I used to belong to a group on Facebook which I felt comfortable in. It’s about exposing the idiocy of a certain right wing group and it has a set of moderators who usually make good moderation calls. As a passionate and pig headed researcher I like to think over time I’ve added more to the group than I take if this offends anyone.
Today I belong to a group which does not believe in free speech because they use a filter to block specific words.
No ifs or buts… if you use a filter to block words I don’t care what words you choose, or on what basis – it simply means you have removed the right to free speech.
As it happens the ‘banned’ words aren’t old favourites for banning like cunt or tranny or poof or even paki (given the content of the group you’d think paki may have been the word to tip the balance).
The words in question are cretin, retard and mong (they seem to have forgotten spastic, spacca, joey, thicky, idiot, mentalist etc etc).
They’ve not even switched the filter on because someone with a learning difficulty or disabilty was directly insulted with one of these words. It was switched on because someone took offence on behalf of someone…or because they are the parent and/or carer…or ‘know’ someone who they think wears one of those hats.
Now…. I don’t much believe in words hurting like actual physical stuff like being punched in the face but I will readily admit that instances of my being verbally assaulted are thin and far between but I am a woman and I have been all my life and I don’t take the use of ‘cunt’ personally as I’ve seen some women do. (admittedly mostly on the internet where as any fule knos we are all a little bit madder than in real life and usually as an inverse weapon of ‘taking offence’).
The only conclusion I can come to is, and it’s fairly obvious, that the only people whose sensitivities the groups moderators care about are those individuals who have links to the mentally disabled community.
That, to use left wing parlance, ‘isn’t fair’ (or should I say ‘equal’)
What they need to do is start taking other peoples’ sensitivities into consideration, the physically disabled, people of different ethnicities, those who are non-heteronormative…. women (because for some reason we are still seen as a minority and treated like infants)…. but, personally, I don’t agree with this salami slicing of society by means of minority grouping.
Let’s add any word to the filter that ANYONE finds offensive. Obviously foreign words….the truth….facts….anyone who disagrees oh…hold on that’s what the right wing group we oppose do on their page.
It’s a rotten old slippery slope once you start ‘banning’ things.
I don’t see what the more popular ‘left’ do when they ban things as being any different than what the less popular ‘right’ do when they ban things.
The only difference is content and social majority.
The action is the same…removal of free speech…which, in my book, is on the road to fascism.
But what’s the alternative?… we can’t let people say whatever they like on the internet (well we can…but I know I’m in an even smaller minority in standing up for that).
The alternative is to let people say what they like and when someone near by becomes offended they can fuck off… oh..no hold on. If someone is offended they can say…”you just offended me”. The person unknowingly offering the offence will apologise (hopefully) and amend their behaviour in future (perhaps)… a wonderful exchange of human thoughts and emotions. Two strangers on the internet learning a little more about each other.
If person A, who gave offence yesterday, comes back today and re-offers the offence to person B it’s a sign that they are a bit of a twat and don’t take other peoples feelings into as much consideration as some people would like. At which point one would hope other human beings around will read that sign and perhaps join in saying ‘oy twatface…that really is a bit offensive’..etc
If this tooing and froing and learning process continues I would hope Admin would come along and either say “If you say that again you naughty person A I will have to ban you from my group because you seriously breached the rules of group acceptable behaviour…why don’t you fuck off and join a group where people aren’t so sensitive”….or they might say “Man up” to person B “we’re here to bash the fash…don’t let a few words you don’t like get you down…. if you’re that sensitive try sitting in a corner with your head wrapped in cotton wool”.
This is why freedom of speech is a tricky biscuit and why being human is so interesting.
And the point is: that although the internet is a free place once you are under someone’s moderation you play by their rules.
But, sadly, I know I am out of step with the group that turned on the filter…. Because they switched on the filter? Nah…not just that… I think I’m in a minority on there anyway. I don’t want Britain First banned from Facebook like a lot of people on there seem to; but nor do I want to keep reading the opinions of people who don’t seem to realise that their ideology is just as offensive at times as those they are attacking… they just happen to be standing further up the hump of moral high ground. It’s the lack of awareness and realisation I find offensive… not them having the moral high ground.
I dislike stupidity and I loathe fascism because it tends to repress the sort of freedoms that sort out stupidity eventually.
I like fascists to be on Facebook and the wider internet saying whatever they like so we can see and hear who they are – I want to find out why they feel and think so differently from the way I do. We can oppose their ideas with arguments based on facts and evidence because facts and evidence should always trump lies and nonsense for that moral high ground.
That’s why I’m writing this to try and explain that speech has to be free even if you don’t like what someone is saying.
Switching on that filter… is a step in the wrong direction for a group that believes in the truth and just as I don’t want to hang out with a load of people who use words like paki and mong as insults in everyday conversation neither do I want to hang out with people who want to control the words I use and see my use of them above as just as offensive as shouting them at someone in the street.
As some geezer once said “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.