… is scary if you’re a target.
There is a reason for all those hate-promoting, racist and/or you name it folks quote the right to free speech when they’re pushing their stupidity online. They confuse the right to speak your mind with something else. They think free speech means they have the right to think that way. Hint, it doesn’t. I don’t think that means what they think it means. I could believe racism is right, it doesn’t mean it is. My belief means nothing, and it should be that way. Really. They don’t want people saying they’re right, even if they sometimes do, they just want validation for their opinions, from somebody with authority. They want you to believe they have the right to behave that way, to say the crap they say, on account of free speech. Bullshit.
There’s a big issue making waves in the cyberspace now, I’m not going to comment on it except to point out it’s a direct consequence of people not understanding what their rights are. You see, censoring opinions is a bad thing, I’ll grant you that. What I can’t agree on is what that means to people, to your everyday average Joe.
There are a few minority groups that say or do bad things, and their number is about 2. First, we have the hate group that thinks that way because they are members of that group, like a cult of sorts. It doesn’t matter which side they’re taking, it doesn’t matter what their education is, all that matters is their identity as a member. It could be about religion like Westboro or ISIS, it could be the KKK, it could be atheists, it could be scientologists, whatever you think of – but their only constant is group membership. They’re vocal, they’re proud and they’re out in the open, they’ll even squeeze their membership in the introduction when they’re in a social event, like “Hi, I’m Joe Somebody and I’m a member of Christian Parents against Evolution”, for instance. The other group is even worse, because they’re not social and they’re not in it because of some ideology or belief – they’re doing it for the lolz, because they can. They don’t care about you or what they do to you, they just want to watch the world burn, they just want to hurt and be famous for it. Yea,
Free speech means you get to say things that might offend others, because you have the right to an opinion, and not be punished by it. So far, so good – until somebody who’s figured out the loophole actually abuses the system. That is, until they cross the line between their freedom and your freedom, making you miserable on purpose, and you can’t do anything about it because the system can’t say if their opinion was within the “free speech” area or not. There are internet forums dedicated to racism, fat shaming, religious intolerance, gender discrimination and other types of trolling behavior, all public, all designed to hurt specific targets – and they’re public. Nobody in their right mind would actually like them but nobody in their right mind would do anything about them, unless they actually enjoy being a target of abuse. It doesn’t matter what the target’s crime is, those idiots hiding behind anonymous nicknames will try to destroy them. How? They’ll try to get their target fired from their job, publicly shamed by the media or social networks and if that doesn’t work, they’ll make their personal lives a living hell by hacking their online persona, stalking their family and trying to get them into a state of perpetual fear. Now the first part is sort of legal, actually, while messing with their personal lives is not. Why is it legal? Because we let them. We, as in the other folks. If I, for the sake of the argument, was an employee of the X corporation, they’ll attack my employer by accusing them of keeping me around and demanding I be fired or they’ll hurt their reputation and sales and usually, my employer who might even keep a slogan about how they care about their employees, will flinch. This is the real moment of truth for anybody in this scenario – when they’re hit from 3 different angles: finding out their employer cares more about sales and slogans than about them, finding out everybody else is willing to believe the newspapers and social media instead of finding out the truth and finding out nobody, not even the government, is willing to protect them. You might have done something stupid, that’s true. But isn’t the punishment meant to fit the crime? Of course not, that’s stupid, right?
Free speech doesn’t mean you get to be judge, jury and executioner, at least not in my book. But in reality, you sort of join the dance. There’s plenty of idiots around, all willing to place the blame for the comparative wealth inequality and their failure in life on others, from religion to capitalism and from capitalism to shadow governments and they all defend their behavior with “free speech”. Of course your employers listen to them – they’re after sales and money, they aren’t supposed to hold your hand and comfort you. They should, though, but that isn’t happening as long as the rest of the world keeps believing everything showing up on their twitter or facebook feeds. Media doesn’t sell truth, they sell their version of the truth, they sell stories and misery and there’s only so much crap going on around us so they’re more than willing to make lies look like truth if that’s what gets them money. Common sense is gone from this reality, critical thinking is on its way out. You think that’s not how things work? Think again. By the way, CEN and Daily Mail were the bad guys in an earlier article of mine, where I caught them with another fake story. Because pageviews count and the truth? Never heard of her.
Free speech combined with gullible people, profit-driven media and narcissistic hatemongers is something to be feared. And no, I’m not pro-censorship, either. But nobody wins if the people don’t care where the truth lies. You really should avoid public attention on a slow news day or your 15 minutes of fame could turn out quite hellish when there’s nobody to be held accountable. Welcome to real life and the domain of Internet – where men are men, women are men, and little girls are FBI agents. On the internet, nobody knows you are a dog and nobody gives a shit, either.
Free speech gives you the right to an opinion. It won’t make your opinion correct or true, which is why those idiots are so vocal – if the government says they can voice their stupidity it actually means to the public at large that their opinion is both important and worthy of being out in the open, that they are valid because the voice of “authority” validated them. They aren’t, though … wait, was I supposed to think about it? Logic is a bitch, innit?
The obvious way out: hold people accountable, troll the ever living shit out of them. Really. You can’t make stupidity extinct, you can’t outlaw anonymity, well… you shouldn’t, anyway… but you can reverse it. Fight fire with fire, troll the trolls. I’m joking, but really, who gives trolls their power? The media, they take the opinion of idiots and haters and spreads that, under clickbait titles and other crap like that. Ignore the trolls and make the media pay for circulating their stories, win enough lawsuits against enough tabloids for defamation or fake stories or circulating manipulative articles without checking their sources or the actual truth and sooner or later the system will fix itself, because there’s nothing that hurts the media more than losing money. Hit them where it hurts.
The police reaction to such things? Wait, just what exactly is twitter? Of course, if you happen to threaten them or even Donald Trump, that’s another story.
Want more? Google is your friend.