Sexual harassment, hate speech, and the Jena 6: What will be the response from Facebook, YouTube, and MySpace
Can we rhetorically get away with what happened in the Jena 6 incident without any censure? It seems that you can do so on YouTube without any form of censure from what I can tell. I clicked on a featured video on YouTube which focused on the women in Darfur suffering incalculable dehumanization, only to see a ridiculous paragraph of hate speech which physically pained me. This pain shouldn’t be surprising in a nation that claims to respect equality, justice, and everything the 14th Amendment of our constitution represents. We know the end result of this hate is more fear and hate and in the case of Jena 6 violence which has racked a community and indeed a nation.
I understand that honesty, transparency, and free speech is generally all good. However, when those values run counter to the values of free speech, equality, and human dignity it seems we’ve collectively. When racial, gender, and religious minorities are subjected to a ubiquitous onslaught of hate and hostility merely because they happen to belong to a particular group that means no. In our advanced media age, how long will it take for us to wake up that “names really do hurt” and that all too often, those words are written in blood.
How we handle this issue says speaks volumes about our respect for the fundamental humanity for others. If tolerance makes us tolerate everything that gives rise to the vicious downward spiral of hate and violence, is there a rhetorical line we won’t cross? Can private social networking sites like YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook limit such speech or will they wait until it escalates to death threats and physical violence? If hate becomes the norm in these spaces, doesn’t that ruin the commons for us all? Toxicity in ideas has to be rooted out in order for dignity, the Constitution, and our marketplace of ideas to survive. Companies can’t opt out responsibility of extremist ideologies that support violence and other forms of dehumanization. Those are the very values which give rise to the genocide in Darfur. It green lights those behavior, by mearly turning a blind eye that hosting videos and speech with these values allows them to spread. Corporations should allow the wisdom of the crowds to maintain norms which respect dignity and thus foster the speech of minorities, so that they don’t rhetorically snuff out our best advocates and speakers be they Kathy Sierra, your sister, your daughter, your brother, or the women of Darfur.
Thoughts? What response supports love? Supports compassion? Supports community? Isn’t it time to say “Enough” to ideology of hate and the cycle of violence that it unleashes on our rights and communities? Ideologies of hate are the anti-thesis of freedom and respect for humanity.