White nationalists who gathered in Charlottesville over the weekend are being exposed on social media and paying the price.
A Twitter account with the handle @YesYoureRacist has used his presence to find and shame people who it decides are racist on social media.
And after the attacks in Charlottesville it has used its account to expose those who gathered there, whether they committed violence or not.
The page has exposed several attendees thus far, including a man Mark Daniel Reardon, who was evicted from his apartment in response to his presence at the rally.
Peter Cvjetanovic, a student at the University of Nevada who was outed, told KTVN that he is now in fear for his life as a result of being exposed.
“I came to this march for the message that white European culture has a right to be here just like every other culture,” he said. on Sunday. “It is not perfect; there are flaws to it, of course. However I do believe that the replacement of the statue will be the slow replacement of white heritage within the United States and the people who fought and defended and built their homeland. Robert E Lee is a great example of that. He wasn’t a perfect man, but I want to honor and respect what he stood for during his time.”
“I did not expect the photo to be shared as much as it was. I understand the photo has a very negative connotation. But I hope that the people sharing the photo are willing to listen that I’m not the angry racist they see in that photo,” he said.
The University of Nevada has said they will not expel him, despite a petition demanding it do so, citing his First Amendment rights and his clean record as a student.
Another man, Cole White, was fired from his job at the Top Dog restaurant chain.
“Effective Saturday August 12th, Cole White no longer works at Top Dog. The actions of those in Charlottesville are not supported by Top Dog. We believe in individual freedom, and voluntary association for everyone,” the company said in a statement.
The page has outed many others, and it has also made mistakes.
ABC News reported that @YesYoureRacist mistakenly “exposed” an assistant college professor as being an attendee, forcing the man to flee his home in fear for his life after receiving threats.
All because a man who sort of looked like him at the rally was wearing a T-shirt from the man’s place of employment, at the University of Arkansas.
“You have celebrities and hundreds of people doing no research online, not checking facts,” Kyle Quinn, told the New York Times. “I’ve dedicated my life to helping all people, trying to improve health care and train the next generation of scientists, and this is potentially throwing a wrench in that.”
All of which begs the question of people deserve punishment for exercising their free speech rights, even if that speech is vile to the majority of people?
The First Amendment, after all, was not designed to protect popular speech. Popular speech has never needed protection.
And if people are deemed to deserve punishment for their speech, how far does society allow it to go for fear of being labelled a racist if one defends the free speech of these unpopular people?
Are we allowed to destroy public property in the name of racial justice, as happened on Monday in North Carolina?
It is a slippery slope.
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