Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crowds and racism

Looks like I'm not the only one concerned about he potential for "mob" bhaviour on the Internet. An item in the New York Times (thanks Rachel) reports that the man who popularised the term "virtual reality" now "wonders if the Web’s structure and ideology are fostering nasty group dynamics and mediocre collaborations."

Mwanwhile a reader of this blog has had a recent effort to use Facebook to act against racism reported on in the Oz. But his numbr of registrants pales behind those reported by Crikey for sites with names that echo the racist behaviour of which Tim complains.

Meanwhile the question of whether Australia is becoming more racist is interesting. I don't hink it is, I just think the opportunities to reveal our inner racist are becoming more prominent.

To use he example of shouting at a roup to "speak English you are in Australia now", I would repot hat the nmber of occassions on which such a statement could be made has dramatically increased, henc even without an increased tendency there would be an increased incidence. It is also worth noting that the very high number of student visas means the nmber of people likely to have English as only a secod language is greatly inflated by student numbers.

The second thing is that we need to distinguish between anyone making an observation about a tendency that might exist in a racial grouping and racism. The difficulty is in distinguishing between, say, many Asian are bad drivers and the statement because you are Asian you are a bad driver. The first can be an accurate statement of bserved fact, the latter would be racism.

Around where I live a better example is that a lot of Asians walk on the road at night, and, far worse, they walk on the left in the direction of the traffic, not on the right as we were told in primary school. Whether this is because they come from places without as many cars and so wren't taught, or were taught to walk on the left because that is heading into cars that drive on the right I don't know.

Similarly, and I don't know why, I tend o see more Asians travelling on public transport in groups of four or more. Once groups of that size start talking on public transport they tend to shout a bit - be that in a group of facing seats or, where I sit, across the seats at the end of a carriage. It is not the choice of language that bothers me - it is just that it is a very loud conversation. And, as I say, a good nine out of ten of hose would be a group of asian peopl speaking an asian language (I've certainly in the last couple of months had on Korean, one chinese and a few othrs that I cn't be sure of).

To make hat observation is, I think, not racist. But it might really help the cause of peopl trying o reduce the sense of racist sentiment if we could make sure that what really is bad behaviour is not excused merely on the basis of race.

1 comment:

Grahame Lynch said...

Concur with your comments on race David but what I really want to know is... what is with this hatred of vowels?