Stupid things people say on the internet

This post was written by Reuben Bard-Rosenberg on June 17, 2010
Posted Under: Uncategorized

“But Arabs are semites too!!”

It has become a staple of internet discussions. Someone will refer to anti-semitism.  And then somebody else will say that so-and-so can’t be anti-semitic because “arabs are semites too”.  They think they are displaying their erudition, yet in fact they are dispaying their stupidity. Clearly words acquire their meanings socially  and historically. A word such as “radical” does not simply mean “of roots”  but refers to particular political traditions and forms of politics. As such its fairly obvious that a word such as “anti-semitism” can refer to something different from the sum of its constituent parts “anti” and “semite”, and via history has come to refer to specifically anti-jewish feeling. Quite simply, it is no great shock that the meaning of a word can diverge from its etymology.

I wonder how these people react when they hear that something is diamond shaped, given that a diamond doesn’t actually look like a diamond shape.

Playing word games is the lowest form of political discourse

“You deleted my comment, your suppressing my right to free speech.”

As you know I support free speech, even for racists, fascists and people who like watching track and field events. Free speech refers to the idea that the state should not prevent people expressing and spreading their opinions. It does not mean that any given publication – online or offline – is compelled to offer somebody a platform. If the guardian refuse to publish something I write, they are not denying my right to free speech. Equally if I delete a comment here (as happens very rarely) I am not impinging on anybody’s right to free speech. I am simply exercising the freedom to determine he content of my publication. If I prevented you setting up your own blog then I would be.

This point was lost on a bunch of BNP supporters who appeared here after Old Holborn linked to us.

I support the right to free speech but not the right to be offend

Scratch the first part. You don’t.

“If you join the labour party your condoning the bloody war in Iraq”

Nope. For grown up people, political activity isn’t a means of displaying your moral convictions but about seeking the best means to fight for more socially just outcomes. Now there is a whole worthwhile debate to be had about whether socialists can achieve anything by putting up a fight inside labour. But moralising at people for joining labour contributes nothing of no value.

Please do suggest your own.

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Reader Comments

Michael

“I was left wing when I was young, I was an idiot when I was young, therefore all left wing people are young idiots.”

#1 
Written By Michael on June 17th, 2010 @ 5:27 pm
Owen C

On the other hand, Labour have got a shit record over Vietnam and Kenya as well. Well, I think they do anyway.

I’d rather not add to any list of pointless comments that have been put on discussion boards!

#2 
Written By Owen C on June 17th, 2010 @ 5:37 pm
Owen

A personal favourite (worded in various different ways): “You’re attacking me for expressing my views. You can’t do that – I have a right to express my opinion.”

Yes, and anyone else who wishes to has a right to express their opinion that your views are wrong, dipshit.

#3 
Written By Owen on June 17th, 2010 @ 5:52 pm
Dave

Always remember – http://xkcd.com/386/ :)

Re free speech, I’ve been taking the view lately that just because one person exercises their right to speak freely doesn’t give them priority – if they are drowned out by a chorus of disgusted listeners, that’s fine by me as long as it’s not a forum in which all voices, however non-consensus, need to be heard.

Generally, the stupid that annoys me most is drawing unjustified conclusions from flimsy evidence.

#4 
Written By Dave on June 17th, 2010 @ 6:20 pm
Reuben

Agree with owen and dave. Way way to common for people – even serious commentators – to conflate attacking someone opinion with contravening their right to free speech. Yasmin Alibhai brown recently made this mistake: when Stephen fry condemned moir’s gay bashing article as unacceptable she gloated that he had accepted her position that free speech must be limited.

#5 
Written By Reuben on June 17th, 2010 @ 8:49 pm
Dave

Absolutely. People tend to forget that the important part of Voltaire’s famous (and probably apocryphal, but no matter) ‘I will defend to the death your right to be an idiot’ is not ‘to the death’, but ‘to be an idiot’. There’s nothing particularly noteworthy in supporting someone’s right to express a view you agree with, even if you do so to the death. To support someone’s right to present a view that you disagree with, though, is notable even if you’re not facing death.

#6 
Written By Dave on June 18th, 2010 @ 1:13 pm
Andrea

“You’re left wing therefore your views are irrational,” and the other side, “You’re an emotional person, that’s why your views are left wing.”

Only had it written to me by one person, but he does keep repeating it, and it does keep making me annoyed.

#7 
Written By Andrea on June 30th, 2010 @ 11:13 pm

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