The ramblings of a giant squid…

There is no such thing as “cyberbullying”

Crime, Current Events, Friends-Romans-Countrymen, Politics and Activism, Rules, Security

The time has come for people to wise-up.  Despite the media outcry for harsher laws, there is no such thing as “cyberbullying” and it’s well past time people owned up to that fact.  Here is an important thing to remember:

We already have harassment laws!

Yes, Canada and all civilized places already have laws about harassing and threatening behaviour.  We all have laws about telling lies in public, whether spoken (slander) or written (libel).  These are laws that are well-established, and well-tested in court.  All that remains is to apply them to behaviour on the internet… something that has been done many times.

That someone uses the internet as a medium instead of, say, the newspaper or radio is a matter of choice.  That the internet is ubiquitous may be a mitigating factor when assessing damage, but the criminal or uncivil act itself is no different.  There are legal tests for harassment, for threats, for slander and for libel.  We do not need new laws.

In fact, making a new law is likely to create larger problems – it creates two classes of the same criminal issue.  Take out a libellous ad in the local paper and you’re naughty.  Post that ad from your iPad and it’s somehow a greater crime?  The only winners in that kind of scenario are lawyers.

Just because you feel bad about something another person posted on the internet does not necessarily make that person a bad person, nor does it make you a victim.

But something needs to be done!

Yes!  Something does need to be done.  Three somethings, in fact:

  1. Eliminate the term “cyberbullying” from the vernacular.  It’s harassments, threats, slander or libel, just the same as if it’s taking place in other media.  Computers do not make it special or more important.  The sooner people understand that, the better for everyone.
  2. Start using the existing laws we have, and apply them properly.  This has two effect – the first being that people will learn what the existing limits on this kind of behaviour actually are, and that their anti-social behaviour has consequences; second, more common enforcement of these laws will teach people that just because you don’t like something doesn’t make it criminal harassment, bullying, or even necessarily evil.
  3. Third, and probably most importantly, every single person has to start realizing that their public behaviour can now be held easily to public scrutiny.  Yes, there are cameras everywhere, and if you act like a fool, there’s a good chance other people will find out.  Other people finding out about the things you did is NOT bullying or harassment.  But more to the point, if you act in a civilized, mature way, and if we collectively lose the urge to photograph every little thing, no matter how inappropriate or mundane, then all our lives will be improved in a measurable way and there will be a lot less opportunity for embarrassing material to end up on the internet.  ONLY YOU CAN PREVENT YOU FROM LOOKING LIKE A BUFFOON, A WHORE, A CROOK, OR A SCUMBAG.

I should be able to behave however I want!

No.  No you shouldn’t.  The belief that you should is a self-centred entitlement, and it is wrong.  Behaving how you want, within the bounds of law is for private spaces, away from the eyes (and cameras) of others.  If you’re in public (and that’s anywhere there is a camera that you don’t personally control) you have an onus to behave in a manner that is appropriate for public consumption.  The public will see and judge you based on your behaviour.  If you’re not willing to stand up and be proud of your actions in public, then don’t do them.

This is a lesson that needs to be taught to all children, and seemingly most adults.

Follow this rule, and your chance of being a “victim” of “cyberbullying” goes way, way down.

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