“The internet has been blowing our minds with its power and convenience for decades,” John Oliver said last night on Last Week Tonight during a 16 minute segment, while playing prehistoric-looking AOL commercials speaking to the idealism with which the internet was sold to the masses. “Unfortunately,” he continued, “it’s also become a haven for harassment.”
He wasn’t talking so much about silly insults, he explained, as about language that actually seems to pose a threat to people’s safety. He then congratulated the lucky folks who haven’t experienced such virtual abuse — on their “white penis[es].”
He then featured clips of interviews with women video game enthusiasts on the bigotry — and explicit verbal violence, including rape and murder threats — they’ve endured whenever they’ve spoken out about sexism in video games. He continued:
This does not just affect women in gaming. It can potentially affect any woman who makes the mistake of having a thought in her mind, and then vocalizing it online.
Oliver noted the obvious problem of the police being baffled by what to do about online threats, and seeing the internet as an unknown:
The police cannot investigate the crime if they genuinely don’t understand the medium in which it happened. If someone tried to drown you, you don’t want the police saying ‘Oh I get the murder attempt but what’s this water thing you keep bringing up? Is it like air, but a bit more chokey, is that what it is?’
He stated that only 23 states have laws that work directly against revenge porn, bemoaning the ridiculousness of the need to have revenge porn photos copyrighted to get websites to take them down — wherein the victim has to send their naked photos to a bunch of strangers at the copyright office in Washington, D.C.
However, he assured viewers that some progress has been made within the private sector — with Reddit and Twitter banning revenge porn recently, and Google saying it’d remove search results for revenge porn when requested. “For Google to do that is not nothing,” Oliver said, because “not even vindictive perverts will use Bing.” Watch Oliver’s brilliantly thorough tirade:
In the same episode, the comedian also — as Jon Stewart did last week — expressed his revulsion about the continued flying of the Confederate flag in South Carolina, saying that “the Confederate flag is one of those symbols that should only be seen on T-shirts, belt buckles and bumper stickers… to help the rest of us identify the worst people in the world.”