Friday, November 16, 2012

Hello There Racists Tumblr: Don't Know What to Think

I don't know what to think of a new Tumblr site called "Hello There, Racists."

"Hello, There Racists" searches out and displays Tweets and other social media posts from people who write boneheaded racists screeds against President Obama and others. Some of the offending Tweets seem to be assassination threats against the president.  

The site displays the Tweets, of course, but also includes as many facts about these racists as they could find. this includes the URLs for their Twitter and Facebook accounts, where they live and work, a bit about their background, and usually photographs of these offenders.

The photos, of course, are easy enough to find, since they're included on the social media sites where they write their screeds.
This Pennsylvania youth
used a racial slur to describe the president
and is among the many featured in "Hello
There, Racists" on Tumblr.

It's all about public shaming, which seems to be a trend on line. And I have seriously mixed views on this.

Of course, I don't want to protect racists. If they post stupid stuff on social media, in a sense it's fair game for anybody to react to it. It's in the public domain, after all.

Even so,   there's probably varying degrees of culpability among the people featured on Hello There, Racists. Some of them likely are like that all the time, just complete, unredeemable jerks.

 But some probably posted stuff in a dumb moment, and for whatever reason didn't remove the statements when they came to their senses. Or did remove them, but the statements were captured before they removed. them.

Again, no excuse for being racists, but I wonder if the punishment will fit the crime in all cases.  It's such a wild card on how people will react to the boneheads featured in "Hello There, Racists."

There can be all sorts of reactions. Do all of the people in the Tumblr site deserve to lose their jobs? Maybe. Maybe not. What if someone harasses them after seeing them on "Hello There, Racists." What if somebody harasses their families? Assaults or kills any of the people featured? Their families?

Unlikely, but possible.

The Tumblr site does have a disclaimer urging people not to engage in violence. But the people most likely to engage in violence don't pay attention to such disclaimers

"Hello There Racists" proves my point that there are a lot of nutjobs out there on social media. So one kook posts a vile, racists statement, and then another kook kills the racists?

And what if people are falsely accused? Everything spreads so fast these days. Remember this week the voice behind the Muppet Elmo was widely reported to have had improper sex with an underage guy. Turns out the "underage guy" lied, and was an adult who was in a consensual relationship and finally recanted.

But how much damage has been done to what turns out to be an criminally innocent Elmo guy?

Along those lines, what happens if somebody featured on "Hello There, Racists," actually didn't make the statement that it looked like they did. Somebody could have hacked their account. Somebody could be pretending to be another person on line. The possibilities are endless.

I get a little worried about vigilante justice.

That said, looking through "Hello There, Racists" is morbidly fascinating, like viewing a train wreck in action. Some of the people whose pictures accompany their screeds look like the moronic bullies they probably are. But many others look normal, even sweet and innocent. Out of the mouths of babes, I guess.

I also wonder if this trend of outing people who make dumb comments on social media could get out of control. Everybody hates some opinion somewhere.

And as I said, there are a lot of crazies out there. It doesn't take many wackos to cause havoc.

What if somebody creates a Tumblr site attacking people, for, I don't know, liking chocolate chip cookies. If a small group of people really hate chocolate chip cookies, will they expose the chocolate chip lovers on a Tumblr or Facebook site, then go out and attack them?

Probably not over chocolate chip cookies. But you see my point. It's legitimate to criticize the viewpoints of racists, but when does attacking others' opinions become stupid or dangerous?

It's still a wild west on the web, I guess.

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