I know, I know, I know.
This is the Positive Page. We don’t SAY things like “sucks”!
Except…this time. Because it’s really true.
I have had a crash course in hate like you can’t believe this weekend. It started yesterday when I stumbled upon a webpage glorifying death by cancer. It inspired a revelation, if you will, about the nature of good, evil, and religion. It was strong enough that I blogged about it, as well as about my first real experience with vicious, hateful speech. You can read about both in yesterday’s post.
Then, in one of those undeniably eerie “there are no coincidences” serendipitous moments, I received two things this morning via twitter and facebook:
From twitter, a tweet that took me to this article: Dan Slott – “This is why we can’t have nice things”
And from Facebook, this webpage: Nicki Minaj
The first is an article/post by Dan Slott, who recounts the departure of “Dr. Who” writer Steven Moffat from the Twitterverse. I’m not a Dr. Who fan (yet) simply by virtue of the fact that I haven’t sat down to watch the show. My husband has, and loves it.
But it’s not the show, nor the writer, that is the issue here: it is instead what Mr. Moffat was subjected to on the Twitterverse that led to his departure. He was subjected to hatred and abuse, simply because he is a public figure of a sort as a television writer. More importantly, he was easily accessible via the Internet.
Think about that. He opened himself up to his fans and ended up being vilified and slammed to the point where he had to withdraw. The fans, and Mr. Moffat, all lose.
We are creating a culture of hatred in our country. And we need to stop it, now, before it takes root and becomes our everyday experience.
I am not talking about the “hate” that people accuse each other of whenever there are political divisions and disagreements. I’m talking about the actual, visceral, lash-out-as-if-you-were-a-wounded-panther-and-need-to-kill-someone hate.
The hate speech in which certain segments of the population engage is depressing, frustrating, and painful to read. Haven’t we learned anything from Hitler and the Nazis, ethnic cleansing, race riots, wars, and all the other nasty, negative, and deadly things we have done to each other in the name of our beliefs and opinions?
As Dan Slott recounts, Steven Moffat left Twitter because of the relentless harassment and vitriolic hatred that was spewed at him.
Let’s get this straight: Steven Moffat writes for a TV show. He writes for Dr. Who. And apparently he does a damn good job at it.
Yet someone actively hates him for some reason, and has verbally abused and tortured him for it.
Does any of this seem even remotely insane to anyone else? Or have we become so insulated to the hate speech that we just shrug it off and say, “Yeah, that’s what happens sometimes.”
That’s what happens sometimes.
Let’s think about this. We’re becoming so used to the vitriol that we shrug and move on.
Where is the outrage? Where are the protests? Where is the common decency to which we are all entitled, and why aren’t we all standing up and saying in one voice, “Enough”?!
It gets worse.
In Mr. Slott’s article, he referenced three names: Alyssa Douglas, @JonVeee, and @MisterE2009. The last two are actually one person. Mr. Slott suggested we do a google search and read up on what people are doing to others online. I took him up on it and got a crash course on “Internet Crazy”. I have provided two excellent links for you so you can just click, rather than Google, them.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Okay, so now you’ve learned that Alyssa Douglas, a 16-year-old from Ohio, thinks it’s okay to threaten the life of the President of the United States because she disagrees with him.
Let me say that again. A 16-year-old girl thinks it’s okay to threaten the life of the President of the United States because she disagrees with him.
Seriously? She’s 16. How does she even know politics enough to disagree with him? And how can she substantively discuss it? She’s 16 years old! I don’t know about you, but at 16 years old I was more concerned with going to the beach, listening to music, going to the movies, and even being “edgy” enough to test whether I looked old enough to order a glass of wine, courtesy of Hawaii’s then-legal 18-year-old drinking age limit.
[For the record: it was 1982, before the limit changed to 21 nationally. And yes, I was old enough, but I was also smart enough that I only did it once, strictly for the challenge. I certainly never went out and got drunk. I still rarely drink, and I'm 46!]
Ms. Douglas is 16 years old and she has been taught by someone to hate enough to actively campaign on the internet for the death of the President; and she added insult to injury by hashtagging, “#dieyoupieceofshit”.
Where are her parents? Who are her friends? What in God’s name made this girl think it was okay to talk like this, let alone tweet it?
I know I’m going to age myself here but damn it, it’s true: when I was her age, had I spoken like this, I would have been grounded for so long that I might still be grounded today. Oh, nobody would have beaten me, but they would have wished they could–and then I’d have lost every privilege for the rest of my adult life.
Incivility has become the norm in certain circles. I don’t hear it in my classroom (because if I did, you know the consequences would be swift!). However, I know that some of the kids talk like this to each other because you hear it at the mall and on the street, and you read it online.
The second case in point: Nicki Minaj’s Facebook page. While you may think I sent you there so you could read the rantings and vulgarity spewed by Ms. Minaj herself, my aim was entirely different. Scroll down a bit and, to the right of the page, there is a section called “Recent Posts by Others on Nicki Minaj”. To the right of that is a hyperlink that says, “See all”.
Go ahead. Go there, and read for a little while. I will wait while you read some of it.
Feel free to bleach your eyeballs afterward if necessary.
I’ll be here.
Wasn’t that inspiring?
No? Then you get my drift.
It seems that, for whatever reason, the internet is a “no-rules, no-civility” space. People feel free, in their self-righteousness, ego, and anonymity to say whatever they want. You can almost feel the righteous, powerful ego-driven madness oozing from the screen when you read some of the comments, such as these:
Jaymes Joseph Prieto F*** Mitt Romney and f*** your plastic, Botox using troll a** for poisoning our music industry with your incoherent bulls*** you call “music”. That is all.
Wyatt Wigglesworth Die in a hole… Please. Just die. Drop dead.
Even her supporters engage in it:
Chris Tyler II You people are dumb as F*** F*** F*** why would it matter if she dont vote for obama she dont gotta vote for him so calm tf down and SHUT THE HELL UP broke a** hoes..
I know, you’re probably thinking, “Well, these are the guys. Girls don’t talk that way.”
No, they’re worse.
From the ladies:
Karmela Lindos u stupid nasty lookin b****.u cant rap nobody knows what you are saying..
Bri Wade I remember when you used to be an influential singer. I guess all those surgeries got to your big a** head and now you’re a stuck up b**** just worrying about your money. I hope you know, you wouldn’t be famous without your fans. You did this for your mom, and now you’ve become so narcissistic b****, and you care about nothing but money, fame, and being the biggest thing. I’m not a hater, I’m an ex fan with an opinion and facts. You’re a rich snob to say the least, you wouldn’t be able to handle the real world with the “poor” people, who work their a**es off EVERYDAY and all you do is sit around and make music about “stupid hoes” woooo. maybe you should grow up, get a reality check? because you completely fell off. [Note: bold font added for emphasis]
Quanisha Thickums Spears YU DONE LOST ALL RESPECT FRM ME YU STUPID A** F*** DID YU FORGET WEA YU CAME FRM OBVIOUSLY YU DID. I COULD YU DO SOMETHING SO STUPID UGHH YU JUST NOT RIGHT AT ALL AND YU WILL PAY I PROMISE YU!!!!
Jamie Young Superficial Dumb A** B****( in my MIMI voice) we the American People are Lazy so Why would we want take our hard earn money and buy your music Who All Agree her contracts needs to be cancel all black radio and Bet ENT we don’t want to see or hear her music all black artist don’t do one songs with this cartoon looking idoit!!!! please she is against helping her people she been broke all her life I need my grant for my Education dumb a** B****! jump off the bridge
Well! That was just delightful!
This is what I’m talking about. This vitriolic hatred and vicious spewing of often misspelled, grammatically incorrect and unpunctuated garbage is what we’re becoming as a society.
If you read through, you find very little of civility, reason, common (or uncommon) sense, rationality, or calm.
Hatred reigns; bigotry, intolerance, injustice, threats, and wishes for violence also reign.
The question then becomes:
What do we do?
Honestly, I am not sure how we stop this. How do you counter such vitriol, how do you stop people from speaking to each other this way?
It has to start with education, and standards–no, not standards as in the “common core” national standards or the curriculum standards. I’m talking of standards of decency, respect, and civility. I’m talking about education; not just in the classroom, but in the home, the church, the mall, the stores (WalMart included), and especially online.
I don’t know exactly what it looks like, and how we can tackle this at a national level. This is something we need to fix as a country, as a society; the fact that politicians engage in a better-spelled, “higher form” of personal attack is not lost on me, but it seems that nobody even sees it any longer. They all wail and complain about personal attack ads, then pull the same thing themselves.
“They did it first!” should not be their rallying cry, and we do not have to accept it.
What we can each do, however, is teach our kids, our nieces and nephews, our grandkids, and our siblings (if necessary) to be better than this. And it requires monitoring; you can’t just hand a kid an iPod, iPhone, iPad, or a computer and wander off, expecting that they will be reasonable and responsible about it. Even the most reasonable and responsible kid can fall in with the herd mentality, just the same as their parents can, and engage in intolerable behavior…if they aren’t taught differently.
Holding our kids accountable for their actions has to start at home, and continue at school. If it can continue in a peaceful and respectful church setting that preaches God’s love, and not hellfire and damnation, so much the better–but it’s not mandatory. Some of the best Christians I know don’t go to church every Sunday…and some of the worst bigots I’ve heard of stand firmly on the cross and their “salvation” as their reason for spewing hateful garbage at the world.
What will I do–and what should you?
Call out those people who are being rude, if you know them, or if you stand in a position of sufficient authority to make it stick. Generally, kids will be either embarrassed or sullen, but they’ll learn to temper their commentary. It may not stick around their friends, but if they can learn how to comport themselves in public, so much the better. And if they aren’t called out, how will they learn what is, and is not, acceptable?
Generally, I’ve found when I call someone out for rudeness, especially if it’s in a public enough forum and the tide is against them, most non-psychopathic personalities will back off with a smarmy “I was just joking” and leave. “Just joking” is how people justify saying something rude or mean; if one were instead to agree with them, they’d expound on their opinions, leaving us all in no doubt that they truly meant what they said.
Whatever you do, please, please, please beware the random stranger online; they feel shielded by their perception of anonymity or in their belief in their constitutionally protected “right to free speech”, and won’t understand that their hate speech and threats or violent imagery could be construed as a “threat” to you–and may be punishable by law.
For the record: the right to free speech was never intended by the Founding Fathers (and Mothers) to include this. In fact, there are limitations to free speech, and most people would be shocked to learn that there are actually restrictions to the First Amendment Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. A more concise explanation is available via Wikipedia.
You can’t be obscene. Really.
You can’t incite others to commit a crime.
You can’t use “fighting words”, “offensive speech”, or “threats”.
That said, none of this stops people from doing it.
We need to make incivility uncool. Being the celebrity-obsessed society that we are, we should start with some of the biggest names in entertainment standing up and saying, “Look, y’all…Hate SUCKS!” We need to have that followed up by politicians, parents, teachers, singers, TV writers, and authors.
There are so many “national campaigns” that I hesitate to throw another out there and be lost in the crowd of loud voices proclaiming worthy causes, but perhaps we really do just need to start with a national “Campaign for Civility”. There are many smaller campaigns already underway, but we need to make this a national issue. We need to not only teach others that it’s not okay, but also remember that ourselves when someone says–or does–something that gets our blood boiling. We need to work on becoming more civil, or we’ll be swept under by this tide of verbal sewage. And I don’t want to live in that world. I certainly don’t want my children caught up in it, either.
If we can at least be civil with each other, perhaps we can solve some of our other problems, too.
It starts here; it starts now.
It starts with all of us.
We can do this…if we decide to stand up and try.