TUgossip, an Internet forum created to host anonymous conversations among Trinity students, was shut down this past Tuesday for unknown reasons. A link to the short-lived website was originally posted to the popular Facebook page Overheard at Trinity on April 3, where it started a 143 comment-long debate on the value of the site.
Our verdict: good riddance.
The premise of an anonymous Internet forum directed at a community as small as Trinity’s is a recipe for disaster. People often seem to forget that their comments will be read by actual human beings on the other side of the computer screen. This is the only explanation we can come up with for some of the horrible things that were said on TUgossip.
Because the site has been shut down we don’t have access to these comments anymore, but they aren’t worth reprinting anyway. It’s disturbing to know that there are people that attend this university that would post such malicious material. In the one week that TUgossip was live, many if not most of the comments posted targeted specific groups or people on campus. Our community is better off without a forum like TUgossip that seems to be a platform mainly for petty and hurtful gossip.
All of you out there reaching for your “DOWN WITH CENSORSHIP. FREE SPEECH, RAH RAH RAH” protest signs need to just hold on. As Kendra Doshier would ask, why are you shouting?
We at the Trinitonian understand the importance of protecting free speech. It’s what fuels our business. We’re also very aware of the repercussions for printing outwardly harmful, libelous information. Dissent is a crucial element of free speech, but there is a big difference between dissent and hate speech: the former fuels a meaningful swap of opposing ideas that may lead to social and political progress, while the latter exposes the ugly, ignorant underbelly of our community.
There is value in knowing the nature of the beast; it’s easier to target and eliminate hateful ideas when they openly present themselves. But the cowardice of posting malicious comments anonymously online cheapens the discussion, which usually just unravels into senseless trolling anyway.
We self-censor every day in order to function in society. Some of us hold back more than others, but we all generally refrain from screaming obscenities at each other in public. It’s called being a decent human being. If you aren’t willing to tack your name on the tail end of a comment online, you should reconsider making it. There are millions of eyes looking, even though you can’t see them.