By Gregory Moore
It may be very dreary this first day of February in the Alamo City but that has no bearing as to what are some of the front page stories of the week coming up.
We all know of the big game that is next Sunday and I’m sure nobody really cared about Tony Romo throwing an interception to end the NFC’s chances at winning an all star game that is usually played in Hawaii the Sunday after the big game.
Then again I was actually still trying to figure out what in the world was Rihanna wearing and why Taylor Swift and Beyonce didn’t get more awards than they did.
And so as I started sifting through the emails for the paper, trying to get some bearing as to where this week’s paper would be headed news wise, I came across the following user comment from a video I posted on the paper’s YouTube account:
Baboons in America
This country would be far more productive with these apes shipped the f*)k out of here. Blacks are the thorn in the ass of society. – ProximitySymbol
Want to talk about eye opening at a time when you are still trying to wipe the sleep from your eyes.
This message was posted about three hours ago this Monday morning about the CNN Special, “Black In America 2” and let me say that while nothing hardly ever rattles me or shakes me about racial hatred these days, I’m still flabbergasted by the ‘anonymous’ authors who believe in the Third Reich theories but are scared to post their real names and faces.
And what is still baffling is the fact that a site like YouTube, while is big as it is and as great as it is for millions who look to post something funny or to enhance their web presence, is incapable of actually filtering out these types of user comments and or channel hosts.
And so what I’ve done is that I’ve forwarded the comment on to the folks at YouTube but what this is for the rest of us is what President Obama likes to call a “teachable moment”.
In this case it is understanding the importance of Internet civility.
UNDERSTANDING THE RIGHT TO FREE SPEECH CLAUSE ON THE WEB
There is a difference between understanding free speech and the rights that our Constitution affords us.
Generally, you can pretty much say just about anything in the nation but what many do not realize is that there are guidelines and/or parameters for such speech.
For example, as often as I am on the airwaves, I know that I cannot say certain words on the public airwaves but if I am on satellite radio or doing an Internet radio cast, I can drop F bombs and swear like there is no tomorrow.
Now that’s not to say that you cannot say certain words on the public airwaves because the word “bitch” has been dropped so many times I think it has a permanent zip code on some talk shows in the country.
You can write just about anything you want and if you want to really get noticed, you can publish it. But here’s the caveat to your right to put your words on paper: some people may find it offensive and may not read your material or they may actually look to get you banned from certain arenas like school libraries, bookstores, etc.
On the World Wide Web, such checks and balances are still not in existence.
It is as much the wild, wild west today as it was twelve years ago when I helped start Spurshoops.com and was an integral part of the Internet sports website craze.
Back then Internet columnists were shunned at by the mainstream press and professional leagues didn’t even think they existed for the benefit of coverage. And while that may have changed, one thing that has stayed constant for the Internet writer is a more lenient attitude to writing and social comments.
Just like you can drop an F bomb on satellite radio these days, Internet writers can freely express their displeasure with something in a post.
Usually when that happens, the ‘author’ is anonymous because they have something to hide or fear.
And that mere act of cowardice brings us to our teachable moment: anonymity is being shunned for the sake of authenticity and credibility on the web.
YouTube cannot go around every user’s website and check their comment posts (I just went ahead and blocked the idiot from ever posting to my page) but what it can do is actually monitor and make sure that a user who may be a channel provider adheres to the community rules.
These rules aren’t there to block a person’s right of free speech but more to help enhance an experience that many still think is taboo.
If YouTube and other websites like Facebook and Twitter have guidelines for “Internet civility” amongst its community members, are they being “Big Brother” and watching everything one would say or are they expecting each and every member to treat the other as that person would want to be treated?
If anything it is the latter.
It is why I sent YouTube an email bringing attention to the comment that ProximitySymbol left on my comments page.
It wasn’t that this person was just commenting on the video post; it was the fact that this person has a channel and in my opinion, violated the community policies that YouTube has in place.
My effort is to help YouTube enforce its own rules.
If that makes me a ‘snitch’ as some would think, then so be it.
But when you are in the business of trying to get people to read your stories, view your videos and market your website as one that has credibility in an ever changing world, a company like YouTube is relying on channel hosts like myself to help clean up the bad elements on the site and help promote healthy debate on all subject matter.
In essence that is what true understanding of the first amendment right of free speech is all about and it is what helps foster a better Internet community on a platform like YouTube.