The Private Citizen 111: Peak Hypocrisy

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I think it’s worth noting that the whole Meta hate-speech policy exemption was most probably not driven by the need to push some agenda, or signal some virtue, or some such. The decision was, most probably, purely economically-pragmatical. An average Ukrainian’s post these days is something along the lines of: “There was a bombing of the city where I’m from yesterday, my parents/close friend/favourite teacher/cousin’s child died. Fuck Putin! Go Ukrainian Armed Forces! Let every single invader die a horrible death as soon as possible!” Somewhat understandable, under the circumstances and whatnot. Had Meta held on to its hate speech policies, it would have to ban most of the Ukrainians, since the “a good Russian soldier is a dead Russian soldier” sentiment is widely shared among the Ukrainians these days, and they don’t hesitate much to voice it. I think it’s to avoid having to ban them all (and lose the market) that the infamous policy exemption was introduced.

Also, I think you (and a lot of people in Europe) overestimate the Russian military capabilities. You are probably right in saying that the Russian army was inferior to the German one in all aspects but sheer cannon meat volume during WWII (though I would argue that by the end of that war, as German depleted their resources while Russian weapons kept improving, the picture changed quite a bit). What you fail to take into account, it seems, is that Russia is no longer the primarily-agrarian, mostly traditional big-families rural country that it used to be before 1920s. Take a look at Russia’s population pyramid of today, compared to the pyramids of 1946 and 1927: the huge amount of 15-to-25-years-olds, the very source of the endless cannon meat that used to be Russia’s ultimate superpower, is no longer there! You’re saying there’s no way Ukraine can hold against Russia; I say let’s wait and see, you may yet be in for a big surprise.

But in the middle east, many countries would say the same about the west, and that would be hate speech. I think we have another case of them just continually moving the bar. Whether we like it or not, or whether it benefits us or not, bars need to be set and then not moved. Basically, they have just told us that they get to decide at a whim what is considered hate speech.

Yes. And that needs to be changed, too.

No. Times change, people change, society changes, and bars need to be moved to reflect that. We don’t throw stones at women who dare to fuck without being married, we don’t burn people for not sharing our religions, and we allow black people and white people to use the same toilets; these bars have all gradually moved, and it’s a good thing.

Does it? Sometimes hate speech is just that, hate speech. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a firm believer that people’s skin has gotten too thin and they are offended by everything, but sometimes it is legit. For example, I used to have a friend, and elderly fellow in his 80s now. This friend was born in Lviv Ukraine, but hasn’t been back there since the early 1980s. I’ve known him for decades. While I was born in Canada, my relatives immigrated from eastern Ukraine, and have been there several times. When the mess over there happened in 2014, this friend that I had known for decades decided that I was now sub human and all Russian speaking people needed to be put to death. I was getting 5 or 6 emails stating such daily, until I finally had enough and got his email account and internet shut down for hate speech, although he is still actively campaigning that here.

I do agree with that, and had even edited my sentence a few times before submitting that. While it does need to change, it needs thought and oversight. So the kind of change I am against is “my neighbour upset me, so I am changing a rule”. In our current world, both sides of every dispute are running large disinformation campaigns, and while the media should maintain neutrality, they have been picking sides and fueling the campaigns.

I agree.

This, I think, is a fundamentally wrong course of action. Of course, you have your right not to be bombarded by these emails, but a simple filter rejecting all mail from this person’s address would have done the trick, wouldn’t it?

My position here is best reflected by a famous quote usually misattributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”. I’m strictly against excommunicating anybody for hate speech. It’s just words, and, as @fabsh rightly pointed out in the episode, words can’t hurt you if you don’t let them. Don’t get me wrong, I think it would be ok to ban from a forum such as this one a person who systematically derails and destroys conversations with hate speech and personal attacks, for instance, but only to the extent required to protect the forum itself and its integrity. Killing a person’s email account (and we know how much is dependent on an email account these days) and internet connectivity is, in my eyes, overkill, and basically an act of unwarranted cruelty.

I see your point, and I kind of agree, but not quite. It needs thought — yes, absolutely! — but as for oversight, I’m not so sure. Who is to be the overseer?

I mean, we’re not talking medicine, railroad safety, or nuclear energy here; we can safely let people decide for themselves in the matters like this one. Here’s Meta trying to adjust its policy as it sees fit. This one may fly, and open up the way to further adjustments of this sort; it also may provoke enough backlash that Meta will see reverting this exemption as a decision more beneficial to their business. A nice experiment, I think, and on time, too; let’s see how it goes.

Should they?

There’s no such thing as impartial media. A media outlet financed by some sponsor necessarily pushes the agenda that the sponsor desires, in a more or less subtle way. A media outlet financed by consumers (“The Private Citizen” being a good example) is necessarily driven in what information it presents and how by the consumers; Fab calls us all producers for a reason (of course, he himself is also, naturally, a producer here, and his is the biggest contribution, so he has a deciding voice). If a media outlet is sponsored by its consumers, and the consumers demand a neutral/balanced coverage, then (and only then) it can and should maintain neutrality. In all other cases, I seriously doubt maintaining neutrality is possible or desirable.

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Yes, it would have prevented me from receiving those emails, but I was not the only target. I did just ignore them at first. Then talked to him directly several times. But when he continued his assault on several people based solely on an ability to speak a second language or where their family was from, it was time to take further action. My wife was born in Donetsk, so she got more of it than I did. We are talking a time span of several months before I took that action. Back then it as considered hate speech, and I ended up taking the next step to stop it. These days, depending on the platform, it may not be considered hate speech anymore though. It still hasn’t stopped him from yelling his propaganda at my any time that he sees me. It’s only been 8 years of it now. While I am in a position that I do not fear any physical contact from him, others are not so lucky.

I agree with this too. My objection is that they have made a rule, but now they have made an exception to this rule for one group of people. I think this one blurs together with your next point “there’s no such thing as impartial media”. While it is one thing to have a side, it is another thing to slant stories, or worse yet, create stories to further your side as media. A perfect example of this is our Canadian media company CBC. CBC is funded by our government, and as such is very biased. In recent events in our country, they were called out several times for writing false articles. There is video footage of them at one of the instances, where they were saying in their own video that there was nothing happening at the event, but then the people recording the making of their article panned their camera around 180 degrees to look at the actual event. They have been forced to retract several stories, and have now lost lawsuits that are requiring them to pay hefty fines. Both their wages and these fines are paid for by us the tax payers. They post their stories on facebook, but as they are a “trusted” source, there is no way to report them. And here again is a good example, we know that CBC is spreading misinformation, but they are welcome to on facebook and can not be reported, while equal misinformation from the other side is actively banned on that same platform.

For me, this all boils down to there always being 2 sides, but the current systems will side with one side and demonize the other side. No matter which side is correct. This is why I like your statement of letting people decided for themselves, but these days our media is dictating to too many people what they are to decided, and not the information required for them to actually decide for themselves.

Such cases usually warrant police involvement (although I admit I have no idea how these things are handled in your neck of the woods). Physical assault (or persuasive threats thereof) is a whole other matter, and freedom of speech considerations certainly don’t apply.

Agreed. Although I personally think that calling out such things and the consequent media outlet reputation changes ought to be a sufficient mechanism of limiting such behaviour.

This is quite a common misconception, I think. While technically true, it is usually factually wrong, and your case, I think, applies. In such cases as the one you’ve described (or, even more graphically, in such cases as the one I find myself in these days) there’s no such thing as “taxpayers’ money”, contrary to a common Thatcher quote.

Governments can act in two capacities: as authorities or as administrations (and they a rarely purely one or the other, it’s usually a mixture of those). An administration can be basically viewed as management hired by the taxpayers, and in this case the phrase “taxpayers’ money” makes sense, and taxpayers largely decide what this money is spent on. An authority is another thing: once it takes the money, it spends it however it pleases, with very little to no regard to what taxpayers think about it. It is no longer taxpayers’ money, it’s the authority’s money, and taxpayers didn’t give it up voluntarily either, the money was extorted in the first place.

Currently, the money I’ve been paying as my taxes is used, among other things, to fund an aggressive war and to silence the civil protests against it. I have no say in this, and of course I didn’t pay these taxes for the government to buy bombs; I paid them so that I wouldn’t end up in jail! :wink:

I agree. And I hope the obvious shortcomings of big platforms (such as Facebook or Instagram), as well as traditional mass media (such as newspapers or TV channels), in this regard, will continue to drive people off such media outlets and towards the not-so-one-size-fits-all sources such as TPC here. This process will not be fast, but at least it is possible, now that we have individual-accessible global communications infrastructure.

Fully agree. Our police here have a level of discretion they may use. If there had been physical action, or if I had been a more at risk person, they would have likely reacted. Given the situation, they were good with going the route I did to dissuade possible escalation.

Also fully agree, although it is getting harder to call out such things.

We are all in the same boat on this one. My want of not going to jail is allowing my government to post it’s own propaganda and send weapons and people to cancel out the propaganda, weapons, and people that your tax dollars are being used for. It’s just amazing how many ways our governments can squander the money they take in. Just a couple of years ago, we paid taxes so that our federal government could buy a pipeline. Then we paid more taxes so that our provincial government could block it in court. Then yet more tax so that the federal government could fight it in court. And here we are a couple years and several billion dollars later, and no one knows what is happening with that pipeling. At least no people were killed in that waste of money…

And now, to listen to some Tchaikovsky, because I’m not one of those cancel culture nutters in western media that thinks a composer that has been dead for around 130 years has anything to do with what is going on these days. A sad state of affairs.

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I don’t think so. Russia has ten times as many active soldiers as Ukraine and twice the number of reservists.

It also has a massive military-industrial complex whereas almost all of Ukraine’s military equipment has to be purchased or was inherited from other countries.

Very well said! One of the reasons why I am glad this forum exists is because we can have these discussions here and at the end still agree on something like this. We all think war is bad, even if hour governments seemingly are hell bent on making them happen whenever possible.

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Some might be interested in this article that expands on these kinds of excesses:

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