From Jonah Goldberg at The Dispatch, Toxic Asininity:
The other day, Jim Geraghty lamented the conservative “habit of showing up and opening with the tenth step of a ten-step argument.” I think that’s very apt. But I also think it describes a broader phenomenon. I’d be okay with people doing this sometimes, if they could explain, when asked, how they reached the tenth step. Take discussions of socialism these days. The vast majority of people flinging around the word “socialism”—positively or negatively—didn’t reach their conclusion after working through a 10-step argument, or even a 10-tweet Twitter thread. They just know socialism is good or bad because the people they hate are for it or against it.
Cancel culture exists on both the left and the right for a lot of reasons. Personally, I think left-wing cancel culture is worse for reasons we can discuss another time. But one of the things that fuels cancel culture is the way social media convinces people that their “side” is indisputably right about everything, to the point where your tribe becomes a kind of transcendent corpus mysticum. What I mean is that, in a populist age, your group isn’t just better, it’s sacred. In such an environment, being “wrong” isn’t just wrong in some factual or analytical sense. It’s sacrilegious. Being wrong—even in the most theoretical sense—at, say, the New York Times or (if you read my email) Fox News is an outrageous form of desecration, like when Napoleon’s army used conquered churches for stables. Social media fuels this dynamic because social media provides the virtual comfort of the mob.