Hate Mail And Freedom Of Speech

There’s email, mail, junk mail, spam, and hate mail. We live in an era of unprecedented communication capability, yet effective person-to-person communication still eludes the grasp of many.

The internet has evolved. Not only do we have more access to more information than ever before, we have more ways to communicate back to the those who provided the information in the first place.

For example, many media web sites have blogs and comments and forums sections (including Tera Talks). These features allow feedback from readers to writers.

Some web sites allow a free-for-all style, where almost anything goes, including foul language. Others require readers and responders to keep commentary civil and on topic.

From time to time I chime in to various discussions; and get roasted for an ill-formed opinion, and gain applause for a point well taken.

Recently, an astute Mac user in the UK noticed that Apple’s new Intel Mac TV commercials in the UK were different than those in the US (which pronounced PCs as “dull”).

A previous Apple TV campaign about the Mac being the most powerful desktop computer ever was discarded in the UK because the “power” wasn’t verified by an independent third party.

In the context of that advertising issue, comparing UK TV language vs. US TV language, I posted a loosely formed comment on a site, in part:

“The Brits don’t value free speech in the UK the way we do in the US (except when Parliament meets, and the Prime Minister is giving a speech, then it’s a free-for-all).”

There’s accuracy in there, some tongue-in-cheek, too, but I’m sure you spotted the problem. The context was advertising language, not “freedom of speech” as in The Bill of Rights.

Most readers seemed to understand the context (I admit it was a loosely formed comment), though a couple pointed out the US history of McCarthyism, FoxNews, and other loosely formed arbiters of free speech (as in The Bill of Rights, not as in say-whatever-you-want-it’s-just-a-commercial).

One reader in particular blasted me right away, pointing out the benefits to free speech from the country that brought the world the Magna Carta, and proceeded to rip me a new one and decry my occupation as a porn star (I should be that gifted).

In a cursing, foul language diatribe, he reduced the so-called argument to, “Have you ever read the average Fleet Street newspaper and compared it with
the biased, gutless and self-serving American equivalent
?”

I can honestly respond with, “No. Have you?” I don’t know anyone who reads all of America’s newspapers (or all those in the UK), though most of us who read some of both would agree that coverage styles vary and the stories are not the same in each.

Such garbage is expected on some article comments and many forums. This garbage was sent directly to me; which begged a response, in part:

“First things first, bud. It was tongue in cheek. That’s the nature of the site, the nature of many responses on such a site. You didn’t pick up on it, or the context (advertising, not politics). Pity you. Learn to read between the lines…

I’m not a porn star, never have been, never will be. If I were, there wouldn’t be enough money in Saudi Arabia’s bank accounts to work on a john like you.

Take your venom and bite yourself where you’re obviously not getting any action. The tone of your retort displays an obvious inferiority complex, which is probably deserved.”

I hate it when that happens. But, for the moment, it felt as though a rough part of the world had been smoothed over.