There’s a troll in the dungeon

Almost two weeks ago, Scaachi Koul, a BuzzFeed Canada senior writer, was harassed on Twitter for making a pitch for non-white, non-male writers.

Many people had issues with these tweets, considering them to be misandry, or “racist against white people.”

When her boss, Craig Silverman, came to her defence, Koul was harassed even more, with tweets and messages saying she deserves to be “raped by Silverman.” Koul then deleted her Twitter account.

When I read about this, I was outraged by the response to Koul’s tweets.

Having met Koul at a conference this January, I read the tweets lightheartedly; Koul is an advocate for women of colour working in the journalism industry, so I understood her intent. Like most industries, white men dominate Canadian journalism, so her call for more diversity within BuzzFeed Canada writers, to me, was justified.

At the same time, I see how people who don’t know her could have seen her tweets as unprofessional. She later explicitly stated BuzzFeed had no interest in employing white men, which of course, pissed off a lot of white men.

Afterward, I presented this issue on my personal Facebook, posting the article with the corresponding caption, “Scaachi is my home girl.” I did not write a lengthy post explaining my opinion. I just simply stated, in five words, that I agreed with her.

After posting this, a fellow journalist and good friend of mine commented on my post explaining eloquently how he disagreed with me.

He found Koul’s tweets to be unprofessional and discriminatory. Because I respect this person, we engaged in a civil discussion about the topic.

I stated that I didn’t believe racism against white people exists because white people are the primary beneficiaries of racism. I believe racism can only be perpetuated against minorities. He respectfully disagreed, claiming oppression is still oppression regardless of who it is directed towards.

During this conversation on Facebook, we did not make personal digs at each other; we were just two civil adults engaging in a discussion about racism on the Internet, which for once didn’t end in cyber harassment.

I was quite proud of my friend and myself for our maturity and overall intellect.

The next morning, however, my mood changed.

A random person I don’t know posted on my friend’s wall.

Apparently he had seen our discussion and thought I was in the wrong, but could not comment on the discussion because he didn’t have me as a Facebook friend.

Another stranger also commented on that post saying that I was “ignorant” — he even used my first and last name in the comment.

I couldn’t hold in my anger. Two men I didn’t even know were calling me ignorant on the Internet.

I commented back, saying that my opinion was valid, and suddenly I was in the trenches of a head-to-head Facebook combat with a pissed off white man, just like Scaachi Koul.

My original argument and my initial civil disagreement with my friend became null.

I thought I made a point — that two people can disagree about social issues online without throwing knives — but it turned out to be in vain.

This man was determined to prove me wrong. He wanted to make a fool out of me on Facebook for everyone to see.

He told me I was, “throwing up the old, tired sexist-based argument in an apparent attempt to derail any sort of dialogue.”

You can think whatever you want in regards to my thoughts on racism. That’s okay.

All I’m asking for is to open up a dialogue.

If you disagree with social issues someone has presented on social media, present evidence, argue eloquently and above all, don’t make it personal.

The majority of these Internet trolls seem to have next to no knowledge on the subjects they’re arguing; it’s like they enjoy the battle more than the outcome.

Social media should be used to exchange ideas, not to bully.

These Internet trolls who made Scaachi Koul delete her Twitter account due to fear of harassment clearly do not understand these conversations or the intent behind such comments.

Just because someone says something online that you disagree with does not give you the right to publically humiliate them, harass them, or even worse, threaten their lives.

The things you type on social media are alive forever the second you click “send.” This isn’t a discussion about race, gender, social class or sexuality. This is a discussion about being a decent human being both in person and online.

 

One Comment

  1. And Bethany, you do not believe that Koul’s tweets rise to the level of bullying white males? I am tired of this nonsense that white males are privileged. I can tell you I do not feel privileged. I have a young son and a daughter. Guess which one I hold more fear for that they will not be afforded fair opportunity to succeed and will be the victim of discrimination (hint, it is the one with a penis)?

    Read the attached link of a speech from Barbara Kay. I know, she is just a privileged white woman, right?

    http://www.barbarakay.ca/speeches/speech/women

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