Karpman triangle by Stephen Karpman, M.D. // illustration by Georg Mir, M.A.
Karpman triangle by Stephen Karpman, M.D. // illustration by Georg Mir, M.A.

Harassing harassers is still harassment

OK. First let me explain that I think harassment is a big issue online, especially on Twitter, and that it is absolutely not okay. There need to be consequences, because letting harassers get away with their vitriolic behavior is only establishing a safe zone for this sort of behavior.

We need to speak up about being harassed. We need to defend ourselves. Yes. But as I’ve mentioned in my article on discrimination, we all can fluidly switch roles. We don’t have a reservation of only being the good guys. There’s no such thing as universal innocence, not among humans at least. I want to state that I don’t mean to be a patronizing hippie, preaching that love is the only way. But I firmly believe that when we add hate to hate it doesn’t get better at all.

I don’t want my followers to harass someone else, just because they don’t agree with an opinion. Getting personal, getting insulting, getting aggressive is all wrong. Don’t make assumptions about others based on minimal information. Nearly everyone I got to know, even folks that said they were diametrically opposed to me in terms of politics, can be good people. The problem is that our identities often get in the way when we feel we are disrespected.

I have tons of privilege. I’m white, I’m male, I’m cis, I’m educated, I’m from one of the safest countries on earth. I have an easy time speaking that people should cease aggression. But I know how to be on the receiving end of the stick as well. I’m queer, I’m very soft and sensitive, I’m bipolar, I’m overweight. This all doesn’t make me a good person. Being supportive of our friends, healing others, yes. That makes us a good person, but violence (and words can be weapons, don’t underestimate them) is not a valid option.

We should speak up against hate. Absolutely. We should show our support. But swarming others for not agreeing with us is wrong. I know we might feel we have moral high ground for being victims of hate, but if we perpetuate hate, we are switching roles. We become aggressors. We become persecutors. In our own eyes, we might think we are heroes, but to those at the receiving end of the stick, we are not.

I believe that we can foster healing and understanding. We can foster togetherness. By looking past traits that anger us. The potential to change a hateful person by hate is way smaller than by being respectful. I don’t say worship your oppressors. Oppression and harassment is wrong.

I just say that the ends don’t justify the means.

I can only ever speak for myself though. So take it with a grain of salt. It is my approach. I know that many civil rights movements wouldn’t have made achievements without some measure of aggression. This is not about them. Aggression in the face of systemic injustice is sometimes valid. But perpetuating hate online doesn’t create safe spaces either.

Enjoy life and surround yourself with helpful, nurturing people. Support each other. Take care of each other. Be safe, all.

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