Friday, June 27, 2008

Licentiousness of speech

The internet has become an excellent means to voice web surfers' opinions, feelings, and concerns. No matter where we live, what is our social status or people's education level, every person who has access the internet also has access to different tools that ease the exchange of points of view and comments with other users around the world. Up to this point, it would appear that websites that publish content and allow people to leave comments on it, such as Youtube, blogs or newspapers, are making a very positive impact in society.

Indeed, giving people the necessary vehicles to express their opinions and exercise their freedom of speech is a good thing. But there is a point in which all these positive impacts appear to turn into something rather deceiving and worrying: That's the point in which freedom of speech turns into what I call 'licentiousness of speech'.

The matter is not about people having different points of view. It is normal to have people entering into arguments about different topics, because it is valid to analyze issues from a variety of perspectives. This kind of behavior is undoubtedly enriching. But what happens when uninformed individuals decide to take part of these discussion threads? Moreover, what happens when people utilize the discussion threads to disrespect, insult, lie, or boycott? Of course, these behaviors are what I would classify as licentiousness of speech, which has unfortunately become a quite widespread practice in popular forums and websites.

Examples of this licentiousness of speech are numerous; we can almost pick any random video there and read the related comments to identify these libertines. For instance, I picked a video by Sacha Baron Cohen's character Borat, to illustrate my point. In such video, the English comedian (who is Jewish himself) lures some cowboys to sing along with him a song attacking Jews, just to demonstrate and ridicule how stereotypes against them are still believed and tolerated by some groups. Of course, this video posted on youtube and the possibility of leaving comments on it was a perfect opportunity for ignorant punks to exercise their licentiousness of speech. Some of the comments are both outrageous and worrying:

  • A user under the nickname ozcohen20 asks "what (sic) the problem with jews? they are nice people! i got a (sic) many jews (sic) friends, and they are very good people", to which another individual nicknamed zouritje replies: "ye right ure (sic) jew , jews take all the money and control america a**hole so they fight ure (sic) wars".
  • Another ignorant surfer, under the nickname Thelavendel, comments: "I hate jews. I wish you people got eaten by sharks". Not only the comment is totally disrespectful and condemnable, but it also gets voted as a "good comment" by other users.
  • Yet another uninformed speech libertine, hidden under the nickname Wraitheyes161, expresses the following: "Lmao yeah F*ck jews almost got killed by one!!!!!!! So the Germans had it right. Damn you America just cause the Japs spilled your shake!". This comment, too, gets voted as a "good one".
The list of inappropriate comments could go on and on, and as I say, it is not only a phenomenon shown in one specific video in Youtube, but it appears in virtually any online forum to which every user may have access. The key problem of this issue is the disrespect among people, and the publishing of inappropriate comments, based on untrue information, hatred and personal bias. It would be convenient, for the well being of internet users around the world and for the sake of harmony between web surfers, to have some sort of control in which these behaviors could be minimized. But who's here to act as cyber-cop? And how to define the exact border between freedom of speech and licentiousness of speech? I don't know. But hopefully someday we'll be able to get rid of this pandemic.


At 5:42 AM , Blogger Dragon said...

Have you considered the actual intent of these commentors? They look to me suspiciously like trolls, that type of outright ridiculousness usually is.


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