Pressing Issues: Social media hate speech is foul play

2012-03-24 14:08

It’s amazing how each giant leap in technology provides the uncouth among us with a way of spreading their gospel of hate and bigotry.

The internet and social media have been eagerly adopted by those who spew hate to spread their messages of bigotry at the click of a button.

This was evident when one British student used the heartbreaking collapse of footballer Fabrice Muamba to abandon all decency and post the hateful tweet: “LOL, Fuck Muamba. He is dead.”

Muamba had collapsed suddenly during a match between his side, Bolton Wanderers, and Tottenham Hotspur.

The student, Liam Stacey, was not just acting against the collective expression of concern, but he was using social media to offend.

To their credit, British authorities acted swiftly and arrested the 21-year-old Stacey.

But this incident serves to show how social network platforms have been usurped by those who wish to go beyond sharing social commentary to spewing venom of the most anti-social of sorts.

Whereas others use Twitter to express their feelings and let off steam, the likes of Stacey see it as a way of spreading racist hate.

What is remarkable about Stacey’s behaviour is that when other Twitter users criticised him, instead of showing remorse, he posted even more offensive and racist comments.

We can see that while technology makes it easy to stay in touch no matter where you are, scumbags like Stacey have used these channels to insult, ridicule and belittle other people.

Unfortunately, this is an indication that there are those in society who possess a deep-seated hatred for others they deem to be unlike them. This may show that any social tension will be hijacked by the likes of Stacey to vent unresolved social issues.

Within our own country, a growing culture of intolerance is reflected in some of the messages posted on social networks and online news commentary.

The proportion of insults exchanged on these platforms is incredible and quite shameful.

Retired English fooballer Stan Collymore has become a victim of such insults several times.

These insults are sometimes only based on the fact that he is black and have nothing to do with his character nor his ability to play soccer while he was still a professional.

It is important to isolate the likes of Stacey and use the full might of the law to stop their campaign of hate before it becomes a dangerous cancer in society.

The global football family was praying for Muamba, yet this did not stop Stacey from posting a tweet that went so much against the grain.

PSL side Orlando Pirates posted on their Twitter account: “Our prayers go out to Bolton midfielder Fabrice Muamba and his family. We join the entire football fraternity in wishing him a full recovery.”

This culture of intolerance and exchanging insults must be nipped in the bud, especially in the sporting fraternity as it is all just a game.

Sport should be about entertainment and not injuring and hurting each other.

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