Robin Williams’ daughter being chased off Twitter is a high-profile example of an everday occurence

and it must stop. I’m tired of tolerating an internet where people are unfairly targeted for their race, gender, sexuality, etc. In my latest for The Daily Beast, I didn’t want to target the “trolls”, but those who shrug this off, claiming it’s not a big deal, who say “That’s the Internet”.

Nope. That’s cover that allows this toxicity to continue. We can and must do better.

Abortion, choice and stigma

My latest for The Daily Beast is a criticism of apparent moral hypocrisy regarding a woman’s choice to have an abortion, premised on disliking a women’s chosen career path. There’s more to it than that, of course, but I really dislike the idea that people can be pro-choice – but only for some women (who are not “sluts”, “famewhores , etc., like aspiring model Josie Cunningham).

There’s a debate to have on what “pro-choice” means – which choice, etc. – but that’s different to being a hypocrite, which we all need to be careful of. Especially if it feeds in to an already prevalent and powerful stigma that has damaging repercussions on actual policy.

Justine Sacco wasn’t the biggest problem about her Twitter storm UPDATE

Over at Big Think, I argued that Sacco’s apparent racism – or rather, her racist Tweet – was probably the least worrying part of her whole “Twitter storm”. What worried me and continues to worry me are our default responses to people and how we caricature, so we can attack, convey pure bile, and do little to actually advance cause or thought.

I didn’t see evidence of rape or death threats at Sacco, though I did look. If you know of any, please let me know below.

I’d like to see more silence than noise online, especially when something makes us angry. That default to convey that anger publicly should be considered: you don’t get a free pass to say and do what you like just because you’re justifiably angry: I argued this about the Elan Gale case. We should stop this being our default and, if there’s a competition for response, it shouldn’t be about who’s the nastiest or most “hardcore”: it should be who’s the smartest and most effective in combating the mindset causing you (justifiable) anger.

I would be terrified of being the target of a Twitter storm: we mess up in various ways and there’s no one to actually shut off or calm down the masses of the moral march. Even if you said something stupid or idiotic, the response is disproportional as you are one person and they are legion. This is inherently unfair. And that’s another reason I worry.

Updated: Thanks to commenter “oolon” below for links showing threats.

Please note my comment policy before commenting, unless you love the taste of Banhammer.

Follow me on Twitter.

Go to JustineSacco.com

This

Going to Africa. Hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding. I’m white!

— Justine Sacco Tweet (@JustineSacco) December 20, 2013

…led to someone taking time to not send threats to Ms Sacco or merely complain to their friends about how nasty racists are (who would disagree?) and do this: http://justinesacco.com/

Using attention, current focus and intense emotions and funneling it properly. Excellent. Truly excellent. Want to do something about people like Sacco? Go donate to Aids charities, encourage others to, and don’t send that threatening Tweet or yell about more obvious moral standing (“racism is bad!”).

I will write something on this later. For now, it’s a little too fresh.

I just unpublished an article: Here’s why (UPDATED)

I made what I thought were legitimate criticisms of Holly Baxter’s piece, premised on criticisms with her points in her piece for the Guardian on crowdfunding. I spent a long time writing it and trying to be careful, since I’m aware she is currently facing much unnecessary, unwanted and unwarranted digital hate.

I’ve decided, despite spending a long time on the piece, not to publish it (at least for now). I do not wish to add to the Internet’s hate or criticism of Ms Baxter. No one will die because I didn’t say something, but the least I can do is be sensitive to her position right now. Apologies all round. That was an asshole move on my part.

I will perhaps publish it later, but for now, I’d rather spend time making social media and Internet in general a better place for discussion and not add to Ms Baxter’s unnecessary catalogue of negativity.

No, she doesn’t deserve it. And, no, I don’t agree with her arguments. But right now, what matters more is her sense of safety and I don’t want to do anything – even minor – that might detract from that. I’m no one, of course, but as we all know, we are all public figures.

UPDATE:

After seeing Baxter’s response on Twitter, I’ve chosen not to publish the article at all. Nothing significant will be gained by my publishing.

 

 

On that fake Paris Hilton Tweet

I scold Twitter. Again. Because apparently me and social media are like mortal enemies – or rather online conduct is.

Over at Big Think, I convey why it’s troublesome – both in terms of our conduct online and another area that is related: how we treat celebrities. I dislike the victim-blaming language of “they asked for it” by virtue of being celebrities, in terms of receiving flak and animosity and stalking and whatnot.

I really, really dislike being nasty to innocent, harmless people – even if they are famous.

Woman speaks out, woman gets threats – this is my response

Caroline Criado-Perez has been having quite a week.

After a three-month campaign, that began after I saw a news story about historical women being wiped off banknotes, the Bank of England finally capitulated. Mark Carney announced that not only would Jane Austen be the face of the new tenner, but that a review process would be instituted to ensure that banknotes reflected the diversity of society.

I was overwhelmed. We had taken on a huge institution, a bastion of white male power and privilege, and we had won. I looked forward to future banknotes featuring Mary Seacole and Rosalind Franklin. I looked forward to these notes very publicly: on TV; on radio; and in the papers.

Predictably, humans will find a way to ruin anything. This includes undermining the campaign and, for some goddamn reason, sending Caroline threats. [Read more...]

Outrage, social media and knee-jerk responses

I have a new post up at the Guardian that you can go and fight with.

Additionally:

I quite like this piece by Laura Hudson at Wired on when the bullied becomes the bullies in the age of social media.

I think it’s a difficult discussion and, though I like the article, I’m not sure how far I agree. Probably about *sucks thumb* 90%.

As should be obvious from my Guardian piece, I am worried about the kinds of reactions we have; the sort of horrible name-calling, derision, threats, and pile-ons that can occur – even for a good cause.

After all, we don’t have licence to, for example, threaten homophobes with death. (I wouldn’t want to associate with anyone that did that, which would undermine the cause itself.)

To think we’re immune in our responses because we’re on the moral side is a dangerous precedent, I think. Just because we’re morally right in our position doesn’t make automatically morally right in whatever way we respond.

No, it’s not the 17th century

Sometimes I think this magical box I type on is from the future, because the world outside remains afraid of falling off the edge, gods throwing lightning, witches’ flying limits, and alien lizard monsters. For example, this isn’t from the 17th century:

A Norwegian woman who was given a prison sentence for extramarital sex after she had reported being raped while on a visit to Dubai has been pardoned and told she is free to leave the country.

No, that’s from earlier today.

[Deborah] Dalelv alleged that she was raped in March by a colleague, but was charged with having sex outside marriage after going to the police.

As is a trend with women and conservative Islamic world-views, as seen in Dubai, women having sex with anyone that’s not her Allah-annointed, usually significantly older, Manhusbander is seen as “sex outside of marriage”.

Well, yessss. But that’s an ill-considered definition of this rape. Sure a woman was harmed, assaulted, and suffered but come on: She had sex with someone who hasn’t her husband!

No question of whether it was consensual; no question of whether she was harmed. The focus is on the fact that it wasn’t her husband. Of course, if her husband raped her, we know that marital rape is sometimes not equated with rape.

Women are not persons, here: they’re breeding factories run by a single owner. They’re walking wombs.

This should not be happening and thankfully we are more aware of when it does, so we can warn, avoid and fight against it.

And yet it will continue. Just look at the obsession – yes, including my own on Twitter for mockery purposes – with Kate Middleton’s breeding.

Jason Schreier captured my perspective

Let’s be clear: We’re targeting not really the Royal Family – who might be perfectly nice people – but the weird fact that people care. That the Daily Beast still has a section on its site dedicated to the Monarchy – and not in an historic sense – adds to this.

Sometimes I think we invented fast-traveling, instantaneous information technology for the wrong species. But when I’m made aware of horror stories like Dalelv’s, I can only hope that being more aware might add to us being more pro-active in combating this very stupid views.

UPDATE: Ophelia just posted a more extensive post on Dalelv’s case.