America, the land of the free (kind of), is a country that is founded on the freedom of speech in all forms. This includes the internet (yay, WordPress!).
Because of this freedom we have to speak our minds when citizens of other countries sometimes aren’t allowed internet access, we sometimes don’t think before we speak (or type).
Sometimes, people say stupid things. Violent things. Offensive things. No matter how vile their words, what can we do? Not much. No matter how horrific the person’s words are, he or she is exercising his or her free speech.
In some cases, people can be penalized for cyber bullying or making terrorist threats. But with these situations, there has to be plenty of proof. On the internet, there are millions of nutcases spouting hatred, so not all of them can be penalized for their speech unless they’re making obvious threats and there is evidence they are planning to follow through with those threats.
I see stupidity on WordPress every day. The theory I’ve come up with? The stupid ones spouting hatred do so because:
1. They feel threatened, and are lashing out against a perceived (but not real) threat,
2. They allow isolated incidents from their lives to influence their opinions about groups of people.
Recently, I’ve noticed the most hateful rants on WordPress are from anti-feminists and racists. Surprise, surprise.
Yes, these people are exercising their freedom of speech (however narrow-minded their speech may be). However, the problem is that these vicious attacks I’ve seen while perusing WordPress is that they are generalizing hatred towards entire groups of people. When this happens, and numerous people join in, there is a higher likelihood of violence. This is just how it’s worked throughout history.
Racism, sexism, homophobia, and other kinds of hatred towards groups of people still exist today. With the internet and the popularity of blogging, the world is at our fingertips. So for people whose mission it is to spread hatred, it’s as easy as clicking “Publish” on a vile post of their innermost thoughts.
Unfortunately, I have noticed that the amount of particularly sexist and racists blog posts have been increasing in the last week. My theories as to why?
1. International Women’s Day–The anti-feminists are absolutely livid that many people around the world are voicing the truth that women are still not equal to men, and that this must change. It’s clearly pissed them off.
The anti-feminists’ posts vary in their anger and sexism. But some that I have stumbled upon are simply disgusting. They write how much they hate all women, and some even state that women deserve violence.
Some anti-feminists disguise themselves as saintly Christians. One blogger left some insulting comments on my blog post, My Response to the NYC Pastor. I don’t mind the occasional debate, but this wasn’t a debate. She commented only to attack all feminists.
Her claim? That because I identify as a feminist, I am a “nasty bitch,” and that all feminists are “radical, second-wave lesbians.”
She sounds like the life of a party.
After I did my research, I realized that her entire blog was devoted to the evils of feminism. She claimed that every feminist is a nasty bitch. Every feminist is a radical lesbian. Every woman who works outside the home is a radical, second-wave feminist. Every woman who doesn’t set her sights on marriage is a slut who will wind up old and abandoned.
Those are her words, not mine. Don’t worry, she makes sure to widen her horizons and discuss her hatred of homosexuality, abortion, birth control, Democrats, and anyone who isn’t an American.
Now onto my second theory of why there’s more hate on WordPress as of late:
2. The University of Oklahoma fraternity racist chant scandal–Two days ago, a video surfaced of fraternity members chanting a horrific racist chant. Racist blog posts have surfaced in light of this event, and one post I encountered claimed that the chant was “harmless.”
On the dreaded comments section of some articles about the event were just as misguided. The statement, “Does this mean that any comedian who makes fun of white people will be in trouble, too?” was the favorite comment among the racist commenters.
Here’s the problem with that statement: If a comedian tells “racist” jokes in his or her act, they are only jokes. The racist chant the fraternity members were chanting? Not funny, and not a joke to be taken lightly.
The second problem with that statement: This incident is evidently not the only time racism this severe has been witnessed by students of the University of Oklahoma campus. Again, not a joke, and not to be taken lightly.
While some may say to just ignore the stupid people, ignore the racists, ignore the sexists, I don’t know if that’s always the best tactic. Sure, we shouldn’t feed into their attention-seeking tendencies. However, the problem with online hate speech is that it’s easy to spread. The more people it reaches, the more of a threat these people are to others.
Take, for example, the Men’s Rights Movement. On the surface, some people think, “They’re harmless. Just a bunch of whiny guys who feel rejected by women. Don’t pay them any attention.” Most of their “movement” is confined to Reddit forums where they pat each other on the back and vent about evil women. Harmless, right?
When one of those men writes a 141-page manifesto and goes on a shooting rampage, the idea of “men’s rights” isn’t so harmless anymore. When this man kills himself after he murders six people, wounds 14 others, and his fellow “men’s rights activists” call him a hero? That’s dangerous.
The concern with racists online is obvious because of America’s history. In a country with a variety of cultures among our population, it’s disturbing that today, in 2015, there are so many people stuck in their racist perspectives. That fraternities spout this hate and blindly follow it. What’s more disturbing is that some people are upset that these idiotic students were rightfully punished. Racism should not be tolerated on a college campus, and especially not in a fraternity, a supposed “brotherhood” of like-minded members.
While many of us simply ignore these racists and sexists, brushing them off as “harmless nutcases,” we have to keep in mind that not all of them are harmless. Some are dangerous, and have made that evident. It’s unfortunate that the internet allows these people to publish their hate speech to wide audiences, but the entire world doesn’t hate. These people are misguided, misinformed, and angry.
Just like Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Hate cannot drive out hate.” Speaking up to the hate and helping to drive it out is the only way to attempt to erase some of the remaining hate in the world.