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Old 03-11-2015, 03:47 AM   #2 (permalink)
John Harvey
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: England
Posts: 52
This was a very thought provoking episode with the twitter/online speech accountability discussion. My initial reaction, and one I keep coming back to no matter how extreme the speech becomes, is that I don't think it's right to ruin someone's life over an otherwise throwaway sentence. Take the white woman at the start of the episode - is it right that she loses her job over a bad joke? Follow this through to the worst possible outcomes, what if she became unemployable, lost her house, ended up on the streets, what if she killed herself because of the shame? Is that a proportionate response to an off-colour joke that hurts nobody? Alex talks a lot about personal accountability but comes short of suggesting what that accountability would look like. Is the whole Twitter-sphere crashing down on you and calling you out enough of a response? If she went and volunteered with an AIDS charity would that be enough to un-ruin her life?

But then you bring up the tweets about Schilling's daughter and I'm obviously disgusted by them - what's the right kind of punishment for this kind of behaviour? And what's the appropriate response to a deluge of rape references? I find myself thinking that if these tweets did cause genuine distress to Miss Schilling then there probably is grounds for legal prosecution there because surely it counts as some kind of malicious harassment, like a modern version of heavy-breathing on a telephone.

Again, I come back to the idea of the offending tweeters and how easy it is to forget that there are human beings behind their disgusting words - is it right that these people should have their lives ruined because they hurt someone's feelings? Is that an appropriate or proportional response? In the back of my head I can hear Keith shouting "YES!" but I think that's bullshit. It's bloodthirsty and callous and lacks any kind of empathy. But then so did the people tweeting rape shit at a little girl. They're not rapists though - where's the line here?

As evidenced by my copious use of question marks, I don't even think I can come up with a satisfactory answer. Maybe the solution is simply to not be an asshole on the internet, and if you are then be prepared to have real consequences on your physical life beyond the keyboard, but then isn't that a kind of thought-crime concept? The mere act of taking a thought and publishing it is enough to end your current cozy life?

I think part of the problem is that 'the public' as an entity is utterly unable to think in a non-binary fashion. Something is either OK, or it's totally not OK and the offending person should be punished. There seems to be very little room for nuance in this emergent instant judiciary system and I think that's a problem that we as a society are going to face more and more as time goes on.

In before "you're goofy" :P
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