Technological innovations have greatly enhanced many aspects of our life. The way we communicate is one of them. However, any change brings not only positive outcomes, but it may also result is some negative effects. Such is the invention of the Internet. On one hand it is a perfect tool for communication with its revolutionary speed and wide accessibility. On other hand, the information publicly available on the Internet is not restricted based on its content, although several attempts have been made, and therefore different age groups are exposed to sometimes violent or harmful information. Hate propaganda is one of the most dangerous types of information publicly accessible on the Internet. Hate groups have been dramatically rising in the United States lately. Since distribution of hate propaganda is inexpensive and far-reaching via Internet, this problem may pose a real danger for our society.

This problem has been addressed in the article by Young Kim called “Hate Propaganda in Cyberspace: Censorship, Freedom of Speech, and Critical Surfing”. The article has provided an outline of the problem as well as introduced a solution presented by further actions the Kim suggests taking in order to lessen the hurt made by hate propaganda in the Internet.1 Kim explains that the hate propaganda owns its popularity to the two major factors: freedom of speech and wide accessibility of the Internet.2 Further the article describes why hate groups are being so much influenced by the proliferation of hate in the Internet.

Censorship is another issue raised in Kim’s article. Freedom of speech is an essential part of democratic government, because the only way truth can emerge is when there is an open competition of ideas. However, there is a strong support of censorship when people start mentioning extremely offensive opinions. Kim suggests that Internet made censorship far too unrealistic and therefore the responsibility of the hate propaganda should now be heavily placed on parents and educators. 3

In her article “Hate Propaganda in Cyberspace” Kim points out that hate propaganda is targeting new groups, among which are children and young people.4 This fact is supported by statistics from other sources, although it has been noted that the influence of hate propaganda on young people in the Internet is still relatively small. Besides, there are many restrictive programs already available to prevent students from visiting hate web sites.

Censorship is an important action to prevent the spread of hate propaganda. Unfortunately, as Kim notes, of all media sources Internet is the most free and uncontrolled.5 Kim explains that it is really hard to regulate or monitor Internet due to its decentralized and worldwide nature.6 It is easy to avoid censorship, if one is imposed, by simply changing a geographical location of venue of the web site. For example, if one country restricts certain information to be displayed online, another may allow its legal publicity under certain laws, such as the 1st Amendment in the United States. Thus, once the information is published in the U.S., it is exposed to worldwide access. Kim makes a very good point on this explaining that there are no boundaries of freedom for people who know Internet well. 7

The article “Hate Propaganda in Cyberspace: Censorship, Freedom of Speech, and Critical Surfing” by Young Kim is written from a conflict theoretical perspective showing that while Internet is considered to be a public good, it serves certain groups not in the most beneficial way for the rest, and in cases like hate propaganda it can be damaging for the majority of people in society.

Kim’s view is certainly biased, since she shows only one side of an issue: how hate propaganda and lack of censorship are damaging for the society as a whole. However, it is arguable that freedom of speech should be questioned at all. If we want to enjoy the freedom fully, the full protection should be given to the freedom of speech; there should be no compromises about it. The freedom of speech documented in the First Amendment is not only a constitutional protection, but also an inevitable part of democratic government and independence, which are essential values in our society. That is why the American citizen’s right to free speech is should be held as the highest virtue and any censorship of freedom of speech should not be allowed, but only respected. Nevertheless, Kim’s article is valuable in essence that instead of offering a simple solution, it emphasizes the role of parents and educators in helping kids to distinguish between right and wrong.

References:

  1. Kim, Young M. “Hate Propaganda in Cyberspace: Censorship, Freedom of Speech, and Critical Surfing”, Computers in the Social Studies Journal, Vol.10 , n 4, October/December 2002, Online at: http://www.cssjournal.com/y_m_kim.html
  2. Kim.
  3. Kim.
  4. Kim.
  5. Kim.
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  7. Kim.