I Take One Week Off, And We’re Up to Part 10?

I promise, I will catch up with the 6 responses I missed, but this IPA is too good for that to happen tonight.  But here is part 10 in Surly Amy’s series of responsesby skeptical leaders I am gaining respect for; this time, it is Michael Nugent, writer and chair of the advocacy group Atheist Ireland:  (And yes, I only found out because I was buzzed-surfing Butterflies and Wheels)

This is a pattern of behaviour

This is a pattern of behaviour, not a series of isolated incidents. It is
gradually becoming less acceptable to sexually harass or threaten women in
real life. But that message has not yet reached the Internet, where
anonymity and hostile debate and absence of oversight make it easier for
us to evade responsibility for our actions.

Some people insist that we can say what we want because the Internet has
its own rules, while others argue that the right to free speech, even when
hateful, must be protected. When New Statesman wrote an article about the
Anita Sarkeesian case, a commenter named AllyF provided this counter to
that argument:

“What you fail to understand is that the use of hate speech, threats and
bullying to terrify and intimidate people into silence or away from
certain topics is a far bigger threat to free speech than any legal
sanction. Imagine this is not the internet but a public square. One woman
stands on a soapbox and expresses an idea. She is instantly surrounded by
an army of 5,000 angry people yelling the worst kind of abuse at her in an
attempt to shut her up. Yes, there’s a free speech issue there. But not
the one you think.”

There is also the wider context of sexism in general. If we as men faced
this pattern of sick online abuse simply because of our gender, I suspect
that we would urgently take action to tackle the problem. If we fail to
take the same action when women face this problem, our inaction reinforces
prejudice and discrimination against women generally. We may not mean to
do that, and we may not even be aware of it, but the impact of our
inaction remains the same.

Now go read the whole thing.  And if you see Michael, let him know if I ever get to Ireland, I owe him a pint.

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