Advanced Level Netiquette
Unless you’re talking online to someone you already know, you cannot make accurate assumptions about them from their online persona or behavior. They could be male, female, black, white, Native American, straight, gay, bi, lesbian, trans, disabled, mentally ill, genius, or a million other things. Or they could just be trolls. They could be anything or anyone. They could be using their own IP address or a proxy. In fact, even if you find out their real names, you still don’t know much, if anything, about them. You don’t even know if a person using his or her “real name” is doing so honestly. This is why online bullying is not a good idea, especially in blogs or blog comments. In particular, I highly oppose the use of the following tactics (this is not a complete list), which most frequently appear in feminist or social justice-based call-outs:
— You’re a worthless [insert foul invective here].
— You disagree with me; therefore, you’re a troll.
— You don’t matter.
— You should die in a fire.
— No one cares about you.
— You should commit suicide by jumping off the nearest bridge (a particular bridge in London was suggested when I saw this one & it was suggested to someone who was having suicidal ideations).
— You’re an idiot (seems harmless, but a person can’t help their IQ).
— You don’t deserve to live.
— You don’t deserve to breathe the same air that I and [insert names] do.
— If I ever meet you in person, I’m going to beat your ass.
— You’re a misogynist.
— You’re a gender-traitor, chill girl, sister-shamer.
— You belong to the clown school of feminism (used to indicate liberal or libertarian equity feminism, I’m assuming).
— You’re an MRA.
— You’re mentally ill (used by PZ Myers to dismiss women who disagree with him).
— You’re white trash.
— You should commit self-rape with a porcupine. (This, I hear, is an inside joke.)
— You’re a rape apologist, rape-enabler; you’re parroting misogynistic thought.
— You’re a cupcake (a veiled accusation of misogyny & rape-enabling).
— It’s not all about you (particularly atrocious when comparing someone’s actual rape to being asked out to coffee).
— Any type of sexist, homophobic, trans-phobic, or racist slurs (Note: There’s some room for debate here, especially when the target and their allies use the same kinds of slurs themselves, ad nauseum. Or when the offensive slurs are not considered offensive by a large number of individuals or in different cultures. Or when the slurs are used as means of appropriation by the members of a targeted group.)
— Foul invective directed at an individual, especially by multiple persons in a row.
— Making light of someone’s rape, assault, or abuse (whatever their gender).
— Accusing people of lies as opposed to mistakes (especially with no basis for either accusation).
— Telling someone that they’re no good at whatever the target’s profession may be.
— Replacing what someone said with your own words, or deleting their comments and those of others to change the narrative.
— Inciting a smear campaign/character assassination over an error in judgment, over misinformation, or over nothing at all.
— Lying about the person.
— Revealing private info or communications (ever — unless a threat of violence or illegal conduct is involved), or even public info in places where it demonstrates poor judgment to disclose it.
I’ve seen all of these tactics used, and many more, within the last year or so. All of them have been used as substitutes for reasoned argument. If this is how atheists set an example, then I surrender my “atheist card” right now. I’m embarrassed to be associated with people who behave this way. And if I’ve unwittingly succumbed to any of the above, then I’m embarrassed for myself, and I apologize. While I understand that some of this is merely reaction to abuse that’s been level against various individuals, you do not get to react on behalf of others in the manner described above. They may not want you to. Moreover, there’s something to be said about rising above the level of your enemies. But that doesn’t mean that you have to surrender the fight.