Modern-day Capital Punishment
This post deals with some serious stuff, as you may have guessed by its tittle, stuff that worries me as we see the growth of the Capital Punishment or Death Penalty in various forms.
IRL (In Real Life) the Capital Punishment is still present in many countries, — fortunately not as many as it used to —, and has the aim of putting an end to the life of someone that has committed any crime that violates the country laws or to silence the voice of someone that has ideas which are in opposition to the will of those in power. In the later case the ones who hold the power lack the ability of persuading that person of the virtues of the politics they are implementing. So, they turn to this radical measure as a means of avoiding other/different opinions from spreading.
Recently, unfortunately, we've been witnessing the resurgence of radical forms of punishment IRL and also on the virtual world, that world where people thought it wouldn't be possible to have this type of punishment and where people thought they could create a world of freedom where democracy, free speech and liberty would reign.
We're used to read about governments imposing measures like censorship, both IRL and online, and the Capital Punishment when they want to preserve power or pass laws that result in maintaining that power regardless the people's will. But we aren't used to think about other forms of censorship and Capital Punishment. I'm referring to individuals imposing the same hideous measures.
What's interesting is that we tend to find these measures unacceptable when they are imposed by governments but accept them when they are applied by individuals, even though they are as hideous as when they are applied by the former!
It is also interesting that we find this daily on our beloved Fediverse, a place where FOSS reigns and where, I believe, open mind, free speech and respect should prevail! Not so, in some cases, I must say!
It is very easy to find Mastodon instances where the Code of Conduct allows the admin the power to simply erase the user account without any prior investigation or without trying to contact the user to clarify the subject.
If the issue under appreciation, which led to the user being reported, is something illegal, I can agree with such rules. But, I must say, when it comes to people's opinion, people's preferences, erasing an account on differences of opinion, when no hate, violence, aggressiveness, obscenity or illegal content is present is totally arbitrary, dictatorial and egocentric. That's censorship!
Instances whose admins act this way are small reigns where dictators rule by their own minds, not applying to themselves the rules and values they want others to believe they stand for.
Instances live in the Fediverse and form a network of constellations, they perform a Public service for which I thank every single instance owner: they offer people the chance to have a say, to make their voice heard. Different opinions should be expected and cherished. They are essential to better humanity. Only by exchanging different opinions can people better themselves. What good would it be on a place where other people would only echo our own ideas?!
When admins don't agree with someone and erase that person from an instance to shut him/her up they're applying the Capital Punishment. And when that's done without any prior warning, without giving the person the right to defend himself/herself, that's even worse! How can these admins affirm that they defend freedom IRL? How do they stand for human rights if one fundamental right of any human on trial is to be able to have a fair defence?! How can this happen without a fair trial?! Only in dictatorships does this happen! Only under dictatorships does the law come from one single mind!
On one of my last publications about the Portuguese language I said, in Portuguese, that people shouldn't cast stones on me because I was talking about the large community that share this language. And I had some links to Wikipedia which explain many historical aspects of what used to be the Portuguese colonial territories. I was talking about that, not defending it. Well, there was someone there calling me a “troll” because I said we shared a common past! We do share a common past! It's history. It's what made who we are today and, whether we like it or not. It's the way it is! We can't erase it. We shouldn't even try to do that. Instead, we should study our past, build a new future and not make the same mistakes again.
Some years ago I was profoundly moved when monuments and statues in Afghanistan were destroyed. History was destroyed! Today I'm also affected by the fact that people are destroying statues of people that are part of our History, sometimes, out of their own ignorance, of people who stood by the less fortunate! Should we also destroy the Pyramids and the Sphinx in Egypt? Should we stop studying them? Should we destroy the Vatican City? Should we erase from the face of the Earth all the Maya cities? Should we shut down Wikipedia, The Internet Archive and all the other sites where we can study and learn about our past? Should we destroy all BMW and Mercedes factories? Should we burn down all libraries? Should we burn down all museums? Should we...?! I think we ought better study our History and learn with the mistakes humanity has made and build a better future instead!
I believe that you would agree that the worst crime someone might perpetrate is to murder someone, to take the life of someone. Even in that case, in modern and fair societies, the murderer is given the chance to defend himself. It's a basic human right. It might have been an accident, an unfortunate one!
In some ancient societies this right to defence was already a norm. There were even refuge cities where a murderer could seek refuge and wait for a fair trial!
So, dear instance admins, perhaps you should think about this issue and apply some fairer rules to your instances. Perhaps you would be helping building a better world if you didn't take radical action against someone when the difference of opinion is under scrutiny and if you didn't apply the Capital Punishment to silence his/her voice without listening to the person first and without asking for a second opinion from someone else.
Failing to do so will undermine the future of the Fediverse itself as a place that stands for the freedom of all humans who want a better future for all humanity!
And using the Internet and all the other networks to transform frustration into anger, violence aggressiveness radicalism and hate won't ever lead humanity to a change for the better.
It's about time we all acted on what we preach!