Culture Wars/Current Controversies

Ignore the gaslighting – cancel culture is real

By Andrew Doyle, Spiked-Online

By now most of us will be familiar with ‘gaslighting’, a term which describes the tactic of contradicting observable reality as a means to undermine someone’s security in their own point of view. The word comes from the 1940 movie, Gaslight, in which a husband convinces his wife that she is going insane by, among other things, dimming the lights and then denying that the house is getting darker when she complains. Social-justice activists are well-known for levelling the charge of ‘gaslighting’ at their opponents, yet it is a strategy that they have themselves perfected. Even their accusations of ‘gaslighting’ are a form of gaslighting, given that we are expected to believe that they are somehow not guilty of the very behaviour they are projecting on to others.

Perhaps the most obvious example of gaslighting is how the identitarian left has created a system of public shaming known as ‘cancel culture’, which its adherents carry out ruthlessly while repeatedly denying its existence. The denial is an extension of the strategy because it enables them to continue with impunity. They insist that they are not ‘cancelling’ anyone, but merely ‘holding the powerful to account’. But when a supermarket employee loses his job for a joke he posted on Facebook, it doesn’t feel much like a valiant blow against plutocracy and the ruling class.


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