Dictate of Opinion and "Cancel Culture" at the Tübingen City Festival

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What the Tübingen City Festival and Berlin's Humboldt University have in Common

The case at Berlin's Humboldt University sparked nationwide controversy. A handful of left-wing activists agitated there against a scientist who wanted to lecture on the fact that there are only two genders in biology. The activists' placards and posters were clear: "No place for transphobia!" "Fuck off!" "No stage for transphobia!" The event was eventually canceled by the university president due to security concerns.1

In the university town of Tübingen, too, the agitation of queer demonstrators knows no bounds. The independent free church TOS had a booth at the city festival. The church sold pulled pork and presented a music program on Friday and Saturday with Christian music, dances and personal stories about God. A demonstration by the Christopher Street Day Movement, CSD Tübingen, in front of the TOS booth had been approved by the city on both days of the festival. Their posters spoke for themselves: "No stage for the homophobic TOS"; "Fuck You" and "TOS, get out of Tübingen".2 Now and again, the demonstrators chanted: "Don't buy from TOS". Leaflets warned of a "dangerous and destructive group".

Actually, the Tübingen city festival is supposed to celebrate peaceful coexistence. More than 30,000 visitors crowded the city festival, according to estimates by the city administration. However, the local radio station "Wüste Welle" had previously warned against the participation of the free church TOS. The program maker of the housing project "Münzgasse 13" spread his message over the airwaves: the free church TOS "does not deserve" to be part of the city festival.3 Plus, they said, riots are to be expected. Incomprehensible that the city authorities authorized a demonstration of the CSD parallel to the City Festival as a kind of permanent subscription on both days for four hours, which was supposed to have its closing point at the time of the program at the stand of the free church TOS.

The demonstrators criticized the city administration that TOS was represented at the City Festival with a booth and program. The city of Tübingen commented on this as follows: "The city administration takes the position that a democratic urban society must also tolerate dissenting opinions. As long as the providers of programs at the City Festival adhere to the law and do not violate the constitution, we see no reason and no legal basis to prohibit them from participating in a city event.4 What actually happens when left-wing activists and queer demonstrators do not abide by law and order?

It is true: Most of the demonstrators peacefully held up their banners of opinion and distributed leaflets, the content of which would easily meet the definition of "defamation". But when individual activists chant "Don't buy from TOS", rip off posters, steal information material and actively ask visitors to leave the booth, it is no longer about the different positions in a democratic urban society, but simply about an opinion dictate and "Cancel Culture" at the Tübingen City Festival.

If one listens to the activists, as some interested church members did, one learns how relentlessly these people want to push their agenda and exclude dissenters. However, you had to find the right people to talk to, since most of the demonstrators were not willing to talk due to a gag order that was obviously imposed from above.

In the U.S., the phenomenon is called "cancel culture", where it poisons social debates and fuels the culture war between left and right: Certain positions are branded as discriminatory, which is why attempts are made to discredit and socially ostracize their representatives.5

Unfortunately, this was also the point of the local radio station "Wüste Welle", which was broadcast live from the City Festival: to stigmatize the free church TOS as queer-hostile and homophobic and to discredit it as an inhumane religious cult.

If you look more closely, it's actually about the inability to listen to each other and tolerate other points of view. The original important concern to stop racism and discrimination in everyday language has degenerated into an absurd censorship mania. The paradox is that, on the one hand, activists demand recognition of great diversity in lifestyles, worldviews, and sexual orientations; on the other hand, they categorically exclude attitudes other than their own.6 So the lecture hall in Berlin becomes the place of the left-wing terror of a minority and the peaceful City Festival of Tübingen becomes the scene of a dictate of opinion apparently sanctioned by the city and publicly demonstrated by the CSD and other groups. This development gives cause for concern.

Anyone who thinks differently apparently has to reckon with worse than insults. That is shameful. When we start to ban, exclude and deny the right to stay instead of treating each other respectfully in the case of controversial views and world views, we have long since left the basic democratic consensus of freedom of opinion and religion. Those who demonize and delegitimize others – and this explicitly includes Bible-believing free churches – and deny them their right to exist should not be surprised by an astonished comparison with the mindset of a time that has hopefully long since been overcome.



1 See Phillip Eppelsheim, Der Gesinnungsterror linker Aktivisten. Cancel Culture an der Uni (Dictate of Opinion by Left Activists. Cancel Culture at the University), article published on July 3, 2022, in: Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), online: https://www.faz.net/-gpg-asyf1 (last accessed: July 13, 2022).

2 SWR, Volle Altstadtgassen beim Tübinger Stadtfest (Crowded Alleys at the Tübingen City Festival), article published on July 10, 2022, available online: https://www.swr.de/swraktuell/baden-wuerttemberg/tuebingen/stadtfest-tuebingen-2022-100.html (last accessed: July 13, 2022).

3 Wüste Welle Mediathek, Ankündigungen zum Tübinger Stadtfest am 05.07.2022 (Announcements for the Tübingen City Festival on July 5, 2022), available online: https://www.wueste-welle.de/mediathek/playsendung/id/62002 (last accessed: July 12, 2022).
See also: Wüste Welle, Stadtfestradio live vom 08. Juli 2022 (21.00 Uhr) (City Festival Radio live on July 8, 2022 (9p.m.)), available online: https://www.wueste-welle.de/mediathek/viewsendung/id/62078 (last accessed: July 13, 2022).

4 SWR, Volle Altstadtgassen beim Tübinger Stadtfest (Crowded Alleys at the Tübingen City Festival).

5 See Florian Harms, Zensur made in Germany (Censorship, made in Germany), in: T-online, article published on July 7, 2022, available online: https://www.t-online.de/nachrichten/id_92351732/zensur-made-in-germany-was-darf-man-eigentlich-noch-sagen-.html (last accessed: July 13, 2022).

6 ibid.