Edifess allowing racist posts to remain online just isn’t good enough
Calling people Coco Pops isn’t okay
Freedom of speech – it's a wonderful thing. Gone are the restraints on a person's ability to share their beliefs, however controversial. Women can now spread their political opinions, workers can protest for better wages – and apparently shithouse Edinburgh students can call black people "Coco Pops" on an anonymous Facebook page.
If you're one of the over 1,000 followers of Edinburgh's page for anonymous confessions, Edifess, you'll have witnessed a series of racist posts that have recently been published.
What did the Edifess admins say in response? That whilst there will be "more stringent moderation", they won't take the posts down. They want to defend our right to say things.
On the one hand, we should hear what these people have to say. We should be able to challenge them on it, and debate it. But are these people wanting to debate? Do they really need to be educated on why racism is wrong in this day and age? There are enough accessible resources about inclusivity and diversity on the internet and in society now, especially at a privileged university like Edinburgh – these anonymous posters, and the admins that chose to publish their comments, are coming to provoke people.
What's the point in having to combat it again, and again, and again, just so people like this can be "challenged"? Why bite at people trying to provoke you? Saying you think there's too many foreigners at the university is inherently racist, and we shouldn't have to go around in circles about it. These people know the responses they're going to get, and their comments shouldn't be publicised.
Should people be allowed to walk around in black face so we can challenge them? I don't think so. However, posting jokes referring to people of colour as "Coco Pops" has no merit in a debate whatsoever.
You might say we should post it to educate the people who post them again, or to chastise them for what they've done. But these people, who hide behind a screen, are anonymous for a reason. They don't want to be contacted, they don't want to learn – they're doing it because they think it's funny. They're bullies who live for inciting rage online – and in publishing anonymous posts like these, the Edifess admins are providing a platform that allows racists to spout hate speech without facing the consequences.
More importantly, the University of Edinburgh, whilst diverse, is still dominated by the white middle class. The people these posts poke fun or complain about at are a minority in the University, and in the rest of the UK. Edifess should be ashamed for allowing these clear, purposefully racist slurs that target minorities remain on their page.
In their statement, the admins of the page defended their decision to let the posts remain online, saying: "In a society that prides itself on freedom of speech, it is important to find a balance between protecting that right and also protecting our followers' rights not to feel attacked or offended by any of our content."
Well, Edifess, if you're going to allow your users to call people "Coco Pops", you're not doing a very good job of it.