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Bari Weiss rips cancel culture as 'social murder' on Bill Maher show

The Hill logo The Hill 8/1/2020 Joe Concha
Bill Maher wearing a suit and tie: Bari Weiss rips cancel culture as 'social murder' on Bill Maher show © Getty Images Bari Weiss rips cancel culture as 'social murder' on Bill Maher show

Former New York Times columnist Bari Weiss likened cancel culture to "social murder" on HBO's "Real Time with Bill Maher" on Friday night, arguing it isn't about criticism but "punishment."

"We're used to criticism. Criticism is kosher in the work that we do," said Weiss, who resigned from The New York Times last month in a public letter to publisher A.G. Sulzberger.

"Criticism is great. What cancel culture is about is not criticism. It is about punishment. It is about making a person radioactive. It is about taking away their job," Weiss told Maher. "The writer Jonathan Rauch [of The Atlantic] called it social murder. And I think that's right."

"It's not just about punishing the sinner. It's not just about punishing the person for being insufficiently pure. It's about this sort of secondary boycott of people who would deign to speak to that person or appear on a platform with that person," she added. "And we see just very obviously where that kind of politics gets us. If conversation with people that we disagree with becomes impossible, what is the way that we solve conflict? It's violence."

Weiss has accused colleagues of creating a hostile work environment and bullying her.

She also said some Times reporters called her a Nazi and a racist.

"There are terms for all of this: unlawful discrimination, hostile work environment and constructive discharge. I'm no legal expert. But I know that this is wrong," Weiss wrote in her letter.

At the time of her resignation, Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy told The Hill that the paper is "committed to fostering an environment of honest, searching and empathetic dialogue between colleagues, one where mutual respect is required of all."

A recent Politico survey on cancel culture showed a plurality of respondents think it has gone too far, with only 27 percent of voters believing it "had a somewhat positive or very positive impact on society."

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