A couple of weeks ago I blogged about the need for a little tolerance and understanding when dealing with our fellow human beings. In this blog I touched upon the issue of the grey area between freedom of speech, where people have the right to be offended, versus unacceptable hate speech.
This is a very tricky subject.
Where do we draw the line between a perfectly acceptable expression of free speech, which questions or even ridicules someone else’s deeply held beliefs in, say, religion or politics, and blatant venom-filled, vitriolic campaigns of hate against those same beliefs.
And who decides where that line should be drawn?
Since the internet and social media has become ubiquitous the spreading of both reasonable and unreasonable statements has boomed and is pretty much impossible to police.
It is even worse when, under the cover of free speech, these internet trolls target individuals with abuse or threats based on their beliefs, gender, ethnicity, sexuality or a range of other factors.
As I said, it is a tricky subject, and I am certainly not going to attempt to solve it here. However, I came across a comment attributed to Grace Dent in the Independent which I loved and may help to keep things in perspective:
Remember: the average troll is just a confused dimwit, bashing “drivel into a semen-encrusted second-hand Dell laptop” while waiting for “mummy to make his special din-dins”
If we could stop feeding the trolls or running scared of them, and instead consistently tar them with that stereotype and laugh at them, perhaps it would help to take the wind out of their sails.