The Internet and a gun
Comments sections on websites have become the catalyst for ignorance and hate. Everyday, there are people who must be searching the Internet for articles written about their “favorite” subjects for the sole purpose of creating tension, writing hateful comments and insulting others. The impersonal nature of comments has given rise to a new breed of Internet users; ones who feel it is their duty to spread ignorance and divisions. On Saturday, Bikya Masr posted an article that reported the statements made by Italian politician Daniela Santanche where she called the Prophet Mohamed a pedophile.
To say Santanche’s comments were ridiculous and ill-willed would be giving her the benefit of the doubt. Her racist speech continues to push the hate toward Islam and misunderstanding of the religion to a new level. What was shocking was not the Italian MP’s statements, but the comments commending her behavior that quickly found their way into the open comment section below the article. There were people calling me names, pointing to Santanche as a hero, a handful of readers talking about how “right” she was in stating what she did; not to mention the few comments we were forced to moderate and remove for their insults.
Throughout the day, as comment upon comment began pouring in, it was obvious what was going on. People were writing angry diatribes against Islam because they didn’t actually have to see face-to-face the people they were lambasting. The Internet has become like a gun. In the United States, independent statistics show that murder by gun is the leading weapon of choice for killers. The impersonal nature of simply pulling the trigger is how people are killed.
The National Rifle Association and the Republican Party’s argument is simple: guns don’t kill people, people kill people. Right, because how many of the murders would have occurred had the perpetrator not had access to a firearm? Probably a small percentage. Certainly, people do kill people, but with a gun, individuals are able to have little or no contact with the person they are murdering. It can be done from afar, through the squeeze of a trigger. Blood doesn’t splatter on their clothes. It is easy, quick and impersonal.
The Internet has become just as ruthless and impersonal. Reading through these comments, one of which stated “Prophet Mohammed was a killer, looter, and the biggest terrorist we have ever seen in human history.” It was shocking to read others in a similar vein, the bigotry coming out in a manner that shows just how easy it has become to write anything and click the submit button. People don’t have a clue. We can argue the merits of their statements, but it is obvious that these people are part of the fear-mongering that continues to pervade the world toward Muslims; or anything. Without being forced to deal directly with another individual in person, readers have become akin to the murderer who never has to feel the heart stop beating. Write a comment and move on. Shoot, kill and walk away.
Nobody can argue with these people, who write such arrogant and ignorant statements. It is as if they didn’t even bother to read the article, or think before they wrote some hate-filled statement, such as the Prophet as a terrorist. Where do they come up with this stuff? 100 years ago, it was the Jews being attacked. It didn’t matter if a person had never met a Jew, they were the terrorist, the baby killer, etc. Now, it is Muslims who are being attacked and in this global age of interconnectivity, people have the quick and easy means of quickly making a comment, submitting it and having no contact whatsoever with the people they are writing about.
Just as a gun allows someone a quick and easy way of killing, the Internet has made a quick and easy way to defame and insult. You don’t have to see the face of those you attack with words. The Internet is just as impersonal as the gun and it is being used with greater frequency. Is the open comment section to blame? Maybe. Are people to blame, certainly. Either way, the Internet has become the gun of the modern era for bigots and hypocrites.