Culture Friday – Cancel culture in publishing

MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Friday, November 27th, 2020.

Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Cancel culture rages on. That means of course ostracizing those who don’t support a particular idea or cause. 

Cancel culture doesn’t always win, though. Best selling author and professor of psychology Jordan Peterson is the rare individual with the clout to counter it.

Peterson takes on difficult subjects such as so-called unconscious bias. Here he is on Sky News Australia talking about sensitivity-training mandates:

PETERSON: There is no evidence that unconscious bias retraining programs have any beneficial effect whatsoever. And there’s some evidence that they actually have the reverse effect, because it turns out that people actually don’t like being accused of being implicitly racist and having to undergo forced retraining. Everything about that idea is not only bad, but wrong.

REICHARD: Peterson’s book 12 Rules for Life sold 5 million copies. His second book, 12 More Rules for Life, arrives in March—maybe.

When publisher Penguin Random House Canada announced it would publish the book, some of the company’s employees objected. The diversity and inclusion committee received dozens of complaints urging Peterson’s exclusion.

The company called a meeting to defend its decision. According to a report in Vice the meeting was rife with emotion and accusations of doing harm if the book is published.

EICHER: Then there’s a book by Abigail Shrier. She’s a Yale-educated lawyer and writer for The Wall Street Journal. She dared question the craze of rapid-onset gender dysphoria among young girls. For that, her publisher met resistance from Amazon to promoting the book with ads on the platform, and for a time Target pulled the book from its shelves. A member of the American Civil Liberties Union this month said, “Stopping the circulation of this book and these ideas is 100% a hill I will die on.”

Joining us to talk about this is John Stonestreet. He’s  president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.

Good morning, John!


EICHER: John, these controversies seem to be of a single bolt of cloth, but back to the Peterson controversy. I think this is the first time I’ve heard of employees of a publisher resisting, well, publishing. What do you make of this?

STONESTREET: Well, I think it’s going to be hard to recover out of this if we don’t have a new generation of employees, a new generation of politicians, a new generation of publishers who are trained in something else. What Os Guinness called back in his Dust of Death book, which was just re-released, kind of the long march through the institutions, you start to see fruit of that. Todd Gidlin put it like this in his book about the 60s, that after the 60s the left marched on the English departments and the right marched on the White House. And the English departments won and they eventually will at the university level. So, look, whatever we see in the university—which is, what, we’re now five years into seeing this cancel culture approach, this silencing of views that are not allowed, not acceptable. That’s where we’re at now five to six years later. They all now work for somebody. And we’re just going to see more and more of this unless we actually see a replacement of the ideas that are kind of going into the system from the beginning.

REICHARD: John, I want to shift gears here. It’s the day after Thanksgiving. I hope despite the lockdowns and smaller gatherings you and your family managed to take stock and give thanks. 2020’s not over yet, and it’s been hard on everybody. 

Which leads me to ask you, what are you thankful for this year?

STONESTREET: Well, I appreciate you asking me what I’m thankful for and not forcing me to answer whether or not I complied with the governor’s strongly-worded suggestion about how many people you could have at your Thanksgiving dinner. I’m just going to plead the Fifth on what we did. 

But we are really, yeah, grateful. It’s been a tremendous year for our family. Just so grateful for them. 

And honestly it’s also been a year when so many ministries and organizations had to take stock about who they are and the sort of work that they’re doing. And I’m particularly thankful this year for the kindness that God has shown the Colson Center in terms of increasing the reach that we have and in terms of allowing us to do more and more work in Christian worldview, and to do it in a way that I think is having more of an impact than ever. And there’s so many details that actually pre-date COVID that made all of that possible. But we look at it and we say, man, God was very, very kind to us and we’re grateful for that. And that includes, obviously, our partnerships with so many different ministries and organizations and WORLD being at the top of the list.

EICHER: John Stonestreet is president of the Colson Center and host of the Breakpoint podcast.

REICHARD: Thanks, John!

STONESTREET: Thank you.  

(Photo/Getty Images) Jordan Peterson

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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One comment on “Culture Friday – Cancel culture in publishing

  1. Lowell Jacobson says:

    I like the Christian worldview but the format carries a little too much fluffy chatter and distracting intro music. Just the facts and to the point please.

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