There seems to be a terrible climate to be found, not on the planet, but in the cyberspace world of social media and other internet fora. Frankly, it’s a cesspit and it could use some scrubbing. It’s dirty. It’s underhanded. It adheres to no standards and each “event” that occurs often secretes the same boring discussions. It usually plays out as thus:
- Person of medium notoriety says something stupid or deliberately inflammatory.
- Social media rides in upon their high horse and lambasts said person over their harmful words.
- Opponents of social media hysteria bleat openly about “free speech”.
- Shit gets flung until nobody can see anything in focus.
- Both sides of the argument declare victory at having improved the world and then eagerly await another event #1 to occur again.
- The planet descends further into nihilistic oblivion.
As someone who agrees nor disagrees with either side of this divide, I promptly piss off everyone. The internet, binary as it is from the political spectrum to the ones and zeros that make up its DNA, cannot fathom the idea that people can be anything but 100% in favour of one thing over another.
So, naturally when I discovered that an Australian television presenter was being hauled over the coals for saying something inflammatory, imagine my surprise to discover that those who would advocate free speech were, in fact, not all that in favour of it.
In fact, many were calling for her job.
Many of these people, I feel, would have been the same ones who defended former-Breitbart editor, Milo Yiannopoulos for the things he had said. These would be the same people who would march on Berkeley University to defend Free Speech. These are the same people, I feel, who would fervently defend someone being fired for their innocuous Facebook posts.
But alas, here we are. Two sides trying to claim scalps of those they oppose instead of any kind of philosophical consistency.
Did Yassmin Abdel-Magied say something inflammatory? Yes. Undoubtedly. Does she deserve to lose her job? No. Do I think she is above criticism for her words? No. No one is. But this desire to attack peoples’ actual livelihoods based upon mere moments on social media need to stop.
“But their side does it too!” is a defense I read in the asshole pen called “Comments sections”, and it can be quickly dismissed with the same absolutism as the ones and zeros on the internet.
You either support free speech, or you do not. You do not make exemptions for those with whom you might agree. If you would have someone lose their job for their words, you are openly endorsing the same happening to yourself. Likewise if you endorse actual violence as an appropriate way to wrangle your opponent, you are accepting that violence in return.
Violence begets more violence.
Get some consistency, and maybe you’ll find moderates like myself seeing your way of things. If you champion free speech, acknowledge that the freedom you seek to protect is allowed to your opponents.
And don’t go after peoples’ livelihoods. Because you are only legitimising that tactic being used back on you.