Monday, July 22, 2019

Petty fools with fragile egos

Local body politicians are concerned that the hostile online environment might deter people from running, and want British-style laws to prevent "online attacks". So what sorts of attacks are they concerned about? Death threats (illegal under the Crimes Act)? Sustained online harassment campaigns(illegal under the Harmful Digital Communications Act)? Defamation (a simple tort)? None of the above:

Mr Cull said criticism was part and parcel of public life, but there should be limits.

"If you didn't allow it you wouldn't have a functioning democracy, but I think that too often it's playing the man and not the ball.

"We need to stick to issues."

Marlborough District councillor Cynthia Brooks, who was stepping down this year after two terms, said a lot of criticism stemmed from a lack of awareness.

It was especially noticeable every time there was a story on councillor attendances at meetings.

"Criticism". "Playing the man and not the ball". "A lack of awareness". And they call us "snowflakes". The first are simply a basic part of public life. The other has a very obvious recourse of more transparency about the job and what it entails. Neither seems to remotely reach the threshold required to justify any regulation of speech.

(RNZ also quotes a younger candidate, one used to social media, about curation. Which seems to be a much more mature attitude than that of the older, experienced politicians. Its the internet, you don't have to see anything you don't want to, and you'll almost certainly be much happier if you don't.)

There are real problems online with hate speech, threats, and serious online bullying. That's why we have the (flawed) HDCA. That's why we're having a conversation about hate speech. These petty fools and their fragile little egos aren't helping that. And no doubt, they'd use this post as an example of the "abuse" they face online.