A couple of days ago I received an email with a horrifying attachment from a writer I met at a script writing workshop last year. He asked me to share it with as many people as possible. The attachment was a Facebook status from a young white South African guy ranting and raving about black South Africans.
The content is really obnoxious and vile and made me sick to my stomach. I couldn’t see an ounce of humanity in what this angry young man said. He mentioned the KKK admiringly. That organization has always epitomized absolute evil for me. I can’t think of it without feeling violent rage. My thoughts about people who were or are members are not civilized. I want them to suffer.
And that was my first reaction to the Facebook status post. The writer who sent it to me encouraged me to help make it viral. My primary instinct was to share it instantly, and to write a post here about it, to expose this guy and the disgusting level to which he has sunk. Or possibly never risen from, which is more likely, given his age.
But I just can’t do it. I don’t want to spread that evil any further than it has already gone. I don’t want to be responsible for one more person reading it. But also, my initial response came from anger, and although it was and still is justified, I’m not sure I should make it the basis for my actions. When somebody declares war, does it help to throw missiles at them?
The thing is, making that guy’s post viral just gives him an audience. And you can bet there are plenty of people of his ilk around the world with the same attitude, the same repressed anger, the same narrowness of mind, the same evil intent. It’s one of the things about the power of social media that scares me. Evil can spread like wildfire now.
“Don’t stroke what you don’t want more of” seems like pretty potent wisdom to me, when it comes to this incident. I don’t want to see more racism, I don’t want to see more words that foster it. But also, I don’t want to do nothing. I could write to CNN and Carte Blanche (a South African investigative TV program) and send them the guy’s photo and his Facebook post. But won’t that just give him what he wants?
Humiliate a bully or a person with latent psychopathic tendencies and you could just turn him into a monster with real power. Whatever I do, I want to make sure that it helps to make the world a better place, not a worse one. I want to see more love and respect, not less.