Fighting Virtual Hate
A petition circulating on Change.org is calling for Twitter to adopt a “report abuse” button. After Caroline Criado-Perez successfully campaigned for Jane Austen to be featured on Britain’s 10-pound note, she began to receive an onslaught of rape and death threats via Twitter. Now, over 60,000 people have signed the petition, calling for Twitter to take stronger measures against online hate.
Imran Awan, a supporter of the petition, writes that a “report abuse” button would help not only targets of sexism, but all potential targets of hate. Citing a recent study by Tell MAMA, (Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks), most anti-Muslim hate crimes occurred online (74 percent). Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi recalls the 2012 Summer Olympics, when the first female competitors from Saudi Arabia were harassed and threatened on Twitter from men in their own country. “What’s wrong outside Twitter is wrong inside Twitter, but because you have a coded name, you feel free to insult,” he said.
Although the petition still needs over 30,000 signatures, Twitter has already stated its intention to implement a “report abuse” button for individual tweets.
City supports family in face of hate crime
Tracy, CA Councilwoman Nancy Young and her family remain dignified and composed in spite of multiple vandalisms at her home. Earlier this month, her yard was defaced by swastikas, rocks behind her tires, and finally, a bag of seven dead rabbits left on her doorstep.
Responding to the incident, Young said, "...I know people want me to get so upset so they can get upset with me, but I am not going to give (the perpetrators) power over my emotions." Young’s husband James, echoed her sentiments by saying he’s not upset at who did it, which he believes sends a much better message than the ones left in his front yard. “Hatred is a waste of time. It messes with your health and you grow old before your time,” according to Mr. Young.
Tracy Mayor Brent Ives offered a personal apology, promising to catch the perpetrators. Characterizing the incidents as "troubling," Tracy City Manager Leon Churchill said, "This community is more resilient and strong in its diversity than anyone can imagine. We are home to people of all hues, all faiths, all ethnicities and all beliefs. I respect that, but I don't respect hate crimes.”
Pink Limo Ride: Honoring Upstanders Through Song
When Kate Nash heard that her friends were attacked because of their appearance, she reacted in the best way she knew how: writing a song. Titled “Pink Limo Ride”, the song is an homage to her friend Mika, who attempted to protect a friend. Nash describes the incident here.
“When I looked on facebook and saw a picture of him I cried. ... All I can do is be there for him. The Sophie Lancaster Foundation have also been there for him. They were in touch instantly & helped guide him through how to deal with the police and investigation,” wrote Nash in a letter in Spin. “There are some small things I can do to help my friend, one of those was write him this song. But there must be more that I can do. I want to stamp out hate and prejudice. I want things to change.”
The Sophie Lancaster Foundation was created in response to the murder of Sophie Lancaster, a UK teen attacked and killed for her alternative appearance. As a result of the tragedy, Manchester Police designated attacks against goths and other alternative cultures as a hate crime.
Often when an incident like this happens, especially to someone close, it’s hard to know what to do. Pink Limo Ride is a great example of how to move forward and stay positive in spite of hateful attacks.