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"Freedom of speech ends where threats abound"

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Offline kat

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A new(ish) European Parliaments report "on gender equality and empowering women in the digital age" (pub 8th Apr) concludes with a 23 point call-to-action on "gender equality" by way of special treatment and allowances for women in Tech (ITC) in addition to current legal obligations business and employers are beholden to. Although all 23 point are contextualised as "gender equality", men, or males from underprivileged minority backgrounds, are not expressly mentioned unless as a means to set-up a negative contextualisation against which female workers are measured - it's men's fault fewer women are in ITC, men's fault there are fewer female Directors or industry leaders; men's fault women aren't as successful in ITC; men's fault women experience disproportionate work/home life issues; men's fault employers won't allow women more work/home flexibility; men's fault there's a "culture of long hours", etc., etc., etc.;
1. Calls on the Commission, the Member States and the social partners to promote gender equality, particularly in the digital economy, representative bodies and training institutions, to promote gender balance in decision-making and to closely monitor the changes and trends; calls on the Member States to follow up on the progress that still needs to be made and to share best practices within and between Member States; calls on the Commission to update current data regarding female workers in the ICT sector and to assess the economic impact of more women in the sector;

But that's not the main rationale of the report. What the European Parliament really wants is more authority, to be able to 'obligate compliance' to EU Directives under the guise of "gender equality" whilst simultaneously blaming men for, pretty much for everything, really;
2. Strongly supports efforts to increase the proportion of women managers in the EU; notes that legislative initiatives to improve gender balance should be considered if a gender is structurally disadvantaged within a working place and is denied the chance of self-realisation; emphasises that companies are more successful if they have gender diversity in their teams; emphasises that any quota obligation must take into account the different sizes of companies and the different situations in the Member States;

And to obligate Signatory's towards providing systems that encourage subsuming EU Authority under the guise of "gender equality";
8. Encourages Member States to have tax and benefit systems that are free of disincentives for second earners to work or work more, because women tend to be second earners, with ICT jobs featuring heavily in this field;

But all of that is a slight side-issue, but it's important to mention to lay out context because reading the news items about the report on the EU Parliaments own website, one would be mistaken for thinking the document was about "online violence" and how that should be addressed with legislation that undermines free speech, hence the articles title Violence against women online: "Freedom of speech ends where threats abound" (pub 27th Apr), which misrepresents not only what the EU Report is largely about, but also the nature of "online violence", or more broadly "online harassment" - that it's only a problem faced by women and girls. It's not, and never has been[1].

And to speak to that misrepresentation directly. The title is a corruption of "your Rights end where mine begin"[2]. Even then it's a falsehood; freedom of (specifically[3]) speech has no limitations or (a)boundaries. It has repercussions. Individuals can say whatever they want. They can threaten, intimidate. They can even make calls to incite acts of violence. They can. This doesn't means they should. Or that doing so is free from consequence. This is not a "free speech absolutist" position. It's what the principle of free speech means.

The solution to "online violence"[4], is not Government intervention or interference with the underlying Rights Individuals are guaranteed (by Government not-so-ironically). Instead more effective means to hold those responsible to account should be sought, that way the Individual and their actions are criminalised, not the 'group' or 'community' to which they may belong, nor Society at large, nor their guaranteed Rights. This might mean penalising Institutions that fail to act upon, or otherwise interfere or impinge upon, lawful Orders to identify specific individuals or 'identities'[5]. However this should not grant blanket authority to take or implement shortcuts to Due Process. Nor should it be used as an excuse to prosecute flimsy accusations just on the say-so of a particular party. Nor should it mean women and girls be afforded special privilege or status when it comes to prosecuting "online violence" (beyond current prescriptions in law), given the fact that both males and females receive as much the abuse online as each other[1].

[1] Pew Research: Online Harassment ("... 73% have seen OH, 40% experienced it..."). International Journal of Cyber Criminology: Battle of the sexes: An examination of male and female cyber bullying ("... females have been shown to be involved in cyber bullying just as much as males (if not more) ..."). Gender and Alcohol Consumption: Patterns from the Multinational Genacis Project ("... the prevalence of high-frequency drinking was consistently greatest in the oldest age group, particularly among men ...").

[2] which itself is a further 'corruption', or simplification, of a quote attributed to John B. Finch that had something to do with waving one's arms about and other people's noses.

[3] taken as read, "freedom of speech" is less 'dangerous', for want of a better word, than "freedom of expression" because the former could be considered circumscribed, i.e. localised to the written or verbalised words rather than expressed 'acts' or 'actions'.

[4] the rhetoric of politics and activist discourse on "online violence" defines it as essentially being  anything anyone might deem subjectively harmful or objectionable; "The virtual world is an expression of a society in which there is a lot of violence against women. Women, especially those who are very active on the internet, may be threatened, stalked or harassed and this can go all the way to real physical violence." [emphasis added]; "...the term "online violence" is often framed using language that conflates it with real-world (physical?) violence (in terms of 'actual harm' that may be done). In other words the [UN] Commission equate the phrase to a person "not just receiving death threats but the daily grind of being told 'you're a liar' or 'you suck'" with a women in an Emergency Room contused, rids broken, wrists fractured due to 'violence' perpetrated by another.".

[5] in this context "individuals" means "identity", a Court Order issued against a specific IP address for example (which should not mean Authorities have blanket powers to issue orders that might otherwise compromise systems, a la Apple,  San Bernardino v. Fed Gov.). It's important to stress the "Lawful Orders" observation, that is, Court Orders based upon the weight of objective actionable evidence; anonymous accusations, or receiving "mean tweets" online is not enough in light of existing legal system that necessitate there be an initial "cause of bodily harm", "threat to life" etc., threshold before prosecutory action can be taken. This is why "online violence" is difficult to resolve without there being secondary conditions attached - when one or more people in a ex-relationship send threatening messages to others, the fact that they knew each other in real life means the threats carry greater weight than might otherwise be considered semi-anon comments made on Social Media; the threshold is the possibility of actual bodily harm occurring, rather than simply a threat having been made. Failures are nearly always associated with over-sight or being under-powered, not that "authorities don't take threats seriously" or "fail to act" as a systemic response.