Stop Giving Haters a Megaphone

D.R. McElroy

Why we should practice active disengagement online. · 5 min read by David Clode on Unsplash

Not long ago, a very well known conservative writer posted disparaging and cruel remarks about 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg. Twitter went crazy with the backlash against this man: members angrily retweeted his post and decried how horrible it was — not realizing that they were only increasing the spread of his vitriol via the millions of retweets and new views the piece received.

I long ago blocked certain prolific haters on Twitter so that I didn’t have to listen to their daily (hourly) doses of bile. But I can’t block everyone, nor should I have to. Haters love to scream about “free speech”, insisting that they are within their rights to spew the most hideous and vile things into anyone else’s face.

That’s not true.

The right to free speech doesn’t include calling me (or anyone else) names in public; it doesn’t mean they can force their hatred upon defenseless people who may be too afraid to stand up to them. It doesn’t mean they can show up at someone’s funeral to picket their political views (how can anyone think this is okay?)

As a nation, we have gradually lapsed into an apathy that allows hatemongers, bullies, aggressive grandstanders, and assorted loudmouths to push their views into every aspect of our lives.

I can’t even get a package delivery from UPS without hearing hate speech on the driver’s truck radio.

When did we quit caring about protecting the rights of others? When did it become acceptable to allow a grown man to brag in public about the women he’s assaulted — and never hold that man accountable? When did we stop believing in equality, prosperity, and justice for all, and not just for the one percent?

It’s all a lie.

We’ve made a complete mockery of the Constitution of the United States. Take a look at this:

Amendment I: “free speech”

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

>This says nothing about it being okay to slander, libel, harass or degrade another human being.

Amendment II: “right to bear arms”

A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.

>There is nothing in here that says we must allow automatic weapons that can shoot 600 rounds per minute (or 100 rounds per minute at a “practical” rate — or even 40 rounds per minute in semi-automatic mode) to be kept in the homes and hands of untrained, unlicensed civilians. Get over yourselves.

Amendment IX: “disparagement”

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

>This isn’t an excerpt from the Amendment. This is all it says. In other words,

You Cannot Deny Other People Their Rights. You Cannot Degrade, Denigrate, Belittle or Otherwise Harass Other People. Period.

Amendment XIV: “rights and privileges” This one has been ignored pretty much since it was adopted.

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

>So, no discriminating against certain groups or individuals. States can’t make laws that discriminate against or infringe on the rights of citizens of the US — including gay citizens, female citizens, ethnic citizens, old or young citizens, citizens with various health challenges, etc.

This means that anti-abortion legislation recently adopted by some states is not only illegal, it’s UNCONSTITUTIONAL.

A Call to Action.

It’s past time that the citizens of the United States stop letting the poisonous few dictate what we do as a nation. by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

Hate speech does not reflect the views of the majority of Americans. We are better than this. But we must stop sitting idly by, clucking our tongues or posting <WOW!> emojis on Twitter when these vicious individuals and hate groups spew their filth. Here’s a great first step to curtailing their power:

Quit Giving Haters The Attention They Crave.

Stop retweeting their crap. Stop posting rants about their rants on Facebook. Stop linking to their soundbites, websites, and media moments while you declare your outrage.

At the beginning of this article, I talked about a particular hate incident concerning Greta Thunberg. What I didn’t do was put in a link to the hater’s original post, nor did I even mention him by name. Yes, it’s possible to figure out who this was and to subsequently read the post — but I haven’t amplified the post with links, retweets, or soundbites.

It’s definitely possible to discuss hate speech without amplifying it or spreading it. In fact, it’s critical that we do so. To simply ignore the problem is not how we work toward solving it.

Stop being part of the problem. Start actually doing something about it instead.

Get involved when hate happens right in front of you, don’t just assume that it’s “not my problem” or that “someone else will do it” because they won’t. Be a part of the things that are already happening around you; find your cause and do what you can to help it. The environment, social justice, hunger, corporate greed, impeachment…WHATEVER.

Change isn’t caused by the digital world alone. Change happens because people get involved on a personal level. Please, get involved.

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D.R. McElroy is a published author, writer, and copy editor with 15 years professional experience. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture and a Masters in Environmental Resources. A conservationist, naturalist, and environmental advocate, she spends her time writing nonfiction articles on a variety of topics, as well as writing books on contract for publishers. D.R. wants to build a community of people who love nature and wildlife as much as she does, and who want to help protect our resources for public use.


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