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There's no more hate speech + racism
Congratulation, we’ve done it. We’ve eliminated all hate speech and racism. Yep, all of it.
Yesterday, on the bird site, I had posted the following:
“You can use your freedom of speech however you want, but if you're using it to make hateful, racist comments...seems like such a waste of a wonderful, precious freedom.”
My post was met with a lot of skepticism. Several people have indicated that they haven’t seen anything resembling racist comments in quite a long time. Most have pointed out that anything labelled as “hate speech” or “racism” is essentially just false accusations. The little boy has cried wolf so often than no one believes him anymore. In a world where anyone can be called a nazi for just about anything, no one is. Many demanded, politely, that I show evidence of such transgressions so that they can judge for themselves. I mean, who am I to define “hateful comments”? What if it doesn’t align with their own definition?
Of course, the tricky and subjective nature of defining “hate speech” is the whole reason behind the first amendment and why it protects all speech, including the hateful variety, unless it intentionally incites violence. But that doesn’t mean that most sensible people wouldn’t agree that certain things most definitely cross into the threshold of being vile.
Truthfully, I felt gaslit, yet I didn’t feel like it was the correct thing for me to share “evidence” as some sort of defense in the public court of blue bird—also further showcasing them on the platform they were shared on, and giving their owners a sense of satisfaction (I did previously post some of them on Notes though). Moreso, I didn’t exactly have a record of making accusations without merit.
In fact, it’s especially ironic since in my 2021 Newsweek piece, I had actually pointed to the dangers of misusing words like nazi, racist, and white supremacist in a way that would eventually divorce them from their meaning—in a way that would make it more difficult to identify and meaningfully address such instances when they genuinely occur.
And here it was happening to me. And I’m certain, many others like me who also fight for the integrity of words.
When Elon Musk recently set down with that BBC reporter and the latter could not provide coherent examples of increased “hate” in his timeline, it didn’t mean that there was no increased ‘hate’ on Twitter, yet so many watching took it as such. All it meant was that this specific interviewer had failed to prepare adequately and did poorly answering the question.
In a space that allows more ‘free speech,’ you’re bound to see an increase in speech that’s properly hateful and racist. That’s the price of it. The people who peppered me with very direct anti-semitic attacks had often noted in their profiles how they had come back to the platform after Elon Musk bought it. I’ve noticed a change in my replies and so have others who have shared their experiences with me—neither of us particularly thin-skinned, but we do generally belong to various racial groups. Is there truly a significant uptick? We’d have to measure to know precisely beyond our anecdotal experiences to know for sure. (Here’s an example of one such study submitted by a reader that seems to confirm that antisemitic content has indeed risen on the platform, for example — but so has antisemitism in America, dramatically, since 2019).
But just because some people—even many people—get falsely accused of making racist or hateful comments doesn’t mean that true ones have been banished from existence. People misusing a word doesn’t take away its entire meaning, it just means that we need to be more cautious.
It doesn’t mean that censorship is the answer, but we can’t address problems in society by pretending that they don’t exist. And having been the victim of false accusations doesn’t make it okay to dismiss the reality of other individuals.
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Who am I? I’m a writer with an overactive imagination and a random mind. Outside of Substack, you’ll find my work in publications such as Newsweek, WIRED, Variety, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Esquire, Playboy, Mashable, CNN Travel, The Independent, and many others.