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September 28, 2007 / compassioninpolitics

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.

special thanks to forever souls for the flickr photo of a Jena 6 vigil. Thanks to the genocide intervention network for the Enough! photo.



Leave a Comment
  1. Average American / Sep 28 2007 3:57 pm

    I’m 40 years old, I grew up going to completely integrated schools in the deep south. Therefore, I am familiar with situations of racial tensions that are very common in the public schools of the south.

    First, I believe the consideration of one’s race has no place at all in seeking justice, with the exception of hate crimes specifically perpetrated because of race.

    In this situation, if race is not considered, then you have one person who was attacked from behind by a group of 6 people. This means without a doubt that the attackers had premeditated their attack which is demonstrated by their surprise attack with greatly overwhelming numbers. It is my understanding that the victim was quickly rendered unconscious and the attack continued whereby the attackers kicked the unconscious victim repeatedly.

    There is no question this was a very malicious premeditated attack with intent and capability to do great bodily harm, to include death. I personally know of a person who was knocked unconscious and then kicked until he died, so “a shoe” is a deadly weapon when used in this circumstance.

    So, with race out of the picture there is an attempted murder to seek justice for.

    Has there been justice for this attempted murder?

    Oh, but you say race must be considered. Ok, then this was clearly a hate crime where these 6 blacks attacked and tried to kill this one white, so the much heavier penalties associated with hate crimes must be levied.

    To suggest the incident with fake nuces being hung out of a tree somehow justify this attack is the very same thing as saying that because Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. exercised his right to free speech it was justifiable to murder him! That’s crazy right? Well that’s this case in reverse.

    We all know how it works, there will be no justice here or anywhere Al or Jessie chose to spin the truth. They have done more in their life time to increase racial hatred than any other people I can think of. You can not seek equality and justice by perpetrating the exact opposite.

    Ever since those race riots in California after that drug-head had his run-in with the police, things have been skewed dangerously allowing inequality and injustice to go unchallenged. OJ’s free, Mayer of DC was a drug-head, the Duke Lacrosse team was wrongly prosecuted, and now this victim is laid on the alter of vanity that stands at the feet of these so called “civil rights leaders” who only seek the spotlight for their own glory. My question is this: How is it that so many black people care so little for truth? With the turnout at the Jena march it suggests there is a huge disparity in understanding that exists between the black population and the rest of America.

    America needs to wake up and say enough, the 60’s are over, let’s get on with life, racial favor for any reason is over. A person stands on their own merit, and answers for their own actions.

  2. compassioninpolitics / Sep 28 2007 4:36 pm

    Your claims aren’t really responsive and actually support my point of view. Please read my post, before mass posting next time.

    I’m not saying the African Americans involved should get off. I’m suggesting that failure to consider the issue of race and putting it on the back burner creates a cycle of violence, which is epidomized by the Jena 6. And it creates a mentality which gives rise to the neglect surrounding the crisis of Katrina.

    I’m not sure what I think of the blacks response to the initial hate. I don’t think you would define their response as hate anymore than you would describe the Jews or Americans taking on the Nazis an act of hate.

    This cycle of blame is the exact problem. Hate speech however ignited a powerkeg which has literally brought a community to its knees.

    But, let me attempt to correct some of your unfair mischaracterizations:

    The Duke Lacrosse team is not an issue of race, it was an issue of someone lying.

    Your assertions about Jessee Jackson not helping race are unfounded. He formed the rainbow coalition to heal racial ties and you don’t have a single example to support your assertions. Also, he helped MLK, which will trump your counterexamples.

    If I missed anything, please feel free to tell me.


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