I feel compelled to write this, although it will be my last post on the subject (for a good while anyway).
Today, I told somebody I know that an anonymous person on the net had left a very long hideous comment on my blog, which ended thus: “If you have children, I hope they ALL die VERY slowly so YOU can watch them and SUFFER”. This was in response to my Caitlyn Jenner post.
Now, obviously this can only come from a mentally deranged person because, WHO in their right mind would ever say such a thing? I read the whole hateful comment twice (I know, I know) and deleted it. It goes without saying it was never going to make it onto the blog but it did make me feel very uncomfortable reading it. It came from the US, so it wasn’t as if there was an immediate threat – nevertheless, it shook me up a bit to have so much hate directed at me, even if it was from across the pond.
However, what shocked me more was my aforementioned friend’s reaction when I told him about it today.
Word for word, this is what he said: “I’m sorry the trolls have been bombarding you, but you shouldn’t be so opinionated about such things then”.
I was aghast. Basically, what he was saying was this: “You don’t deserve it, but…actually, you do”.
That is something I cannot understand and will not accept. To me, that’s like saying that the journalists from Charlie Hebdo murdered in cold blood in Paris back in January deserved their fate because they were also “too opinionated”. Note that I’m well aware that the fact I got some hateful comments cannot be compared with an assassination, obviously. But there is a definite correlation there which is: as long as you express an opinion, there is always a risk and you can’t really complain about the consequences or whatever comes your way as a result. So, freedom of speech truly doesn’t exist then – and it’s entirely normal and logical that some people should wish a slow death on any hypothetical children I may have, just because I said that Caitlyn Jenner’s photo shoot was a “vanity project”.
My blog is small, I’m not a power blogger and this blog is my own little place to write about anything I feel like: a place where I can play and indulge my obsession with words, a place where I can express myself freely because there are no expectations, as I do not get paid for the writing I do on here. My views and opinions are not even controversial, so I don’t understand how somebody I know could think that I’m too opinionated and that I only have myself to blame if some deranged mind decides to leave heinous comments on my blog.
I have said it ad nauseam, but I truly don’t mind anybody disagreeing with me, as long as they do it intelligently and can sustain a real discussion. But, in any case, because I write on a public blog, I expect some people to pipe up and tell me that they think I’m wrong. I even expect others to tell me I’m stupid, or jealous, or a hater (I’ve had that too in the last few days). I can even handle pure hate as in that comment I got yesterday. All of this, I can understand and I can cope with, because this is what happens when you put yourself out there, on a public site, even if it’s only a small one – some trolls are always going to be able to find you, unfortunately.
But that somebody I know, somebody who is meant to be a friend (and more or less sensible) should imply that I can’t really complain about the hateful comments because I’m “too opinionated”, that I find hard to handle.
If people that are meant to be close to me think that way, is it any surprise that a couple of religious fanatics should feel justified to go into a Paris office and proceed to execute journalists for expressing opinions?
This unexpected response from my friend made me realise, once again, that it’s not just religious fanatics and deranged human beings who don’t seem to grasp the concept of freedom of speech, it’s also ordinary people: like your friend, your neighbour, an acquaintance – it’s a hell of a lot of people actually. Does this fact upset anyone else? Because it sure does upset me.
If anybody has time (and is willing) to read the post I wrote a month ago about Freedom of speech, you can do so so here
Image credit:rs21.org.uk, paperblog.com and Izquotes.com