Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Place for Hate



When the internet began, we went in with our eyes wide with amazement, and completely ignorant. We believed the internet would be glorious, inherently open to everyone and unerringly fair and democrat. We were wrong. Then we tried to believe that the good voices would drown out the bad. We were wrong again. Then we tried to convince ourselves that cyberhate was the price we paid for free speech. We sold ourselves short.

Now almost 25 years into the internet, we know that hate is not an equal partner in cyberspace. Hate does not share seats at the cyber-table with good causes, but takes seats without regard for other views.

Cyberhate flourished easily. It is cheap, requiring no thought, intellectual investment and spreads all by itself. It is weak,  needing no justification. It is cowardly, appearing anonymously or denied by the speaker. Its only purpose is to victimize. isolate, marginalize and dis-empower.

Dialogue, debate and disagreement seek exchange and middle ground. Cyberhate is not dialogue. Cyberhate is not disagreement. Disagreement is topic and fact based.  Fear mongering, name calling, defaming, slandering, misogyny or racism is cyberhate. Calling it anything else is just false and manipulative.

As we begin to realize the horrific foundation we have created for cyberspace, we have begun to push back against hate. As we try and make the e-world what we hoped it would be - a safe important place for all people, especially the young, the vulnerable and the different - haters are quick to claim this includes them too. I say, not so fast.

Haters have abused the latitude they have been granted on the internet. It is time for them to prove they deserve a place at the table of human discourse.  Haters must be willing to acknowledge inclusion, diversity, ethnicity, individual rights of others and contributing to the marketplace of ideas, instead of tearing it down, Time for hates to earn their seat at the table. Time for the internet industry to choose sides.

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