Lithuanian designer Erikas Mališauskas sold a non-fungible token (NFT) of a digital collage made from homophobic online comments for $6000 with the proceeds going to Lithuanian LGBTQ+ charities.
The comments had been directed towards Lithuania’s only openly gay member of parliament, Tomas Raskevicius. The artwork is made from 400 of the offensive messages which were put together into the shape of a cloud and is entitled ‘Hate Speech Cloud’.
“My goal was to monetise the hate speech,” said Malisauskas. “Now everyone who wrote the hateful messages to LGBT people has contributed money towards LGBT causes.”
“You are destroying Lithuania and you should be ashamed,” says one of the messages.
“Pervert, stop showing yourself to normal Lithuanian people!” says another. Many others use the Lituanian homophobic slurs according to Reuters.
Mališauskas, who is not gay, said he was shocked by the level of hatred thrown at Raskevicius and other LGBTQ+ people. “I think that the majority of the society, including me, does not understand what it means to be an open LGBT person in Lithuania,” Mališauskas told 15min.lt. “I was shocked by the personal messages that Tomas Vytautas Raskevičius started to share after becoming a member of the parliament. It’s hard to believe that someone can feel such disgust for a person just because of his orientation.”
He says that even when he just speaks out in support of LGBTQ+ rights, he gets sent a large number of abusive messages.
“I believe that like every cloud in the sky, the Hate Speech Cloud will clear away, we will see the sun & rainbows clearly and only this art piece will remind us of the darkness we faced,” he wrote in the online description for the piece.
An NFT is a non-fungible token and can be described as ownership certificates for a virtual asset. They have blown up recently with digital artwork and famous videos or memes being some of the most popular things being sold. If someone buys the NFT of say a digital piece of artwork such as this, it basically means that they have ownership of it but it does not stop anyone from downloading it and having one for themselves. It is similar to how there are thousands of prints of famous artwork but only one original and one owner.
The ‘Hate Speech Cloud’ was the first Lithuanian NFT to ever be sold. Mališauskas said the reason he arranged the offensive comments into a cloud was “because clouds fade away”.
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