Nick Cave condemns cancel culture for having ‘asphyxiating effect on the creative soul of a society’

Ellie Harrison
·2-min read
Nick Cave in LA in 2019: Rex Features
Nick Cave in LA in 2019: Rex Features

Nick Cave has slammed cancel culture, calling it the “antithesis” of mercy.

Cancel culture is the practice of rejecting, ignoring or publicly opposing someone’s views or actions in order to deprive them of time and attention.

In a new edition of his newsletter The Red Hand Files, the singer-songwriter wrote: “As far as I can see, cancel culture is mercy’s antithesis. Political correctness has grown to become the unhappiest religion in the world.”

He argued that while political correctness started out as an “honourable” attempt at a more equitable society, it now embodies the “worst aspects” of religion, such as moral certainty and self-righteousness.

Cave added: “Cancel culture’s refusal to engage with uncomfortable ideas has an asphyxiating effect on the creative soul of a society. Compassion is the primary experience – the heart event – out of which emerges the genius and generosity of the imagination.”

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds performs at The O2 Arena in 2017 in London (Burak Cingi/Redferns)
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds performs at The O2 Arena in 2017 in London (Burak Cingi/Redferns)

He continued: “Creativity is an act of love that can knock up against our most foundational beliefs, and in doing so brings forth fresh ways of seeing the world. This is both the function and glory of art and ideas. A force that finds its meaning in the cancellation of these difficult ideas hampers the creative spirit of a society and strikes at the complex and diverse nature of its culture.”

Cave concluded the post by asking what essential values people are at risk of forfeiting in the fight for a more equal society.

His comments come a month after a group of 150 writers, academics and activists, including JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood, signed an open letter objecting to cancel culture and decrying “a vogue for public shaming and ostracism”.

Ricky Gervais also recently called out the phenomenon, saying: “You shouldn’t have to go to court for telling a joke.”

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