Restriction of Speech (RR #2)

Gave “A Rape in Cyberspace” a lot of thought today while I was at the dentist (it wasn’t a painful procedure so I was daydreaming). The argument of the story is that the right of free speech will inevitably fade away in the information age. It obviously touches on the power of the symbol (word) as well.

My disagreement with the author this time is that we already don’t have a right to free speech. Anything said in real life can have serious consequences, and the government is there to police the use of speech. This is not a bad thing by any means, because a person verbally harassing someone may be more prone to eventually do so physically. Most virtual space also has police in place in the form of moderators and admins. It is true that the punishments for online (text) harassment are not comparable to fines/expulsion/jail time that happen in life, but it’s important to consider that people voluntarily take the risk of being the targets of such things when they enter just about any virtual world. There are even formal agreements and statements such as terms of use and “online experience may differ.” When you enter a new working environment you don’t sign a piece of paper stating that you might be harassed and the company is not responsible for it; also going to work (as an example) is essential to living and theoretically not voluntary.

The only good example of free speech today, is in music and a few other forms of art. Even then, if a song ends up publicly available (national television etc.), it has to be clean (not just of foul language, but content too). So in the end, when you buy an album or a single, (like with games) you agree to be subjected to certain views, language, prejudice, and even harassment.

My point is that all forms of harassment are already being policed in one way or another, and the reason virtual harassment is considered less serious is because you subject yourself to it.

Post Author: insanedoc

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