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Million Mask March spotlights cyberbullying

by Stephanie Taylor

Some of the more than 50 protesters who marched from Province House to Victoria   Park on Tuesday in Halifax’s march--part of a worldwide protest. Photo Stephanie Taylor
Photo Stephanie Taylor
Photo Stephanie Taylor
Photo Stephanie Taylor
Photo Stephanie Taylor
Photo Stephanie Taylor
Photo Stephanie Taylor
Photo Stephanie Taylor
Photo Stephanie Taylor

K'JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) - Glen Canning carried a black and white photograph of his daughter Rehteah Parsons in his wallet as he walked in this year’s Million Mask March.

He was one of more than 50 protesters who marched from Province House to Victoria Park on Tuesday in Halifax’s march—part of a worldwide protest organized by the “hacktivist” group, Anonymous.

“I think Rehteah would have been very proud to see something like this happen in Halifax … she’d be here right now if she could be,” he said.

The multitude of signs that read, “Justice for Rehtaeh” made him feel good to see such great community support, Canning said. Rehtaeh Parsons, a 17-year-old from Cole Harbour, died in hospital in April after  attempting suicide—which has been connected to photos of an alleged gang rape distributed online.

Donald Smith, a young man who recently moved to Halifax, was one of the many people at Tuesday’s protest who came in light of Rehteah’s story. He feels bullying is a social injustice being ignored by authorities.

“I came here because of Rahteah Parsons because she was bullied and I’m a victim of bullying and bullying needs to stop,” Smith said.

Anonymous is involved in vigilante justice on behalf of victims of bullying and sexual assault. Rehteah’s mother, Leah Parsons and Canning expressed support for Anonymous after the group discovered the identities of their daughters’ alleged rapists, who posted images of her assault to the Internet.

Anonymous “did it in a very positive way. When they wanted to release the names of the four boys who raped Rahteah, we asked them not to and they listened to that, so they’re very respectful too,” Canning said.

“They’ve been really good to us as far as Facebook goes as well—they’ve gone after the trolls and pedophiles who insist for some reason about making their filthy comments known to us.”

Many of the people at Tuesday’s march believed Anonymous is a voice that holds police, governments and school boards accountable to stop bullying.

One of the few teens at the protest spoke out about her struggle with bullying as protesters gathered around at Victoria Park. The girl, who chose not to identify herself, said her school board and teachers failed to do anything to help her, even after she asked for help repeated times.

“Just like Rahteah, I will stand for justice. Even though she cannot stand for justice, today there are people that are here that stand for justice for her and I,” she said.

In the wake of Parsons’ case, the province has introduced a number of measures to prevent cyberbullying. Cyber-Safety legislation passed in August allows for an alleged victim of cyberbullying to sue their harasser.

Nova Scotia has also created an anti-bullying task force to examine the prevalence of cyberbullying in schools, and has amended the Education Act to include cyberbullying as one of the “severely disruptive behaviors.” The province has also developed the Speak Up Action Plan to build a partnership between schools and the community in order to stop cyberbullying. 

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505 words


This is great.

I'm glad that these conversations are happening. That said, I think we really need to break through the limits of the discourse of bullying, which serves, I think, to mask rape culture, homophobia, racism, and other systemic violence that is part and parcel of this society. I think unless we name these things, and locate them within a framework that sees how they're interrelated, I don't think anything will change. After all, it's not that any of what gets called "bullying" is particularly unusual - it just represents extreme moments of what is more-or-less taken as common sense in our patriarchal white supremacist society.
Anyway, just a thought.

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