Anonymity and Speaking Freely

by bandicootonaburnedridge

Google+ vs facebook. Anonymity vs responsibility.
“Freely” in no way implies “with courtesy”.
As an example, the Australian blog Club Troppo (which counts as reasoned and thoughtful in its posts) has a thread that has generated a conversation that is clearly off the rails. Anonymous commenters the culprits here. A number of named commenters and the OP write reasonably and with some courtesy.

It deals with a former Guantanamo prisoner (David Hicks), who was released some years ago after admitting to various crimes and agreeing not to profit from this. His case has re-surfaced in the MSM because of a documentary on the Australian ABC and his publication of a book (Guantanamo: My Journey) .

Within 7 posts, the commenters have suggested Hicks:

  • is a traitor and should be executed (presumably extra-legally as this is not part of Australian Law)
  • is a sexual inadequate, an advocate of rape and wanton shooting
  • should have been killed by his captors
  • placed himself outside the “social contract” (Rousseau or La guillotine?) and, by implication, is an outlaw (in the strict sense)

And that, it seems to me, is the Godwin Limit. Despite reasonable intervention from the OP, by post 40 the call is for assassination.
Dogwhistles were clear from the start, and attracted the tribe:

  • the majority of Australians … (and various “he’s unAustralian and so not entitled to legal due process”)
  • like a lot of other people …
  • Rule .303 covers this case … (a movie reference to a killing by a soldier during the Boer War)

No doubt many other examples can be found, and parallels drawn. But the impoverishment of the political discussion is irreversible.

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