A new MTV-AP poll says that most teens and "twentysomethings" don't care if they read "nigger" online. As a twentysomething, I'm disappointed. As someone on the internet, I'm disappointed. As a human, I'm scared. We all should be.
The findings were the same for all the slurs cited—fag, slut, retard—none of them fazed youths within the context of the internet. While the latter two have been used and diluted beyond the sting of a racial or homophobic slur, the point remains: an entire generation thinks speech matters less when it's online:
In contrast, only a third say discriminatory words about blacks are most often intended as hurtful, while two-thirds think they are mostly jokes. And 75 percent think slurs against women are generally meant to be funny.
The 4chan-ification of the internet, the commonplace of the troll, the guaranteed anonymity of it all. The internet's groomed many of us to care little about what we say—after all, we can edit (or delete it) afterwards. But even if writing with abandon's become easier, it doesn't make reading any less painful. Indeed, the poll shows clearly that groups to which a slur applies are offended most of the time, as opposed to those doing the slurring. Millions of kids who don't think what they say matters as long as it's online become threatening to society as almost everything we do goes online. [AP via Slate]