Dozens of artists, writers and lecturers have signed an open letter decrying the weakening of public debate and warning that the free trade of data and concepts is in jeopardy amid an increase in what they name “illiberalism”.

JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood are among the many f writers, artists and lecturers to argue in opposition to ideological conformity in an open letter in Harper’s Magazine. The letter comes amid a debate over so-called “cancel culture” – the place distinguished individuals face assault for sharing controversial opinions. “The forces of illiberalism are gaining strength throughout the world and have a powerful ally in Donald Trump, who represents a real threat to democracy,’’ the letter said.

“But resistance must not be allowed to harden into its own brand of dogma or coercion – which right-wing demagogues are already exploiting. The democratic inclusion we want can be achieved only if we speak out against the intolerant climate that has set in on all sides.’’

The letter criticised the state of public debate and the “swift and severe retribution” dealt out to any perceived wrongs. It decried an “intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism.’’

“The solution to defeat dangerous concepts is by publicity, argument, and persuasion, not by making an attempt to silence or want them away,’’ the letter stated.



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