Stab Magazine | “Inciting Racial Hatred - A New Low For Stab”

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“Inciting Racial Hatred – A New Low For Stab”

A few words on deranged keyboard decadence. 

// Jun 23, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

“I think the Internet is broken,” said Evan Williams, co-founder of Twitter, to The New York Times. What originally was dreamt of as a space for meaningful conversation, free speech and the exchange of information and ideas on a public platform became just that. Sadly, ‘that’ is a far cry from Evan’s utopian web-ideology. Today, man(and woman)kind are environmentally disposed to the new online order. An era of life behind avatars, screen names and the anonymous. “I thought the world would automatically be a better place,” continued Evan. “I was wrong about that.” 

Yesterday, we received an email titled: “Inciting Racial Hatred – A New Low For Stab“, referencing “Europe’s Premier Surfboard Factory Goes Up In Flames”–a story that was written in press release fashion with little embellishment, speculation, rumour or anything that typically drives heated messages through our server. The gentleman, who spoke on behalf of England, asked we remove the comments of a now-banned member of the Disqus for well, inciting racial hatred. 

As the comment section can be a dick measuring affair, with rulers out comparing whose irreverence, wit, shock or offense can outgrow the other, tender spots were hit. This time, it was the tip of terror. England has the right to be sensitive: The tragic fire at Grenfell Tower last week resulting in at least 79 casualties, white on Muslim violence, ISIS attacks, recent situations ending in that all-too-common term ‘terrorism’ and the injury and deaths of innocent civilians. The comment section of the article turned into, at times, a hateful fiesta aimed at Muslim extremism (particularly in regard to the fire at Grenfell). 

We at Stab consider free speech a privilege. Notable surf historian, Matt Warshaw once told me, “Anonymity gives cover to creeps and bullies, but it’s also oxygen for criticism, free speech and creativity.” The comment sections across the internet are generally dank rooms with walls dripping negativity, hatred, race and sexism with the occasional bout of genius. The man who spoke on behalf of England went on to say, “This is nothing that a surf related publication should be allowing its supposed audience to laugh and joke about. You should be ashamed of allowing racial hatred like that to appear on a surf publication.”  

This shame, I often ponder. Not from the continuous battering of my writing style, sexual orientation or level of education inspired by anything with my name on it courtesy of my footnote, er, shall I say, peers? But, for the sake of those who read this website and the reflection it has on the Stab community. One side thinks, let ‘em have their free for all; keyboard jockeys need a horse to beat. The other is, comment sections aren’t truck stop bathroom stalls and need moderation. 

As Dion Agius once succinctly told me (and I’m paraphrasing), “It’s like you guys have created surfing’s MET Gallery, but the only difference is, after an artist puts their time and effort into their work, at the MET nobody can come up with a marker a draw a cock over their painting. There’s no section for someone to scribe, ‘fuck you’, ‘fag’ or explain every layer of hate. And, the thing is, never in my life has one person walked up to me and said, ‘Dion, you fucking suck, I hate everything you do.’” 

So why get off on the digital shock of the web? Where does this need to draw cocks come from? Even veteran surf writers use similar platforms to incite negativity. 

See veteran surf writer and professional receding hairline, Charlie Smith. His vision of surf media is one-sided warfare (ever played Battleship alone?), lobbing grenades and inviting the return. But, what’s the point? It’s a silly game with no reward. One I may be currently playing into, that clever fuck, but Satan help me if I hit my forties and am living off my wife’s salary and taking shots at surf writers I’ve never met in person, who happen to be half my age and twice as handsome. 

The point is, what lives on the internet is meaningful. Cyberbullying is powerful enough to drive kids to suicide yet somehow, on the surface, there’s no personal consequence for one’s online words. 

Honey, welcome to the age of keyboard decadence. 

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