For many reasons the movie Ms. Congeniality with Sandra Bullock has been a long time favorite of mine. Especially when she answered the question “What is one of the most important thing our society needs?” with “That would be harsher punishment for parole violators Stan…and world peace!” I’m pretty sure since that movie first came out in 2000 I have been remixing that one-liner to fit my varying smarty pants comeback needs. In fact, in muddling to myself just this morning after reviewing some dyspeptic online commentary I determined that I would answer the question “That would be harsher punishment for internet defamers Stan…and world peace!” It’s true…internet defamers and harassers really do suck.
In my line of work, and in my every day life, I see people being nasty to one another online – and sometimes people really cross the line and forget that words do hurt. Sometimes I wonder what happened to the good old fashioned “take it out behind the barn and duke it out…looser buys the other guy a drink” form of justice. Back in the day (and I really hate saying that because I am not THAT old) if anyone ran their mouth in person like they do today online – man, they’d get a beat down and, quite honestly, they would have probably deserved it. To make matters worse, you get the morons that jump on the keyboard warrior band wagon without having the first clue about what is REALLY going on and they either share the crap out of the false stuff or otherwise join in on the bashing. When is enough, enough? What the hell happened to the human connection and manners? So much of society needs a good metaphorical kick in the teeth. The First Amendment doesn’t shelter you from false and defamatory statements nor should it be abused as a license to be a jerk-face. Unfortunately, unlike the “old days,” it no longer hurts to be stupid and run your mouth.
Indeed I am a Section 230 Communications Decency Act (“CDA”) supporter, because I don’t think that websites should be held liable for the stupid crap that other people do; after all, that mentality is akin to an over weight person blaming the spoon manufacturer for making a spoon that they can use to eat and get fat with. “…but, but, the spoon made me fat!” And to those who just read that and got all defensive – clearly my reference isn’t to those who have medical issues or things outside of their control. I’m talking about the person who is heavy because of purposeful overeating, failing to do exercises, etc. Sometimes life happens. We get busy and fail to take care of ourselves as we should but we can’t blame the spoon manufacturer for it. The spoon didn’t make us fat. We have no one to blame but ourselves. This is absolutely no different and trying to hold websites liable for the stupidity of third-parties is asinine to me. Yes, yes, I am well aware that the CDA protects websites from liability from third-party content, however, it doesn’t seem to stop people and attorneys from filing frivolous lawsuits…but I digress here. That is another story for another day. However, I do think that there should be some serious punishment for all these people who purposefully go out of their way to post false and defamatory information about others…the same goes for harassers. Perhaps if these people got hit harder in the pocket book or were forced into doing community service – like helping with anti-bullying and harassment initiatives, maybe THEN it would slow down. There just needs to be more education and more deterrents. It’s far too easy to sit behind the keyboard and be mean. MEAN. PEOPLE. SUCK.
Until next time friends…