Friday, September 2, 2016

Note to Readers: Hoping to Catch Up Soon, Enjoying Your Lively Conversation About Online Trolling — And About Our Obligation to Push Back Against Hate Speech

I'm away on a short jaunt, dear readers, and may not catch up with my task of acknowledging your welcome comments (or with my blogging task) for a day or so. I do want to tell you all how much I've enjoyed — and learned from — the lively conversation about handling trolls at various Catholic blog sites. 

It's a never-ending task. When I shared some articles on Facebook and Twitter yesterday pushing back against Donald Trump's dangerous, xenophobic, racist rant in Arizona two days ago — Josh Marshall is absolutely right: Trump keeps engaging in hate speech, and it's beyond shocking that the mainstream media will not acknowledge this — I found a number of white supremacist trolls popping up in my Twitter feed, seeking to use it to spread their white supremacist lies.

This has happened to me on Twitter in the past, too. These folks are more connected now, by virtue of the Internet, than they ever have been in the past, and in Trump, they have found a savior figure. And that's why they were jubilant when he delivered his immigrant-bashing rant in Arizona . . . . 

Our obligation, it seems to me: to push back. Not to allow the lies and hate speech to go unchallenged. Not to permit trolls to destroy productive, respectful online conversations by bullying and trying to shout others down . . . . 

We're also obliged, I think, to push against  the mainstream media meme, which remains powerful in the "liberal" Catholic media, that "both sides" are equally guilty in this regard, and that "both sides" are equally dangerous. That meme has allowed the hate of the hard right to gain a toehold in our culture, and if we keep allowing it to have this toehold under the guise of "balance" and hearing "both sides," we will allow these folks to do very serious damage to our culture and to democratic societies.

The graphic is from the Kurt Löwenstein Educational Center's International Team, and has been uploaded to Wikimedia Commons for online shiring.

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