Sure, terrorism is bad. Nobody appreciates it, other than the terrorists. But more importantly: How do we stop people from saying things about it that we don’t like? For that matter, how do we prevent mean people from ever, ever hurting anybody’s feelings online?
Here in America, that damn First Amendment keeps getting in the way of any real progress. But over in the UK, they’re a lot more forward-thinking. They know just how dangerous it can be to express unacceptable ideas, and they know who should decide what is and isn’t acceptable.
Social media companies should be fined for failing to remove illegal or harmful material, a committee of MPs has said.
The Home Affairs Select Committee insists many websites are “shamefully far” from tackling the issue, with some putting profits before safety…
And what sort of material is considered “harmful”? Just about everyone can agree that violent crimes shouldn’t be broadcast live. Pulling a Spike Lee and sending an angry mob to somebody’s home address is wrong. Publishing child pornography, putting out a contract hit on somebody… all sorts of behavior can be easily agreed upon as criminal.
But why stop there?
Researchers at Cardiff University have been studying online hate crimes and their frequency. Using algorithms, they analyse particular groups of words that are often used together to cause harm.
Dr Pete Burnap said: “When we see spikes of hate, following trigger attacks, they tend to be responding to ongoing issues.
“So one of the examples would be the ongoing ‘us and them’ narrative. People write ‘send them home’, ‘get them out’, following attacks like Westminster, picking up on immigration and foreign policy.”
So now, some Britons are calling for fines whenever somebody posts phrases on the Internet like “send them home” or “get them out” or anything else that might hurt someone’s feelings. If shooting somebody in the head on Facebook Live is a crime, shooting somebody a mean Facebook message should be too.
Nobody likes seeing mean things about themselves online. (Presumably. I wouldn’t know, because I’m universally beloved.) Sky News also cites the case of a black student at Bristol University who got a video from some school “friends” gathered in a pub, mocking him and making monkey noises. His feelings shouldn’t be dismissed because it was “just a joke.” He has the right to feel triggered. But is it really a crime to trigger him?
Well, duh. Of course it is. Everyone has the right to not be offended.
Here’s another perfect example of Internet hate crime:
Explosion in France, shooting at a German hospital, knife attack in London. And Ramadan has not yet begun. Without food these sods get nasty
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) April 27, 2017
— Damian Isherwood (@DamoIsherwood) April 27, 2017
— Met Contact Centre (@MetCC) April 27, 2017
And that’s how you do it. When somebody tweets something you don’t like, report them to the police and they’ll get right on it. That’s what taxpayer-funded law enforcement is all about.
To our brave comrades in the United Kingdom, keep up the good work. How can we all be free if anybody can just say anything they want?