Photo by Aaron Macom in Steubenville at rally by Anonymous for rape victim, January 5, 2013. And you love horrid pictures debasing women on 4chan.org, too.
I've always thought the feminist Andrea Dworkin summed it up best when she described the position that those concerned about women's rights should take regarding date rape: the punishment for getting drunk and going in a frat boy's dorm room should be a hangover, not rape.
Anyone who comes from a small town as I do (upstate New York) will recognize the high-school foot-ball saturated culture of the dying industrial town of Steubenville, OH, scene of a widely-discussed rape of a young girl by football heroes.
In fact, my grandparents came from a farm near Columbus, OH two hours' drive away from Steubenville, and somewhere in these parts is the county line my great aunt crossed as a young woman to get married, because she was too young to do so legally in her home county.
So I get it about football for white working class and lower middle class kids -- it's like basketball for black kids in the inner city. It's their ticket maybe to go to college on a sports scholarship; and it's a form of entertainment and socializing for the whole town. And I get it about the hard partying. Every year at graduation time, I pray and think to myself of the trees waiting in the small towns somewhere in middle America around which some 17- or 18-year old boy will wrap himself and die in a drunk driving accident, the way two of my classmates from grade school did. Or perhaps in the middle of the railroad tracks, as another did in high school.
Everyone seems to think the drunken parties and football players and cheerleaders swaggering and prancing are all rites of passage. But now like so many other things, they seem to be accelerated and amplified by social media in yet another example of why the connectivity cult isn't all that.
When a young woman got drunk at a party and was raped by members of the football team in an all-too-familiar scenario, there's no question that those young men should be prosecuted for this crime. Again, while she should have been more accountable and her parents might have done more to watch out for her, as Andrea Dworkin put it, the punishment for getting drunk at a party with football players should be a hangover -- and getting grounded by your parents -- not rape.
Now, all of this would be straightforward, except it's not, for various reasons, and not only because of the male bonding/football culture of this town.
Anonymous, the destructive anarchist hacker cult, has decided to invade this story in a creepy exploitation of a local tragedy to try to whitewash its reputation -- completely in tatters with all the arrests for hacking causing millions of dollars of damage -- and (it occurs to me) to distract from the rape charges that their hero WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange faces question about in Sweden.
It has created a new spinoff called KnightSec, like LulzSec, which is involved in crusading against the alleged rapists in Steubenville.
I first noticed this caper -- with all the signs of an organized Anonymous active measure complete with relays and personas heckling critics -- when I saw a number of people extolling Anonymous in exaggerated, contrived fashion, i.e. what good guys they were now because they were outing these rapists who were trying to hide from the law.
Except...just like Snoop DoggyDog and the wrong George Zimmerman, we couldn't be sure if these latter-day virtual vigilantes had the right person.
These are the touts that always come on every time someone tries to criticize Anonymous and tries to distract them. They are always new accounts with few followers.
I followed one KnightSec person who was heckling the Twitter account of someone who vigorously denied he was among those who raped the drunken girl, although he admitted being in the car. To make matters more confusing, he had the same name as a pastor in an unrelated news story charged with an extra-marital affair with an underage woman.
Some of the personas -- fake accounts created merely to heckle or distract with propaganda -- were ridiculous. One with a pretty unpersuasive photo of a young woman claimed to belong to a mother of several children was singing Anonymous' praises in the Steubenville actions -- but whose feed contained posts bragging about how drunk she was on Scotch. Not a very good advertisement for the cause! One had to wonder about the poor young kids with mom being a lush and distracted online -- except...not too much, because she was probably a male hacker, not a female and those children probably didn't exist. One of the favourite poses of Anonymous is to be "a 16-year-old girl" or "a stay-at-home mom of three".
Every week I get a report from Qwitters which tells me who stopped following me. Inevitably, among the accounts are those banned from Twitter for spamming or harassment -- and it's these nonce Anonymous accounts.
One fellow who by his own admission is actively involved in the Anonymous "ground game" argued with me endlessly for several days claiming that Anonymous was a good and decent movement. But eventually he tripped up and admitted that he thought hacking websites was something like a "sit-in" -- which of course is a claim I often debunk. His persona was another one I encounter frequently from the Anonymous types -- the returned vet who has fought for his country and is now going to, um, fight for online freedom.
Anonymous has now come up with a video in which an earnest young man, for all the world like a church lady, lectures his peers on the meaning of rape (although one suspects for a lot of these dweebs living online in their moms' basements, the concept of "date" might have to precede the concept of "rape" on said "date"). They include in their propaganda film a horrible clip from one of the alleged rapists, or enabler of the rapists, speaking of the drunk girl as "dead" and saying the picture of her abused would go all over the Internet. Awful stuff indeed.
But Anonymous and its foot soldiers on Twitter have pursued this aggressively, viciously, and hysterically -- it's impossible to criticize any of it and try to remind people just how these assholes harass women on other occasions -- hey, come to my Second Life servers and see the griefing attacks with real-life effigies of me as naked, beaten, bloody, roasted, or dead with my eyes crossed and glasses broken if you've forgotten the true nature of Anonymous. Look at their harassment of anyone who doesn't agree with them or applies just a modicum of skepticism about their vigiliantism. Anonymous has zero credibility taking up the crusade against rape -- they ought to start with their own forums like 4chan's hideous hard core section showing women bound and gagged and IRC channel chat. It's merely another manipulative tactic to try to gain followers and eyeballs and to whitewash their rep.
Obviously, Anonymous knows exactly how to manipulate public consciousness (and I suspect they have some witting or unwitting help in this from some real pros in the intelligence agencies of various authoritarian states -- one sees their fingerprints). And they succeed in getting a feminist like Persephone to extol the virtues of vigilantism with a gaspingly naive take on Anonymous that seems utterly bereft of any knowledge of their long history of harassment of women online. I saw this phenomenon in action actually during Social Media week two years ago in New York, where leftist social media guru extolled Anonymous as "cool," and a woman in the audience got up and described first being harassed horribly by Anon, and then joining them -- in the way that victims sometimes become groomed and desensitized. The social media guru clapped with job and the two bonded as the victimized woman drew a little cartoon for her to broadcast on her phone. There is many a sick-making scene around the Anonymous active measures like this.
It's helpful to read the mainstream media account of this story in The New York Times -- which simply contains more careful, accurate -- and is accountable, with names! -- reporting on the Steubenville rape. There, you see the problem. The police say they do not have enough evidence to round up all those people that "the Internet" claims are guilty -- the phones they seized had evidence erased or inconclusive. They claim that no one is coming forward in real life who was actually there, witnessing the rape -- there is the silence of the blood brotherhood. And that's what matters more than social media and its ephemera -- the live witnesses of real life aren't doing the right thing and appear to be shielded in some respects by some of the town fathers. Except it's the police investigator who gives the most poignant quote, used even by Anonymous agitpropsters:
“The thing I found most disturbing about this is that there were other people around when this was going on,” William McCafferty, the Steubenville police chief, said of the events that unfolded. “Nobody had the morals to say, ‘Hey, stop it, that isn’t right.’
Whatever clips or social media trails Anonymous comes up with, they are not trustworthy and they do not apply due process. This is an operation for them -- it might as well be called Operation Reputation Clean-up. It is decided to create yet another dodge and faint to distract from their nature.
By taking part in a huge online surge of "educational" activity against rape, they are also creating a giant cloak to distract from Julian Assange's case, where he is still wanted by Swedish authorities for questioning on rape charges. By the way, here's a very good round-up on WikiWatch, a site of former WikiLeaks now critical of the organization, about how specious the claim is by Assange and his supporters regarding the fear of US extradition. If the US wanted to extradite Assange, they could have put in the request to the UK when he was in British custody before he made his bid for asylum in the Ecuadorean Embassy (and of course they could still put in the request). They haven't done so. That's likely because they don't have a case, even if they do have a case against Bradley Manning. We'll see. But the claims of an extradition from Sweden seem all too specious and again, are just a distraction and part of the entire Assange victimology.
Sure, it's good to educate about rape culture, and the male bonding and football culture that can create impunity for sexual harassment and even rape. But again, Anonymous has zero credibility in doing this, with their very long and continuing legacy of harassing women online and the celebration of gross and graphic pornography and violence against women on their online hangouts like 4chan.org
As with all the things Anonymous cooks up -- as with the Scientologists -- one senses this is a turf war between two entities, neither of which cared for the rule of law, not a righteous cause.
I'm for letting police chief William McCafferty do his job. He appears to take the allegations seriously and seems to be doing his job. If there is some real cause to impugn his judgement or those of other investigators or prosecutors (i.e. the mother of the boy hosting the party who is a prosecutor), perhaps special prosecutors can be brought in from out of state.
And I want to get the story from the local mainstream Ohio press, The New York Times, and other reputable papers rather than hackers who are no morally better than rapists in their determination to violate the norms of morality and law by hacking any site of anything they don't agree with or wish to topple, and exposing people's personal data simply on the basis of hearsay or circumstantial evidence in order to harass them. We do not want to live in a society in which people rape drunken girls at parties; we don't want to live in a society where anonymous assholes online get to prosecute such an offense by their lights according to their nihilist world view, either.
What's happening now -- it seems people aren't really paying attention -- is that the girl is being re-traumatized and subjected to rape online over and over again as videos of her being dragged around go viral and the new media falls all over itself to cover the story. Whereas once it was only a football team in a small town, now millions of people can pruriently gawk at the videos supplied by Anonymous hackers and purveyed on The Atlantic or Gawker or other popular sites.
Just as with Anonymous' and WikiLeaks' fake claims that they originated and helped the Arab Spring, so this latest crusade has to be viewed with a very weather eye and a keen awareness that actual evil they might be fighting, they are evil themselves and in more insidious ways precisely because of their two key Bolshevik features: a) claiming the end justifies the means b) engaging in the Big Lie.