Twitter vs Nuance

It appears that Trevor Noah is the latest comedian to face a shitstorm on the Twitters. Now that he’s been announced as Jon Stewart’s replacement on TDS, bloggers have taken the time to go through his previous years of tweets, searching for things to be outraged about. Of course, they found a few. Among other things, he made some fat jokes. I don’t approve. But you know, Jon Stewart appeared on TDS in a fat suit and there was no steamrolling Twitter army calling for him to be fired for it.

As someone who often finds herself defending people like Seth MacFarlane or Lena Dunham, I have to say “What the fuck, Internets?” Are we really so lazy that we have to decide the totality of a person based on a single <140 character sentence? OMG, someone made a joke I don’t immediately think is funny–let’s get them fired! This has happened to a few people, and had been attempted many other times. Really? We really think if someone says something we don’t like–that they should lose their livelihood? That sounds like the mindset of a petulant asshat resentful of the fact that people are legally allowed to disagree with them.

When Obama first got elected, I talked a lot about how people didn’t “get” him because he speaks in paragraphs rather than slogans and zingers. Now that everybody and the Nerdist’s mother is on Twitter, this problem has gotten much, much worse. It seems that people are so willing and ready to declare people as Hateful for using the wrong word, for a joke that falls flat, for anything outside the party line. Sadly, social progressives are just as likely to form these mobs as conservatives are–and just as likely to cloak themselves in self-righteousness while doing so.

Sorry, but if you really want to be a tolerant person, you can’t lash out at everyone and everything who thinks differently than you do. If you don’t like someone’s joke, maybe complain a bit and then watch something else. Or consider making it a teaching moment. Assume that terrible statements are made out of ignorance, rather than hate. If it turns out to be hate after all, disengage. If you’re only tolerant of shit you already like, you’re not being tolerant at all.

To paraphrase Jurassic Park: The Internet is one of the most powerful forces on Earth, and people wield it like a kid who’s found his dad’s gun.
Sure, Twitter et al can be a force for change. That doesn’t mean it has to be a hammer used by virtual lynch mobs to terrorize anyone who dares say something we don’t agree with. No. not even if they’re hateful. Not even if they’re wrong, stupid, or think bad thoughts. No one should be threatened, doxxed, or have their web pages hacked for the terrible crime of being an idiot, or even an asshole. People don’t deserve to be fired for things they say in private–even appalling things. That’s one of the reasons I don’t support Hate Crimes legislation. I prefer that we punish people for their actions, not their thoughts.

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