Let's get the double-speak about cancel culture out of the way:
The left: "Cancel culture is just the oppressed raising their collective voices and bringing down their oppressors!"
The right: "Cancel culture is a mob mentality that brings down the innocent for a single mistake they didn't know they made!"
Now the actual rant.
Let's talk about "Cancel Culture."
But first, let's talk about dialogue. Why it's important. What happens without it. Why it sometimes fails. And why people don't want you to have it.
Dialogue is something that requires two disparate parties to be involved. It is a give and take - both sides must be receptive to the other, and both sides must be able to provide their own input. If either of these conditions fails, then it is no longer a dialogue.
Dialogue is useful to come to a mutual understanding of goals, of worries, and to seek compromise between parties with disparate goals. Without a mutually agreed upon solution to problems, the possibilities are either tyranny of one party over the other, or an endless cycle of bickering between the two as they each vie for power and use it to screw over the other party. I know I'm saying "party" a lot - but I want to make it clear that while this is applicable to *political* parties, I'm also just intending it to mean groups with a common association.
Dialogue is also useful for bringing out wrong ideas and exposing them as wrong.
Okay, that's the boring definition stuff out of the way.
Let's talk about failures of dialogue. It fails when one party either refuses to provide their input (or conceals their true intent), i.e. arguing in bad faith. It also fails when one party chooses not to receive the input of the other. This one isn't as simple as just "arguing in bad faith." It can involve straight up refusal to participate in the dialogue or doubling down on one's positions without considering other possibilities. And also arguing in bad faith. In fact, "arguing in bad faith" is a nebulous term that people overzealously apply to anyone they happen to disagree with.
I see a lot of this stuff going around on the political right, when they chant their slogans and think the left is either "crazy" or even out to destroy everything they love. I see this on the political left when people get heated over issues and think the right (or even moderates and liberals) are out to destroy everything they love. People get very defensive when the rights they've worked so hard to achieve are under fire. Or the methods they use are under fire. The left is at least a little better about not using "crazy" as a term of deprecation though.
--- The part on Cancel Culture
One of the quickest ways to shut down dialogue is to get a whole bunch of like-minded people together, and have them all go after a single individual. That individual will be unable to confront every single one of them and drop out of the dialogue.
This is useful for quashing ideas that are inherently harmful, and doing so quickly.
But it's still a failure of dialogue. Not that we should tolerate or listen to ideas that are harmful, but we should understand the fears which created those harmful ideas, so we can address them and cut out the root of the idea. When we just silence the opposition, we do not change their mind. We do not get our point across. We do not convey what it is that makes their ideas wrong. Sometimes the harm they do is worth the risk of just not convincing them. But people who are silenced in the moment will still find a platform elsewhere (the internet is a big, open place, with plenty of soapboxes to stand on), where they will be seen a martyr for their cause, and spread their harmful ideas further.
This is why we should be careful about "Cancel Culture." No matter how you approach it, using it makes you appear to be the bad guy. Furthermore, it is an authoritarian tactic meant to silence people against their will. In fact, to *break* their will. Not to change their minds. It's meant to instill fear for disobedience and dissent. It's a tool, sure, but a dangerous and authoritarian one.
But what if someone is arguing in bad faith and is not going to listen anyway? Then we have nothing to lose by trying. And you don't know that they won't listen. If you treat them as worth spending the time to explain your position and try to address their fears (that's the biggest part, though the most difficult), you can probably get something to stick. Or at least have them be more open minded the next time they run into someone with the same viewpoint as you. Moreso than you would by simply yelling your points at them as if they're a child who isn't listening. (please don't do that to children. It's only a simile.)
remembering discourse 4 years ago about 'don't be horny on main because it makes our side seem less respectable' and now it's 2020 and we're all ride or die for juggalos, furries, and k-pop stans. we stepped up to be the socialist vanguard party because we're Immune To Cringe