This is a really difficult piece to write. Recent experiences with my own menacing caller and the jailing of an utterly abhorrent racist sad-case have made me begin to question whether the freedom of expression which I seek to protect is maybe not worth protecting. Or at least not to the extent which I have been seeking to protect it.
I’m starting to think that for the last 6 months I have been writing utter swill. Let’s shut the bastards down. Let’s use the law to pound the trolls and dingbats flat, until all we’re left with is a faint greasy smear where once there was a particularly demented Twitter feed or a badly spelled and unnecessarily capitalised Facebook rant.
The internet will be a wonderful place to be once we’ve done this, surely? There will be no more savage reptiles haunting our Facebook newsfeeds with race hate and Islamophobia. We’ll no longer have put up with seeing the retweets of that student with the Che Guevara t-shirt and the “solidarity” twibbon, encouraging the proletariat masses to riot.
The internet will become the Utopia we always dreamed of, where great ideas are shared; the advancement of humanity will flow gleaming from our combined knowledge and experience. Eventually, we’ll have forgotten that we ever had any worries about the right for people to express disagreeable sentiments, or contradict our enlightened consensus. We will have evolved into a new kind of dialogue.
Except that it won’t be a dialogue, it will be a monologue composed of a billion voices, all singing from the same hymn sheet. A heavenly choir of angels as it were, with the divine songbook being dictated by our own human understanding of what is just, righteous and non-menacing.
At the moment, what we dealing with is a conference call with Satan. Our online life is a bitter drudge in which we are forced to continually rebut what we believe to be wrong, and defend what we believe to be right. We’re constantly having to justify ourselves. What a massive waste of time and energy. Wouldn’t our lives just be whole lot easier if we just decided what was the definitive answer right now, and just got on with eradicating anything which contradicts what we know to be right and true?
So let’s draw a line in the sand right here and now:
RIGHT | WRONG
Time for everybody to chose which side of the line they are on. Everybody on the right hand side of the line (or starboard of the internet, as it shall henceforth be known), should leave the internet immediately in a quiet and orderly fashion. Don’t come back, or we on the port side will prosecute you. Be aware that the minimum penalty is to be flayed alive with a printed copy of Wikipedia; the maximum penalty to be ritually beaten about the head and upper body by every single surviving Facebook user, until you are dead. You have been warned.