I recently wrote about how we are all literally walking around in our own bubble, in a piece appropriately titled, The BUBBLE. We have been able to curate images and rhetoric that aligns precisely with our own way of viewing the world. More and more we are moving in the direction of not being open to hearing “the other side”. We have become unflinching to communicating with those whom have different experiences and thinking than our own. I know I have easily blocked anyone on my timeline that spewed what I have determined to be utter nonsense.
I often question this move. Does it give me peace of mind to not engage with what I have determined to be foolishness? Absolutely! However, how does this move culture forward? Now more than ever, there is great division in our country. The way we view gun violence, our response to it, sexual violence, sexual fluidity, gender identity and how platforms react to hate speech are all hot button topics. We have seen recently that now more than ever, free speech is not free. As a country that is known for a certain level of freedom when it comes to self-expression, we have been reminded that some self-expression and inappropriate rhetoric will cost you.
We only have to look at the recent verdict in the Alex Jones trial to see the impact reckless and baseless claims will have on one’s purse strings. Jones’ refusal to adhere to facts has left him in debt to the families of some Sandy Hook victims in the amount of $965 million. On a smaller scale, Youtuber, Tasha K. has recently been ordered to pay rapper, Cardi B. $4 million in a defamation lawsuit. It has been determined you may say whatever you like, however, do not for one moment think there will be no consequences for a loose tongue.
We see this happening in real time to Ye. His recent Drink Champs interview has started a domino effect of major corporations and agencies cutting ties with the artist. His statements about George Floyd as well as Jewish people have left the world appalled. It has been determined his ability to reach the masses and influence what some may determine as hate speech has left Ye with cancelled concerts, severed ties in the fashion industry as well as other sectors in our society.
The existential questions are: In a society that chases the number of views: What is our responsibility? Are the platforms that house dangerous rhetoric at all responsible for what is said on their platform? Are media companies liable for broadcasting interviews that are filled with salaciousness and speech that offends the masses? And here’s another question: Are all offences created equal? There are some groups of people who are often disrespected, disregarded and no one, I mean one rallies for the speaker to be de-platformed. Their rhetoric, offensive to some does not elicit the same level of response other groups have. What does that tell us about the narrative that is appropriate and not appropriate to the masses?