, indeed.

Callout culture is also a slippery slope for those doing the calling out as Steven Mintz, Professor Emeritus at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, explained: “Some members of the canceling group join in for fear of being canceled themselves. People should be able to speak out or remain silent on the issues without fear of retribution.” He continues by calling for more tolerance and “willingness to allow the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with and not seek to harm the offender.

Is Cancel Culture (or “Callout Culture”) Good for Society?

« La cancel culture, qui nous vient des campus nord-américains et des réseaux sociaux, normalise les tentatives pour faire taire – littéralement, pour « annuler » – les opinions considérées comme illégitimes. »

Nathalie Heinich

« Nous vivons effectivement un temps des humiliés. Il n’est plus simplement question de « punir » comme une sanction négative découlant du respect de l’ordre […] mais véritablement d’humilier. Ce qui n’est pas en soi une grande nouveauté. […]

La punition dans son sens kantien vise à rappeler, au violateur d’une norme préétablie, le principe d’égalité de tous devant la loi à laquelle tous ont voulu se soumettre. On punit parce que l’on a violé une norme, on est puni parce que l’on a voulu violer ladite norme, mais on doit être puni du fait de ce principe d’égalité. La peine répond à une violation de quelque chose relevant moralement du sacré, et l’acte violateur est un blasphème. La peine comme punition n’est ainsi en soi qu’une simple application de l’égalité de tous devant une loi prescriptive.

Le truc avec l’humiliation comme le souligne badie dans son ouvrage c’est qu’il établit un statut inférieur souhaité et non conforme aux normes énoncées. Il ne s’agit plus seulement de « punir » mais véritablement d’inférioriser, ce qui n’est plus de la punition mais de la domination, du mépris, de la déconsidération. On se place dans une position de supériorité et on exerce toute sa puissance sur l’autre qui vise à le sous-humaniser au fond. Le problème avec ça, c’est que les humiliés ne l’oublient pas et ont tendance à contre-réagir à l’humiliation, ce qui rend le système peu viable, sécuritaire, pour tous.

Dans les actualités contemporaines, l’on l’observe. On veut humilier, soit pour se sentir comme « puissance » (« supérieure ») soit pour envoyer un message (aux autres qui seraient tentés de nous faire chier). On use d’un ton condescendant, on fait dans la surenchère, on déforme l’identité de l’autre qui paraît si abominable et à la limite primitif, on accuse et vilipende avec des accents « Comment osez-vous ? » Et si l’autre et les autres comprennent vite qu’ils ont intérêt à s’aplatir, à rentrer dans le rang, à se recouvrir de cendres, à s’autoflageller ad vitam aeternam en rampant dans la boue et le caniveau, alors on leur lâche un « Je vous pardonne, allez et ne péchez plus ! » Tu le sais, les autres pèchent et tu le sens dans ta chair. Attentats dans telle(s) ville(s), immeubles frappés par des aéronefs, etc. En ce sens, en tant que gain de la puissance, gain de sa propre sécurité, l’humiliation, d’un point de vue très réaliste, est irrationnelle. Une vraie bêtise. »

Punition & Humiliation

« Call-out culture is the set of attitudes, beliefs, norms, and phrases that promote an aggressive response to people who express bigoted views. It is common in leftist circles and is purportedly used to force people to recognize their subconscious biases and internalized bigotry. Unfortunately, the tactics used to achieve this desired outcome often include embarrassing or shaming the subject—often, someone within the circle. The other problem is that call-out culture, being partly based on the (correct) assumption that many people’s biases and bigotry are unintentional, advocates shock tactics. Calling someone out is an attempt to make them “wake up.”

Moreover, many proponents of call-out culture explicitly discourage “having dialogue” with people, asserting that it does not work. They’re somewhat correct: People tend to double down on their attitudes, subconscious or not, when presented with conflicting information.

Unfortunately, “calling out” also doesn’t persuade. Add an aggressive counterargument and it only drives people deeper into their views. »

The Problem with Call-out Culture, by Rachel Wayne

« Parlons de la cancel culture ou, en version française, la «culture de l’annulation». Rien qu’expliquer ce que c’est constitue déjà une sacrée gageure. À l’origine, en anglais, c’est un jeu de déformation lexicale. Normalement, on cancel («annule») un spectacle. Mais pour la blague est apparue l’expression d’annuler quelqu’un.

Au départ, ça pouvait être du genre «ma copine Meg aime la couleur orange. Annulons Meg.» Et puis l’expression a fini par devenir une pratique sociale en ligne. En gros, quelqu’un a fait ou dit quelque chose que vous jugez grave, vous le dénoncez sur internet en l’interpellant et en appelant à l’ostraciser (un peu l’équivalent du «tu es mort pour moi»).

Le «faire» et le «dire»

Le problème, c’est que dans ce terme de cancel culture, on met des choses très différentes. Cette semaine, par exemple, il y a eu deux articles sur le sujet en français. Le premier, sur MadmoiZelle, revenait sur des cas s’apparentant à du cyberharcèlement; le second, sur France Culture, se demandait s’il fallait boycotter les artistes coupables d’agression sexuelle.

Partant de la même expression, les deux papiers analysent des choses qui semblent assez différentes, entre autres parce qu’il faut distinguer le «faire» et le «dire». Quelqu’un qui est accusé d’agression sexuelle ou de viol, c’est à mon avis totalement différent de quelqu’un qui est harcelé pour des propos qu’il a tenus.

(J’en profite au passage pour rappeler que je ne demanderai jamais l’interdiction d’un film de Polanski. Ça me paraîtrait trop dangereux. Mais je pense qu’on peut interroger le fait qu’il bénéficie d’autant d’argent public pour ses productions –argent qui de fait ne va pas à d’autres films. Bref. Je vous renvoie au papier de France Culture pour cette partie.)

En pratique, la majeure partie de la cancel culture concerne plutôt du «dire».

De même qu’on boycotte une entreprise, on cancel donc une personne. En soi, décider de ne plus écouter, suivre, lire telle personne, ce n’est pas un problème. Sauf que cela s’arrête rarement là: l’idée, c’est aussi de punir et/ou/donc de traumatiser les coupables. Et très vite, l’annulation peut virer au harcèlement, avec insultes et menaces.

Deux minutes de réflexion

Sur les réseaux sociaux, et en fonction de notre humeur, nous sommes tous et toutes susceptibles de participer à ce genre d’opération. Mais avant de céder à une impulsion, on peut se poser plusieurs questions (comme l’a bien expliqué cette vidéo en anglais et l’ont résumé ces tweets en français):

Quel âge a la personne incriminée? «Annuler» une personne mineure est d’une violence irresponsable. Et précisément, c’est devenu un sujet aux États-Unis. Les ados se cancel entre eux –ce qu’on appellerait ici du harcèlement scolaire, à ceci près qu’il y a souvent une question politique à l’origine dudit harcèlement. Alors on peut se féliciter de la conscience politique des ados, ou bien s’interroger sur ce qu’on leur a montré comme modèle pour qu’ils refusent de discuter avec leur camarade.

De quand datent ses propos? L’un des principes du cancelling, c’est qu’il n’y a pas de prescription: vous avez dit de la merde il y a dix ans, ça ne vous lâchera pas. (À ce sujet, vous pouvez aller voir cette parodie. Toutes mes excuses aux médiévistes, parce qu’elle est assez offensante pour leur domaine d’études.) Sauf que les individus ne sont pas des blocs atemporels et immuables. Ils changent, ils évoluent. Perso, j’ai changé d’avis sur beaucoup de sujets.

Dans la cancel culture, il n’y a pas de prescription, ni de droit à l’oubli. Quand vous avez été annulé, c’est normalement à vie. (En vrai, ça ne se passe jamais comme ça. Et de toute façon, comme le racontait le New York Times, les gens qui ont été ostracisés finissent par se regrouper entre eux et se créer d’autres espaces, comme le journal Quillette.) Il y a un côté «pack» qui est problématique.

Prenons Élisabeth Badinter: le moins qu’on puisse dire, c’est que j’ai de grosses divergences avec elle. Pour autant, son livre Le Conflit – La Femme et la Mère m’a apporté beaucoup de pistes de réflexion, donc je ne vais pas l’effacer purement et simplement. Je fais le tri. Or le cancelling a tendance à faire un package. On annule toute la personne et tout son travail passé ou à venir.

Récemment, on a assisté à la même chose au sujet de Françoise Dolto. Elle a notamment dit des horreurs sur l’inceste. Ok. Mais est-ce qu’il faut brûler tous ses livres pour autant? (Pour les personnes qui, à ce stade, vont me reparler de Polanski ou de Cantat ou de qui sais-je, je rappelle la différence préalablement établie entre des actes et des paroles. En outre, si vous ne voulez plus lire Dolto, libre à vous –exactement comme on est libre de ne pas voir les films de Polanski ou de ne pas écouter Cantat.)

Est-ce qu’il s’agit d’une seule occurrence (ça peut arriver à tout le monde de dire et d’écrire de la merde) ou est-ce que c’est récurrent?

Cette personne est-elle en position de pouvoir? C’est délicat à évaluer, parce que vous l’évaluerez forcément en fonction de votre propre position. Mais le producteur le plus puissant de Hollywood et une YouTubeuse beauté à 30.000 abonné·es ne méritent sans doute pas le même traitement.

Est-ce que l’«annulation» a déjà commencé? Et plus précisément, cette personne a-t-elle reçu publiquement des messages d’insultes? Oui? Et si on la laissait tranquille?

Au vu de tous ces éléments, est-ce qu’il ne vaut mieux pas un call in qu’un call out? Le call out, c’est dénoncer publiquement les propos d’une personne; le call in consiste à lui écrire en privé pour lui expliquer calmement ce qui, selon nous, ne va pas dans ses propos.

L’individu plutôt que le système

J‘ajouterais un élément qui ne cesse de m’étonner, c’est le principe de la contamination. Par exemple, sur Twitter, si vous suivez quelqu’un qui a été «annulé», certain·es considèrent que ça signifie que vous adhérez à tous ses propos. Perso, je suis Nadine Morano, ça ne veut pas dire que je suis d’accord avec elle. Vous pouvez même partager des points d’accord ET de désaccord avec une personne.

Reste une question: la cancel culture est-elle efficace? Elle ressemble tout de même beaucoup à l’éducation par la terreur, qui n’a jamais vraiment fait ses preuves d’un point de vue pédagogique. Il y a une différence entre convaincre quelqu’un et lui faire peur.

On est à un stade où il est évident qu’on sera tous et toutes un jour annulé·es. Comme Warhol avait prévu que chacun aurait à l’avenir un quart d’heure de gloire, nous aurons notre quart d’heure de honte et de harcèlement public.

D’un point de vue politique, la cancel culture pose un autre problème. Elle est une vision encore une fois ultra-individuelle des phénomènes d’oppression. On ramène la domination à un individu, en oubliant les dynamiques de système qui sont derrière, les rapports de classe, et le risque, c’est de dépolitiser les enjeux.

Présenté sous cet angle, on ne comprend même pas ce que ce phénomène existe. Mais, et c’est bien là où tout est tellement compliqué dans notre monde, il y a aussi des arguments pour défendre ces pratiques.

Comme l’explique l’universitaire Charity Hudley sur Vox, l’annulation est un moyen, pour les gens qui n’ont pas de pouvoir, de s’exprimer: «C’est une manière de dire “je n’ai peut-être pas de pouvoir, mais j’ai le pouvoir de t’ignorer”.» Elle insiste notamment sur le fait que c’est une composante importante de la culture noire américaine de contestation.

La cancel culture, c’est donc aussi l’expression d’une véritable colère, ou plutôt de colères, qui ont été enfouies, tues, refoulées et qui explosent maintenant au coup par coup, comme des déflagrations. Des colères qui naissent aussi du décalage insupportable entre des aspirations à l’égalité et le constat de la persistance des discriminations.

Bien sûr, dans certaines «annulations», on peut voir un effet de meute effrayant, mais on peut aussi y percevoir de véritables souffrances qui n’ont pas trouvé d’autres moyens de s’exprimer (ce qui devrait collectivement nous interroger).

C’est ce que pointe Aaron Rose dans le même article de Vox, en posant une question cruciale: «Nous devons être honnêtes avec nous-mêmes pour déterminer si le calling out et le cancelling nous procurent autre chose qu’un soulagement cathartique à court terme de notre rage.»

C’est également la ligne de Loretta Ross, qui a écrit un livre sur le sujet et un texte sur le New York Times que je vous recommande, «Je suis une féministe noire. Et je pense que la culture du call out est toxique».

Elle rappelle son passé de militante noire féministe dans les années 1970, qui pratiquait déjà à l’époque le call out et le cancelling. Mais selon son expérience, ce n’est pas le meilleur moyen de se battre pour la justice sociale et contre les discriminations.

Loretta Ross raconte comment c’est son action sur le terrain, en face-à-face avec des gens, en discutant avec eux calmement, qui a eu le plus d’impact. Elle reprend la citation d’Audre Lorde, «the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house», soit «les outils du maître ne démonteront jamais la maison du maître».

La militante insiste notamment sur la question politique: «La culture de l’annulation est problématique quand les gens tentent d’effacer toute personne avec laquelle ils ne sont pas parfaitement d’accord plutôt que de rester concentrés sur ceux qui tirent profit de la discrimination et de l’injustice.»

J’ai toujours pensé que pour se faire entendre, les dominé·es devaient gueuler. Argumenter, analyser, et gueuler. Mais la question est désormais: en gueulant sur qui, sur quoi? La cancel culture a tendance à se pratiquer de façon horizontale plutôt que verticale, à attaquer un individu lambda plutôt qu’un système social, politique et économique. »

Les questions à se poser avant de «cancel» quelqu’un, par Titiou Lecoq

« Depuis la mort de George Floyd, la cancel culture s’affiche sur les réseaux sociaux. Expression démocratique ou nouvelle forme d’intimidation en ligne : ce mouvement de boycott est critiqué à gauche comme à droite aux États-Unis, mais pas pour les mêmes raisons. »

Aux Etats-Unis, la «cancel culture» met Trump et Obama d’accord, par ALEXIS BUISSON

« Importée des Etats-Unis, la « cancel culture », une tendance qui vise à effacer les « mal-pensants », fracture la gauche française et soulève des débats passionnés parmi les mouvements féministes, antiracistes et écologistes.

Christophe Girard, l’adjoint à la Culture d’Anne Hidalgo, a-t-il été balayé de la vie publique par une horde de Savonarole qui l’ont brûlé sans autre forme de procès sur un bûcher de tweets enflammés, conduits par une poignée d’écologistes au Conseil de Paris et de militantes féministes ? C’est ainsi que l’ancien adjoint à la Mairie de Paris, mis en cause pour ses rapports avec l’écrivain accusé d’apologie de crime pédophile, Gabriel Matzneff, a expliqué sa démission le 23 juillet :

« Je n’ai pas démissionné sous la pression. J’ai fait le choix que ce serait très compliqué et invivable étant un bon connaisseur des Etats-Unis et du mouvement que l’on appelle “cancel culture”… la mise au pilori, la lapidation des personnes publiques… »

Cancel culture : l’expression a créé tant de remous, dans le milieu médiatique anglo-saxon, qu’elle a fait son entrée comme mot de l’année dans le dictionnaire de référence australien Macquarie en 2019. Elle désigne un mode d’expression qui va de la critique au cyberharcèlement et des actions telles que des manifestations ou des déboulonnages de statues. Culture de l’annulation, de l’effacement ou de l’humiliation publique… Il n’y a pas encore de traduction française convaincante pour ce concept américain, pourtant de plus en plus fréquemment mis en pratique dans l’Hexagone. »

« Cancel culture », la nouvelle censure, par Sara Daniel

« “This idea of purity and you’re never compromised and you’re always politically ‘woke’ and all that stuff,” Mr. Obama said. “You should get over that quickly.”

The world is messy; there are ambiguities,” he continued. “People who do really good stuff have flaws. People who you are fighting may love their kids, and share certain things with you.”

Mr. Obama spoke repeatedly of the role of social media in activism specifically, including the idea of what’s become known as “cancel culture,” which is much remarked upon, but still nebulously defined. It tends to refer to behavior that mostly plays out on the internet when someone has said or done something to which others object. That person is then condemned in a flurry of social media posts. Such people are often referred to as “canceled,” a way of saying that many others (and perhaps the places at which they work) are fed up with them and will have no more to do with them. »

Obama on Call-Out Culture: ‘That’s Not Activism’

« Le dalaï lama ne vit pas dans une grotte au sommet d’une montagne, le pape ne vit pas dans une étable, martin luther king ne vivait pas dans la rue et gandhi n’a pas grandi ou vécu dans un dépotoir pour intouchables, greta truc-truc ne vient pas d’un mouroir comme les banlieues des crevardes populations à la périphérie des lumières citadines – cartes postales – et ne vit pas dans un ghetto insalubre ou dans un quartier de pauvres, les grands et illustres esprits de sainteté ou d’humanisme criard de ce monde ne vivent pas dans le caniveau, les palais des révolutionnaires rouges (comme ceux davosiens d’aujourd’hui) ne manquaient / manquent pas de caviar et autres choses qui donnent une saveur particulièrement exquise à l’existence, etc. Etc. Mère térésa vivait dans un bidonville, c’était sa conviction, un choix de vie. Mukwege, celui qui répare les femmes, a longtemps vécu dans la brousse, parce que c’est dans celle-ci que se réfugiaient toutes ces femmes ravagées et détruites par la sale guerre des hommes, yousafzai et murad ainsi que toutes les autres héroïnes de notre contemporanéité vivent où pour elles leur existence fait sens, a pris sens, a du sens. Un lieu qui n’est pas le même que ceux de nos héros (verts ou vertissismes) des temps (post/hyper) modernes que sont les schwarzeneger, attenborough, etc. Etc.

L’on peut bien poser des actes héroïquement combatifs contre la misère du monde et avoir le droit de s’empiffrer de caviar, de voyager en jet (de haute classe) ou en bateau (de grande fracture / facture), de séjourner dans les hôtels cinq ou mille étoiles, d’aller se reposer dans un environnement paradisiaque dans le sens de ce luxe délicat ou ostentatoire, d’avoir plusieurs engins motorisés de prestigieuses marques, de faire copain-copine ou chummy-chummy avec les principaux responsables de la misère du monde dans des lieux d’une si plaisante convivialité matérielle réservés seulement au gotha, d’avoir et de le faire voir / savoir un narcissisme aussi grand que le château de versailles, de placer son fric dans des fonds vautours afin de le fructifier comme il faut, de prêcher la bonne parole et d’enseigner les évangiles de l’authenticité et tout le tralala tout en incarnant la facticité la vacuité et autres escroqueries impostures entourloupes la plus totale, etc. Etc. On a ce droit. Puisque nous ne sommes que de simples mortels. Nous appartenons malgré tout au commun des mortels, héros ou saints, révolutionnaires ou radicaux, sauveurs ou guides, bourgeois ou crevards, précaires ou prolétaires, rien du tout ou presque rien ou si peu de presque rien. Nous sommes mortellement d’un matérialisme et d’une superficialité d’une grande banalité. »

Intellophilie

« It’s a defining feature of our online conversations – but, as Obama noted, the point of highlighting someone else’s mistakes is not just to feel good about yourself

Even if you’re not that active on social media, you’ve probably experienced it: the sudden wave of dread that overwhelms you when you realize you’ve said something you shouldn’t have – and someone has noticed.

You’ve been called out: your mistake suddenly feels grave and irreparable; you may even worry that this one episode could affect your whole life.

A version of call-out culture has been functioning for centuries as a tool for the marginalized and their allies to reveal injustice and the need for reform. The practise of directly addressing inequality underpins countless social justice movements, from civil rights to Standing Rock.

The contemporary idea of a “call-out”, however, generally refers to interpersonal confrontations occurring between individuals on social media. In theory, call-outs should be very simple – someone does something wrong, people tell them, and they avoid doing it again in the future. Yet you only need to spend a short amount of time on the internet to know that call-out culture is in fact extremely divisive.

Former president Obama pointed out this week at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago that call-outs can give the illusion that you’re effecting change, even if that is not true. “If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right, or used the wrong word or verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself, because, ‘Man, you see how woke I was. I called you out.’ That’s not activism,” Obama said.

A reason call-outs can be polarizing is they often challenge the status quo. They can spark discomfort and offense, as when Canadian activist Nora Loreto went on Twitter to suggest that the C$15.2m raised to support the Humboldt Broncos junior ice hockey team after a deadly bus crash last year was donated so generously in part because victims of the accident were young, male and white. Or earlier this month when, in response to Ellen DeGeneres tweeting about her friendship with George W Bush and kumbaya policy of being nice to everyone, critics pointed out that niceness is not an unalloyed good.

Some people feel that call-outs are an excuse for petty drama – a way to stir up gossip more than to promote social justice. Think of when Coleen Rooney launched a real-life soap opera by accusing fellow British football wife Rebekah Vardy of subterfuge last month, or the heady influencer drama that escalated between YouTubers Tati Westbrook and James Charles this summer.

Yet the most potent critiques of call-out culture come from those who feel it is an excuse for crude vigilante justice – “zealotry … fueled by people working out their psychological wounds”, as the New York Times columnist David Brooks called it earlier this year. A “trial by fire” method of responding to any alleged violation of propriety, writes the Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf.

A frequently cited problem with call-outs is that it’s all too easy to get carried away and overpunish people, turning alleged perpetrators of upsetting acts into victims themselves. “What can often start out as well-intentioned and necessary criticism far too quickly devolves into brutish displays of virtual tar-and-feathering,” writes the activist and writer Ruby Hamad.

This leaves one question: how can we benefit from the social good call-out culture can help achieve, without succumbing to the toxicity and futility that has come to be associated with it?

Some advocate a softer approach to call-outs. By ganging up on an individual, “you’re taking this moral high ground, with a lot of righteous indignation, and inviting others to participate in a public shaming exercise”, which is rarely productive, says Anna Richards, a therapist specializing in conflict mediation.

Richards cautions against taking a “reductionist approach” when calling out an individual. When we rationalize our own mistakes, “we tend to give ourselves really high context”, she says. “We think, well I was going through something, and there were certain norms at the time, I was following everybody else,” but when someone offends us we’re less willing to see what contributed to their behavior, aside from inherent badness.

While there is no one absolute right way to call someone out, Richards believes that learning to analyze our own motivations when offering criticism, and considering the context and possible consequences of the situation we’re contributing to helps call-out culture work productively.

Of course, it’s also up to the individual whose behavior has been called into question to be open, humble and willing to see such incidents as opportunities to learn, rather than a one-way ticket into a cartoon dust ball fight. After all, one tried and true way to begin resolving interpersonal conflict is to sincerely apologize when you have, intentionally or not, caused harm.

Unfortunately, apologizing can be challenging for some. According to Richards, in order for someone to apologize they need to have a fairly robust sense of self-worth, and often people are insecure and pathologically afraid of being wrong.

“People feel as though they’re already on shaky ground and if they have some sort of mistake highlighted it would be drawing from an empty cup,” she says. “Generally what I see is just a total collapse, where the person’s sense of self is eroded, or a kind of counter-attack, where they double down on their position and don’t want to learn.”

In other cases, a self-preservation instinct will lead people to offer a submission—a calculated, face-saving apology that doesn’t suggest true accountability. (Such as, most believe, those offered by actor Gina Rodriguez earlier this month, and comedian Shane Gillis this summer, both for using offensive racial epithets.)

Richards may believe in an empathetic approach to conflict resolution, yet she is wary of putting the onus of peacekeeping and politesse on the injured party. Rather, she suggests anger may be better channeled at the root of the systemic forces that give individuals the entitlement to behave in a way that’s uncaring of others. What that means is that there are circumstances when it may be better to confront not individuals, but political or corporate institutions able to implement change or influence others on a larger scale. After all, Richards mediates conflict all day long, and she says that an individual changing their behavior is “not as common as we would like”.

As the old saying goes: choose your battles wisely.

Still, positive outcomes are possible. According to writer and activist Kitty Stryker, the recent backlash to the Netflix animated series Big Mouth’s inaccurate definition of bisexuality is an example of functional call-out culture. Members of the queer community voiced their anger when the show misrepresented bisexuals as not being attracted to trans individuals. Producer Andrew Goldberg responded with an apology and pledge to do better in the future.

Could Goldberg have done more? Sure, his critics have suggested he hire a more diverse writing room, for one, and it remains to be seen how he’ll make his work more inclusive. Yet atonement is a process; the only way to begin it is by acknowledging a mistake and expressing the sincere intent to learn from it.

“I think what differentiates a call-out from bullying is that it shouldn’t be about punishing someone for something they have done, rather it should be about establishing a new pattern of behavior,” says Stryker, who has been on both the giving and receiving ends of call-outs throughout her career. “Basically, when someone calls you out they want you to start showing through your actions that you care about the issue you’ve been called out on.”

If you’re confronted about something offensive you may have said or done, Stryker acknowledges making an effort to listen and learn may be difficult. “You are going to get petty at times, you’re going to get mad, you’re going to be like, ‘why should I listen to this person?’ But you have to take a deep breath and not tweet when you’re in that state, and be like ‘OK, they are very mad at me, but what is the fundamental seed in here that I can take away?’

“When I get called out, I think, ‘awesome this is a chance for me to learn,’” says Stryker. “I don’t need forgiveness on top of that. I just don’t want to hurt my friends.” »

Call-out culture: how to get it right (and wrong), by Adrienne Matei

« Cancel culture: a force for good or a threat to free speech?

Discussion about cancel culture has become heated, but who is really in the right? Is it a useful tool for social justice or a form of censorship? We speak to activists, psychologists and authors to find a way forward

Let’s begin with what cancel culture is and what it isn’t, because it has come to mean a great deal of different things to different people. To some, it poses a grave danger to free speech. To some, it is a new take on ‘political correctness gone mad’ and a method used by the intolerant left to enforce a puritanical censure.

To others, it’s just a way of saying that someone has done something they perceive to be offensive and therefore has lost their respect. It is not a new phenomenon – free speech has always had consequences, especially when that speech has the potential for harm. High-profile figures have been challenged and publicly criticised for apparent wrongdoings by the media for decades, celebrities who have acted in opposition with a company’s values have been dropped and politicians regularly pillory their opponents. Today, it can be viewed as a way of defending the weak against higher powers. Rightly or wrongly, cancel culture gives the marginalised an amplified voice and a way to challenge damaging narratives promoted by the status quo.

Its purest definition is the boycotting of a person or organisation because of an objectionable comment or act. It is the withdrawal of support, be it no longer watching films that the offending person has starred in or books that they have written. The cancellation is akin to voiding a contract, severing ties with someone or something that you might have previously been a fan of.

Free speech has always had consequences, especially when that speech has the potential for harm

What it isn’t is call-out culture, which is highlighting a mistake, condemning it if it’s harmful and asking them to do better so that the individual doesn’t make the same error again. Both are linked to public shaming, and both have been used as a way of achieving social justice. Both have become extremely divisive over the past six months, reaching a crescendo last week over comments made by JK Rowling about the trans community. She, along with over 150 academics, writers and authors, penned a public letter condemning cancel culture (thought to be an escalation of call-out culture) on the basis that it threatens the right to free speech, “the lifeblood of a liberal society”, arguing that it promotes an “intolerance of opposing views [and] a vogue for public shaming and ostracism”. It’s a fascinating line to take – to argue that something endangers free speech by telling others that they don’t have the right to theirs.

The debate is rampant. Others argue that our right to free speech doesn’t make you entitled to hate speech. The trans activist Munroe Bergdorf says, “cancel culture is not the same as being held accountable for your actions”. The journalist and author Owen Jones argued on Twitter that “All too often, ‘cancel culture’ becomes a means for very rich and very powerful people to pretend they are victims when people respond to very controversial things they have used their huge public platform to say”. The situation has become heated indeed.

There are many pitfalls of cancel culture if we take it to mean boycotting a person and expunging them from society. “When does ‘cancelling’ cross over with bullying?” asks the psychologist, lecturer and author Dr Audrey Tang. “The number of Lea Michele’s co-workers who spoke up about her poor behaviour may have been making a point, which Lea Michele addressed, but I refer to the tragic suicide of Caroline Flack. What outcome do those calling for change actually want? Unfortunately, when we say anything, we simply do not know how others will react.”

“Psychologically, cancel culture carries echoes of Melanie Klein’s ‘Splitting Theory,’” says the psychotherapist Lucy Beresford. “This is where small children separate the world into good or bad, and can’t integrate or tolerate the two sides of someone or something. For example, when a parent stops them having ice-cream between meals, they are ‘all bad’ and the child will be furious, whereas when they kiss the child goodnight, they are now ‘all good’ and the child is content. As we grow up, ideally, we are able to hold in our hearts the idea that someone can have different views from us and still be a good or decent person. Cancel culture doesn’t allow for the same kind of nuance.”

One of the potential issues with cancel culture is how it taps into feelings of shame, which rarely helps or propels an individual to learn and make positive changes. Essentially, it renders cancel culture ineffective when it comes to social justice, which is its goal. The research professor Brené Brown, who has spent two decades studying vulnerability, shame and empathy, says that shame is rarely productive.

We think we can shame people into being better, but that’s not true

“We think that shaming is a great moral compass, that we can shame people into being better, but that’s not true,” says Brown in a recent episode of her Unlocking Us podcast. “Here’s a great example that comes up a lot when I’m talking about parenting. You have a kid who tells a lie, so you shame that child, and say, ‘You’re a liar.’ Shame corrodes the part of us that thinks that we can be different. If I’m a liar, if that’s who I am, how do I ever change? How do I ever make a different decision? This is versus ‘You’re a good person and you told a lie, and that behaviour is not OK in this family.’ Everyone needs a platform of self-worth from which to see change.”

Shame is different to guilt, which can prompt positive behaviour. “When we see people apologising, making amends and changing their behaviour, that is always around guilt,” says Brown. “Guilt, the whole ‘I am bad’, is not easy. It creates psychological pain, ‘I have done something that is inconsistent or incongruous with my values or who I want to be.’ When we apologise or make amends for something we’ve done and change our behaviour, guilt is the driving force. It’s a positive, socially adaptive experience.”

The activist and author Jenna Arnold, who was one of the key organisers of the history-making Washington Women’s March in March 2017, agrees that cancel culture is unproductive on the basis that the shame associated with being wrong deters people from moving forward. “It doesn’t leave space for redemption, and while this isn’t an opportunity to pardon those who have caused harm, it is worth the exercise of watching the very important role humility and responsibility can and need to take in a world that is trying to right its way.”

The idea of pushing someone out – because they have said or done something perceived to be offensive – leaves no room for growth or learning. Matt Haig describes cancel culture as “anti-progress because it is anti-change”. “Cancelling people pushes them away and makes them more likely to find spaces where bad views are the norm,” he says. “Obviously, if someone has been convicted of, say, violence or sexual assault then they need to be punished, but cancel culture isn’t that. Cancel culture, as I see it, involves the shutting down of different perspectives and treating people like mere disposable artefacts in the cultural economy.”

Cancel culture involves the shutting down of different perspectives and treating people as disposable

If the purpose of cancel culture is a method to achieve justice for marginalised groups or people, then its influence isn’t as great as we’ve been led to believe. Of individuals who have been ‘cancelled’ over recent years, many are still working and enjoying relative success. Many have not seen long-term boycotts – R Kelly still makes music, Woody Allen still shoots films and Louis CK still performs.

The problem with cancel culture is that it has become too broad, and near meaningless. R Kelly was cancelled over decades of sexual-assault allegations, yet so too was Jodie Comer for dating a Republican. There is no proportion. It is used in so many different contexts, both heavy and light, that it oversimplifies, and loses its weight because it allows those who have engaged in dangerous and/or harmful rhetoric and behaviour to ride on the backlash.

“When something becomes ‘fashionable’ it can lose meaning,” says Dr Tang. “For example, when the debate around Dominic Cummings’ lockdown behaviour was a social-media trend, the calls were to resign, but why not a hefty fine? Why not a suspension? In the workplace ‘you’re fired’ is not the only option. We should not allow the complexity of the human brain to be reduced to a hashtag.”

In the eyes of cancel culture, people are reduced to good or bad with no room for anything in-between. “The process is like air-brushing someone or something out,” says Beresford, “It doesn’t allow for the possibility that two sides could ever agree, or learn from each other, or could persuade each other of their arguments – or even agree to disagree.”

Being told you’re wrong is not the same as being cancelled

That’s not to say that individuals should not be held accountable when they air a questionable view or do something wrong. Call-out culture is just that, the idea that we can challenge someone’s opinion or action without deleting them, therefore leaving them with room to grow and learn. “Being called out has made me a better person,” said Jameela Jamil on Instagram. “Not being cancelled has enabled me to be accountable, learn from my mistakes, and go on to share those lessons with others and do good with my privilege. Most of us have the potential to do that.”

When we decide to call someone out, we must resist a combative approach if we want to have the best chance of helping that person see the issues with what they may said or done. Most of us respond to criticism with defensiveness. Dr Tang says the best results come from talking to someone privately and also to challenge without accusation.

“Ask a question first to generate explanation. For example, ‘When you said x what did you mean by that?’” advises Dr Tang. “It doesn’t have to be nasty, nor humiliating. In fact, the more diplomatic you are, the more likely you are to effect a change of mind and that is after all, what you want. A subtle private message to see if they acted in error is more likely to influence than having a go. The latter only results in defensiveness that neither party wants fundamentally. The debate often turns on wanting to win rather than any form of learning.”

Instead of calling people out, we must start calling them in

Jenna Arnold says we must use forms of restorative justice that don’t make people feel threatened and therefore less likely to want to change. She wants to evolve our concept of call-out culture, instead arguing for ‘call-in culture’.

“My aim is to provide practical tools to use as we start listening with open hearts to others and inviting them to listen to us in the same manner — as, instead of calling people out, we start calling them in,” she says. “We must put aside the urge to win — or maybe just redefine what winning means. We’re not stirring the pot with the goal of a neat resolution or a concrete answer; rather, we want to start uncomfortable conversations for the sake of urgently needed exploration. This can be hard to fully internalise. Yet this hard work is the most essential antidote to the polarisation widening the rifts in society and within ourselves. »

By calling each other in, rather than out, when it comes to debate, we take into account the fundamental human desire for acceptance and to be part of a collective.

“Human beings yearn for community,” she says. “We are longing to belong to something bigger than ourselves. Inviting people into the conversation — calling each other ‘in’ versus calling each other ‘out’ — is key to our survival. But that doesn’t only need to happen in the wake of an awkward statement, bumper sticker or post-election conversation. We need to share ideas and seek out the perspectives of others in our communities, throughout our lives. We’re no longer allowed to go back to sleep, no matter who is in the White House or how fair the world suddenly becomes. Being a citizen is active, hard, constant work.”

We live in a society where it’s easier than ever to have our voices heard – social media was designed for it. What we must do now is listen, regardless of which side we fall on. The free-speech argument is two-fold – progress will not be achieved through silencing either party, whether that’s ‘cancelling’ someone, or by dismissing one’s right to criticise. Being told you’re wrong is not the same as being deleted. It’s time to listen, process and move forward. »

– by ELLA ALEXANDER


« « A recent article published in the Journal of the History of Ideas traces the radical psychiatrist Frantz Fanon’s involvement with the anti-racist and anti-colonial approach to psychiatry, known as ‘institutional psychotherapy.’ The author, Camille Robcis of Columbia University, explores Fanon’s early dissatisfaction with an overly medicalized, neurological approach, as well as his work to decolonize the Eurocentric psychiatric clinic.

‘More broadly, Fanon was articulating a point that he reiterated throughout his life: colonialism had a direct psychic effect. It could literally render someone mad by hijacking their person, their being, and their sense of self. The confiscation of freedom and the alienation brought about by colonialism and by racism were always simultaneously political and psychic,’ Robcis writes.

Frantz Fanon was a radical Martinican psychiatrist who wrote against racism and colonialism in western psychiatric practice. His classic books ‘Black Skin, White Masks’ and ‘The Wretched of the Earth’ explored the psychological effects of racist social and economic structures while asking questions about how people can liberate themselves from these unhealthy ways of organizing society.

Fanon wrote about and practiced a form of radical psychiatry called ‘institutional psychotherapy,’ similar to French psychoanalyst Felix Guattari, at institutions like the Blida-Joinville hospital in Algeria.

Fanon’s name is less frequently associated with institutional psychotherapy than Guattari and others, however. From a decolonizing perspective, many people critical of psychiatry believe Fanon still has much to offer to the current landscape of mental health practice.

The current article explores the history of Frantz Fanon’s involvement with institutional psychotherapy, including the political and psychological aims of his work. Camille Robcis traces Fanon’s dissatisfaction with neurologically focused psychiatric work, as well as his work at the Blida-Joinville hospital, instating a form of psychiatry that was more respectful of cultural traditions and more focused on social liberation than adaptation and conformity.

Fanon believed that the psyche was directly impacted by the political situation in a given society. Although much of his psychiatric training was directed at neurological understanding, he quickly became disillusioned with this approach, given how it sidelined the real, powerful effects of racism and colonialism on the most marginalized.

Through studying Marxism and the psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan, as well as through his involvement in radical political organizations such as the anti-colonial Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), Fanon came to believe that people’s experience was conditioned by how others related to them—by their social relationships.

He was disheartened with how doctors treated North African Muslims, claiming that their psychological symptoms were ‘imaginary’ or even a lie because they found nothing physically wrong with them. Describing what Fanon termed the ‘North African Syndrome,’ he stated: ‘Threatened in his affectivity, threatened in his social activity, threatened in his membership in the community—the North African combines all the conditions that make a sick man. Without a family, without love, without human relations, without communion with the group, the first encounter with himself will occur in a neurotic mode, in a pathological mode; he will feel himself emptied, without life, in a bodily struggle with death, a death on this side of death, a death in life.’

These dissatisfactions led Fanon to work with radical psychiatrist Francois Tosquelles at the Saint-Alban hospital in France, where he came into contact with the methods of institutional psychotherapy.

Opposing ‘concentrationism’—or the ‘potential of any institution or any group to become authoritarian, oppressive, discriminatory, and exclusionary’—Tosquelles and Fanon worked to create a psychiatric environment where alternative forms of social relationships and activities could work to heal those who would have been alienated from the community and, ultimately, themselves.

These methods included: ‘group therapies, general meetings, self-managed unions of patients (also known as “the Club”), ergotherapy workshops (such as printing, binding, woodwork, and pottery), libraries, publications, and a wide range of cultural activities (such as movies, concerts, and theater).’

The goal of these practices was to encourage community-building and self-determination among the patients—a ‘reconstitution’ of the social—rather than force them to submit to the authority of a patronizing medical establishment.

Fanon carried the lessons he learned at Saint-Alban with him to North Africa. He established similar practices, with an underlying philosophy of decolonizing liberation, at the Blida-Joinville hospital in Algeria. Fanon believed that you had to ‘cure the hospital’ before you could help the doctors or patients.

Though understaffed, Fanon initiated several new programs at Blida-Joinville with the help of progressive-minded interns. He created a café that functioned as a kind of social club or meeting place. He ‘organized daily meetings, built a library, set up ergotherapy stations—weaving, pottery, knitting, gardening—and promoted sports, especially soccer, which, he argued, could play an important role in the re-socialization of patients.’

Fanon noticed that these activities were instantly successful with European women patients at producing stronger social ties and self-determination, but less so with the Muslim men under his care. In the act of decolonization, he and his colleagues set out to sensitize themselves to the culture of these men, rather than continue to impose an imperialistic ‘western grid’ on them.

He traveled throughout Algeria and discovered that the Muslim culture there was more interested in religious and familial gatherings than ‘parties.’ They were more familiar with storytelling and reciting epic poems that modes of entertainment such as theater.

In response, Fanon and colleagues ‘changed their movie selection and privileged action-filled films; they picked games that were familiar to Algerians; they celebrated the traditional Muslim holidays; they invited Muslim singers to perform in the hospital, and they hired a professional storyteller to come speak to the patients.’

Fanon continued his anti-colonial political engagement until the end of his life, always maintaining the intimate link between sociopolitical and economic violence and mental health.

In speaking about the project of emancipation, Fanon believed that the oppressed in society must walk a fine line between rootedness in tradition and a more universal, humanist openness toward the future. He encouraged people to avoid “imitating Europe” and its models for life (and psychiatry), while also avoiding a hopeless return to an imagined pre-colonial past or tribalism.

Robcis concludes: ‘Neither institutional psychotherapy nor national self-determination were meant as rigid templates or grids that could be applied indiscriminately and independently of context. Rather, they were to function more as an ethics, as a practice of everyday life that could prevent the appearance of ‘concentrationisms’ and ultimately lead to a freedom that would be collective and personal at once’.” (Mad In America) »

The Political Self

« “For Heidegger, there is no isolated ego, human existence is a priori oriented to others.” Dermot Moran examines our fundamentally social nature, and the phenomenology of solitude. It’s particularly sobering and salient reading in light of the earlier post today on the dreadful impact of social distancing and self isolation on essentially social and relational beings. Solitary confinement – self-isolation – is the worst punishment you can inflict on essentially social beings:

« One is never an isolated self. Being a self means being in a community. For Heidegger, there is no isolated ego (‘a bare subject without a world never « is » proximally, nor is it ever given,’), human existence is a priori oriented to others. As he puts it, ‘being-with’ (Mitsein) is co-original with ‘being-oneself’ or ‘being a self’. Mitsein is an existential constituent of being-in-the-world. Even in solitude one hears the voice of the other, the absent friend, the dead mother, and so on. One visits oneself and others in memories of past times.

Human existence has the character of ‘being-with’ even if there are no others in one’s immediate vicinity. I walk by a field that shows itself as having been tilled by someone; the boat is owned by an acquaintance. Others are encountered in the ‘ready-to-hand’ world of equipment, e.g. a door handle is there ‘for everyone’.

Humans are essentially other-oriented and communal, entangled in one another’s project and environments. The general other is encountered everywhere: Someone parked a car over there; they are digging up the street, that designer of that dress is very good: ‘the environing world [Umwelt] … is not only mine, but also that of others’.

Humans are intrinsically social even if there are no ‘others’ in my immediate community. Indeed, solitude can only ever be an artificial state. One needs extraordinary discipline – to maintain silence, to lose physical contact with other human beings. Indeed, unless it is explicitly chosen as a methodological way to gain access to oneself, solitary confinement is a punishment – a torture for human beings. Part of the key to coping with living in solitude is structured routine and tremendous mental discipline.

In the current pandemic, everyone has suffered social restrictions and ‘social distancing’. Philosophers had in the past perhaps too readily assumed that normal everyday life was rather boring and not morally significant, but now we see everyday life harbors and nourishes the most important values we have – values of comradeship, family, social participation, and so on.

We long for a time when we can meet face-to-face, when we can embrace each other. We long to see our children playing together in the playground. Our future response must be to protect our everyday human environment, our capacity to bodily interact with each other, and to be able to feel each other’s emotional responses directly and not just mediated through technology.

Arising from this crisis, I think there will be renewed interest in the philosophy of embodiment, empathy, intersubjectivity and the life-world, all themes of the phenomenological and existential movements. Isolation is a discipline that has to be learned. It has its place, but its place is within the larger environment of the ‘world-with-others’. This is surely the lesson of phenomenology. » (The Institute of Art and Ideas)« 

The Political Self

« Frantz Fanon’s Radical Approach to Psychiatry and Psychotherapy

Anti-racist psychiatrist Frantz Fanon practiced a form of psychiatry based in decolonization, political awareness, and community.

A recent article published in the Journal of the History of Ideas traces the radical psychiatrist Frantz Fanon’s involvement with the anti-racist and anti-colonial approach to psychiatry, known as “institutional psychotherapy.” The author, Camille Robcis of Columbia University, explores Fanon’s early dissatisfaction with an overly medicalized, neurological approach, as well as his work to decolonize the Eurocentric psychiatric clinic.

“More broadly, Fanon was articulating a point that he reiterated throughout his life: colonialism had a direct psychic effect. It could literally render someone mad by hijacking their person, their being, and their sense of self. The confiscation of freedom and the alienation brought about by colonialism and by racism were always simultaneously political and psychic,” Robcis writes.

Frantz Fanon was a radical Martinican psychiatrist who wrote against racism and colonialism in western psychiatric practice. His classic books Black Skin, White Masks and The Wretched of the Earth explored the psychological effects of racist social and economic structures while asking questions about how people can liberate themselves from these unhealthy ways of organizing society.

Fanon wrote about and practiced a form of radical psychiatry called “institutional psychotherapy,” similar to French psychoanalyst Felix Guattari, at institutions like the Blida-Joinville hospital in Algeria.

Fanon’s name is less frequently associated with institutional psychotherapy than Guattari and others, however. From a decolonizing perspective, many people critical of psychiatry believe Fanon still has much to offer to the current landscape of mental health practice.

The current article explores the history of Frantz Fanon’s involvement with institutional psychotherapy, including the political and psychological aims of his work. Camille Robcis traces Fanon’s dissatisfaction with neurologically focused psychiatric work, as well as his work at the Blida-Joinville hospital, instating a form of psychiatry that was more respectful of cultural traditions and more focused on social liberation than adaptation and conformity.

Fanon believed that the psyche was directly impacted by the political situation in a given society. Although much of his psychiatric training was directed at neurological understanding, he quickly became disillusioned with this approach, given how it sidelined the real, powerful effects of racism and colonialism on the most marginalized.

Through studying Marxism and the psychoanalysis of Jacques Lacan, as well as through his involvement in radical political organizations such as the anti-colonial Front de Liberation Nationale (FLN), Fanon came to believe that people’s experience was conditioned by how others related to them—by their social relationships.

He was disheartened with how doctors treated North African Muslims, claiming that their psychological symptoms were “imaginary” or even a lie because they found nothing physically wrong with them. Describing what Fanon termed the “North African Syndrome,” he stated:

“Threatened in his affectivity, threatened in his social activity, threatened in his membership in the community—the North African combines all the conditions that make a sick man. Without a family, without love, without human relations, without communion with the group, the first encounter with himself will occur in a neurotic mode, in a pathological mode; he will feel himself emptied, without life, in a bodily struggle with death, a death on this side of death, a death in life.”

These dissatisfactions led Fanon to work with radical psychiatrist Francois Tosquelles at the Saint-Alban hospital in France, where he came into contact with the methods of institutional psychotherapy.

Opposing “concentrationism”—or the “potential of any institution or any group to become authoritarian, oppressive, discriminatory, and exclusionary”—Tosquelles and Fanon worked to create a psychiatric environment where alternative forms of social relationships and activities could work to heal those who would have been alienated from the community and, ultimately, themselves.

These methods included: “group therapies, general meetings, self-managed unions of patients (also known as “the Club”), ergotherapy workshops (such as printing, binding, woodwork, and pottery), libraries, publications, and a wide range of cultural activities (such as movies, concerts, and theater).”

The goal of these practices was to encourage community-building and self-determination among the patients—a “reconstitution” of the social—rather than force them to submit to the authority of a patronizing medical establishment.

Fanon carried the lessons he learned at Saint-Alban with him to North Africa. He established similar practices, with an underlying philosophy of decolonizing liberation, at the Blida-Joinville hospital in Algeria. Fanon believed that you had to “cure the hospital” before you could help the doctors or patients.

Though understaffed, Fanon initiated several new programs at Blida-Joinville with the help of progressive-minded interns. He created a café that functioned as a kind of social club or meeting place. He “organized daily meetings, built a library, set up ergotherapy stations—weaving, pottery, knitting, gardening—and promoted sports, especially soccer, which, he argued, could play an important role in the re-socialization of patients.”

Fanon noticed that these activities were instantly successful with European women patients at producing stronger social ties and self-determination, but less so with the Muslim men under his care. In the act of decolonization, he and his colleagues set out to sensitize themselves to the culture of these men, rather than continue to impose an imperialistic “western grid” on them.

He traveled throughout Algeria and discovered that the Muslim culture there was more interested in religious and familial gatherings than “parties.” They were more familiar with storytelling and reciting epic poems that modes of entertainment such as theater.

In response, Fanon and colleagues “changed their movie selection and privileged action-filled films; they picked games that were familiar to Algerians; they celebrated the traditional Muslim holidays; they invited Muslim singers to perform in the hospital, and they hired a professional storyteller to come speak to the patients.”

Fanon continued his anti-colonial political engagement until the end of his life, always maintaining the intimate link between sociopolitical and economic violence and mental health.

In speaking about the project of emancipation, Fanon believed that the oppressed in society must walk a fine line between rootedness in tradition and a more universal, humanist openness toward the future. He encouraged people to avoid “imitating Europe” and its models for life (and psychiatry), while also avoiding a hopeless return to an imagined pre-colonial past or tribalism.

Robcis concludes:

“Neither institutional psychotherapy nor national self-determination were meant as rigid templates or grids that could be applied indiscriminately and independently of context. Rather, they were to function more as an ethics, as a practice of everyday life that could prevent the appearance of ‘concentrationisms’ and ultimately lead to a freedom that would be collective and personal at once.”

****

Robcis, C. (2020). Frantz Fanon, institutional psychotherapy, and the decolonization of psychiatryJournal of the History of Ideas, 81(2), 303-325. (Link) »

– By

 Micah Ingle


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