By Enrique Tessieri
It has been a very busy weekend for Migrant Tales: defamation, insults and even a death threat from a forum called Ylilauta. The administrator, Tuomas Siitonen, visited our blog yesterday and said he is not responsible for what has happened. Even if a typical Ylilauta blogger is eighteen years old and still living with his parents letting out steam on the Internet anonymously, there is a deeper issue at stake here.
Siitonen argues that since threads on Ylilauta disappear in a few hours or in days, the administrator isn’t responsible for what is written because it is a so-called megaboard.
I apologize for the racist content of the cartoon. An Argentinean Ylilauta blogger tells a Finnish one: You have my sword. Kill him. That “him” is me.
Moreover, Siitonen stated on a thread Sunday: “But why do we allow people insulting others and won’t censor it? Because we don’t believe that internet is serious business.”
One of the major problems I see with Siitonen’s argument is that nobody is responsible for what he or she says, especially Ylilauta that encourages unruly social media mobs to attack people anonymously. In the freedom of expression argument, he forgets the person who is being victimized and intimidated in the vilest manner.
As far as I see it, Ylilauta has declared war on Migrant Tales and especially against me for expressing my opinions on the net.
Did we get attacked because of what we write and stand for on Migrant Tales (immigration, minority rights, integration, anti-racism, Finnish identity in the new century and other topics)? You make the conclusion.
By attacking and insulting us, Ylilauta destroys its whole defense in a second. What it does is reveal, however, is what it is: A place where anti-social behavior and racism thrive anonymously.
Certainly I have a pretty good idea what censorship is. As a journalist who has worked in a number of countries during the past 25 years, I have defended that right whenever it has come under threat. Self-censorship, which is possible through intimidation, is another threat that has popped up in front of me on many occasions.
One matter that I have learned as well is that when censorship comes knocking at your door you have no choice but to defend that very important right.
If I did nothing in the face of what happened to Migrant Tales and me, I would be responsible for encouraging this type of slander and anti-social behavior to continue. I would be like the majority turning a blind eye to a serious and ever-growing social problem inflicting Finnish society.