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The Tor Project speaks out against online harassment

14. Dec 2014

This “blog” has been silent for the most part, since the TorBrowser is supposed to update itself. This means I decided to just announce new major releases like 4.5 and 5 and so on. The reason I write something today is that the Tor Project speaks out against online harassment. In their blogpost “Solidarity against online harassment” they lay out the reason why the decided to speak out against (online) harassment and then they do speak out against (online) harassment.

If you like you can have your name put under the statement. With other words you can sign the statement, too if you like to do so. I did, even if I had initial problems with the order of the paragraphs, but it is arguable that the chosen order is more honest. I had and still have a problem with certain wordings and phrases as they appear one-sided and exclusively related to certain kind of people. However I assumed that this is and was not the intention behind it and as I think it is important to speak out against (online) harassment, so I put my name under it. (Sebastian “bastik” G.)

I think the issue of harassment is an important one. To me it’s a social issue. By no means it should be a gender issue, or a race issue or any other type of issue. It is something that exists within society and affects society, so no group shall have a monopoly in being allowed to talk about the issue. Speaking out against (online) harassment can occur in one way or another, surely it’s easy to talk from a moral high-ground, although that might not even be present for certain people, it is much more honest to admit to be part of society that either tolerates or enables (online) harassment or is silent about it. Often it is, and often I am part of that, a silent majority that disagrees with the treatment of people, but remains silent.

For me the freedom of speech is rather important and I’d like you to have the right to say as you please, but obviously that does not mean that either you nor I have the right to stay uncorrected or having committed a fallacy or being called out for harassment. Although I rather tolerate you insulting me, while you remain anonymous (and so may I) without having you revoked your freedom of speech and without having you to give up your anonymity, I’d prefer to have a conversation about the underlying topic.

I argued before that anonymity does not lead to harassment, because anonymity is a bad thing. Anonymity gives people a chance to be like they would be when they would be as they could be. People misuse their freedom of speech, sometimes because they are not aware of not having the privilege of freedom of speech. Anonymity give a people the chance to be like they really are, in part or as a whole. That is either good, as they can be brutally honest without having to fear be personally labeled and so on, or bad as they can harass others.

Saying something disagreeable either anonymous or not, should be handled in regard of what was said or what it implies and argued against by the same merits, not falling off to pick up or return personal slurs.

At times it arguably requires thick skin to speak out publicly (anonymous or not) and I think we should maintain that thick skin for ourselves. Not becoming over-sensitive and calling out harassment for fairly minor things. Let’s stick to speak out against harassment when we see it happen. That can mean to be more sensitive in the way it is seen. It can also mean to be more sensitive about statement oneself makes.

Please note that I don’t view “Your argument hurt my feelings.” as a valid argument. If anything it is a marker to check if the argument presented is reasonable. If someone argues that the earth revolves around the sun, rather than the other way around, that may hurt someones religious feelings, but getting complaints for it based on that should not lead to a change in your position, unless they also contain arguments against the statement, that seem sound.

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