Also: Why Arguing with (Many) Conservatives on the Internet is useless.
So I'm on FB, as I often am.
One of my ex-students has this history of posting kind of terrible memes. Racist memes, I mean.
Memes like this.
The thing is, she's not a terrible human being. I've had her in several classes, and we've gotten to know one another -- as you do -- not on a personal level, because she's my student; but on more than a superficial level.
I know she's not the person these memes suggest she is. Not to mention, she often posts sane and even social justicy memes and comments as well! Also, now and then, when I feel up to it, I will challenge her gently in comments; and frequently she responds well to these challenges.
But this afternoon. Yikes.
She posted yet another meme, this one about that flag.
The story that went with it: Al Sharpton Demands Kid Rock Stop Using That Flag.
A gentleman, who, as it developed as the comment stream ran on, was her son, made a comment. Not just a sort-of racist comment, but an appalling racist comment. (I am changing the names, because this is a student / ex-student.)
Dude: I'd tell that nigger to suck my dick on national television, then and only then I would consider it.
To which I replied, addressing not him but my student -- I did not at this point realize Dude was her son:
Me: Nice friends you have, Ellie. And tell me again that there's nothing racist about that flag. Please.
Ellie: It is freedom of speech. No matter how racist.
After which I went on a bit of a rant:
Me: Yes, he clearly has the right to say whatever horrible racist things he wants to say. I would hope you would have the decency to call him out on the horrible racist things he says. That, too, is part of our responsibility, as people in a society which has free speech.
Free speech is not just the *right* to speak. It is the *responsibility* to evaluate the speech of ourselves and others, and to speak up when we see bad ideas being put forth; and to promote good ideas.
Otherwise, the marketplace of ideas fails, and free speech is worthless.
At this point, Dude reappears:
Dude: What ever. Those who think they are high and mighty are often mistaken.
Me: Dude, whatever you mean by that, there can be no mistake about your first comment on this thread. It is racist and homophobic and hateful, and you should be ashamed that you made it.
Dude: I'm not ashamed of anything I say because I know I can get a rise out of people like you
(Charmingly, he added this meme:
He's a keeper, folks.)
Me: Ellie, when you share memes like this? Dude is the sort of person you sound like. He's who people think you are. Maybe you should think about that.
Dude: And I think your a snobby bitch who needs the dust knocked off her pussy and the stick removed from her ass.
At this point (a) Ellie intervened to call Dude out as her son; and I quit responding, both because Dude was her kid, and because once asshats start getting abusive, there's really no point.
BUT. Dude did not quit. He escalated, in fact, posting over the next several minutes about a dozen abusive posts and memes, most of them filled with racist, sexist, and homophobic language.
Just a few of the memes he posted:
When I left FB, he was still posting horrible comments and memes. The anger, I'm more than 75% certain, arose from my daring to challenge him -- to talk back. And you will notice that his first response was to promise sexual violence against me.
There are your Conservatives, folks. Family values and morals my back teeth.