Exercise your speech, communicate problems

Katie Smith, Editor in Chief

A Minnesota father was shocked when he found out his 11-year-old, adopted daughter was being bullied via SnapChat earlier this week.

Luckily, Brad Knudson recorded the videos a set of twins sent to his daughter; he also recorded the hateful messages the twins’ father left on his voicemail, calling Knudson a series of racially insensitive and anti-gay slurs.

Although Knudson’s daughter was only 11 years old, she had access to a cell phone, social media applications, and therefore a new and harder-to-prove vessel for hate speech.

SnapChat, an application that allows cell phone-users to communicate through photos and videos, displays each message for 10-20 seconds before vanishing.

The traceless nature of SnapChat makes it the perfect tool for impulsive, app-happy people to personally attack their targets.

In this case, the abusers sent consecutive videos to Knudson’s daughter, calling her a “slut” and a series of racial slurs.

Even more appalling, is the lack of ownership their father was willing to take regarding his children’s behavior, claiming the terms used to bully Knudson’s daughter are ones he often uses around the house and in conversation.

Hate speech is protected under the United State’s first amendment as free — the theory being that the best combatant against disagreeable speech is more speech – meaning in this country, we have a constitutional right many do not, which is to become publically vocal about the things that affect us.

This man who allowed his children to harm someone else, and then contributed to that harm himself, has a misunderstanding of the world, but he is not alone.

Whether he was defending his children, or honestly didn’t think they had done anything wrong, his perspective was skewed by an environment he was comfortable and familiar with, and he assumed the standards of that environment applied universally.

Everyone does this.

Nature or nurture – our opinions and behaviors are uniquely shaped. This is why exercising our free speech is imperative.

If we should ever disagree with anything, we have the capability of reaching out directly to the source and telling them exactly why.

As children we are taught to talk nicely about our problems, express ourselves, don’t hit, etc.

Adults are still hitting, and children are being handed technology that allows them to bully in a way we have never had to respond to.

Technology is a vehicle for this hatred but it is not the enemy. The real violence comes from a place that is perhaps more biological or more trained, but it certainly does not need to remain unchanged.

Katie Smith is a senior journalism major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].