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Saraphina Mann, Copy Editor

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There is a place for most everyone on the Internet: Twitch for gamers, Pinterest for fashionistas; there is even an entire subreddit dedicated to Demi Lovato’s thighs. However, there are also places for the most dangerous and twisted minds on Earth. Forums are often a breeding ground for hate groups, and can be accessed by anyone, even minors. Internet forums can become the worst kind of support group, as members do not see the errors in their ways.

There are various types of toxic forums  There are forums that range from promoting eating disorders to body shaming young girls. The most famous, and arguably the most dangerous, forums are those of the incel variety. Incels are a group of men who hate women’s rights, more attractive men and themselves. The most famous incel, Elliot Rodgers, killed six people at the University of California due to his own personal anguish and depression.

The incel subreddit was so hateful that Reddit banned it. Reddit is a privately owned business, so they are fully within their rights to remove any page for any reason. However, these forums can easily find a new home on the web. The First Amendment protects the freedom of speech, and hate speech is still protected. However, does hate speech on the Internet cross a line when it is encouraging such devastating behavior?

The Constitution says no, and so does AP US History teacher Mr. Strackman.  “Sadly, these forums should be protected. When the government suppresses something, it just makes the subject more appealing. Let people who engage in dangerous discussions online ruin their own lives.”

This is not the first time the debate about hate speech has come to America’s attention. After the fatal killing at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville (where a white supremacist drove his car into a group of people), people wondered how far the protection of hate speech should stretch. Now, it is being argued that certain online forums need to be banned before they can incite anymore real world damage.

AICE International History teacher Mrs. Matyskiel agrees there needs to be limits to the freedom of speech when regarding online forums. ”The radicalization of any idea is not good. When something causes real life destruction, it should not be protected.”

America’s approach of just letting hate speech pass without repercussions might not be the best strategy. “I think the United States needs to consider adopting the freedom of speech practiced in Europe,” said AICE Global Perspectives teacher Mrs. Finn. “Freedom of speech is allowed, but there are specific limitations that do not tolerate hate speech. If it can be proved that a forum is causing real harm, it should be removed.”

However, if the freedom of speech is limited to prevent toxic online forums, it is sure to cause backlash from many in the country. As of right now, the debate will continue, and the forums will continue to pollute the Internet.

This is not to say all forums are dangerous. Forums can be a way for someone to anonymously discuss their favorite things with other fans. However, when the topic of discussion can permanently harm the user, it is best to seek real help from a professional. As of now, hateful forums are protected under law, but future controversies may cause the government to reconsider.

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