When will it end?

The Internet is so good at organizing. But these days I see it being used to organize in a way that is stifling of free speech, by people who I thought stood for free speech. I wonder why they don’t see the obvious contradiction. It never comes up in their pieces. They call people condescending and tone-deaf, not realizing those are relative concepts, saying as much about the listener as the speaker (that they are control-oriented and intolerant of other points of view).

No need to apply this to any specific incident, there have been so many.

And to be clear, people who are propositioned by others in unwelcome ways are totally entitled to be offended and angry, and to express that anger. People who are written off as almost dead should be outraged by that, and are entitled to our support. People who hear their race, gender or age group characterized in unfair ways should be allowed to object (and imho this includes, whites and men, btw).

It’s the people who use these events to gain attention for themselves, who pile on and turn an incident into a trial-by-Internet, who try to get people fired and sometimes succeed, those people are wrong. Especially when they are academics, people who have devoted their lives to the free exchange of ideas and the scientific method.

The Internet is a great tool for good, but it is an equally good tool for bad.

I’d like to, someday, be part of a solution to this problem. I think it is solvable, but there has to be a will to do it.

Thanks for listening.

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About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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