What do you do when you want to speak about an issue in the workplace but find that ill-informed policies penalise you for doing so? What do you say when your son or daughter comes home from school and tells you that “capitalism is racist?” What course of action do you take when your friend or colleague is presumed guilty for a transgression they never committed?
We’ve covered these types of situations extensively at Quillette since our inception. And we’re proud of doing so. Not just because these are important issues of justice and fairness, but because many of these stories would never have reached a wider audience without our platform. Who else would have published the story of a mathematician having his paper “disappeared” because of its politically incorrect hypothesis? Or the plight of a young anthropology journal founder who was ousted by a mob led by a famous author?
When an individual has had their professional reputation unfairly tarnished, or is hounded by a social media mob — or has their right to due process or free expression curtailed — they’re unlikely to make the headline news. These stories are not sensational. But they impact people’s lives in real and devastating ways.
We don’t yet know for sure if these types of events are happening with greater frequency and intensity in the age of social media — but anecdotal evidence suggests they are. Providing a platform where fundamental principles are defended — and where people can turn to if they need to speak the truth or defend themselves — is now more important than ever.
Since 2015, we have defended many individuals when they have had their right to free expression, open inquiry, or due process curtailed. Such individuals include: Steven Galloway, Stephen Elliott, James Damore, Alessandro Strumia, Catherine Deneuve, Megan Murphy, Camille Paglia, Margaret Atwood, Toby Young, Charles Murray, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Jordan Peterson, Inna Shevchenko, Amanda Knox, Sarah Haider, Richard Dawkins, Germaine Greer, Maajid Nawaz, Jamie Kilstein, Noah Carl, and many others. Groups we have defended include: heterodox academics, liberal and apostate Muslims, dissident and ‘gender critical’ feminists, poets, authors, and other creatives, knitters, tech engineers, the neurodiverse, the immigrant, the ‘low information voter,’ Hong Kong activists, and many, many more.
As an editorial team, we don’t always agree with the content we publish, or the people we defend. But that is not the point. We agree that foundational principles that promote fairness, civility, and openness, should be available to all.
It hasn’t always been easy, of course. We’ve faced concerted pushback from activists who are unsympathetic to our mission. We’ve been misrepresented, slandered, and hoaxed. One of our former colleagues, Andy Ngo, has been viciously assaulted.
Despite the setbacks, the Quillette community grows stronger. This is because we represent something larger than just an online publication. What unites our readers and contributors is belief in something larger than themselves — a belief in the importance of pursuing objective truth, and the ability to find solutions to our collective problems through ingenuity and reason.
I was recently at a pub in Westminster, London, sharing a drink with Quillette readers, and the message from I heard was the same that I’ve heard in Sydney, Toronto, San Francisco, and New York. Readers have told me that Quillette has been an like an oasis for them. Since much of the media has become emotive and identity-obsessed, we stand out as a place where rationality still takes precedence.
At this point, you might be thinking that yes illiberal trends are worrying, but what realistically, can one magazine do?
To be honest, we’re not entirely sure either, but we’re ready and willing to find out. Our project started as the idea of one individual (me) and has grown from one editor to five in less than four short years. We’ve published 500 articles per year while attracting significantly more pageviews than our competitors who have vastly more resources behind them.
We’re still independently funded primarily through reader donations (advertising consists of about one quarter of our revenue). Yet to achieve our main objectives, we still need to grow. To that end, we want you to join us.
While we have come to dominate the niche of thoughtful online commentary, there are other avenues in which a Quillette presence will thrive. For example, we have not ventured into video or documentary — something that we wish to rectify in the coming year. And we have not yet produced a podcast series on the heretics who have questioned the Standard Social Science Model — something else we wish to rectify in the next twelve months. And we have only hosted two Quillette Socials — one in Toronto and one in London — ideally we would like to host additional events in the United States, Australia, and Europe — but we need your help to make it happen.
Quillette has come a long way from its humble beginnings — but we still have a way to go. Every week we hear new stories of public shaming and self-censorship. Each day we see a new social media mob browbeating individuals into submission. While many of us enjoy economic prosperity, good health, and physical security, it’s all for nothing if we live our lives under intimidation. And if the very principles which created our security and prosperity were at risk —would we stand up to defend them? Would we defend those who did?
Claire Lehmann is the Founding Editor of Quillette. She tweets at @clairlemon.
Editorial independence is important to us, and that’s why we are primarily reader-funded. By donating to our 2020 campaign here you’ll help support our work in the year to come. Donate here.
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