April 15th, 2009

ewe

Power imbalances and the internet

This is tangentially about both RaceFail and AmazonFail, but only in that they're both examples of the phenomenon I want to talk about. And I'm not drawing any direct comparisons between the two incidents.

Let's take a sequence of events: Somebody is Wrong on the internet. And not just Wrong about, you know, gun control or abortion or whether to vote Democrat or Republican (or whether the rest of the world outside the USA actually exists as anything more than a fable or source of rhetorical ammunition) but displaying bigotry against some minority group. Because the internet is inherently a public medium, people who belong to the minority group are going to notice, and are quite likely to express their hurt feelings. What happens now?

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In conclusion: calling someone a homophobe is really not equivalent to calling someone a f*ggot. Calling someone a racist is really not equivalent to using a racial slur.
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