I’m going to offer a working definition for the purposes of this
essay: “cancel culture” is when speech is met with a response
that, in my opinion, is very disproportionate. Perhaps that sounds
cynical, and I could certainly give you a
Justice-Breyer-seven-factor balancing test, but that’s what this
discussion boils down to: just as we constantly debate norms of
what speech is socially acceptable, we debate norms about what
responses to speech are socially acceptable. […]
Why should we care about having a serious discussion about
defining cancel culture? We should because simply complaining
about it in the abstract, without attempts to define it, without
actionable responses, and without taking the rights of
“cancellers” doesn’t ease the culture war. It inflames it.
I loved this entire piece, but the above encapsulates my thinking on the term “cancel culture” perfectly.