Tuesday, September 29, 2020
In September of 2005, I attended my first peace march, and afterwards launched what has become RadicalCitizenMedia.com to document progressive social movements and citizen engagement. 15 years later, it has almost 50,000 photos, 3400 videos with over 4 million views, and 4500 subscribers. And YouTube still won't monetize me, LOL! https://www.radicalcitizenmedia.com
Monday, July 06, 2020
I've been investigating the Ukrainian far-right for a number of years, particularly a couple of monuments in Edmonton that pay tribute to Nazis. Here is an article I wrote for the Canadian Jewish Record about one in particular: KIRMAN: Problematic monuments in Edmonton Force Us to Question Our Community’s Core Values
Saturday, May 30, 2020
Monday, December 02, 2019
RadicalCitizenMedia.com), I gave a very general overview on online hate and bullying. Some of my major talking points included:
The digital age can give anyone a public platform, which can be good - it means people who are marginalized but have access to electronics can have a voice - but there is a dark side.
People can feel emboldened behind a keyboard, and can even be anonymous, and say things they would never say in person.
Online media can also make recruiting people for hate groups easier, because people who are lonely, disenfranchised, vulnerable can be easier to reach.
Arguing with haters doesn't work. It just amplifies whatever was posted.
Block, delete, report, repeat. If reported enough, person/group may get banned from the service. They may come back with a different name, so be vigilant and keep reporting.
Same for bullying: report behaviour, and support the person being bullied. Send them public and private words of support.
Protect yourself: keep social media locked down to friends only, be particular about who you accept to friend/follow you, use a false name, don't use a photo of yourself as a profile picture.
Doxxing = posting a person's photo and personal information online with the intent of causing harassment. If you are doxxed report it to the online service, to authorities. Keep a record of all harassing calls, emails, posts.
While "block, delete, report, repeat" might seem like a band-aid solution, it's the first step. The goal is to get the groups/individuals off the Internet. This has been achieved through continuous reporting, but also posting about the people/group and their behaviour on public platforms, including screenshots/quotes.
Emotions cannot be banned. But if someone is posting harmful, inappropriate things, they have to be stopped. It would be great to channel that energy into something positive, but that usually comes from a person's work on themself and the intervention of the people around them. They also may not see their actions/words/ideology as negative. They think they are standing up for their country, their culture, or whatever. It's very difficult to have a rational discussion with someone of that mindset.
There are no laws specifically against doxxing (that I am aware of), but there are laws against criminal harassment. Document everything.
Social media has changed the way people do community organizing and activism, in terms of organizing events but also how they participate, to capture very visual or vocal multimedia posts to use on social media.
Social media has grown in importance in terms of allowing people to become citizen journalists, especially now when traditional media is dwindling.
It's important to be positive, even when social media is very sad and dark. Post about people in your community doing things to make the world a better place. Don't engage with the negativity if it is hate speech or trolls - work to get rid of it as described above, and add posts that are more positive in nature to your social media.
What should be done about "cancel culture" and/or "call-out culture"? If a person has made a mistake or done something inappropriate and you have access to them, talk to them first. Calling out as a first step is generally reserved for people to whom one doesn't have access, such as celebrities being called out as part of the #MeToo movement. Every situation is different and you need to use your own judgement, but in general, calling out should be a last resort.
How has documenting local activism changed since I began in 2005? When I started, I was one of the few doing it, but now since so many people have smartphones, lots of people are taking photos and shooting video and posting on social media.
More information about the Thinkathons is here.
The questions and comments that followed were excellent. Here is a summary of the outcomes of those questions and comments:
Friday, March 22, 2019
On March 21, I was invited for the second time as a guest speaker for the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on March 21 at Balwin School in north Edmonton. My talk was very similar to the one I gave last year, focussing on anti-bullying, anti-Semitism, and activism. This year, I added am emphasis on calling out and stopping racist and prejudicial comments immediately, to prevent them from becoming normalized and becoming the start of a path of hatred. We've seen what unchecked hatred can do with the recent terrorist attack at the mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, and at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last year. Some of the young people in the multiracial class shared their experiences encountering racism, but also asked me a lot of questions about being Jewish, mostly about cultural and religious practices. I was apparently the first person most of them had ever met who self-identified as being Jewish. Even their teacher and the student teacher were asking me questions. Opportunities like this are really important because these young people now could put a face and name to the word "Jewish." Much racism and prejudice often comes from fear of the "other." Now, a Jewish person is no longer an "other" to them. When we get to meet people from different backgrounds, and we sincerely seek to learn about their lives and traditions, it helps to build intercultural understanding, peace, and harmony in our society.