As someone who now makes the majority of his living online, I’m exposed to internet culture far more than most. And there’s on argument I’ve seen more often that who’d win in a fight between Superman and Batman, the issue of free speech. I wanted to make my position on this issue clear, fuck free speech, or at least the idea of it I’ve seen online.
Yesterday I read this article on Gawker, basically a writer there, Adrian Chen named a guy who posted pictures of women without their knowledge and according to Reddit this is a bad thing, not the creepy picture thing, naming the person responsible. Seriously.
Read the link above for full details, but here’s the basic gist.
- Violentacrez was psuedo-legend of Reddit, famous? For being the moderator of and posting in threads like Jailbait, Beatingwomen and Picsofdeadjailbait. Again, I’m being completely fucking serious.
- Violentacrez used this fame to attend Reddit meetups, creating and building upon his online persona, going as far to have a graphic artist design him a logo, which he openly wore to these meetups.
- Then, out of nowhere! Adrian Chen of Gawker somehow figured out the guy who posted sexually suggestive pictures of children (because that part can’t be fucking stressed enough) was called Michael Brutsch.
- Brutsch stood steadfast by his right to post such things and by Reddits policy of not naming people who do, by heroically offering to sell out his Reddit Friends to Chen in return for not being named.
- Chen published the article anyway, as a result a number of Reddit users (Reddit prides itself on freedom of speech by the way) have banned all Gawker links and started harassing and threatening the shit out of Chen.
At its core this is an issue that’s been at the forefront of the internet longer than the queue to suck Chuck Norris’ dick. Freedom of speech and the right to anonymity. As I’ve already discussed at length, people automatically take sides in an argument, it doesn’t matter how many grey areas there are, you either support people’s right to say anything they want, or you want to live in China.
But here’s the thing, I support people’s right to say whatever they want, as long as they’re willing to stand by it. Which is why I operate on what I call “the pub test” everything I’ve ever typed is something I’d be perfectly willing to say out loud in a pub. There have been occasions in which I’ve made jokes that have pissed people off, the same way I’ve made comments that have pissed people off in real life. Like in real life this resulted in an argument, an apology and someone questioning my ability to pleasure women.
I fully support people’s right to say whatever they want, what I don’t support is people’s right to say whatever they want without consequence. There seems to be a mentality online where people feel they can push the boundaries as far as they want while remaining completely anonymous, any attempt to set arbitrary limit on what is allowed is greeted with hails of “Freedom of speech means I can say whatever I want forever with no consequence for my actions, douchetard!” Here’s the thing, life needs arbitrary limits, and like with every issue I’ve ever argued about I’m going to compare freedom of speech to sex. Because if there’s one thing the people arguing they should be able to post pictures of dead teenagers they find attractive will understand, its sex.
Freedom of speech should be more like sex, you can do whatever you want after the age of 16/18, the age of consent is the only real barrier you have and I don’t think there’s a single fucking person out there who’s going to argue against that being kind of a good thing. Speech needs that barrier, hey there’s nothing saying you can’t ignore it and say you find children attractive, but like in real life, if you cross that boundary, someone needs to fucking know.
Which is where people will say “who decides that boundary fuck hole, do you want the government to have its boot on your throat?” The answer is, we fucking will, in media there’s something known as hegemony, basically, it’s the ideas and values held by the majority of society. For example, many years ago the accepted hegemony was that homosexuality was illegal, we as a society thought realised that shit was uncool and entered a state of hegemonic struggle to change the commonly accepted ideal, today, you can stick your dick in a dudes ass in most of the western world without consequence (if he’s willing or your last name is Smallwood and he doesn’t notice). It’s called fucking progress. It happens all the time, what people think is ok isn’t a solid line, it’s fluid and it changes. Restricting speech doesn’t mean a subject is banned, it means that most of society thinks that subject is somehow offensive. Like it or not living in a country where you want freedom means you have to bend to the will of the majority, it’s why we have fucking elections.
If you have an opinion that most of society thinks is wrong, there’s nothing saying you can’t change their mind, it’s happened in the past with women’s rights, segregation and homosexuality but you’ll notice one thing, all of the people who stood up for those rights and opinions were proud to stand up in public and admit to them. If you want to support people’s right to say whatever they want, that’s cool, just put your name and face on it. I did.