After a fantastic discussion last night on the subject of trolling, harassment, and the internet, I had the pleasure of running into more than a few ardent trolls.
Their arguments for why things like the outing of ViolentAcrez, the shaming of racist youth by Jezebel, and other acts of “retaliation” against known trolls, or people who are trolling, basically fell back to one main point. Free Speech.
To them, supporting the actions of the few, taken against the trolls, is to take a stand against free speech. This, however, is simply moronic.
Free Speech is the right to say anything you wish. A right that I, as a blogger (however unknown), and wannabe journalist, support without question or addendum.
What the trolls seem to miss is this: Free Speech however is not the right to say anything you wish without consequence. Our words carry the power to move and motivate, or harm and destroy. Speaking is an action, and all actions have consequences.
We are completely free to say what we want, when we want, to who we want. They are free to lose respect for us, to point out our stupidity, or our brilliance, to ignore us, or to call the police if what we say constitutes a crime.
We dictate our words, and our words show who we are to the world.
Be ready to be judged by what you say.