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August 06, 2013

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Elmo Revenge

What a paradise the Earth would be without the scourge of the privileged white man. Without him the whole world would walk happily arm in arm singing Kumbaya together in eternal peace and harmony.

Maybe we should introduce voluntary euthanasia for self-loathing privileged white men to bring this dream closer to reality.

François

I think free speech, while imperfect, is a better option than restricted speech.

In Belgium we don't have the same level of freedom of speech than in the UK or US. What I see (I meaning I, it's very open for debate) is that we have a number of far right movements that intelligently stay between the bound of the legal speech, effectively being wolves disguised as sheep. (And when they DO cross the borders of speech, they get dismantled and then reform the next day with a different name with the same initials)

I believe that situation attracts a number of followers that genuinely believe that we demonise the far right and that's they are not as dangerous as we say it is, proof is their speech is harmless...

Not to mention that some media like twitter are natively global while definition of free speech is still very local.

Elmo Revenge

Btw the right don't have a monopoly on hate speech:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/twitter/8610904/Writer-Kia-Abdullah-mocks-death-of-gap-year-students-on-Twitter.html

Just off the top of my head

Luis Enrique

if I understand you correctly, the liberal-optimist vision does not suggest imbeciles don't exist, it suggest they will lose the argument and the truth will triumph. I don't see how imbeciles typing rape threats into Twitter undermines, or is inconsistent, with that. These odious individuals are not winning the argument or stifling progress or anything like that. They are causing distress, but they get shouted down in short order, don't they?

FromArseToElbow

I'm not sure the liberal attitude towards free speech is actually as "optimistic" as you think it is.

Mill was influenced by the pragmatic tradition of Utilitarianism, and you can see a continuation of his thought in Hayek and Popper - i.e. the belief that we do not (and possibly cannot) know the truth and must therefore allow the "liberty of opinion" to maximise the possibility of intellectual advance.

The really optimistic (and therefore scary) attitude is that of the censor - i.e the belief that by suppressing bad or dangerous opinions we can make society better.

To give them their due, feminists like Criado-Perez have emphasised that the real issue is the prevalence of misogyny and how the police and businesses are reluctant to tackle it, rather than the lack of a "twat" button on social media.

SteveH

It should be pointed out that internet abuse affects both men and women and women are not really a special case. Men are silenced too you know.

Anonymous

@ Francois

That's an interesting point, that repressing extremist views makes their realisation more likely. I think your point, that it is better to have them in the open where they can be exposed is more effective and in any case is consistent with the liberal views we want to promote.

@ FATE

Ha ha! A TWAT button ! A great idea. Much better than getting the authorities involved every time some saddo issues an obnoxious tweet. A tweeter whose profile shows a high TWAT count can simply be blocked by others. Ostracism is a very effective way of enforcing social norms.

BruceK

'A tweeter whose profile shows a high TWAT count can simply be blocked by others.'

So much opportunity for astroturfing it's like whole astro-praririe.

Anonymous

@ BruceK

It's better than censorship (account cancellation) though, isn't it? Or getting the authorities involved.

A high TWAT count does not preclude a TWAT from being followed by others. It would be down to individual choice. A high TWAT count would simply caution a prospective follower that there may be an issue.

shah8

Yeah, the perpetual excuse making for the libertarian values of free speech. With the usual protection for race, religious, and other sort of baiting speech, with the usual expectations that law abiding citizens over there get to be abused by their rowdies (if they aren't all thought to be barbarians anyways).

gastro george

As has been noted elsewhere, the abuse that we are seeing on Twitter, etc. is nothing new. It's always been there in semi-public (bar) conversations and behind closed doors. All we are seeing now is the same thing being unselfconsciously expressed in public forums - something that is paralleled by our emotionally incontinent times.

Maybe this is a good thing, as it makes unacceptable views more transparent. As Luis says, more important that it is shouted down ASAP.

charlieman

The "twat" button principle is similar to that of "karma" adopted by geek sites such as Slashdot. Geeks were ahead in the game because of their longer exposure to explosive conduct on bulletin boards etc.

Karma scores and twat buttons are ways for the community to express pleasure/displeasure. They encourage good behaviour from people who wish to be identifiable members of a community. They have no impact on clowns and trolls who place no value on a temporary identity.

Valerie Keefe

The moment I saw the first sentence of this piece I was instantly reminded of the Moore-Burchill affair. That was two high-profile women taking the time to libel an awful lot of quite marginalized women. And it hasn't come as a surprise to hear of the report abuse button by seeing on my dash someone reporting that numerous trans feminists have already been silenced through the report abuse button... Hypocritical cis-bourgeois morality again, it seems.

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