Free Online Speech

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Should there be an end to online anonymous free speech? In his essay “Douse the Online Flamers,” Andrew Keen states that it is difficult to understand how free speech is important to society. He looks back to 1993 when the dawn of the online world promised intellectual freedom however, it has produced the contrary; anonymous hateful speech. He refers to several cases where anonymous hateful comments were extremely harmful to the victims and in one case it caused a teenager’s death. Due to the actions of these anonymous “sadists,” as Keen refers to the anonymous; he believes the Supreme Court should rethink the civic value of anonymous free speech. However, free speech is a vital right of our country, it has endured through the toughest of times and calling for its end is not the answer. We as users of the internet should be cautious of our interactions in the online world, overlook and avoid the attack of the anonymous and cherish our right to free speech given that other countries are not afforded this right. It is doubtful that every piece of legislation enacted by our government can replace vigilant parents. Keen points out the unfortunate case of a thirteen-year old girl, Megan Meier, who committed suicide, due to online bullying by a fabricated persona, whom turned out to be her forty-seven year old neighbor, Lori Drew, the mother of girl with whom Megan had argued. Drew was not charged for the murder because it wasn’t illegal (69). Drew should be held accountable and penalized for her vicious attack on Megan but, where were Megan’s parents while this online harassment escalated into her death. The parents carry the ultimate responsibility of monitoring their children’s internet use. Perhaps there should be more discussion between parents and their children as to what is right and wrong in the online world. With the appropriate guidance, children can avoid situations that can be potentially dangerous. It is saddening that Meier had to go through such cruelty


Cited: Keen, Andrew. "Douse the Online Flamers." Current Issues and Enduring Questions, 9th ed. Ed. Sylvan Barnet and Hugo Bedau. New York: Bedford St. Martin 's, 2011: 68-70.

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