The subject of Gavin McInnes being fired from the news outlet he created because of a piece he wrote was brought to my attention today through Justine Tunney’s article “In Defense of Gavin McInnes“. As a transwoman myself, I completely identify with Tunney’s words, however unpopular they may be. Not because I’m transgendered, but simply because she’s right. She speaks of freedom of expression and press, and as a journalist it frightens me that we can be torn from our own publication, have our families targeted and threatened with financial ruin by a mob of hysterical speech-hating cretins, simply for the words we write.
The public forums with integrated up/down-voting mechanisms for discussion, such as reddit, showed a rise in the idea that you could lessen the value of speech with the press of a button, not because it was wrong or because you rebutted with a superior counter-argument, rather because you just don’t like what you’re reading. It’s this mentality that has seeped into the minds of most people using the Internet, and it’s truly a testament to a willing erosion of our rights to express ourselves. When it becomes not about discussion, dialogue and diversity of opinion, but instead about censoring what we don’t agree with(along with trying to destroy the other persons life), we have truly lost our way.
I was featured in an article in VICE about a trolling organization I was a part of, known as the Rustle League. In the article I openly support the Westboro Baptist Church, not because I agree with them, but because they are one of the final bastions of freedom of speech in America and I will defend, to my death, their right to protest as many fags as they want. I also received threats because of that article.
Before that, I was included on an Australian television show about Internet trolling, where I was portrayed as the devil incarnate as a crowd of onlookers passed judgement before the show had even begun, not for what I said or had said, but because it could be said. The following week, I did an interview as a companion piece to the airing of the television show and the amount of vitriol spewed toward me in the comment section far exceeded anything I have ever said or done, but God bless them for saying it. It’s unfortunate the website had to close the comments section down because of the influx of troll-hating trolls being trolled into trolling, it made for quality trolling.
My tenure on the Internet spans from the mid-nineties to present and the amount of hatred directed towards me in a week is more than some people get in a lifetime. Does it bother me? No. Why? Because we all have a right to our opinions. What does bother me, however, is how quickly people will be there to try to take that right away and most of all, how successful they are.
Love it or leave it, just don’t delete it.