With the school year back in full swing, it's a great time to revisit a topic that affects students, parents and teachers equally: social media. While social media use continues to grow and becomes increasingly common place, it is nonetheless an area of contention, particularly when it comes to kids -- both in and outside of the classroom.
But a new battle is raging, and as pleased as I am to see so many people outraged by a young actress' right to sexual privacy being violated, I can't help but ask; why such an outcry for Jennifer Lawrence? It has always been disgusting to see so many young women, celebrity or no, be abused by the absurdity of non-consensual pornography, so why are we choosing to be outraged now? Shouldn't we have brought this up a long time ago?
There are few rights more important in any healthy democracy than the right to privacy. When citizens believe they are being watched, their willingness to engage in democratic debate is eroded, which in turn undermines our whole democratic process. Yet we clearly have a privacy deficit in this country.
This morning I spoke before The House of Commons' Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights and shared my thoughts on Bill C-13. I know there are concerns with C-13 and believe me, if there was something better on the table I'd be all over it. There isn't, not that I can see. Police have to have the ability to act fast when it comes to cyber-crime or their response is pointless. Our children's rights and privacy is already being violated -- violated by some of the sickest people you can imagine. If it's a choice between them and the police I'm siding with the police.
For the last year I've been speaking and writing at length about the issue Bill C-13 claims to tackle. While the bill's name in the press is the "Cyber-bullying Bill," the more specific problem addressed by components of Bill C-13 is known as "revenge porn," a term I hate for both its inaccuracy and sexualized sensationalism. After a year of arguing for legislation that criminalizes cyber-sexual assault, I cannot support the legislation as written. I cannot trade one set of civil rights for another. We should separate the components of Bill C-13 that deal directly with cyber-sexual assault from those that do not, and debate them as different pieces of legislation.
Today marks one year since I last saw my daughter Rehtaeh alive. The last time we spoke, the last good bye, and the last "I love you." She got out of my car and walked into her mom's house. On the way home she asked if we could stop at McDonald's. How I wish we did, one last time. Rae passed away April 7, 2013. It's been a year-long nightmare but I try to keep hold of myself. Now that I'm outspoken about our daughter's struggles I've unfortunately attracted the attention of the worst society has to offer. They send messages reminding me Rehtaeh is "worm food," she's dead because I failed as a father. But it's mainly through talking that I've learned the difference Rehtaeh made and the impact she's had on others.
I'm writing you in hopes that you can step in and stop these three from causing further harm. Is there a group or organization or caucus, say, that you could refer this matter to and come up with a mechanism for stopping these bullies? I'd really appreciate any help you could provide as I'm now even scared to go to my mailbox for fear of what the next letter from the government might bring. Some of my fellow victims are afraid these bullies are going to get meaner and meaner and de-index our pensions or even cut them back. Some are even saying they're going to take away our mailboxes but I can't believe they'd be that cruel.
Wednesday, Peter MacKay, the new Justice Minister, unveiled Bill C-13, the Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act. The similarly-named bill is now marketed as an effort to crack-down cyber-bullying, yet the vast majority of the bill simply brings back many (though not all) lawful access provisions. As this post suggests, some of the provisions raise some serious concerns. Yet the government is signalling that it would prefer to avoid such debates, wrapping up the provisions in the cyber-bullying flag and backtracking on a commitment made earlier this year to not bring forward Criminal Code amendments that were contained in Bill C-30.
We were horrified to find out that taking a photograph of oneself having sex with an unknowing and unconscious person then texting it out to pretty much everyone she knows wasn't a crime in Canada. Seriously, trust me. It isn't. But now, fortunately, it will be. I am very grateful to hear that Justice Minister Peter MacKay and Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney have announced new legislation that will address this disgusting crime that devastated our daughter Rehtaeh. Now, thanks to this new legislation, ignoring these young victims and their families will no longer be an option.
In so many of the instances in which the popular press (and the general public) apply the label "trolling," they're referring to sincere statements from people who believe every word they're saying. These alleged "trolls" have myriad intentions that may include getting a rise out of their target, but also include silencing their target, humiliating their target, inspiring fear or emotional distress in their target, etc etc etc. It's not provocation merely for provocation's sake, and the stakes are much higher. We don't need special Internet words for hate speech, harassment, or death threats. These words already exist.
Because, I don't know about you, but I'm starting to really get tired of living in a world that facilitates and celebrates the culture of crass and the glorification of stupid. And make no mistake about it. While stupid is everywhere, nowhere is it more pronounced than on the web these days. Mainly because it's easy, it's free, it's everywhere, and it's the fastest route to notoriety and fame. There's good stuff out there. Stuff that both manages to communicate something good and entertain at the same time. One doesn't cancel out the other. It's not an either/or proposition. We just need to sift through the flotsam rising all too often on the top of the information cesspool to get to it.