Did you come to my blog because you saw something I wrote on an Internet forum or Twitter which you didn't like? Are you now frantically Googling my name and trying to "come up with something on me" so you can try to discredit my ideas along with me?
Let me help. Save yourself some time, and realize that you don't have to spend hours Googling and drilling needlessly on the Wayback Machine, because there's no scandal here.
If you're trying to silence my legitimate speech and criticism by trying to "come up with something" on me, give it up. Use words, if you have an argument against my blogs, and don't try to harass me with "doxing," vilification, smearing, etc. It's not going to work.
THAT'S CATHERINE A. FITZPATRICK
First, make sure you spell my name right. It's a dirt-common Irish name and there are zillions of us on the Internet and in the phone book, so make sure you get the full name of Catherine A. Fitzpatrick or Catherine Ann Fitzpatrick, New York, NY. No, I'm not that poor lady in Minnesota who is a journalist and was charged with plagiarism. I've never been charged with that offense or indeed any crime in my life. I also don't write novels; I'm not a sociologist; I don't work for Greenpeace; I am not a State Department specialist on terrorism; I didn't have a huge, expensive messy divorce, and lots of other things that you might find the Catherine Fitzpatricks of the Internet doing. I'm just me! Don't use your hatred of me and dislike of my writing and your wish to silence me as an excuse to harass other people with the same name.
Second, let me alert you in advance -- I'm fat, I'm short, I'm a single mom, and I'm 57 years old! I have a liberal arts degree, a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature -- I graduated from the University of Toronto cum laude) and I also obtained a certificate of language and area studies from Leningrad State University. That's it, no PhDs, real or fake! I am only a savvy Internet user, not a geek and have no technical training even though I used to serve as a network administrator and I run servers in Second Life (it can be done!). Gosh, I realize I just used up a lot of your material that will based merely on lookism or ageism or sexism or technocratism, but stay with me, I'm sure you will find something to use to attack my ideas with!
GOOGLE BOMBS AND HATE PAGES: SECOND LIFE
No doubt you've found the Google bombs by now, you know, hate pages like this one from the now defunct Second Life diva Vint Falken that your enemies cook up and even write, "just so Google knows where to point," then bombard with hits to make them show up in search. That way they can take advantage of the gawking and linking phenomena -- pages where more people gawk and which more people link to wind up showing up higher in Google...and that way more people link to them because they're visible and more people see them. Self-fulfilling prophecy, ideal for Google witch-hunters, congratulations, you're not special in finding these obvious pages that aren't a secret and aren't a shame -- except for those who started the harassment of me using them.
All the hate pages are related to the online virtual world of Second Life, a community which I have been a member of for nine years, and where I've waged an important and highly-publicized battle for basic human rights and the rule of law. Although I'm a female, I have a male avatar. That's okay to do. This isn't a secret, as my avatar, Prokofy Neva, is linked to my real name on all my blogs -- there goes a lot of your other material!
I also have a rich and productive first life where I am fully employed -- I am not "unemployed" or don't "escape" to some online fantasy world but study virtual worlds and online communities as part of my overall interest in civil society and the Internet. I also think it's more than fine if people want to make avatars, have fantasy lives, and do whatever they feel like doing online within the law. That's their business. Why anyone would think they could use the fact of someone's membership in a virtual world or MMORPG as a way to shame someone else is beyond me -- and unacceptable. Think about how even your Facebook profile isn't really you; your Twitter account has an avatar; and accept that this is what some people wish to do and leave them alone.
Many people treat SL as "a game" or some sort of Internet backwater for sexting or cybersex. While that's part of it for some people and certainly legitimate activity for them if they chose, that's only part of what Second Life is, and it is not that for me. Just because I have a male avatar doesn't mean I'm a sex scandal of some kind.
In fact, I believe SL to be an online community created by some of the major tech pioneers in Silicon Valley precisely to prototype social media and its social effects; it is not only about the technology. The greatest tech titans of our time -- Pierre Omidyar, Jeff Bezos, Mitch Kapor and others have invested in Second Life and some remain involved on the board. Top technologists of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Intel, IBM and other companies came through Second Life. All the major companies of the world have had a presence there in its heyday, and some still maintain one. The US armed forces have islands in Second Life; so do dozens of universities. Time and again I have seen various Internet phenomena and developments first appear in Second Life in miniature, then be scaled up and spread to the larger Internet. My hypothesis is one I have been researching for a long time and I hope someday to put together my notes on this in a book. Whether this prototyping is a conscious plan designed by Linden Lab as an "experiment on people" without their knowledge, or whether it is merely an uncontrolled social phenomenon whereby in a smaller concentrated petri dish certain phenomena develop and then spread, isn't really so important.
The fact is, Second Life is used to organize, prototype and experiment and the lessons learned are taking to the larger Internet and purveyed there. Before there were Anonymous anti-Scientology demonstrations in real life, there were Second Life groups; before there was WikiLeaks, there was the Wrong Hands leaks in SL; Barrett Brown, the Anonymous spokesman who has been arrested, acknowledges he was in Second Life. Everything from Twitter to Facebook to G+ had something similar to it in Second Life in 2003 -- 8,000 people talking simultaneously in a large group with rapid chat; profiles and updates; hangouts in real-time to share media.
ANONYMOUS, THE ANARCHIST HACKING MOVEMENT
I've taken a critical position to various online cults, ranging from the thuggish Anonymous -- which I first began writing critically about in 2005 regarding its earlier manifestions -- to the rigid cult of open source software to the transhumanists and Singularists. That's earned me some enemies -- that's ok!
When someone has written falsehoods about you, and is engaged in a disruptive and distractive campaign to harrass and heckle and silence you, rebuttals can take time and a lot of space. Some people think you should ignore harassment from Anonymous or other online cults and weaponized movements and then it might go away -- "don't feed the trolls". I don't subscribe to that theory as I have never seen it in fact really work. Silence doesn't work; it is surrender. I belive in careful documentation and rebuttals, and I've seen that approach is what eventually works.
In my eight years or more of writing about Anonymous and its precursors, I have never, ever been harassed as much by this online thugs' den as I have in 2013. I have been doxed, deluged with spam, hit with porn followers, threatened with harm and death by email, had creepy threatening Youtube vidoes posted about me, had strange phone calls to my home and my relatives' homes -- the works.
It seems to be merely because I told the truth about Anonymous' antics and their vigilantism in Steubenville: they have no credibility criticizing and harassing people for "rape culture" when they themselves come out of a horrendous culture of violent porn and online misogyny for years. If their newer recruits, especially women, don't get this about them, they need to show more curiosity and do some research. Likely they won't be convinced because most people who join an anonymous vigilante group aren't going to be reasoned with in that way. But the general public should take note.
MY SECOND LIFE CAMPAIGNS
o fought for free speech and civil rights like due process on the corporate forums and in social media networks starting in 2004, when Rebecca McKinnon, for example, was still working for CNN in China and not challenging corporations on the Internet yet and when the Electronic Frontier Foundation shrugged and said we were bound by a TOS and shouldn't try to change it.
o during this campaign for compliance with the company's own TOS in a fair manner, I was banned by one employee because I criticized Linden Lab's favouritism and inside contracts system for some early adapters and the impunity that these people with NDA contracts enjoyed on the forums, which they used to bully and harass others who criticized them; that employee who moderated the forums also enabled stalkers to publish my real-life information and link it to my avatar in violation of the TOS and the company's own strict policies.
o opposed open source cults within the virtual world that sought to heckle and eliminate small business and completely eradicate copyright and intellectual property rights which in fact existed as a digital rights management system within the world engineered into the object creation and transfer
o fought for various policies to enable contributions to the bug tracker not be deleted (frequently an insiders' cohort of coders would simply delete any ideas or finds they didn't like); fought for regulation of ads (there was a licentious spam tolerance in the form of extortionist ad plots everywhere for four years); fought for privacy and integrity of personal property
o fought for policies on third-party viewers to prevent copyright theft and griefing; documented and fought cases of griefers.
Why was this worth bothering with if it is "only a game"? Because each and every one of these issues and polices has gone on to become an issue in larger platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and larger issues like Snowden and WikiLeaks, and I was right to get involved in it 10 years ago at a smaller, prototypical level because now I can see how it is playing out.
The reason you see so much vandalism of my record on the Internet is that the earliest forms of Anonymous (those that came from Something Awful, ebaumsworld, 4chan, W-hat, V-5, etc.) that got their start in Second Life targeted me because of my critique of the open source extremists and anti-capitalists/technocommunists, and constantly harassed me, griefed me, and crashed my servers, trying to harm my little micropayments business (no, I'm not some kind of virtual tycoon, I have an extremely modest little operation on only a dozen servers -- the real estate magnates like Anshe Chung in this world have hundreds of servers).
o fought against simulated child pornography (a policy which the company itself instituted after a German prosecutor began an investigation). My banning from two forums the first of which is now defunct (Clickable Culture, Terra Nova) has to do with a really creepy stalker and promoter of the right to have simulated child pornography as a free speech issue in virtual worlds. He persecuted me from forum to forum, constantly arguing with me, and even turned the tables to accusing me of having tenants on my server who were child pornographers and/or failing to report such crimes to the server company -- all false accusations.
o continued documentation of a resurgence of the LulzSec-related assaults on SL, including a hack of an anti-crime database run by some role-players called the Justice League United (JLU). I wasn't for those vigilantes, but I wasn't for the hackers gaining impunity by falsely claiming that people who properly documented and reported their crimes were somehow guilty of invasion of their real-life privacy. They weren't.
All of these and dozens more issues of the day all revolve around the basic issue of the rule of law and human rights, and the right to due process and remedies. I fought for people to be notified in writing of their offenses; I fought for the continuation of democratic voting when the company wanted to remove it -- all basic struggles that I'm proud to have participated in with others, and which actually led to changes. They are all relevant to the wider Internet today.
MY VANDALIZED WIKIPEDIA ENTRY
All of the people who harassed me on forums and chased me inworld and crashed my servers are now banned permanently. They returned on alts in three or four waves and were removed each time. These are the people who first created my Wikipedia entry, which explains why it sounds as if my entire career has been devoted to...fighting a bunch of California commuter college students inspired by 4chan.com.
When other Wikipedia editors came along and questioned the oddness of this entry, about a translator who was known in a certain field but not really famous, some of them urged the entry simply be removed. Then, the griefers (as we call vandals and persecutors in Second Life) turned to trying to make the entry more realistic. They scoured the web for more data and publications about me and kept arguing with editors to try to keep it there. They thought this would help vilify me and also harm my privacy. I've never done anything about it. You can't really, unless you are willing to find people or hire people who can battle the arcane editing battles of Wikipedia -- for which I have little respect because of its lack of accountability and transparency and failure to modernize with social media (there are not voting, like or comment features on this archaic web site).
I've written some of the rebuttals to the incorrect and tendentious statements in the Wikipedia entry but I haven't had time to keep up with the later twists to it. Some day I'll make my own domain name and write my own biography and work at overcoming the Google bombs. Generally, I find they haven't really harmed my abilility to make a living but that's because until Registan.net and Nathan Hamm, Sarah Kendzior and Jonathan Foust came along, nobody in my field took them seriously. These three have also worked studiously to make hate pages and Google search results to discredit me and hide my criticism of them, and I've addressed this on my other blog Different Stans.
HATE PAGE BY BENJAMIN DURANSKE (REMOVED)
So first, there's the old hate page set up by Benjamin Duranske, a computer programmer-turned-lawyer, known by the name Benjamin Noble in Second Life. You can still see it here. So there is no need to dig it out of the Internet Archive. And you can find my rebuttal of each and every point here. He used to run a web site called Virtually Blind about law in virtual worlds, and I used to critique him and his theories, rooted in Transhumanism and Singularism. He is one of those technology utopianists and even singularists who has a lot of big ideas about how technology should control people, especially if credentialed people like him are in charge of it, but the trajectory of his career has been disappointing. After years toiling in obscurity as a coder, he got a law degree, worked for a few years in a law firm then quit or was let go, retired to write a novel at a tender age around 30, then got himself in charge of the ABA's virtual worlds section, then got another law job related to digital property, then got out of that in a few years, then another... and today he is in a back room at PayPal or Facebook likely having to deal with the sorts of things he found himself golf-clapping in SL, like Anonymous attacks on servers.
Benjamin's hate-page of me existed merely because I persistently challenged several of his big ideas for the virtual world we inhabited, namely:
o the creation of a global bar association that would transcend countries/frontiers and create a class of lawyers governing virtual worlds (I was really against this because I thought it was too grandiose -- it was one of those world-government projects -- later, he was essentially eased out of the SLBA and other more modest leadership came on which has limited itself to using virtual worlds to make real world connections for lawyers. I am for lawyers not hiding behind pseudonymous avatars when they make judgements or crusade on legal issues related to real life; I'm also for *courts* and *judges* and *juries* -- not lawyers -- to decide and administer law.
o the promotion of a simulation of the Islamic Caliphate in SL -- he believed that it was within the norm to publicize the announcements of this group from the SLBA and claimed he did this for all governance projects -- I said that projects that abrogated civil rights and sought to impose theocracies had no place in a bar association's announcements, and the bar in any event didn't publicize every single governance project. The enamoration of the Caliphate by leftists and libertarian singularists and transhumanists in SL was part of the same RL phenomenon we see on the left in general, an infatuation with organized anti-Western and anti-capitalist systems.
o the convening of a meeting at the behest of a pro-Chinese business law student to discuss how to "obey" Chinese law at a time when Yahoo was being attacked for selling out dissidents. The short notice of the meeting and the packing of the speaker's list with pro-Chinese lawyers who were anonymous and unaccountable as they didn't provide real-life names was something I naturally critiqued.
o the use of his prominent position as a lawyer, author, and ABA section chair to rant and rage against what he viewed as Ponzi schemes, and his incitement of a run on SL banks.
This last position I opposed simply because it was overreach of a lawyer to initiate prosecution; it was malpractice; it was also unjust to people who had bank holdings. It's important to note that no real-life legal authorities ever prosecuted this case.There wasn't enough information available to determine whether it was a high-yield investment or a Ponzi and it didn't violate the terms of service at the time. I had no stake in it, but I felt that due process in virtual worlds is extremely important where there is anonymity and privacy and oppressive governments at stake. Duranske's only purpose was in zealousy sweeping out groups he didn't like to earn reputation points, and I felt that if the company had not outlawed the investment projects, it wasn't his business. He didn't help save anybody's savings through his actions, which could in fact have been done differently.
And Linden Lab properly wound up outlawing gambling when the US outlawed online casinos, and ultimately outlined virtual banks that weren't licensed in the real world, without any help from crusading lawyers. The position I took here is obscure to those who don't realize the enormous zealotry of some figures in virtual worlds of seizing power outside of real-life institutions. That was my main concern. I want virtual worlds to be governed not by crusading virtual lawyers with Transhumanist cultic ideals; or by the TOS of a company; but by real-life liberal law in a democratic society under the rule of law. I wanted due process and adversarial defense and the law of discovery, not some geek's say-so.
Duranske couldn't tolerate ANY dissent on these issues, especially his dream of creating a global network of lawyers who would rule everything and decide whom to prosecute as they worked on uploading their brains to the Internet (I'm not kidding; this is a real belief system for these people). I patiently and persistently kept rebutting it, which made him crazy.
He stalked me on my server and tried to come to my public meetings, and abuse-reported me for "disclosure" (!) if I reported in inworld chat or on my blog his heckling private communications to me. He also tried to portray me as a "tabloid writer" (I maintained a blog and once did write for the SL Herald which was a tabloid of sorts, but I stand by my excellent reporting on technology issues there) or as someone deliberately misquoting people (he hated being confronted with his poor judgement on the Caliphate) and so on.
One of the most creepy accusations Duranske made against me was that I "incited real-world violence against someone in a tax lawyer's seminar". This has about four lies in it, and is just typical of the insanity that comes from these coder-cultists when they try to connive to discredit people. There was a chat *group* that was commenting on a tax lawyer's seminar in which a prominent technologist with the copyleftist agenda heckled me for even having a business, and there were others who kept challenging the basic correct information given by the IRS about these virtual worlds, is that the tax is made not on virtual goods or virtual microcurrencies inworld, but only on the amounts cashed out to real dollars from that world. Pretty basic stuff, but you'd be amazed how crazy people get arguing about this.
This technologist who kept heckling me and ridiculing me got a "fuck you," which led to me being muted in the group. Later, not at the tax seminar, and not in the group chat, I was on an empty sim with another person chatting about the meeting afterwards, and that technologist came up to harass me some more. My son had been in a car accident, and somehow, this techie had obtained this personal information, and feigned to be "caring" about this and asked me about this personal matter -- after just getting done harassing me to the point of retaliation in a group. When he made that personal remark, I said "If I had a gun I'd shoot you" -- rather an empty threat even for a virtual world because I never carried any of the weapons that many avatars do in this Wild West -- and of course have no gun in real life and had no way of finding this person offline. It was absolutely insane to take out of this case of someone else harassing and bullying me some sort of "incitement to violence," but I have to say, this is the hallmark of the online thugs, this is how Anonymous and the ethics-free hackers of Silicon Valley operate in particular, faking incidents, trumping up charges, and trying to harass people who expose their bad acts.
When Duranske finally left SL to get a real job in a law firm, he took down his hate page about me, as he realized it would really look bad to his employers. He replaced it with a shorter page that was still hateful and insecure and silly, and ended up falsely claiming he looked for civil dialogue -- precisely the thing he could not tolerate if it involved criticism of his egotistical overreach.
PERSISTENCE OF HATE PAGE VIA OTHERS
The reason his hate page persists is because of the obsessive actions of two anonymous women in SL. One, named Vint Falken, no longer active in SL, had a page supported financially by an entpreneur named Jonathan Himoff whom I challenged because of his cynical creation of a device to copy entire simulators worth of content including items not made by the owner, for export to other virtual worlds, and his deliberate unleashing of this on the world when his business failed and he moved to open-source simulators.
Falken originally became annoyed at me because once, innocently, while making a list of the top-traffic blogs about SL, I left off her blog. The reason is because it was a blog just aggregating news of others primarily, and primarly about fashion, so I didn't think of it as fitting in my list of mainly news and commentary blogs. This so insulted her that she fumed for days, and when I refused to grovel in the abject apology that such prim divas would insist upon in SL, she declared me an enemy. If you visit her now-defunct page, you will see the method of allowing people to post, but whiting out their entries. So if you want to read my posts, you have to highlight and scroll over the post to make it visible. Silly stuff. Yes -- hard to imagine that the Benjamin Duranske hate page that he himself removed after he was embarrassed enough when he had to search for real jobs still persists because a Second Life diva wasn't put in my blog's top ten list. Yes, that's how people get.
Another person who captured and kept alive the Duranske hate page is one Hermit Barber, whose RL name I don't know, although she says she is female and Armenian in RL (is that how Katy Pearce and Sarah Kendzior know her)?
Hermit deliberately mispells my avatar name "Prokofy" so that it looks like it says "Pfuckoffsky" and engages in the other sort of typically juvenile antics of anonymous unaccountable people. We used to be on something called the Concierge List which was for those who leased servers and talked over the issues of the day and the company announcements. I frequently questioned her aggressive interactions and attacks on me on this list for my various positions -- against favouritism, for more transparency from the company, etc. Hermit apparently benefited from the system the way it was and didn't like me as a result.
Like Duranske, she picks on form, claiming that I force my ideas on others (I'm merely persistent in defending my own) or that I "tell lies about people" -- when I call out a lawyer in a virtual world behaving like a prosecutor and not allowing real-life authorities to sort it out, that's the sort of thing that becomes a "lie" for her because she also lives in that utopian virtual realm that would rather have some new world that would feature herself and her friends in power.
Most of all Hermit, who no longer seems active in SL, seems insulted because when I once ran into her inworld, she appeared in an elaborate ball gown. Given how aggressive and nasty she was on the list, I thought she might feature duck-hunting jackets and LL Bean boots. She felt terribly insulted at this claim, but since I like to wear duck-hunting jackets and LL Bean boots in both real life and Second Life, I didn't see it as an insult. There, do you have enough material yet?
If not, there's still Encyclopedia Dramatica! This is a trove of vilifications maintained by the Something Awful/4chan/Anonymous factions (somethingawful.com preceded even 4chan.com and the Anonymous, with the same kind of abhorrent anarcho-vandalist culture).
Let me list what's untrue on this page:
o I've never had a beard
o I'm not a hippie, although I once went to a Grateful Dead concert
o I'm not unstable, not in psychiatric care, not taking any psychiatric medications, nor residing in Bellevue.
o The "pimp priest" comment is bewildering, as I'm not a role-player and don't get into any costumes or anything like that in SL, but I think it relates to an Indian outfit with a Nehru collar that I once had on my avatar -- this somehow looked like a "priest" to these ignorant kids
o I am not hard-banned or hash-banned or anything-banned from the blogs or forums or pages or world or servers or domains of Linden Lab or Second Life. This is a persistent meme that many a would-be Google witch-hunter has seized on, but it's not true. For a time I was banned from the forums when one employee close to the favourites that I criticized misused his power to ban me, but he was let go from that position and then entirely from the company. Others re-instated me and I've remained for years. The period I was banned was about 2 years, when I started my own blog. It's funny, all the early group of employees that made common cause with the favourite ones (I called them the Feted Inner Core) or the open-source cultists are gone, along with most of their favourites.
o The blogs related to SL that I'm said to be banned from no longer exist, and if I was banned from any of these, it was due to the owners being overrun by the child pornography apologists and their opponents and shutting down their sites, or in one case, shut down through some police action on disclosure issues for other people (after they published my entire real-life address and work place to open me up to real-life harassment, which I've been subjected to repeatedly by these goons).
o It used to be hard for me to explain to people who Anonymous was, and why things like strange phone calls, porn bombardments on your computer, pizza deliveries to your house, etc. would happen. Not anymore, since WikiLeaks, when these e-thugs graduated from attacking me, a human rights activist in real life and the virtual world, and moved on to PayPal and the CIA and everything in between. BTW the address given in Encyclopedia Dramatica is not my address, and those poor people there have probably been harassed countless times.
o I did not lose my job as a consequence of 9/11; I retained my main job at the time, but a side job involving a book translation was lost which did cause me financial harm. The main job I had also lost some funding due to 9/11, and eventually I decided to leave it for another editing job but once again: I have never been fired from any job in my field. The only job I've ever been fired from in my life is a waitress job I once had about 30 years ago, but I also successfully had three other waitress jobs. Every job I've ever had has ended either by me deciding to leave and go to another assignment, or a department being closed and all the staff let go or funding ended and all the staff's contracts ending.
o The list of 30 or so avatars that are said to be my "enemies" are people whose actual offenses include everything from swindling people in virtual stock exchanges to crashing servers, who were reported by me to the company (along with many other people keen on establishing the rule of law in this cyber-frontier). Some of the people in this list are big-time embezzlers of real-life cash and others are cowardly little hecklers. If these 30 people or others I criticized for their unfair dealings or injustices are "enemies," so be it.
o I'm accused of "cheating on my taxes" but that's ridiculous -- I owe taxes that I pay regularly on an installment plan, I have no major earnings or assets. Every bit of freelance and online income I receive is reported on my returns.
o I've never "sued for libel". There was one persistent stalker who kept writing me emails and posting harassing stories about me and seizing my all-perms objects inworld and making griefing objects with them, and I cautioned him that his dissemination of falsehoods and harassment of me *were* actionable.
o No one has ever sued me for libel -- several times misguided lawyers put up to the task by various characters in the news in SL have sent me C&D letters, which I responded to by explaining how the First Amendment works and what the tests are for libel suits, and then they stopped.
CLAIMS OF "HARASSING" A JOURNALIST WITH AIDS
Surely one of the more bizarre stories I've been involved in relates to d3adlyc0d3c, a Second Life avatar whose real name was Joshua McCracken, a free-lance writer who died of AIDS in real life. If writing about three posts for your local shopper makes you a "journalist," yes, Joshua was a journalist. McCracken posted a Youtube, "Response from journalist accused of lying about AIDS diagnosis" directed at me, with ample hate comments from a number of my serial stalkers (like RevJimJesus and Woodbury University regulars like Tizzers Foxchase).
Obviously, I wouldn't accuse a person ill with AIDS of "faking it" or "lying" unless I had grounds -- and I surely did in this case.
McCracken went by the avatar name d3adlyc0d3c, and was notorious for years in the 2000s in the online world of Second Life for leading a griefing group called the Patriotic Nigras or PNs. They were infamous for their racist, anti-semitic, homophobic and misogynist and sexist attacks. Typical of their actions would be flooding a server with large particle spam, i.e. textures of pictures like aborted babies or murdered people or tortured animals so that you would be forced to view them, then they would overload and crash the server. They were also infamous for all their memes related to the 4chan "Pool's Closed" theme of an "AIDS-infected pool" which they combined with numerous photos of black actors, avatars in Afros, Jewish people at the wailing wall with the word "AIDS" etc. Toxic stuff!
THAT is why -- due to their incessant harassment of people with the AIDS theme! -- when McCracken said he was sick with AIDS some people didn't believe him. That is the only reason why.
That's because he was not a trustworthy character, endlessly attacking and tricking people. Originally, d3adlyc0d3c wrote about his griefing antics on the Something Awful forums, where he famously said about inciting other people to harass me, ""I mean, srsly. I am telling you, when you can make someone go nuts like that it can be loads of fun." It was common for new members to go through an "initiation" that involved going to Second Life and other communities and harassing people, then coming back and boasting of their exploits.
McCracken then claimed to have reformed in an interview with the Alphaville Herald and said he was taking up a new life as a security consultant -- a very, very common trajectory and profile we see among hackers which can never be taken seriously. Judging from some long-winded angry posts about this field, he didn't last long.
Later, he wrote a long article in for the Metro Spirit in Augusta, Georgia -- a free shopper where he published a few pieces -- describing how he befriended and fell in love with the editor of the Alphaville Herald -- Second Life's tabloid online newspaper -- then discovered that "she" (Pixeleen Mistral" was a "he." Thus ensued an agonized review of his sexuality, and he decided at the age of 24 he might be gay, began to go to gay clubs, and have promiscuous unprotected sex. He soon contracted AIDS, and for reasons that are not clear, refused to accept treatment for the disease and died. The time-table for this ephiphany and contracting the disease was literally a matter of months, and that was another reason why some people were skeptical of his story.
Basically, when McCracken began to claim on online forums suddenly that he was dying of AIDS, people did not believe him because he was already notorious for attention-whoring and for attacking Second Life servers with anti-gay and AIDS-obsessed messages with the Patriotic Nigras group. I expressed skepticism and figured he was engaged in Internet histrionics syndrome -- the well-known phenomenon where somebody pretends to be sick or dying or in trouble to gain sympathy, often keeping entire communities of thousands of people enthralled and concerned, sending them money, organizing fund-raisers, etc. only to find they've been hoaxed. I had seen numerous cases of this in online worlds.
I said that unless a real local journalist or doctor could confirm this claim, I would not accept his story. Obviously, this wasn't because I "didn't care about an AIDS patient" -- for years I donated to the Gay Men's Health Crisis. It wasn't because I somehow disliked gay people -- I am a supporter of LGBT rights. That wasn't the point: the point was that this specific online griefer in a notorious racist and anti-gay group who harassed people including me online was now curiously making a bid for sympathy that was difficult to trust given his notorious past.
He responded by making a video accusing me of "lying about a journalist with AIDS". He wasn't a journalist as such, he had published a few articles in a free shopper in August, GA. I wasn't lying; I was merely indicating that skepticism was in order. He didn't threaten to sue me for libel but merely commented nastily that his lawyer had ostensibly told me that I couldn't be sued because I was "mentally ill." Of course, the real reason I couldn't be sued is because we have the First Amendment, which means that if I believe a notorious public figure in an online world isn't telling the truth about his illness, I get to question it. Sadly, the only video that his poor mother has of him in life is one where he rants and carries on and thrusts bottles of medicine up to the screen -- medicine that he apparently refused to take at some point later.
The Anonymous technique of trying to shame and silence critics by invoking some sort of seeming callousness or cruelty on their part that is odds with their good reputation is now well known and visible everywhere. We were among the first to get a taste of it as it was prototyped in Second Life. Because I'm a human rights activist and in fact have a long history of taking up gay rights at home and abroad, that's why Anonymous and other harassers tried to turn this crazy incident into a venue to smear me.
When he stopped taking medications evidently, or because the disease wasn't caught in time, Joshua McCracken deteriorated rapidly -- one of the reasons his story did not seem credible is that only a matter of months passed before his claim that he had first uncovered the real identity of the woman he was in love with was a man; had gone then and experimented with gay clubs in real life; had contracted AIDS; and was now dying. Something doesn't add up. Nowadays, AIDS is treated aggressively and symptoms controlled and people go on to live for years.
An NYU journalism student following his Facebook then suddenly reported that he was dead -- erroneously. This was rapidly discovered not to be true -- there was no real obituary or family confirmation. He ultimately did really die some weeks later, but because of the long-running skepticism that his story might be a hoax, the fake report of his death before that, the facts had to be confirmed, and confirmed in real life, which is why I called the funeral home in Augusta, GA.
This was just basic journalistic work, but the sort of contact with reality that would make people in SL claim you were evil and heartless. Another SL member who had joined in a vigilante group called the Justice League (JLU) to fight the PNs contacted McCracken's sister on Facebook and expressed his condolences. This was construed also as "evil" and the case was the subject of an endless troll some years ago on the SLUniverse forums, where members of Anonymous/LulzSec in Second Life claimed that these vigilantes as well as me as a blogger had outed their privacy and harmed them because we had abuse-reported them to authorities -- a claim that was unsubstantiated, and tended to be seen as a distraction from the fact that all those Anonymous members were banned from Second Life for harassing people, copybotting, or using malicious scripts in other ways.
IN WHICH I AM DECLARED 'A RACIST'
This is a new addition to the forms of harassing me online, based on a blog post of mine about Romney's GOTV software, ORCA, failing. You can read my retuation here.
I assure y0u that I don't believe that "black people" ever "put bugs" in Romney's software to sabotage him (!) -- or that we have any proof of any sabotage of ORCA. I've never said any such thing. I'm open to discussing any hypothesis, however, because obviously there were repeated screw-ups in the Romney IT department and negligence was definitely at issue. I simply said that Obama voters didn't put their heart and soul into the software projects, and that's why three of them failed -- especially because some were outsourced to Democratic consultants whose hearts were not in a Romney victory. That was a bad idea and that's hardly "racism" any more than it is "racism" for Obama to have hired all white programmers for his dream team.
NSA, CIA, FBI, National Guard -- and Should I Add the Trilateral Association?
I have never been employed by any intelligence agency in the US or any other country. I do not get paid by anyone, and certainly not by the NSA or any other intelligence agency, to write my blog, which I do on an unpaid, volunteer basis.
I have not "called for the National Guard" to be deployed against hackers, that's absurd. What I've done is noted the work of Edward Castronova who described a theoretical future in which people would become so addicted to online life that they, with the help of hackers, might threaten the functioning of the government, in which case the government might send in troops against them. This is a theoretical discussion, and not something Castronova, an economist and professor, himself advocates, nor is it something I advocate. If Silicon Valley actually attempted to secede from the US, just as Texas under the Tea Party, it might experience a National Guard response. I don't know. I certainly don't advocate the use of the National Guard to suppress peaceful dissent, and the threshold for their use against hackers would have to be hugely high, i.e. attack on the water or food supply or highways.
I'm also accused falsely of advocating "the nightmarish merger of the FBI and NSA into one big Stasi agency." I've never advocated any such thing. I don't believe the agencies for intelligence we have in this country are anything remotely like the "Stasi" because I lived through the period of the real Stasi and KGB and trust me, I know the difference! I'm a big believer in separation of powers, separation of labour, and checks and balances. What I pointed out, in the discussion about the DEA's reconstruction of the NSA's intelligence, that there is something contrived here that indicates perhaps some laws and practices have to be changed, rather than continually branding the DEA as making "unlawful use" of intelligence. We live in an interconnected world. If Mexican drug lords can come up the US superhighways at the click of a mouse or a cell phone call, then foreign and domestic intelligence obviously intertwines. All of this should be openly debated and I refuse to find the DEA's forced need for reconstruction as some sort of commission of wrong-doing by them or the NSA. I want to hear the concrete cases and issues and remedies involved and I refuse to be frog-marched to any conclusion.
CONCLUSIONS ON ONLINE BULLYING
The forms of harassment I've been subjected to over the years from these goons (as they call themselves) in the factions of Anonymous are myriad -- just because I both blog critically about technology issues and record and document their antics and lies as well as make reports to service providers about them. They range from people following me in real life and photographing me; saying they are following me and posting comments about what I'm doing, i.e. "I see you carried an umbrella today"; and sending around pictures of my door.
They involve hacking my accounts; crashing my servers; driving away my customers with obscene pictures; calling me up at home and scaring my kids; calling me up repeatedly and playing loud music or playing the Soviet national anthem; ordering pizzas to my home; bombarding my email with tens of thousands of spam emails; even going to the building of Linden Lab in San Francisco, California and chalking BAN PROK (my avatar name) in a graffiti raid. The relentless and yet the banality of these modern-day Leninists is disturbing. In the last year, they have encroached further on my real life, sending threatening emails or making violent comments on my blog; contacting work colleagues or friends and attempting to discredit me; hounding me publicly with hate blogs, etc.
These people are part of a totalitarian movement that hates transparency, accountability, and documentation of their crimes, so if you are a public critic, this is what you will face. They are part of a totalitarian movement with fiercely rigid ideologies about expropriation and vandalism of property, collectivization, hazing, etc. and if you expose this, they will go after you.
I actually think this sort of online movement like Anonymous and its factions -- and those who exploit Anonymous as "Your Personal Army" -- constitute the greatest threat to freedoms and civilization in the world today precisely because they are transnational and persistent across borders and platforms. Sure, Assad in Syria or Al Qaeda or the Taliban kill real people and that's way more important. Those threats have people aware and fighting them, however, with some progress. But the extraordinary damage thes online hackers perpetrate and the prevention of use of the Internet for free expression and commerce are hugely disturbing and spreading rapidly, and have culminated in the greatest damage to our country in history -- the Snowden hack. They are determined that no one should use the Internet in any way but the way they define -- and control.