America and (almost) more importantly, the Internet, both have free speech. This is wonderful. People are allowed to say what they want, and retort what they want when they wish to. With that in mind, there are some immediate and heavy problems: educated common sense and anonymity (both in itself and in groups). Both of these are crucial in understanding and interacting over the World Wide Web on a daily basis.
When operating online, sometimes we forget to be careful of what we post, and are somewhat careless. We forget that (pretty much) everything that is posted cannot be undone. In The New York Times article on Stormfront, Davidowitz brings up the comments from the offensive group, but they certainly seem to be more affected and bothered personally than politically: “I dislike blacks, Latinos, and sometimes Asians, especially when men find them more attractive” than “a white female.” These people spew hate, racism, and anti-Semitism specifically. The screen and group environment creates a mentality in which these people all feel unified and creates a larger sense of ‘being’. They all support each other in their collective ‘terror’.
On another end of the spectrum is an article from CNN in which Breanna Mitchel l tweeted a photograph (selfie) of herself, smiling a little too much while in Auschwitz Concentration Camp. This began trending and was picked up by the news, criticizing her lack of respect. It is quite common to use technology to capture moments that we wish to remember and share with our friends; however in this instance she clearly did not think it through.
I agree that this photo is insensitive however does it warrant public shaming and humiliation? This made me think of an event that occurred earlier this year in February in which a communication director Justine Sacco tweeted something (a bit insensitive) which went viral in no time:
I don’t condone the content of the text, but is it enough to ruin someone’s career over? I think this is where the common sense comes in to play. Both sides (the insensitive and those morally righteous) have to use common sense in their online behavior. I’m not sure how this applies to Stormfront, because this group seems to fail to grasp at the common sense bit, but the internet requires great caution. Don’t post things that might, even in the slightest, be offensive, but also don’t seek out these individuals posting such content to bring about their demise. (Justin Beiber is excluded, of course.)