Ashley Judd on Online Abuse

Other | Tuesday 21st February 2017 | David

A sad truth is that no matter how ridiculous something you say might be, as long as you say it in a well-spoken and eloquent way, people will unquestioningly believe it.

This was demonstrated in a recent TED Talk from actress actress Ashley Judd, who received Golden Globe nominations for her roles in De-Lovely and Norma Jean & Marilyn.

The talk was titled 'How online abuse of women has spiraled out of control'. Now, don't get me wrong. Online abuse against anyone is wrong. No question there. But this TED Talk and the way that Ashley Judd went about getting her point across was, well, misinformed to say the least.

She says "Online misogyny is a global gender rights tragedy, and it is imperative that it ends." I agree that misogyny sucks, but at the same time, a democracy cannot truly function without freedom of speech. So aside from direct threats of violence, or libellous statements or defamation (ie, making false allegations against someone), people should have the right to say whatever they what. No matter how vile their views may be. You don't have to agree with what they say, but you should still respect their right to say it.

Censoring opinions that you don't like is a very dangerous precedent.

Ashely Judd has the right to take legal action against those who really did threaten or slander her, but she can't censor any speech that she doesn't like. But seeing as Trump said he wants to open up America's speech laws to make it easier to sue people for saying things you don't like (Trump has tried to sue both the comedy publication, The Onion over a satirical article and the comedian Bill Maher for comparing him to an Orangutan, as they both have orange hair), freedom of speech may indeed soon become a thing of the past.

Everyone with a presence online receives abuse. Everyone. Be they male or female, young or old. The way that people like Ashley Judd, or people like Anita Sarkeesian and Zoë Quinn, who were involved with Gamergate (they went to the UN to complain about the online abuse that they've received) make it out to be a problem that only affects women is hugely demeaning to all the men who have received similar abuse.

It's not a women-only problem. It's a problem that everyone has. Then she drops the bomb near the end of The Ted Talk.

"Profiteering of misogyny in video games must end. I'm so tired of hearing, you talk to me at cocktail parties, like you did a couple of weeks ago in Aspen, about how deplorable hashtag Gamergate was, when you're still making billions of dollars of games that maim and dump women for sport. Basta, as the Italians would say, enough."

First of all, playing violent video games does not cause people to behave violently in real life. Countless scientific theories have proven there to be absolutely no link whatsoever between playing violent video games and committing real life acts of violence.

Journal of Communication, the University of Glasgow and Oxford University are just some of the establishments to have conducted such studies. So which game were you referring to, Ashley Judd? You didn't give any examples of specific video games, because quite simply, there aren't any games where specifically have to kill women. None. Seriously, there aren't any such games.

Judd didn't give any examples or cite any statistics or studies to back up her claims (because they would prove her wrong). So as much as I hate to say it, it almost seems like she was deliberately spreading false information here to suit her own agenda. But she said it with such gusto and resolve that very few people will question it.

I'm fairly certain that Ashley Judd doesn't play video games, but she seems intent to make the people that do look bad. So yeah, sexism and misogyny is certainly a terrible thing, and nobody deserves to be the victim of online abuse. But using false information to strengthen your own agenda is also something that should not be condemned. Please do your research into video games before making such bold claims in the future, Ashley Judd.