The internet is a strange place at times… if one person sets up a very controversial joke page, at least 10 other ones opposing it will pop up, and about 15 supporting it will, not to mention the petitions and such. Ironically, all this “activism” basically promotes the page and gives it more likes. There are far worse injustices going on in the world right now, and all these people are worried about a single page that posts up sick jokes? If that was the only thing wrong in the world, then we’d be doing really fucking well I think. The best way of actually dealing with pages like that is just ignore them… at the end of the day, there will always be people who like that sort of thing, and there will be some that don’t. Both groups have a right to free speech at the end of the day. Also, if all the people opposed to such group actually put their efforts into something worthwhile (insert example of worthy cause here), more things might actually get accomplished!
I hardly think that getting one offensive page down out of thousands is actually a victory at the end of the day… there are other places they can go after all (such as actual websites), and you wouldn’t be able to get those down at all, especially as when one goes up, at least 5 more will take its place… better yet, why is it usually only one particular subject that is that offensive to people? There are far more offensive things out there to be honest and people will never get them all, and even if they did, it would just mean less freedoms for everyone else because of the restrictions of free speech. Instead of thinking “OMG, we must get this sick page taken down!”, you should be thinking “If we get this page taken down, what kind of precident will this set in the future for everyone?” It’s little things like this that can basically erode our rights in the future. You may not think so, but think about it before you put your name to one of these protest groups; how far will you actually go after getting that offensive page taken down?
Will you stop there, happy you got this “sick page” taken down (of which there are many more), or will you go after more groups? Better yet, will you look for ways to make sure that groups like this will become against the law, thus taking it to the national level, which means that you give the government more power to take our freedoms away? You may draw the line at one point, but others may (and sometimes do) take it too far. It can take just one little thing to cause a chain reaction to happen, and before you know it, yet more of our rights have been curtailed. You may think I’m absolutely crazy for thinking this, but remember… throughout history, there have been individual people who have made a difference to the world (such as Martin Luther King or Ghandi, to name a couple; feel free to name others below), and in the grand scheme of things they’re one out of millions which seems insignificant in that sense.
If one single person is able to make that big an impact on the world and motivate a lot of people to take action, imagine what a relatively small thing like forging a page down could set off. Think about the future implications of what you’re doing because otherwise you may find that you helped set something in motion that you never intended to happen. As I said before, I do not condone those sick joke pages at all, but also I accept that as a part of freedom of speech; just as those pages have the freedom to exist, you have the freedom to ignore them. Remember that a single action can set a lot in motion. Think about the SOPA/ACTA opposition, and why people complained about that; it had the potential to be abused and a lot of people realised that, same for the Patriot Act.
Now, you may think “What do laws in the US have to do with people in the UK, or another country? It only works in the US!” True, but you need to keep in mind what is happening with Gary McKinnon or Julian Assange (sp?), and what happened to MegaUpload to see how much an effect the US can have globally. Now thankfully, ACTA/SOPA have not been passed through, as far as I know, but if they were, a lot more stuff like what happened to MegaUpload could occur, simply because they have resources in the US. Now, I could go on about the impact of those Acts for quite some time, but I feel I’ve already gone on long enough about it. The bottom line is that while you may think you’re doing a great thing by getting the page taken down, the reality is that at least 5 more pages will arise from its ashes and collectively, they will gain more supporters which will cause more events to set in motion, gradually coming to a head.
Ultimately, protesting the existence of those pages is futile as:
- It gets the pages far more attention than they otherwise would’ve recieved; remember, there is no such thing as bad publicity!
- For every page that is up, there are at least 10 others already up like it… just as there are pages protesting it.
- If the page does get taken down, more pages for both sides will likely increase.
- Another issue with the page taken down s that it can possibly set a precident for the pages related to it, and other pages like it (other sick joke pages, and maybe sites too). It might not happen, but you won’t necessarily realise it has till it hits you right on the nose, especially if you’re wondering why it has happened.
- This therefore means that freedom of speech will start to get curtailed, as we will have to be monitored more. As it stands, you can’t mention certain words online, even as a joke online without gaining the attention of the authorities, compare this to the guy who (jokingly) threatened to blow up an airport in Nottingham on Twitter getting sent to court.
- There will always be people who will go too far, and end up curtailing the freedoms of everyone else, because they are so wrapped up in the cause, they need to take it as far as it can go.
The “people power” put into taking down one page, which ultimately means very little could be put into signing far more worthy petitions… though arguably, many of them may not have an impact unless people are willing to do more than just put their name to a webpage; don’t think I’m dismissing all petitions, but equally, some do require more than a signature. People think that just putting their name to something they believe in means they’ve done a Good Thing, and that it’ll cause an impact. Some petitions can indeed cause an impact, such as the petitions at [http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk], or some of the petitions at [http://www.avaaz.org] or [http://www.38degrees.org.uk], to name a couple off the top of my head…. but ultimately a lot of them don’t.
The reason why some petitions have more power than others is because of the organiser behind them is committed to pushing things through plus they’re more significant causes than “take this sick page down!”. In fact, the supreme irony of things is that there is already a petition with over 2,500 signatures protesting one of the other groups I’m talking about! I guess I’ll have to say what started this post in the first place now… it’s basically a joke page mentioning “dead babies”. I’m sure everyone is aware of pages like that in some form or another, and again I don’t condone them at all, but you need to realise the precident banning those pages sets. In fact, there’s a second one there with over 3000 signatures. I’m not posting a link to it because I don’t support it as equally as I don’t support the existence of such pages, but I do accept that both sides have the right to freedom of speech.
You may think I’m mad for taking the stance I am, but I call it being pragmatic. If those petitions pass the required amount of signatures, it could set a dangerous precident like I said before. The worrying thing is that I’ve seen 2 petitons elsewhere (not at the epetitions site) at 9000 and 16000 signatures… now granted, all 4 of them combined they all are still pretty short of the signatures required to take it to the House of Commons (and even then, some may be duplicate signatures so it means even less), but a lot could change between now and the ending dates. To this end, I will not sign any petitions regarding “take down this sick page!”, not because I agree with the pages, but because I agree to the right of freedom speech and will not contribute to its downfall.
Remember what I said about even small actions eventually having big consequences? Think about that before you decide to add your name to something like those “Get Facebook or the government to take down this sick page!”. Instead, look at the more worthy petitions out there, such as something that’ll help your country (or another one) get back on its feet or save animals if you’re disillusioned with humanity, seeing as there are a lot of things wrong that need looking into far more than taking down pages. If you still want to sign such petitions after reading this, go ahead… but know that I will not support such petitions, as at best I think they serve no point at all and at worst, I think it’s just a path to the government curtailing more of our freedoms.
Therefore, don’t just think of the immediate impact of your actions, think of what it could mean in the worst case if it does get through to be discussed; the government of any country rarely acts in the interests of its people, even when it should! Feel free to comment below, but I don’t want anyone posting a comment in all caps just because they disagree with me; you are free to, but I want rational, objective discussion of this, not emotionally charged posts, because you cannot have a reasonable debate with someone who is emotional about a particular topic; their emotional state will only allow them to see the short term consquences of their actions and not the bigger picture which is what I’m on about here.
I certainly will be keeping an eye on how things progress though, because eventually, things will go to a head and at that point, things can go either way. I’m not sure of what has happened in the past, but I do get the impression with each passing “outrage”, the amount of people protesting increases. In fact, a great, current real-life analogue to this is the issue of “gay rights”, which is basically a “with is or against us” thing; admittedly, there is a lot more of a binary there in that you are generally taking one side or the other, in the sense you either support gay marriage or are against it. In fact, you have a very similar argument as you do with these jokes.
Of course, people may disagree with me saying they’re totally different things, but there are some simularities… first of all, there are issues with freedom of speech and secondly one side thinks that the other is “sick”; those are the 2 core issues at play here. If you look back to the fact as well that black people were in a very similar situation back in the day, and even today people with disabilities are stigmatised. All three of those have or have had issues of freedom of speech, which is basically what the core issue is here. Point is though, while black people are more accepted today there are still racists out there, and hate crimes are an arrestable offense (and rightly so too), but the point here is making something illegal does not stop it happening… it just makes it go underground.
Now admittedly, I do understand why dead baby jokes are offensive, but equally, you have to realise that there are always going to be disagreements between people, that’s what it means to have freedom of speech and will. I do get that some things shouldn’t be said, but equally, someone is bound to get offended by something someone else says… does it make that person wrong or right to say it? Isn’t this how Political Correctness (PC) starts? People who think someone might get offended at someone saying something, even though nothing was meant by it. Eventually, if people continually get offended at things that have been said, we won’t be able to say anything at all!
I’m sure you all have heard about the “Baa Baa Rainbow Sheep” thing that has been doing the rounds, which although never actually happened (that was media manipulation) gives a good example of how PC can affect our speech. Everyone is so afraid of offending someone or some group, that they have to change their speech just because of that! Many people seem to be too eager to play the “discrimination card”, which sets the PC machine into (raging) action against whoever made the “offensive comment”, yet while they’re fighting for one person or group’s rights, what about the right of the other side? Like I said before, some things shouldn’t be said in public (most notably anything that incites hatred or discrimination, of course it seems hatred towards gay people is totally acceptable right now, judging by current events) but equally, at what point did one group’s rights trump another’s?
That’s ultimately what Polltical Correctness actually is; an excuse to trample over the rights of others under the guise of protecting the rights of a certain person or group. Whatever happened to basic Human Rights? Everyone is human, regardless of your colour, gender, where you’re from, what your religion is, if you’re disabled or not, what your sexual orientation is (or lack thereof) or even if you’re monogamous or not monogamous. I did initially have “Gay Rights” both in my title and in my tags, but then I realised that as much as I support the principle of them, at the end of the day we’re all human, and segregating Gay Rights from Human Rights is a bit of a misnomer because we’re all human at the end of the day.
So ultimately, I need to bring this to a close now because I didn’t realise how big this was going to be or how passionately I felt about this (even though I am trying to write objectively)… if you read this all, well done, have a cookie(!) and feel free to comment below. I’d be interested in hearing what others think, but do keep in mind that I may not have clarified everything exacly, but the ultimate gist is that I believe in Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression and ultimately Basic Human Rights…. fuck Political Correctness with a rusty spork.
Thank you for reading.
PS: Crossposted to Facebook, My Blog, and anywhere else I think it’s appropriate!
Tags: Anti Political Correctness, Freedom of Expression, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights