EDITORIAL: Antisocial media

Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me, we used to tell children. But sadly, that is no longer true. Words espoused by white supremacist, anti-immigrant hate mongers around the globe are now feeding directly into violent actions like the horrific shooting in New Zealand that targeted Muslims worshipping at a local mosque in Christchurch.

Those perpetrating such horrific actions believe themselves part of a righteous cause shared by similarly-minded people.

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The dark corners of the web and even mainstream social media have also been easy for such people to co-opt into a horrific feedback loop, where content is broadcast, shared and amplified before it can be contained. It’s disturbing to think that ordinary people could be among those perpetrating the spread of such vile images.

But when hateful messages are tolerated as normal, such is the logical conclusion.

We’re heartened by the response of the local community in expressing sympathy and solidarity with local mosques this week. Canada has long been regarded as a safe haven, but we are not immune from the spread of such evil ideology. The Christchurch shooter even managed a grim shout-out to the man responsible for Canada’s own mosque shooting in Quebec.

We must speak out against the kind of speech that inflames such hate.

There are politicians in Canada who are actively courting voters who harbour similar xenophobic views.

While they may not sanction violence, their playing footsie with white supremacists only further enables this toxic feedback loop we are now in.

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