By Enrique Tessieri
I read an interesting blog entry on Iowa State Daily that gave a very good suggestion to the vicious racist stuff you find in the blogsphere: “Require identification for comments and monitor, monitor, monitor the trolls,” said Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. “The blogosphere is full of trolls, and some write the most vicious things. Keep them out of mainstream media, and ignore them whenever you can.”
Even if this suggestion seems pretty sensible, we must take it a step further and ask why we must have an effective troll detector. The answer is simple: spreading vicious urban tales that are racist are more hostile than meets the eye.
While it is difficult to measure how much racism and suspicion hate forums like Hommaforum and Scripta fuel, it’s pretty clear that they do have an impact on some Finns’ prejudices. Maintaining these prejudices is synonymous with sidestepping and maintaining some people’s racist perceptions.
After taking part and reading over 21,700 comments on Migrant Tales, I could pretty confidently say that trolls have inhibited debate and effectively taken our eye off the ball, or the real issue, which is finding solutions to the social ill.
One of the most ludicrous claims by Internet trolls is that if their hate speech is censored we will be undermining an important civil liberty like free speech. Apart from being utter baloney it is one of the trolls’ many red herrings on the Internet.
Trolls aren’t always anonymous. If Perussuomalaiset (PS) MP James Hirvisaari ever took part in a discussion on Migrant Tales, there is a good chance that he’d never make it past our troll detector.
One of the favorite strategies of the trolls is to take an issue like racism and accuse the victim of being the racist or changing the argument around.
Trolls are a strange bunch that are constantly demanding to be treated as exceptions. They label whole ethnic groups like PS MP Jussi Halla-aho did today in Parliament with Eastern European Roma, but don’t like to be labelled themselves as far-right racists.
In many respects their arguments on the rights of immigrants and visible minorities in our societies resembles what was debated in many Latin American countries in the 1970s: Should we have a military or democratic government in power?
Can we ever “debate” and compromise those civil liberties guaranteed in our Constitution? Certainly not but this is what anonymous and real-name trolls are actually lobbying for.
In the spiteful and myopic world of people like Hirvisaari, the argument is not only hostile to certain ethnic groups but horrifying: We have the right to tear off the Muslim veil off women because we are looking after their rights.
These types of arguments commonly used by Finland’s far-right anti-immigration extremists are nothing more than red herrings. If you think that these people are looking after your civil rights, think twice.
If you disagree with what I am writing, pay a visit to Hommaforum and read the far-right Counter-Jihadist baloney on Halla-aho’s blog Scripta and you will see what I mean.
JusticeDemon has said in the past that we mustn’t feed the trolls on Migrant Tales. True but we should see them like the famous warning on a pack of cigarettes: Trolls are hazardous to your mental health and may seriously distort your view of other groups.