By Enrique Tessieri
Since Wednesday Migrant Tales and I personally have been harassed by persons from a website called Ylilauta that made it a point to defame and insult me publicly. When I got in touch with the administrator, Tuomas Siitonen, and told him that I was being attacked again, he pleaded the First Amendment (freedom of speech).
“You wouldn’t want to interfere with free speech, would you?” he said.
It is odd and a pretty weak argument to claim that defaming a person on the Internet protected under free speech.
What about my free speech? What about my right to express myself on Migrant Tales without being intimidated and attacked by publishing where I work?
Siitonen says in an email : “Naturally, if they are spreading personal information such as phone numbers and private addresses, we can interfere with it because, well, we’ve got moral standards too. Internet isn’t serious business and shouldn’t interfere one’s personal life physically.”
Is it a coincidence that on Friday I gave a talk to a group of high school students in Vantaa about the role of the media in guaranteeing freedom of expression.
I pointed out to them that even if in the United States we take the First Amendment very seriously, there are some limitations. Some of these are defamation, causing panic, incitement to crime as well as other exceptions.
Having lived in Argentina during the so-called dirty war, when the country was ruled by a ruthless military regime during 1976-83, there were very clear limitations on freedom of expression imposed by the de facto government.
What is the difference between a military dictatorship that censors the media and one where social media lynch mobs roam the Internet anonymously in Klu Klux Klan robes? Not much except that in the former you could be thrown in jail, tortured and killed.
Apart from the latter example, the intimidation by these social media mobs is no different from a ruthless military dictatorship since the aim is the same: instill fear, hopelessness and self-censorship. They are, as well, a wake up call about the social illness that has inflicted our society.
Granted, Ylilauta may be “ one of the internet’s dirty toilets filled with shit and puke” as BlandaUpp pointed out. Even so, it is the same ogre in different form that roams our society hindering us from effectively drawing the line between what is acceptable and not acceptable in our society concerning racism.
Every thing that is written on Migrant Tales is done to help future generations so they may live in a society that is more acceptant and where racism and far-right ideology are clearly on the defensive.
After enduring these attacks to my person for what I write on this blog, I reported the matter to the police on Saturday.
There is more at stake now than just a free-for-all against me, but the right of every person (especially visible minorities) in this country to feel secure and express himself or herself freely.