Winston Churchill once stated that the biggest argument against democracy was a 5 minute talk with the average voter.
You could argue that he had a point when you look at some of the comments on the web, in particular for me YouTube.
It is unacceptable in everyday life, in the UK and many other countries, to be blatantly racist. A few offensive words can lose you your job, livelihood, and bring social exclusion on the individual.
You only have to think about the ill chosen words in a moment of frustration, off air from Ron Atkinson about a black player to realise that it won’t be tolerated in the media.
In Ron’s case he could mitigate, as some did on his behalf, that he had done more to help black players overcome prejudice than perhaps any other English manager – it counted for very little.
The web is different to controlled media. (It is worth having a look at the implications of the Royal Charter). Even so I don’t fully understand is this:
The number of ignorant people on the Internet – look at a video about anything Jewish or Israel to find some unreasoned and frankly disgusting sentiments that are often nothing to do with the video.
Try it for other minorities – blacks, Hispanics, Gypsies etc – and you can find the same.
I will not write down any comments, but you can find them just the same quite easily. I do not need to give examples because they are so ubiquitous.
I think people online can hide behind anonymity and say racist things that could not be possibly aired in their public roles. It is certainly a factor I believe.
The question is what are YouTube, Google and other online platforms and forums going to do to about it? What can they do in terms of the vast amount of traffic that would need to be controlled?
Well in the case of white supremacist website Jew Watch, it had a high listing on the SERPs for the term “Jew.” Even though Google said it abhorred the site it still was very much top 5 on page one for years and despite petitions Google would not budge: “freedom of speech.”
We also have issues across borders, laws and cultures – in South America it is notoriously politically incorrect. Luis Suarez is viewed as someone who said something blatantly racist in the UK, not so in much of South America. Turcos (Moslem), Rusos (Jews), Chinos (Chinese), Negro (Black) etc is common currency for many and is not meant to be offensive in the way it is in the US or UK.
I think we have to accept that the Internet is a reflection of its users. But we don’t have to fully accept that certain behaviours should be tolerated.