#ReclaimTheInternet screams the MP.

I don’t think that means what you think it means.

Which is, ironically, likely to meet accusations of me ‘mansplaining’. No – I’m not questioning Yvette Coopers intelligence. She knows what reclaim means. I was making a joke – so calm down, at the back. My point is that the Internet was originally not “the realms of the non-technical”. It was very much a geek thing.

And yes, there’s a weary sigh as I accept we need to share our toys. I think humanity, as a whole, deserves to benefit from the wonders of the Internet.

But I do question the wisdom of #ReclaimTheInternet; let’s examine its goals:

“Misogyny, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, intimidation or abuse online mean that some voices are silenced. We’ve heard from teenagers bullied online, women targeted by rape threats, teachers subjected to sexist abuse by pupils and parents, people enduring racist attacks, smears and slurs.

This campaign is calling on everyone to make a stand against abuse. It is a new way to crowd source ideas and share experiences. And to build a campaign for action.”

http://www.reclaimtheinternet.com

Well goodness. That’s a very well-meaning goal. If you weren’t supportive of that, you must be a bigot racist sexist monster.

Well, my friend, sit down, and pull up a chair, as I walk you through the mind of a liberal who’s against this.

You can’t control peoples thinking. You can influence behaviour (although I do find that kind of thing to be a touch sinister, but that’s just me), but you can’t control peoples thinking. You can control their speech, however. You can make it so that people can’t express their thoughts; push it deep, deep down. That’s dealt with the problem!

Turns out, humans don’t quite work like that. What that often does, is fuel the “bad thinking”. And I’m using all the wrong words here, that may well get RWers foaming at the mouth. “He’s not for freedom at all! He believes in bad thinking and thought crimes!”.

No. I believe in right, and wrong, and the grey in between. My right may differ from your right. It probably does. In “my” right, “Don’t be a dick”, despite its source, is a pretty fundamental thing.

But it’s a thing I’d only police at the social contract level of society. It’s manners. You can’t legislate for manners. If someone chooses to be a dick, I don’t advocate prosecuting them.

If they make murder or rape threats – that’s not being a dick. But we have laws for that, already. So enforce them. Awesome.

But one person’s “mansplaining” is another’s “harassment” is another’s “clarification”. ( I resent the fact I’ve just had to add ‘mansplaining’ to my online dictionary, by the way).

It’s a slippery slope, as us crazy-ass moderates are want of saying.

If people want to attempt to regulate and control what is, and what is not, harassment, how do we do it? Do we use my definition, or your definition? And going back to the earlier comment about being unable to control thoughts – assuming we ‘can’ silence wrong-thought, does that make the person any better? Won’t they simply harbour the same bigotry? Isn’t it best to attempt to confront bigotry; to address it, examine it, explore it, and attempt to find ways of resolving it?

I’m suggesting there are no “easy answers”. And I’d rather more people think of it in those terms, to be completely honest. Because if you do believe there’s a simple answer to this, chances are, you’re imposing your will onto others.

“For the greater good”.

As a leftie – I concede, one insufferable quality we have, is our belief that we can change the world for the better – all it’ll take is trimming this here, and eliminating that there. And before you know it, we’ll have the ideal civilization. Where no one can ever be mean to another person, ever again. And we’ll all live in harmony.

Of course, unconnected to this…

It appears that the far right is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. I wonder why people are looking to extremes for answers, when all these charming, “for the greater good” politicians are only attempting to create Heaven on Earth.

The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

 

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