Anorak News | Free Speech: comfortable students want Universities to censor free expression on Yik Yak

Free Speech: comfortable students want Universities to censor free expression on Yik Yak

by | 9th, February 2015

In the US of A, universities are clamping down on uncensorsed chatter.

Chapel Hill, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is considering banning a smartphone app that some say encourages hate speech, but other schools say free speech among students needs to be promoted. Yik Yak allows users post anonymously to a local bulletin board, and those posts can be seen only by people in a certain geographic area.

“People have been saying some very racist, very hurtful things,” said Ashley Winkfield, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill who has kept a running tab of “yaks” that she finds troubling.

I find Winfield troubling. She’s a censor. If the law is broken, then Yik Yak can let the authorities know. But she’s a bansturbator.

During the height of the “Black Lives Matter” protests on campus last fall, for example, one person posted, “I really hate blacks, I’m going home where there aren’t any.”

Another poster said, “the way blacks are acting right now kind of justify a slavery.”

Dicks say dickish things. Mock them. Hold them up to ridicule.

Winkfield, though, is less sure-footed:

“These are people we are going to class with, people who we see every day, and they might have some type of ill will toward us,” she said.

So. Banning them from talking will help update their views how? By making them hide their idiocy? By not holding them up to scrutiny? But making them victims of censorship?

So much for the censorious. We can surely rely on the educators to uphold free speech and the right to offend:

Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Winston Crisp said UNC-Chapel Hill officials are examining options for dealing with Yik Yak.

“I think it adds little to no value to our community and creates more problems for our students than it will ever be worth,” Crisp said in a statement. “We want Carolina to be a place where people feel comfortable talking about race and other issues, and we are working hard to create opportunities for them to do that in a constructive and respectful way.”

That comfortable talking means saying what the authorities want you to say. Because it’s of paramount importance that students are comfortable. Sure, the conversation can turn to how students can change things for the better, but if the bansturbators don’t want and it and that discourse looks like causing discomfort, then such chatter must be stopped.

Yik Yak is, of course, anonymous at the point of reading. It’s something Suzanne Moore addressed:

Anonymity is the troll’s only real-life friend. It allows a disinhibition online. Combined with the fact that none of the normal feedback mechanisms of everyday life exist – no eye contact, no authority figures, no sense that behaviour is being monitored or reacted to by an actual person with feelings – all of this means people seem to think there is no going too far and there are no consequences.

The internet works best because it is not regulated. Anonymity gives it power. It makes it fun. It can be enjoyable to say what you can’t say to someone’s face. It’s puerile, adolescent, rude and dim. But the internet need not be another place where we are on CCTV and recorded; where what we say can be taken down and used against us at a later date.


Posted: 9th, February 2015 | In: Reviews, Technology Comment | TrackBack | Permalink