Action needed on hate

Bendigo Weekly | Bendigo Weekly | 11-Jan-2018

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SOCIAL media is one of the great inventions of our time, and being able to share thoughts, stories, photos and a whole lot more with the rest of world has never been easier to do.

That’s a good thing, but when that ease of access is used for a purpose detrimental to society, it’s also extremely harmful and dangerous.

The discussion about the merits of plans to establish a mosque out near the Bendigo airport somehow got twisted, distorted and misrepresented – mostly via social media a few years ago, and there are lessons to be learnt from this that apply equally to many other controversial topics and issues today. 

It’s time authorities did more to hold to account organisations and companies that allow toxic online commentary to fester, as well as those whose silence or reluctance to intervene in the process can be interpreted as consent or approval.

It is illegal to use a phone or other communication device to imply or relay a threat to another person or group and for too long, not enough has been done to tackle the actions of a vocal few.

That has not stopped far too many critics from engaging in a constant online battle against the cycling community, which enjoys both strong support and tolerates strong criticism at the same time. 

And when it comes to cyclists‘ safety, the focus from authorities has been on what motorists can and should do to make it safer for cyclists, but cyclists cannot afford to be complacent.

That’s why we need to do more than focus on the #ametrematters campaign as the primary solution to our shared road safety woes. Yes, one metre matters, but so too does keeping left, riding only two abreast, and riding single file when circumstances dictate.

Greater awareness and education among cyclists has its place, and motorists need to see cyclists being called to account. 

Those who do more to help themselves, do themselves a huge favour when it comes to safety and it’s a responsibility no one can avoid. 

Organisations such as Victoria Police and the Transport Accident Commission must step in and demand comments and pages that promote violence and any form of anti-social and illegal behaviour be removed.

Not only are such views contradictory to the rules of facebook, there is no place for such violent and inflammatory commentary in a civilised society.

The laws of the road should spare no one, and the laws of the land should protect everyone.  

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