An open letter published by Harper’s magazine, and signed by dozens of prominent writers and public figures, has focused attention on the apparent dangers of what has been termed a new “cancel culture.”
The letter brings together an unlikely alliance of genuine leftists, such as Noam Chomsky and Matt Karp, centrists such as J. K. Rowling and Ian Buruma, and neoconservatives such as David Frum and Bari Weiss, all speaking out in defense of free speech.
Although the letter doesn’t explicitly use the term “cancel culture,” it is clearly what is meant in the complaint about a “stifling” cultural climate that is imposing “ideological conformity” and weakening “norms of open debate and toleration of differences.”
It is easy to agree with the letter’s generalized argument for tolerance and free and fair debate. But the reality is that many of those who signed are utter hypocrites, who have shown precisely zero commitment to free speech, either in their words or in their deeds.
Further, the intent of many them in signing the letter is the very reverse of their professed goal: they want to stifle free speech, not protect it.
To understand what is really going on with this letter, we first need to scrutinize the motives, rather than the substance, of the letter.
As the video shows, Thompson is not resisting in anyway, has both of his hands up, and is simply not willing to get out of the vehicle over an allegation that a cop smelled a plant.
“Sir, my hands are up, and we are on camera,” Thompson says as the Trooper becomes more enraged.
Hewitt then responds by telling Thompson that “you are gonna get your ass whooped in front of f*cking lord and all creation.”
Thompson says again and again that his hands are up and he’s not resisting. However, the enraged Hewitt doesn’t seem to care. He looks to the camera, poses with his soon-to-be victim and says “Watch the show folks” as he attacks Thompson.
Though the camera goes blank, you can still hear Thompson pleading with his attackers to “please get off my neck” as Hewitt continues to beat him.
Instead of listening and getting off of his neck, Hewitt starts shouting, “how do you like that motherf**ker?” as he continues his attack on Thompson.
Thankfully, Derrick survived. Other people have not been so lucky.
Emily Benfer began her career representing homeless families in Washington, D.C.
Her first case involved a family that had been evicted after complaining to their landlord about the holes in their roof. One of the times she met with the family, one of the children, a 4-year-old girl, asked her: “Are you really going to help us?” Benfer struggled with how to answer.
“I’d met them too late,” she said. “I couldn’t stop the eviction. They had already been sleeping on the subway, and in other people’s homes. And you could see the effects it was taking on them.”
Today, Benfer is a leading expert on evictions. She is the chair of the American Bar Association’s Task Force Committee on Eviction and co-creator of the COVID-19 Housing Policy Scorecard with the Eviction Lab at Princeton University. Throughout the public health crisis, Benfer has been investigating how states are dealing with evictions and sharing what she finds in a public database.
CNBC spoke with Benfer about the coming eviction crisis and what can be done to turn it around. The interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.