Free speech, we say, is a principle we will defend to the death. Until perhaps we don't agree with what has been said. Then, suddenly, we are able to find very valid reasons to rationalize ourselves away from a supposed absolute value. Cases like Yiannopoulos' push our proclaimed moral positions up against the wall, compelling us to confront our human tendency towards personal bias. And that's why they are so interesting.
Sexist insults and harassment is something women who are involved in politics, the media or head up public organizations unfortunately have to deal with on a daily basis. This sort of taunting has become extremely commonplace in our digital world. It is not acceptable, and society should take a strong stance against it!
The online firestorm known as #GamerGate has made headlines across all forms of media. It has made me embarrassed to call myself a gamer. Just this past week, game developer Brianna Wu and critic Anita Sarkeesian were forced to leave their home and cancel a major university appearance, respectively, because of the avalanche of death threats they received. I'm not too old for cartoons, or gaming. But I'm probably too old for wishing death upon someone because we have different opinions on a video game.
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.