In the summer of 2011, I read the entirety of Thought Catalog. I had a broken ankle and nothing to do. The archive then was at around 900. There were articles about books and music, lighthearted, fun pieces balancing the personal and the raw, satire, snark, Ryan O’Connell making everyone feel better on a regular basis. It was the first place on the internet I found that made me feel okay about being confused and alive, and I fell in love with it. I began posting more or less regularly in September 2011.
Things change, as they do. The landscape looks a little different now. Thought Catalog is one of the most popular sites in the world, with hundreds of writers, a digital books imprint, oozing content, ALL the content. When you click on an article now, right underneath the title is a link to “View Comments.” You don’t even need to read anything to put in your two cents.
In Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson predicted the internet:
“‘Stand in front of this fantastic machine, my friend, and for just 99¢ your likeness will appear, two hundred feet tall, on a screen above downtown Las Vegas. Ninety-nine cents more for a voice message’…But nobody can handle that other trip – the possibility that any freak with $1.98 can walk into the Circus-Circus and suddenly appear in the sky over downtown Las Vegas twelve times the size of God, howling anything that comes into his head.”
It looks like we’ve become the fantastic machine.
The internet has no filter. This is half the point of the internet. Someone writes inflammatory thing, someone else writes rebuttal, and on and on ad infinitum. But here’s the thing: a publication, any publication, necessary must have a filter, no matter how impartial it claims to be. A publication is not a forum, and not everything deserves a space in it.
It’s an objective truth, I’m certain, that hate speech does not deserve a space.
“To justify trannies is to allow mentally ill people to mutilate themselves.” This is a real sentence that appears in “Transphobia Is Perfectly Natural.”
What is this shit?
While it is completely possible that this is nothing more than a clickbaity joke designed to piss everyone off and jumpstart an avalanche of impassioned responses — clicks = $$$, as we all know — that still doesn’t change the fact of what it is: violent, poisonous hate speech.
Violent, poisonous hate speech that does not deserve a space.
Objectively, the article is bullshit. It’s not even up for debate at this point. I’m not going to sit here and explain why Gavin McInnes is categorically wrong. Decades of research have already done that, and someone more patient could write a better response, if they’re up for entertaining fools. I’m certain the comments, upwards of 1,000 of them at this point, are adequately full of vitriol. The thing is, there are plenty more backwards assholes out there with even worse “opinions” and “viewpoints” than this, if you can believe it. Do they all deserve to be heard in equal measure? Isn’t there some obscure corner of the internet, some dust-gathering Angelfire page they can dump this in if they feel so inclined?
Why did Thought Catalog have to become the trash heap?
I’m not here calling for some kind of lofty publication standards. Basic humanity is not an arbitrary “standard.” It is a given, and it is the reason we should not dismantle the filter. Not in the name of provocation. Not in the name of “edge.” Not in the name of notoriety, or media attention, or whatever. Publishing integrity is a thing, should be a thing, and at the very least, should be enough of a thing that an unbigoted publication takes the smallest amount of care necessary to not post something so dangerously uninformed.
Just because we can doesn’t mean we should.
Look back at page 6675. 6668. 900. It didn’t use to be this way. Maybe Thought Catalog wasn’t as popular then, but at least they weren’t like this.