As someone who fought tirelessly for civil rights and social justice, it is likely that Martin Luther King would strongly disagree with cancel culture and the way it is used to silence and punish those who express unpopular or controversial opinions.
To King, the right to free speech was a fundamental human right that was essential to the functioning of a healthy and just society. In his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” King wrote that “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
In other words, King believed that the fight for justice and equality was not just a local issue, but a global one that required the participation and support of all people. And a key part of this fight was the ability to freely express oneself and speak out against injustice.
As King himself said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” To King, the right to free speech was not just a matter of personal expression, but a crucial tool for social change and progress.
And in a world where cancel culture and censorship seem to be on the rise, it is more important than ever to defend the value of free speech. Whether it is governments suppressing the expression of dissent or private individuals silencing those who express controversial opinions, the suppression of free speech is a threat to the very foundations of a free and open society.
In the words of the famous philosopher John Stuart Mill, “If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”
In other words, even if the majority of people disagree with a particular opinion, it is still important to allow that opinion to be expressed. Why? Because it is through the discussion and debate of diverse viewpoints that we are able to truly understand and evaluate the world around us.
As King himself argued, “The purpose of communication is to convey understanding. But to gain understanding, the communication must be free to the point of being hard-hitting.” In other words, it is only through the free and open exchange of ideas that we can truly understand each other and work towards a more just and equal society.
So what would King say about cancel culture and the current state of free speech in the world? It is likely that he would argue that cancel culture and censorship are antithetical to the principles of a free and open society. He would likely point out that the suppression of free speech, whether it is done by governments or by private individuals, is a threat to the very foundations of justice and equality.
And he would likely call on all of us to stand up for the right to free speech, not just for ourselves but for all people. We must defend the right to express ourselves freely, even if it means challenging the status quo or standing up to those who would silence us.
In the words of King, “The time is always right to do what is right.” It is up to us to ensure that the right to free speech is protected and preserved, so that future generations can continue to freely express themselves and shape the world we live in.