Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Internet Debate and the Tragedy of its Misuse

I wish they had more time to debate this out. I like what she has to say. Bullying should never be used lightly, but I think the man was getting confused with his side of the "argument(?)." This is a very sticky issue in terms of what "jargon" to label the act that the two sorry-excuses-for-human-beings did. Was it a hate crime? Was it bullying? Was it simple "meanness?"

What can you contribute from the law sector? The social work sector? Religious? Cultural? Anything.

I'd like to open this discussion to those who will participate.

My friend told me about this case and said I'd probably want to blog about it. He was most right. The inception of internet ... "violence" ... and misuse for purposes of humiliation and defamation has developed into a full-blown path of destruction that is exceeding our capacity to contain it any time soon. Here I am, using the internet to share with you my thoughts and request your input.

My questions to you:
1) What do YOU think will come of this case, should come of this case, or should have come of this case in regard to the legal and social jargon applied to it and the sanctions for the two students' behaviour?
2) How can we contain such horrible acts from coming to fruition in the future?
3) Feel free to comment on videos like this: and the "It Gets Better" campaign out there

My last question:
4) Why the hell do these types of things keep happening--in fact, why are they happening even more now? Like they say in the CNN video, too, it shouldn't matter who was in with Tyler...his privacy was invaded, he was humiliated. But, the tragic reality is that if it had been a heterosexual encounter you can bet that no videos would have been leaked in the name of trying to ruin and humiliate a boy who just wanted to have some privacy to do something he has EVERY RIGHT to do.


McScott said...

There is a lot I can say but I don't have all of my thoughts collected, so I will stick to answering your posted questions.

1) I think, if this case had not been given the rightly-deserved media attention it received, these two people would go to jail or serve some community service time for invasion of privacy. Strictly speaking, in terms of the letter of the law, justice would be served. Barely. However, it is obvious that the spirit of the law that they broke is there to protect people from the pain and damages associated with loss of privacy. The invasion of privacy itself is the letter of the law that has been broken, but the pain, damages, and in this case, death that occurred as a result of the invasion are what the spirit of the law must address. That will be a very, very hard case to push, as lawyers will have to isolate the suicide to be shown it was directly caused by the invasion of privacy. The parents of the dead teen are going to live through hell in the courtroom as defending lawyers attempt to portray this teen as a troubled, suicidal, broken homosexual in an attempt to prove their clients are not the sole reason for the suicide.

Because of the media attention this case has received, I think the spirit of the law will win, at least in part. I believe the prosecution will find a way to get these two students on more than invasion of privacy. It will be a legal pot of gruel, and technically will barely resemble justice to anyone involved, but I think these students will get more than a slap on the wrist for invasion of privacy.

2) The short answer is I don't know. I also don't think it is going to get better until it gets much, much worse. Our technology has far surpassed our humanity (movie quote), and we are the worse for it. I do firmly believe, however, that the first step to combating this comes from parents. Although parents often want to brandish a sword and strike down the foes that will come against their children, the fact is there are too many foes to cut down. The correct course of action for parents is equipping their children with the shield and armour they need to stand on their own two feet when under siege by the world. Love, compassion, faith, self respect, are the weapons of choice. As the elected official pointed out in his video, he survived because of his parents' love for him. I'm not claiming the student who killed himself was unloved, one can not know what torment he went through, no matter how much he was loved. But I do believe every cord of love in a family makes that bond harder to cut, and when some are cut, the rest still keep the thread strong. No matter how much the student was loved, his support network was not there to save him.. maybe it was geographical distance, who knows... but somehow his immediate network failed him, and we, society as a whole, did as well. Our laws are supposed to protect those who are unable to protect themselves, and they did not in this case.

McScott said...

3) I've touched on this, but I commend this man. In all honesty, this is probably the first time I have listened to a gay man speak about romantic moments in his life and felt a sense of wonder at what he said. As a straight man I've never quite been able to bridge the gap between what someone who is gay might feel for someone regarding marriage, or a proposal, and what I might feel in the future. I was able to because of how he spoke, in part because he described things how I think I might one day. ;)

4) This isn't happening more, we just have more ways to hear about it now. I'm not belittling the terrible significance of these actions, but I think the internet, mobile phones, media in general is making it more visible. Today, it is the LGBT community that suffers. Go back a few generations, and it was women (and still is). Go back a few more generations, and it was the Black community. Pick your point in humanity's history, and you can find Chinese workers being marginalized in Canada, Irish immigrants being killed in America, innocent Jews being branded... none of these struggles are completely over, because we all act like terrified children and lash out at what is different. We hear about "children" doing this to each other on the news because we have children who are afraid. Afraid of the unknown, afraid of their peers, afraid of how little self respect they have, afraid of their parents, afraid of failing, afraid of growing...

So again, I return to parents. And I'm not passing the buck here, because, as an older sibling, I'm more of a father to some people than a brother. Thankfully I have an incredible father and mother to use as role-models for love. I also hope to be a parent some day, and someone kick me if I don't live by my words: We have to love our children and teach them to love in return. Too bad if it sounds hippy, it's the truth. You want love in this world? Spread love. Your children won't ever love someone properly if you don't love them properly. Never. It starts with you mom, dad.

...and thanks mom, dad, for loving me. :)

Ashley said...

My goodness.

What big thoughts you have!

I loved reading what you had to say. I agree that hate crimes aren't happening "more" than in the past because hate's been kicking around for centuries. I meant more of the cyberbullying and use of the cyberworld to humiliate and spread hatred. I think you're quite right about how the law piece will play out. You know, even if the laws were such that they could "rightfully" condemn such behaviour in the same vein as other horrible acts, no one would be satisfied. Justice can never truly be achieved on a human plane of existence--not with the pain associated with this abhorrent act. The media will "help" the cause, though...a bit.

AS we talked about tonight and as you've addressed in your number 2, parents do play a HUGE role in prevention and equipping their kids with the right "tools" to take on the future. However, parents shouldn't bear the brunt of the responsibility for our future children and our children's future. Society needs to buck up on the exposure wagon and keep a dialogue about these issues OPEN, INFORMED, and UP-TO-DATE (!!). Not every child has a parent around. Plus, it takes a village to raise a child. We need to make sure that that village isn't SIM City.

We should talk more about #3 if you're willing. I have a feeling there are more questions and comments behind your answer :D.

For #4, may I just say that from what I have witnessed, your family is truly beautiful. Yeah, yeah I sound hippy too but I really don't care. The love your parents have fostered and passed onto you and your siblings is admirable. And you do spread that love fantastically, my dear. So do your siblings. It's so very refreshing and enlightening to witness. If we can create that and help other families (blood or not) to experience a sliver of that, then hey! I'm set for life.

McScott said...

You're right, it was obvious to probably everyone except me that you were specifically referring to "cyberbullying." :P My bad. In terms of online bullying, yes, it is happening more... I have a feeling it is simply an extension of what happens in real life though: We have problems with bullies on the school yard, so when those bullies start spending more time in a virtual world, we are going to see more bullying online.

I see two problems that are exemplified by virtual space:
1) Not being able to see your flesh and blood target/victim allows the aggressor to distance them self from the person being bullied. They are able to label their target (unconsciously) as "other." The moment we can label someone as "other" we de-humanize them. Few people ever intend to hurt their mom, their lover, etc... these people are "us" and protected. The "other" mentality has allowed us to perpetrate great crimes against whole races of people who are not "us." This is even easier to do when you can't see the human characteristics of someone online - the human characteristics that point one we are not separate, we are one.
2) Parents don't know/care/understand how to live in their children's virtual worlds. Our parents are woefully underequipped to understand how most virtual communities work, and most of the time aren't interested either. Not surprising - they didn't grow up with it. While understandable, it is still a big problem when parents are blissful that their child has suffered no bruises at school from bullies, and is unaware of the torture the child may be enduring online... and for kids, virtual/real is becoming blurred. You are right, it is up to society to step in here and help.

The blurring of the virtual/real line isn't good or bad, it just is. We are moving farther into a world that is two... or three, or thousands, of worlds deep. Those lines will blur even more as devices that use "Augmented" reality become popular, adding meta-data and social networks to our reality in a visceral way.

Perhaps this mean that the generation of children currently growing up will be better equipped to care for their children in multiple worlds, in a way today's parent is unable. Who knows?

I'm willing to talk more about question number 3... just ask me in person. :)

Thanks for the compliments regarding my parents. I feel the same way about your mom, and feel safe in saying your father was the same. There's no way you became the incredible woman you are without having incredible parents. :)