This one is for the guys.
It’s NHL Playoffs time here in my fair city of Calgary, which means a few men here are working their asses off to beat the Canucks and advance to the next round of playoffs, while some other men (shall we call them boys?) are getting completely wasted and going around yelling violent threats and vulgar abuse at your sister, your daughter, your mom and your friend.
Unfortunately, this behavior is not limited to this city and this point in time. It’s all over the place, and I’m getting really sick of it. There are boys uttering threats and abuse in the workplace, on the street, and in online discussion forums.
When confronted with their vile behavior, these boys like to wave the “freedom of speech” flag. They go on rants about how victimized they feel being censored and having their free speech rights stripped away.
Newsflash, guys: Stating an opinion or discussing an issue – that kind of thing is generally protected as freedom of speech. But if I threaten you – online or in person or whatever – if I threaten to come and find you and hurt you and leave you hospitalized, and then go on to prove that I know where you live and know what you look like and that I’m currently making plans to come over there with a knife and mess you up – that’s called “Uttering a Threat” and that’s illegal. That’s not an opinion anymore. That’s not freedom of speech. That’s messed up. That needs to stop. Like, now.
There are a lot of guys online who utter those threats and bully people and make life a living hell for a lot of people. They hide behind anonymous avatars while waving their guns in the air. They are sociopaths, psychopaths and the mentally ill living with NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). They pride themselves on their ability to create hell on earth. And when confronted with their crimes, they shrug it off and tell everyone what they really believe: that they have every right to create hell on earth for people, and that no one has the right to do it back to them or stop them or regulate their behavior in any way.
That’s the bad news. Now here’s the good news:
At the same time, there are millions of men out there working tirelessly to make this world a better place. They are inventing cool new stuff, they are fighting fires, they are protecting the vulnerable, they are flying planes safely and driving trucks that bring food to your table and they are standing up for what’s right and good. Millions of men out there are being heroes and making the world a better place to live, with new ideas, new technology, and the hard work it takes to keep us all fed and housed.
Now ask yourself: Which kind of man do I want to be? What kind of reputation do I want?
Do I want to be the man who saves lives or takes lives? Do I want to be the hero who gives an inspiring speech and spreads courage through a hurting world, or do I want to be the selfish little prick who whines about censorship and threatens to hurt women and children?
Next ask yourself about what you’re saying online: Would I say this to someone’s face? Would I say it within earshot of a police officer? Would I say it within earshot of my mother? Would I say it if I weren’t protected by the anonymity of an online avatar?
Now ask yourself: Would I want to be treated the way I’m treating others? Guys, would you be comfortable if a man came up to you on the street and demanded you drop your pants so he could rape you in the ass? Would you be cool with that? If not, then why be cool with someone saying something like that to your sister, your mother, your daughter, your friend?
It’s time to man up, guys. Be a man. Instead of preying on the vulnerable, stand up and protect them. Instead of hurling abuse, speak powerful words of encouragement and compassion (or just keep your mouth shut and listen). Instead of demanding that strangers satisfy your sexual urges, consider how you can satisfy the needs for food, shelter and safety where you live.
Consider volunteering. Consider speaking up when your drunk buddy is being a jerk. Consider apologizing when you slip up and say something hurtful.
Because yes, we all make mistakes. But that doesn’t mean we have to keep making the same mistake. Man up and admit you can do better. Then do better.
It’s not just the big bad murder threats that hurt people. It’s the little stuff, too. It’s the stuff that comes out of your mouth and you realize a moment too late that it was hurtful toward people who really don’t deserve that treatment.
Violence has been accepted for far too long. Being violent is not being a man – violence comes from fear and hate and mental illness and all the darkness on the opposite side of what it really means to be a man.
Being a man means protecting people from violence, not being the cause of violence. Being a man is about creating and sustaining a better world, not trashing the place in a drunken rage.
So be a man. Do your job. The world needs your help.
Recent news stories that helped inspire this diatribe:
Calgary Flames tell fans to stop harassing women
Anne Wheaton’s experiences with the Calgary Expo and the aftermath: