Hate, Intolerance and Abuse on the Internet
AD HOMINEM ARGUMENTS: MEANING: Attacks and arguments which are designed to discredit the person rather than countering the logic or reason of the person's position. This is a common form of verbal abuse. We see this all the time on the Internet. For example, Person A in a newsgroup writes "Health care insurance has become increasingly expensive, its costs rising much faster than the rate of inflation." And Writer B responds, "You would say that since you are a hippie and don't want to take responsibility for paying your own bills." There could be good arguments against what Person A said such as health care is better, more procedures are being covered than were covered before etc. BUT Writer B decided to attack the character of person A instead. This attack was not an argument; it was a ploy to discredit Person A so that Person A's argument would be rejected. When writer B uses such an argument, Writer B has lost by default because Writer B did not play by the rules of reasonable discourse.
“I got one thing to say to you, you (a) &*#!, leftist, liberal, communist, Mao-loving, brain-dead bitch or (b) right-wing, fascist, mouth-breathing #**&! You deserve to be (1) hung from a tree, (2) raped till you’re lifeless, (3) shot, (4) deported, (5) afflicted with some dreaded but deserved disease because it’s people like you that make (i) the world, (ii) this great country of ours, (iii) life in general the mess it is. You will (a) burn in hell for all eternity, (b) die a gruesome, long-suffering death, (c) get your just deserts at the hands of righteous people like me. You are a #%* spawn of a #%&*ing whore, you…..”
I’ll bet all of you who are active in any number of internet sites where people gather to share views and opinions have had this kind of response at one time or another. Flamers, trolls and psychotics abound out there in the anonymity of the virtual world.
Such ad hominem arguments are the tools of the intellectually deprived and emotionally immature and should not be treated as worthy of a reasonable response.
Here are some prime examples from those whose ire was so aroused they tracked me down to my general (not my personal) email address, hardly an act of cunning as my presence is all over the net. Go ahead, Google me. I’m not hard to find.
The following emails originated from a guest blog I did for an acquaintance, writing about the true cost of the existing health care arrangement in the US. (A similar, not duplicate article is here on Hubpages if you want to know the gist of what I said: The Many Ways Americans Already Pay for Universal Health Care But Don’t Have It. ) However, in this blog I also denounced so-called Obamacare for not addressing these issues, particularly the disadvantages of making employers responsible for their employees health insurance.
As often happens when dealing with these mentally deficient, hate-filled types, the salient points of my argument sailed over their heads. Their comments were so vitriolic, defamatory, obscene and virulent they were removed from the site – not by me; by the moderator.
To: Lynda M Martin, aka: lmmartin, lynmarmartin, LyndaM, lyndamartin, LMartin
Subject: You denied me free speech on your forum, cause you know what i say is true
You bitch, you truly know old people are gonna die under the health bill.
this is where rule under the gun comes against you.
Trust me I know my life is worth more than yours.
Take that to the banks.
Tea Party folks know the dame thing, and I'm one of them. You f-----g bitch want me dead, you'll setp in front and take the shot before I will ever will.
Better to lose you communists rather than me.
Ban me from your forum, who cares, the truth gets out, and you mother------g c--t lose.
Try to take me out, the gun rules. and I speak for 5 million plus people who hate you mother------s.
We patriots respect the Constitution and Bill of Rights, which we will enforce.
So you commie f-----s step out of the way to your peril.
Wow! You mean you respect and will enforce the Constitution and Bill of Rights which guarantees me free speech?
Subject: Haven't you learned, yet, that...
censorship is an act of cowardice?
And when that act of censorship is performed in the dark, it's an act of cowardice coupled with a fear of exposure to that act.
And people wonder why the Republican Party can be so adept at fascist cowardly acts.
Some of their supporters are adept at it as well.
Nothing will change. Until acts of cowardice become acts of courage.
Good luck learning that lesson for yourself, as a censor for the GOP.
The trail of puke you leave across the net led me to your email. This is just the beginning you nazi whore.
Have you noticed I’ve gone from a commie to a Republican? For the record, I’m neither. I don’t have political alliances – none of the existing ideologies appeal to me. They’re all kind of an itchy fit. I’m an unaligned, independent observer who tries to judge all issues to the best of my common sense.
On another guest appearance on a different blog, where I wrote about the financial difficulties of not just the United States, but most of the world – burgeoning national debt is an international phenomenon, after all. You can read my global view on Hey Big Spender -- A Look at World Debt. In this case, I suggested that in the United States, while a reduction in spending is definitely required (along with a review of priorities,) the only solution is frugality coupled with an increase in revenue (ie taxes,) that an overhaul of the existing tax system to ensure equitable taxation across the board (ie the removal of loop-holes, exemptions and other tax dodges along with proper compliance enforcement,) painful as it may be; it is the only way out. The comments on this site were unmoderated. Here are two of my favorites.
"f_ k you demo bitch. I would like to hang you from the highest tree and watch your heals kick in the air. it's a nice thougt." – verbatim from someone calling himself MileHigh
Now I’m a Democrat! And this illiterate wants to lynch me, but is too polite to spell out the F word.
"You're just an a--hole. Your opinion is just that, your opinion. But being an a--hole, that's not my opinion, it's a fact. You're an a--hole, a--hole." -- from Diehard
Oh, sorry. I’m not quite sure what you’re trying to say here. But it’s a pleasant change being classified by that particular piece of my anatomy rather than the other one.
This exchange is from a discussion on the bias of so-called news programming. A great argument ensued over which was most biased: Fox for being blatantly right-wing, or MSNBC and CNN for leaning to the left. I left the following comment:
“Has it not occurred to anyone here that news containing opinion is not news? There was a time when journalism of any kind held to a code of ethics, the greatest of which was avoidance of bias, opinion or personal view of any kind. It was the facts, just the facts and only the facts. Of Fox, I agree there is a definite bias. Of CNN and MSNBC, perhaps you’re correct their coverage tends to the left of center; I cannot say. I’m still trying to find center – somewhere. My personal preference is for news which tells me what happened, when and where and leaves me to formulate my own opinions, which is why I like to watch the BBC world news. For one thing, it covers the world rather than hours of US political infighting, and for another it does not attempt to tell me what I should think about these events. In my opinion, America would be a much healthier country if the media in this country returned to old-fashioned, non-partisan news coverage. In other words, were professional. “ – LMartin
“To LMartin: I put forth the proposition that if America had more people like me and fewer like you and whoever raised you that this would be a much better country – and I have the evidence to back that up. What do you have? Just as I thought. The silence is deafening. You are un-American and don’t deserve to call yourself an American. Only in America do you have the freedom to say what you want so keep that in mind before criticizing. In other words, shut your pie hole.” – Patriot Father
“To Patriot Father: I do not call myself an American. By citizenship, I am Canadian; by birth British. By residency, I am a legal resident alien of the United States of America. And when I was accepted into this country, the Government of the United States sent me a lovely letter welcoming me. In this letter it outlined my rights and responsibilities as a U.S. resident, included in which was the right to speak my mind, a right, I might add, I’ve enjoyed in the many countries I’ve lived in, worked in and visited. Therefore, with the blessing of the authorities here, I will open my pie hole whenever and wherever I so choose.” -- LMartin
“To LMartin: Go back to the sinkhole you came from. We don’t need or want your kind here.” – Patriot Father
Gee – what kind would that be? People who think? I should add this last comment was accompanied by a link to an image of bondage pornography that would make Larry Flint vomit.
My point is: what does any of this have to do with the subject matter under discussion? (And wonderful, intelligent discussion they were until these flamers shut them down.) I’ll tell you, absolutely nothing.
Civil, responsible and courteous people have every right to express an opinion or simply chat without being run off by what amounts to faceless, cowardly bullies. It's time to take back the internet from sick and twisted minds that think themselves liberated and justified because they hide behind keyboards where they can attack others with impunity.
That is exactly what they are. Anonymity breeds contempt.
And if you, like me, experience cyber-stalking to the extent that someone ferrets out a way to contact you directly, what should you do? According to the best advice I could find, here are your best defenses:
- The best policy is to ignore the person who is actively looking for a response. The anonymous nature of the internet ensures that there will always be individuals out there who just want attention and to rile you into a reaction. Best policy: don’t play their immature game.
- Go to the administration of a host site, social networking site or message board with a very politely worded complaint. Do not include any name calling, extreme counter accusations, or a dirty laundry list of detailed injustices heaped upon you. They want to avoid trouble makers, so provide no reason for them to see you as one.
- Delete or ban the person from your messages without reading them, in most cases.
- If you do sense the situation is truly a threat, be vigilant, but not reactive. A dangerous quirk of anonymity also means that someone could mistake you for someone else.
- Always be upfront and polite, even when others are not.
Many of us join online communities looking to share ideas and participate in reasoned discourse, and find ourselves routinely insulted by those who disagree with us. Rudeness appears to be the rule.
Perhaps we need to rethink our approach. Would we say some of the things we say were we face to face with the recipient? Are we too quick to dish out sarcasm, denigration, humiliation, aggression or anger because we do not see our targets, or perhaps more importantly, they do not see or know us?
As a writer, I am well aware of the impact of words. We should remind ourselves of the power to hurt another words hold. Do we consider ourselves justified simply because they espouse a view contrary to our own? Are we that insecure we can't even hear a thought from the "other side?" (Let alone consider it for any merit.)
Life in the public forum seems to have become about winning. That's all: winning. What we are trying to win has long been forgotten, perhaps because we no longer exercise our minds by examining another point of view. In our fossilized state, we are incapable of reflection and evaluation. We close our ears and minds, open our mouths and let loose. We are rude.
Though I must admit, rudeness is far too polite a word for the hate, intolerance and abuse – often politely worded, but abuse all the same – fast becoming the norm on what should have been mankind’s greatest tool for communication, education and sharing.
No discourse on the subject of abuse on the internet would be complete without a word of thanks and appreciation to the Hubpages team who work very hard at keeping this site as safe, comfortable and abuse free as they can.
Does this mean there is no rudeness, hate and intolerance, no bigotry here? No, but it is kept to a reasonably civil level -- your basic passive aggressive hate.
But hey, join me in showing appreciation. Vote below and in one month, I'll pass the numbers on to the team.
Does the Hubpages Team do a good job of keeping our site safe, comfortable and abuse free?
Next up on this train of thought? My favorite internet personality types.