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Jul 19 2013

Reddit kills free speech again

Reddit finally took action and shut down an incredibly racist forum. How racist? It was called “r/niggers”.

As the offensive name implies, r/niggers was a place for users to bond over their disdain for black people. While Reddit itself boasts 69.9 million monthly users, r/niggers had only 6,000 members. On the other hand, on a percentage basis, it was one of Reddit’s fastest growing online communities this year.

Visiting r/niggers was a mental chore. Emblazoned with icons like watermelons and fried chicken legs, the site maintained a rotating roster of photographs of whites who have presumably been the victims of violence by blacks, as if no white person has ever committed a violent crime. Most of the community’s content was about what you’d expect: news stories about crimes committed by blacks, pseudoscience about black inferiority, and personal anecdotes about troublesome interactions with black people.

But it wasn’t just some dead eddy, a backwater full of inbred ignorant haters slapping each other on the back and telling each other how smart they were to hate black people — no, they proudly intruded on other groups, especially groups frequented by people of the color they hated, to spew out slurs and ignorance. They remind me of a certain other group that will be doing their damnedest to intrude on FtBCON this weekend (and are already dumping crap on the twitter feed).

They also remind me of that group by another attribute: the fetishization of free speech.

Much like posters on r/creepshots and r/jailbait before it, r/niggers subscribers maintain that theirs is firmly a free speech issue; they see themselves as “the last bastion of free speech on Reddit.” They argue that despite their calls for racialized violence and liberal use of slurs, r/niggers is a legitimate “venue for discussing racial relations without censorship or political correctness.”

r/niggers users even see their shadow-bans as “dying” for the cause of free speech. When their accounts are banned, the community’s moderators add their names to r/RedditMartyrs, a kind of online graveyard that honors former r/niggers subscribers with names like CatchANiggerByTheToe and CoonShine. Its sidebar proclaims that they died for their cause, noting, “In 2013, Reddit declared war on freethinking subscribers of an uncensored community known as r/niggers. These martyrs were shadow-banned by reddit admins and turned into ghosts. Gone but not forgotten, we honor their memory and their sacrifice.”

Right — every word plopped out of the mouths of bigots is precious and must be protected.

No, that’s wrong: you get to say it, no one should have any power to reach out and stitch your mouth closed or break your typing fingers, but no one is under any obligation to host bigotry, and free speech shouldn’t mean you are completely free of responsibility for what you say. I’d be more sympathetic to the cause of their free speech if they actually owned their hatred instead of hiding behind demeaning pseudonyms, the internet equivalent of white sheets and hoods, and actually had something intelligent to say.

Here’s one of the milder racist whines posted in that article.

Here’s what anti-whites need to understand. It’s not the skin color that we hate. I mean we hate that too because it looks like the color of shit. But really what we care about is the genetics underneath. Unless you show me a study showing black labs are more likely to murder and rape than golden labs. I’m going to assume they’re the same. That’s the difference between you and us. We look at facts. You think the demise of civilization is something to laugh about.

I really care about the mind underneath. And even if your skin is the same lovely pale shade as mine, the density of your melanocytes says nothing about the quality of your thoughts.

(By the way, a certain word used with high frequency in the linked article — guess which one? — is also on the blocked word list here. Take that into account in your comments.)

55 comments

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  1. 1
    borax

    I won’t let people stand on my front porch with a bullhorn and yell at everyone who walks down the street. I guess I hate free speech.

  2. 2
    Mona Albano

    I agree. People who think like that should own up to their opinions. I suppose that they hate chocolate, too.

  3. 3
    remyporter

    The problem with destroying subreddits and other communities like this is that you now have those kinds of people, wandering around the streets of upstanding, clean communities. When they’re all in the same place, it’s safer for everybody, isn’t it? They’re not mixing with the good, pro-social, decent Internet folk. They can stay with their kind of people.

  4. 4
    Kevin Schelley

    If they’re so upset about getting banned on reddit, why don’t they just go on over to Stormfront, I’m sure they’d be welcomed with open arms.

  5. 5
    badgersdaughter

    The problem with destroying subreddits and other communities like this is that you now have those kinds of people, wandering around the streets of upstanding,clean communities.

    Some objections:

    - The “clean” communities? Where are these pure-hearted, blameless communities of which you speak?
    - It’s not as though mixing with “decent” folk is bad for the louts.
    - It’s up to the “decent” people to model decent behavior and show what society considers acceptable. That can’t be done while the idiots are trapped in their ignorance-and-hatred bubble.

    My sarcasm meter may also be on the fritz. Not sure.

  6. 6
    Thumper: Who Presents Boxes Which Are Not Opened

    I do love it when racists try to argue that they aren’t racist. It just shows the level of self-denial peple are capable of. No one who does evil ever believes they are evil.

  7. 7
    Jeremy Shaffer

    Since the guy in the quoted part implies that he has genetic evidence that blacks are more prone to violence and rape does he actually show it? Or does he just imply it and everyone on the group just nod their heads over the axiomatic truth?

  8. 8
    Jeremy Shaffer

    If they’re so upset about getting banned on reddit, why don’t they just go on over to Stormfront, I’m sure they’d be welcomed with open arms.

    Because Stormfront is a place for racists and these guys are just trying to make sure white people don’t get their free speech rights trampled.

    /snark

  9. 9
    remyporter

    Your sarcasm meter is completely broken. I once dated a girl who was more-or-less normal, but whose brother was a neo-nazi. That’s more or less how he talked. Also, he had black and Jewish friends. He wasn’t a very good neo-nazi, I suppose. Still, the go to, “I’m not racist, but…” line is, “I’m not racist, but I just think the different kinds of people should keep to themselves.”

    That said, I still approve of giving idiots a place to congregate and allow them to be idiots on their own, but I believe there are simply some kinds of idiocy that just can’t be cured. Yes, you run the risk that they self-reinforce and create a positive-feedback loop of stupidity; without natural predators or environmental factors, they’ll over-reinforce and you’ll get stupid leakage that’s far more virulent and disgusting than if you had simply done nothing.

    It takes a serious and thoughtful management plan, similar to wildlife management.

  10. 10
    Ben P

    The problem with destroying subreddits and other communities like this is that you now have those kinds of people, wandering around the streets of upstanding, clean communities. When they’re all in the same place, it’s safer for everybody, isn’t it? They’re not mixing with the good, pro-social, decent Internet folk. They can stay with their kind of people.

    Here’s the thing. They weren’t banned specifically because they were racist (although that certainly played a part). They were banned because of their behavior raiding and trolling other communities on reddit, most notably r/blackgirls.

    That sort of behavior is unequivocally prohibited by the Terms of Service, but rarely enforced. It was enforced in this case almost certainly because of the offensive nature of their activities and the outcry it caused. If they’d kept to themselves, they’d probably still have their own little racist subreddit for them to rant about whatever they want.

  11. 11
    borax

    @8, So right. These are the people who say, “I’m not racist, but.” Then they say something racist as hell. These are the same assholes that argue that the civil war wasn’t about slavery, but about states’ rights.

  12. 12
    Scr... Archivist
    These martyrs were shadow-banned by reddit admins and turned into ghosts.

    I don’t think “ghosts” were quite what they had in mind when they donned those sheets.

  13. 13
    Donovan

    Their free speech is still 100% protected. They just need to create their own platform and host their own servers for it. I wonder if I went to their house and pained in big letters, “I’m a racist bigot!” across their front porch, am I immune from prosecution? If they paint over it, are they silencing my speech in violation of the Constitution?

  14. 14
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Perhaps I just don’t understand USan law, but doesn’t the First Amendment to your Constitution say something about no government can suppress your free speech?

    Did I miss the part where the US instituted a fourth branch of government? Executive, legislative, judicial, and redditorial?

  15. 15
    timgueguen

    So, how long before some of the goosesteppers show up here?

  16. 16
    erichoug

    Yeesh, I am a strong free speech advocate, I really believe that you should have the right to express anything you want. I even tend to clash with many people in that I am much less willing to buy into the incitement and crying movie in a crowded firehouse thing. But even I agree with the redditors. I think Borax said it best above, just because I strongly support your right to free speech doesn’t mean I am to let you sit on my front porch and scream racist remarks to passers by.

    Good job Reddit.

  17. 17
    David Marjanović
    Gone but not forgotten, we honor their memory and their sacrifice.

    Sacrifice-oy.

    That was the Klingon -oy.

    I suppose that they hate chocolate, too.

    O hai! I maded you an internetz from moëlleux au chocolat, and I did not eated it.

    Executive, legislative, judicial, and redditorial

    + 1

  18. 18
    David Marjanović

    So, how long before some of the goosesteppers show up here?

    Oh, they’ve shown up several times, just never more than 2 at once.

  19. 19
    shabadoo

    @CaitieCat #14:

    Nope, you got it right. But it’s kind of like how gun nuts ignore about half of the language in the Second Amendment because it’s convenient for them to do so, or because they’re ignorant. Some people only know that the First Amendment protects freeze peach, and they assume that means they get to say whatever they like, to whomever they like, in whatever venue they like, and nobody can do anything about it.

    They just hear the bits they want to hear.

  20. 20
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    Ugh. Kill it with fire (good job, Reddit.)

    CaitieCat: Yep. Text of the first article pertains to governments, case law uses libel or slander laws to deal with the consequences of said speech among the general population, given that the consequences are not a part of a crime. Since we seem, at least in my reading of related material, to be fairly resistant to find in favor of libel and or slander accusations, most of what gets done about free speech is up to private interpreters.

    It’s my understanding that the courts have consistently upheld the right of individuals to limit speech inside private property they own. The question becomes whether or not intellectual domains and publications (such as a privately-owned and/or hosted website) can also be treated as private property. On that, the record is very mixed here in the US. My guess is that the results are mixed because of the cost of pursuing judgments for individuals and the on-going dust-up about intellectual property and piracy.

    California has some interesting laws pertaining specifically to bullying online, and several other states appear to be considering laws like this, but that’s a fairly specific subset of free speech.

    If it helps, what Reddit has done is not considered illegal (to the best of my knowledge.) Businesses are treated as private citizens where it pertains to the right to control speech on their own “property.”

  21. 21
    CaitieCat, in no way a robot nosireebot

    Thanks, sabadoo and mouthyb, much appreciated. I have this cool little book of the important documents of the US (the Constitution and Amendments, Declaration, all that kind of thing), but it’s way in the office of my apartment, and I’ve got the office closed away to make life easier for my cruddy old a/c, and it’s hotter and more humid than Limbaugh’s armpit in there (though considerably better smelling, is my guess).

    So, y’all are basically saying they’re just performing exrectal* transsubstantiation, it would seem.

    * I thought about perrectal, but that just looks weird, as does peranal. Maybe percolonic would be better?

  22. 22
    mouthyb, Vagina McTits

    CaitieCat: I’m a fan of percolonic, of the two.

    No problem, I felt like googling a bit for links this morning.

    It often seems to me that like many other theoretical rights in the US (say, getting a sexual harassment case actually prosecuted and reporting rape), people think they’ve got a hell of a lot more leeway than they have. They think they can say anything, anywhere, but the right is partially theoretical. :/

  23. 23
    Doug Hudson

    I’m curious what percentage of the “free speech-ers” are aware that the argument is bullshit (and are deliberately trolling) and what percentage actually believe that they are noble martyrs for the cause of free speech?

    It doesn’t make any difference, really, the effects are the same whether they are sincere or trolling. And given the vitrolic hatred on display, I doubt education would be effective even with those who aren’t actually trolling. But whenever I see extremist stuff like this, I wonder, how many truly believe it, and how many are laughing at both the true believers and the people who (rightly) get indignant/contemptuous.

    Internet trolling is a fascinating (and vaguely sickening) phenomena that illuminates some of the darker corners of the human mind.

  24. 24
    hyperdeath

    PZ Myers:

    They remind me of a certain other group that will be doing their damnedest to intrude on FtBCON this weekend (and are already dumping crap on the twitter feed).

    Also, both groups are fond of using the word “baboon” to dehumanize their enemies.

  25. 25
    John Small Berries

    Perhaps this is a silly question, but since the user agreement does specifically ban racist material and ethnic slurs (and, according to the Wayback Machine, has done so for several years), why wasn’t the subreddit simply deleted immediately as a violation of the user agreement?

  26. 26
    Ms. Daisy Cutter, General Manager for the Cleveland Steamers

    Jeremy Schaffer, #7: If I had to guess, he linked to St3v3 Sai13r or some other peddler of racism masquerading as science. (I munged the name because Sai13r tends to show up wherever he’s mentioned to hijack the thread.)

    Remyporter, #9: That doesn’t work the way you think it does. Those echo chambers spawn MRAs, militiamen, and the like.

  27. 27
    vaiyt

    A hearty guffaw for the demise of the Racist Asshat Civilization!

  28. 28
    coffeehound

    We look at facts.

    No, you look at doctored “evidence” created to suit a preconceived notion of the world, you don’t understand any of the real facts offered to you repeatedly as an answer to your stupid unsubstantiated conclusions and you’re apparently too stupid to understand them. You(like creationists, climate change deniers, and flat earthers) TALK about facts, then run from them when they make you look foolish. Like anti-choicers you repeat the same tired assertions that you base on b.s. that has been effectively debunked long ago;but it’s all you have so you go right back to the well of ignorance you laughingly call fact, as though that somehow makes you some kind of rational being. What’s ironic is that you use “fact”(god, I don’t like even using the term around you) to defend completely irrational emotional feelings. The answer is in the third sentence of the blockquote. All you have is”their skin is the color of shit rattling around in your head, just a deep ingrained hate around which you build a house of cards of idiotic faux facts to give it the air of respectibilty. Trust me shit can be white, too.

  29. 29
    coffeehound

    Derp – shit”

  30. 30
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    Also, both groups are fond of using the word “baboon” to dehumanize their enemies.

    Hyperdeath, you are missing the humor and insight of the slymie joke when they refer to us as “baboons”. It is because all of us suffer from having “red asses”.

    Why aren’t you laugh at this brilliant use of satire?

  31. 31
    Goodbye Enemy Janine

    I really do lack language skills.

  32. 32
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    And once again, terrible, stupid people confuse “freedom of speech” with “freedom from rebuttal” and “demanding to be hosted anywhere they please”.

  33. 33
    Gregory Greenwood

    Here’s what anti-whites need to understand. It’s not the skin color that we hate. I mean we hate that too because it looks like the color of shit. But really what we care about is the genetics underneath. Unless you show me a study showing black labs are more likely to murder and rape than golden labs. I’m going to assume they’re the same. That’s the difference between you and us. We look at facts. You think the demise of civilization is something to laugh about.

    Biological science really doesn’t work the way this racist bigot thinks it works. The heritable genetic factors that influence skin pigmentation do not determine behaviour or character. As for the implied existence of studies supposedly indicating that black people are inherently more likely to commit rape and murder than white people – citation really, really required. In the unlikely event that such a study exists at all, it is a near certainty that its provenance will be suspect to say to the least

    And as a more general point, again we find another arsehat with an agenda to subvert science to prop up their bigotry who makes the elementary mistake of blathering on about ‘facts’. Science does not trade in immutable facts, but rather in evidence, with all conclusions remaining tentative and subject to review in the face of new evidence. If this jerk can’t even make the effort to get that very basic and immensely important distinction right, it is laughable that xe expects to be taken seriously as some worthwhile commentator on what the science supossedly ‘really’ says.

    As for the ‘demise of civilisation’; I’d take the contemporary society, with all its many, many flaws and gross injustices, over a society organised along the preferred lines of white sheet wearing, cross burning, racist cowards any day of the week. The demise of the ideal civilisation according to the KKK is to be welcomed as a mercy-killing.

  34. 34
    w00dview

    Internet trolling is a fascinating (and vaguely sickening) phenomena that illuminates some of the darker corners of the human mind.

    I am curious if there is any serious academic research on this phenomenon? Anonymity has always enabled human beings to be asshats (look at graffiti scrawling on a pub toilet wall for evidence) but the internet really amplifies this. It seems to be a ripe subject for study from a sociological standpoint. Any recommended reading out there that goes into why people troll or what justifications and rationalizations they create to continue doing it?

  35. 35
    Gregory Greenwood

    Happiestsadist, opener of the Crack of Doom @ 32;

    And once again, terrible, stupid people confuse “freedom of speech” with “freedom from rebuttal” and “demanding to be hosted anywhere they please”.

    Absolutely. According to people like this – be they racist aresholes or disgustingly misogynistic ‘brave heroes’ – there is nothing at all wrong with spewing bigotry and demanding that the very humanity of other people be denied by means of oppressive laws.

    Nothing objectionable about using threats of rape and murder to silence one’s opponents.

    Nothing untoward about doing everything in their power to make the lives of the people they hate, simply for being different from them or for daring to disagree with their regressive dogma, as difficult as possible, but the second someone criticises them for doing it, the moment someone describes them as the hateful bigots they manifestly are, then suddenly the rubicon has been crossed, and a terrible injustice perpetrated.

    They already have the free speech they fetishise so much. They have the right to think whatever toxic, discriminatory idiocy they choose. They can say it, write it, or otherwise put it out there to pollute the discourse with no real fear of any significant consequences from doing so, but that is not enough for them. They demand not just the freedom to express their nasty ideology, but as you say, they demand freedom from any and all criticism or rebuttal. They claim that their freedom of speech is contingent upon th denial of the freedom of speech of their opponents, and that their freedom of speech must take priority over that of all others because… well, they never seem to get around to explaining that part.

    And they go even further than that. Not only must their freeze peach be guaranteed by the denial of that of everyone else, but they also expect to be granted a platform for their opinions wherever they choose. They have reached the point where they claim, with a straight face, that a refusal by a private individual or company that operates terms of service (that the bigots of course breach left and right) to host their hoggling parties is tantamount to oppression broadly equivalent to a campaign of state persecution to intimidate political opponents.

    Reactionary bigotry and a patholgical sense of personal entitlement really do seem to go hand in hand.

  36. 36
    robotczar

    The measure of one’s support for their moral beliefs is how they can keep the belief when it is uncomfortable or conflicts with another. If you believe free speech is a good thing, it can’t be defended only when you agree with what is being said. That is not a “fetish” it is merely defending a principle one thinks right. Half measures of fee speech equal are not free speech. Letting the majority determine what is suitable free speech will not result in free speech. Letting people show their hate and ignorance is not promoting it. Preventing people from expressing their ignorance and hate is not going to make it go away. I would argue that letting it be seen will actually work against the spread of such ideas because (most) people will be appalled and repulsed by the hate and irrationality. Suppression just makes martyrs and threatens the whole concept of free speech.

  37. 37
    Dalillama, Schmott Guy

    As for the ‘demise of civilisation’; I’d take the contemporary society, with all its many, many flaws and gross injustices, over a society organised along the preferred lines of white sheet wearing, cross burning, racist cowards any day of the week. The demise of the ideal civilisation according to the KKK is to be welcomed as a mercy-killing.

    The demise of that civilization took place in 1865. The one that killed wasn’t a lot better (The Union was racist as all hell, and still is, although somewhat less so now). Just because it took a mortal wound doesn’t mean it stopped, though. One might use the metaphor of a wild boar, which were hunted using spears with heavy crossguards behind the head, to keep the stuck boar from coming up the shaft and savaging the spearman before the wound finishes killing it. To extend the metaphor, the Compromise if 1877 removed our metaphorical crossguard, so now the dying boar is savaging everything in reach.

  38. 38
    HappiestSadist, Repellent Little Martyr

    robotczar, care to explain how in any way at all that these human drainclogs’ free speech is in any way harmed?

    Free speech is about government censorship, not about having a platform in any private location you wish.

  39. 39
    anteprepro

    That is not a “fetish” it is merely defending a principle one thinks right. Half measures of fee speech equal are not free speech. Letting the majority determine what is suitable free speech will not result in free speech. Letting people show their hate and ignorance is not promoting it. Preventing people from expressing their ignorance and hate is not going to make it go away…. Suppression just makes martyrs and threatens the whole concept of free speech.

    Exactly where does the freedom and rights of the hosts come into all of this Principle? Why is free speech of such paramount importance that people must not only tolerate verbal abuse, bigotry, and death threats, not only refuse to “suppress” or “prevent” such Free Speech, but also are obligated to lend forums, platforms, and lecterns to these people? Why are website owners obligated to give everyone a soapbox? Why are they forced to ignore the effect that giving a platform to horrible people with horrible views has on how others view said website?

    Your argument is essentially an argument against comment policies, against bans or anything at all that would be a barrier to anyone saying whatever they want, wherever they want. It is an argument against spam filters. It is an argument against newspapers not publishing every single letter to the editor they receive. It is an argument against editing, quality control, etiquette or social mores. It is an argument for shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater, for being allowed to intimidate or coerce, an argument for outright lying with impunity. It is an argument that anything you do through verbal or written means should be immune to law, free of any filter or regulation, and that no-one should be permitted to do anything that might in anyway interfere with the ability of people to shout whatever they want at the top of their lungs. Speakers are free. Listeners are imprisoned, captive and without rights or recourse.

    So, yes, the view that you seem to share with these people very much fetishizes free speech. It is an absolutist position, a radical interpretation of free speech, an idealistic view reliant on a slippery slope argument and an ignorance of how “free speech” is traditionally imagined. Including conveniently overlooking the implications that your fetishized version of “free speech” has for the parties you are expecting to grant everyone a speaking platform. There are legitimate arguments against overly strict or arbitrary rules regarding those parties that do restrict the speech of those that they give a platform to. But opposing the very idea of having restrictions, rules, or policies in the first place is overly simplistic and absolutist.

  40. 40
    minnik

    robotczar -
    Letting people show their hate and ignorance on your platform, without any rebuttal and without any purpose *is* promoting it.

    letting it be seen will actually work against the spread of such ideas because (most) people will be appalled and repulsed by the hate and irrationality

    aren’t there enough of “these ideas” all over? Apparently not enough people are enough appalled and repulsed, for racism is alive and kicking.

    If you believe free speech is a good thing, it can’t be defended only when you agree with what is being said.

    That’s why no one here is doing that. Free speech ≠ right to a private platform

  41. 41
    Rutee Katreya

    The measure of one’s support for their moral beliefs is how they can keep the belief when it is uncomfortable or conflicts with another. If you believe free speech is a good thing, it can’t be defended only when you agree with what is being said.

    From this, I can surmise you think racism is a good thing, because you aren’t attacking it when it’s uncomfortable. Actually, that’s a lie, that’s an inference I’d have drawn anyway, but even by your own logic…

    That is not a “fetish” it is merely defending a principle one thinks right. Half measures of fee speech equal are not free speech.

    Only if you axiomatically accept the absolutist version to start with.

    Letting the majority determine what is suitable free speech will not result in free speech. Letting people show their hate and ignorance is not promoting it. Preventing people from expressing their ignorance and hate is not going to make it go away.

    Now, I’m not exactly for letting people yammer on with hate speech to start with, but free speech has not a single fucking thing to do with whether a given individual hosts you on their platform. If their ISP was preventing them from using the internet, and ESPECIALLY if that ISP had a monopoly, THEN Freedom of Speech could be under threat without government intervention – as is, no. Even by the most asshole version of ‘Free Speech’ where we just can’t stop people form being hateful assholes, by golly, this is STILL not an issue of Free Speech.

    I would argue that letting it be seen will actually work against the spread of such ideas because (most) people will be appalled and repulsed by the hate and irrationality.

    Then you haven’t been paying attention tot he last 10,000 years of human history.

    Suppression just makes martyrs and threatens the whole concept of free speech.

    “Not hosting” is not “suppression”, you fuckwit.

  42. 42
    anteprepro

    I assume every time I don’t let a Jehovah’s Witness into my house to talk my ear off for an hour or three, I am Suppressing Freeze Peach.

  43. 43
    unclefrogy

    the idea that by closing down a subreddit is bad because then the posters there will go out into “the free world” of clean places I fail to understand.
    Did not the posters there already exist in the world before there was such a subreddit any way?

    uncle frogy

  44. 44
    katiemarshall

    This reminds me of this: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/the-big-picture/5436-Not-Okay

    More of this, please.

  45. 45
    Gregory Greenwood

    robotczar @ 36;

    The measure of one’s support for their moral beliefs is how they can keep the belief when it is uncomfortable or conflicts with another. If you believe free speech is a good thing, it can’t be defended only when you agree with what is being said.

    The right to free speech is not the same thing as a right to demand that dissent to that speech be silenced, or a right to use threats of violence to intimidate one’s opponents with impunity, or a right to demand unfettered access to a platform hosted by a private individual or group in order to promote your message. It certainly is not a right to demand that the free speech of others by denied so that you can say whatever you want, no matter how unevidenced or offensive, without being criticised for it at all.

    Defining ‘free speech’ as the right to say whatever you want, in whatever venue (private or otherwise) you want, without any consideration for the impact of your words, and with all opportunity for others to rebutt your claims denied, falls so far outside the functional definition of free speech, as it is understood as a constitutional concept, as to be an entirely different animal altogether. Taking this warped concept of your free speech as paramount and trumping that of everyone else, and making it an absolute article of faith to the extent that people simply telling you that they don’t want you spouting bigotry on their own personal blog space, or merely exercising their own (apparently not as adamantine, for some reason) freedom of speech to criticise your ideas and point out your bigotry, is considered oppression on a par with a state campaign of political censorship is such an extreme position that I think that the term ‘fetishisation’ is entirely apt.

    Half measures of fee speech equal are not free speech.

    A person dissenting from your position, telling you you are wrong, or even insulting you in colourful, imaginative terms for your beliefs, or for that matter a company withdrawing access to their site from you because you have breached their terms of service, is emphatically not the same thing as a figure in a position of governmental authority telling you that you are not permitted to hold or express those beliefs at all. It is a gross false equivalency.

    Letting people show their hate and ignorance is not promoting it.

    Affording bigots a platform for their bigotry without criticising it yourself, and also without allowing anyone to present dissenting arguments of their own, does amount to promoting that position, to all practical intents and purposes.

    I would argue that letting it be seen will actually work against the spread of such ideas because (most) people will be appalled and repulsed by the hate and irrationality.

    These attitudes are hardly rare in any case, and there are endless examples of popular bigotry shared by the majority, both historical and contemporary; the day to day experiences of a great many trans* people being a case in point. Providing a platform around which bigots can organise will do nothing to weaken their ideology – it will only serve to create a self-reinforcing environment where they can find validation for their hatred among others who share their views.

    Suppression just makes martyrs and threatens the whole concept of free speech.

    Calling a bigot out on their bigotry and not allowing them to use your private forum to spread their ideology does nothing to undermine their free speech, still less damage the general principle of free speech within society at large. And as for ‘martyrs’ – having your ideas criticised, being called colourful names, and being booted out of the odd private forum, is hardly the same thing as being held as a political prisoner, tortured, or executed.

    If one is to set the bar for ‘martyrdom’ so low that being banned from a couple of internet forums qualifies, then I too am a martyr – a martyr to my bathroom sink pedestal, that I did most egregiously stub my toe upon this morning. Oh woe is me…

  46. 46
    Doug Hudson

    w00dview@34, I haven’t looked for scholarly research, I’ve just observed trolls in the wild. I’ve also been a troll myself, although a minor one–I think I’ve posted 1 or 2 comments on blogs just to get a reaction, and I’ve trolled a few people in MMOs.

    The thing that struck me was how addictive trolling could be. There is a rush, a satisfaction, a twisted kind of amusement, in trolling someone, in tricking them into reacting to what is, essentially, a lie. Trolling, for certain personalities, is great sport.

    One might think that trolling takes effort, but in fact, NOT trolling, to one who has felt the pull, can take as much effort. These days, I always have to stop and think before hitting “enter” or “post”–am I really posting this to contribute, or am I doing it to count coup or piss someone off? If I’m not sure, I don’t post.

    Anyway, I’m not sure how academics would study this behavior–trolls are probably the least reliable survey participants one could imagine!

  47. 47
    w00dview

    Anyway, I’m not sure how academics would study this behavior–trolls are probably the least reliable survey participants one could imagine!

    That is the thing, you will have to talk to ex trolls to get an honest account of what they felt when doing it and why they did it. Just stumbling into 4chan or Reddit won’t really be too productive to get to the root of this. Still, I imagine that in a few decades from now, researchers will have dissected and investigated the “troll” personality in the same way that academics such as Attemeyer have looked at authoritarianism. What you mentioned about it being addictive could be an interesting starting point though.

  48. 48
    osmosis

    I’m with Bulworth on this issue: everyone should fuck everyone else until we’re all the same color.

  49. 49
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    The measure of one’s support for their moral beliefs is how they can blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

    Any interest in engaging with the position that’s actually being advocated here?

    Didn’t think so.

  50. 50
    =8)-DX

    (By the way, a certain word used with high frequency in the linked article — guess which one? — is also on the blocked word list here. Take that into account in your comments.)

    Would that be this word? (obligatory link).

  51. 51
    Tethys

    Racists be ignorant isn’t really news, though it is nice to see reddit actually close a hatefest.

    I have a quibble though with the example given. ( besides the racist sentiments)

    There is no such thing as a “golden lab”. Labrador Retrievers come in black, yellow, and chocolate.
    Golden Retrievers are gold to reddish.

    /dog breeder nitpick

  52. 52
    Sorbus

    @35 Gregory Greenwood

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought of ‘brave heroes’ when hearing of their ‘ghosts’…

  53. 53
    tbtabby

    In a stunning coincidence, today’s Married to the Sea just happens to relate to this topic. Perhaps Drew and Natalie are Pharyngulites too?

  54. 54
    David Marjanović

    I’m with Bulworth on this issue: everyone should fuck everyone else until we’re all the same color.

    That’s not how genetics works!!!

    Go back to highschool and learn your Mendel!

    In places where everyone has fucked everyone else, like the Cape Verde Islands, you get combinations you don’t find elsewhere, like very dark-skinned people with curly hair that is light blonde. You find more variation, not less.

    Selection and (very slowly) drift cut down variation. Mutation and sexual reproduction increase it.

  55. 55
    Howard Bannister

    I am much less willing to buy into the incitement and crying movie in a crowded firehouse thing.

    Just don’t pull that shit in my firehouse. We take our movies pretty damn seriously.

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