During the last class we mentioned the topic of hate speech and where it stands legally on the internet. We talked about how hate speech is protected under freedom of speech unless there are explicit threats against someone, but this is usually hard to prove. Because the internet gives anonymity to it’s users there isn’t a lot of repercussions to post hateful comments or messages on a website. Just go to any youtube video and scroll through the comments; there you will see the bashing of religions, genders, races, and sexualities regardless of if the video even dealt with any of these subjects. The prevalence of hate speech on the internet isn’t a new concept, in fact I would say it has just come to be accepted as one of the Internets unfortunate characteristics. However something I have been pondering is whether the prevalence of hate speech on the internet is a product of our overly politically correct society.
The internet does contain some forms of censorship such as the banning of child pornography, the shutting down of various pirating sites, and the self censorship employed by various websites. Nevertheless, cyberspace is a far more free environment to do and say what you will with out any major repercussions that would occur in the real world. All other forms of media such as print media, television, and radio are heavily censored and restricted as to what can be shown or heard. Almost anything and everything can be considered offensive to some group somewhere therefore media companies are always at risk of being sued. Political Correctness and sensitivity doesn’t of course only pertain to media but is prevalent in the education system and the work place.
While on the internet a user is protected by anonymity and can say what ever they want. What I’m curious about is if people take this freedom too far so that they can say those hateful comments just because they can. Or maybe it seems thrilling to the user to say things that would normally be shunned in every day society. While I certainly see the need for political correctness I sometimes wander if it has gone too far. May be we are a society that is just too easily offended and to ready to label someone as ignorant, racist, sexist, etc.
What reasons do you think that the internet harbors this hate speech?