@catfitz I hope you’re getting ready to kill yourself because you’re ugly old and fat— Andrew Auernheimer (@rabite) April 18, 2014
Read the debate : )
Weev (as Auernheimer is known -- it's a hacker's nickname) was released recently on a technicality after being sentenced to four years on appeal -- the appeal had to do with the issue of venue, in the state of New Jersey.
Of course, the Internet is "everywhere" and it shouldn't matter, and it's too bad this wasn't solved ages ago as a thing, where any Internet-related case can be tried anywhere - but it can't.
So, this awful creature is now let loose on the public, and here we all are. Of course the pro-hacker press is trying to spin it as a release and a victory, but in fact he has every chance of being tried again in another venue (and no, it's not ruled as double jeopardy) and I hope he will be.
Otherwise, the world isn't save from malicious hackers who deliberately and cunningly use brute force on a website to slurp up all its customers' personal data -- even if they pretend it caused no harm or was "math in the browser" (Weev's favorite nihilistic claim about his brute force, which involved sending numerous calls to the AT&T servers to try to fake it out, using serial numbers generated by scripts after figuring out how they worked from screen shots.)
Most of all, I hope the clarion call of legal sanity in the prosecutors' brief (see below) triumphs, and not law-faring -- on the issue at hand, which is the use of coercion on servers, all the while pretending that in cyberspace, it doesn't count, anything goes, there is no law, and anyone can do what they want.
What's NOT at issue is Weev's speech -- including the nasty tweet he sent to me above when I expressed a wish for justice against hackers in a tweet.
As we can learn from Weev's ardent defenders -- Volokh Conspiracy is a site to which his lawyer Orin Kerr contributes -- even a recent court decision narrowly skirting a criminal harassment charge on speech teaches us how to protect the First Amendment. Eugene Volokh's essay -- they're now at the Washington Post providing "content" for Jeff Bezos' empire -- says "Speech aimed to make someone “lack self-confidence in her relations with the opposite sex and about her body-build” = “intimidation”?
The speech in question was from a school-girl calling another girl "fat, skanky bitch" (like Weev does):
On February 20, 2013, three high school classmates got off a school bus on the way home after school. After exiting the bus, D.S. yelled, “T-Bitch,” to get the attention of her friend T.B. The victim in this case, also having the initials T.B., thought D.S. was yelling at her so she turned around and said “what?” to D.S. D.S. replied to the victim, “I wasn’t talking to you, you fat, skanky bitch. I’m way better than you and prettier than you, and I’m not desperate like you to sleep with the bus driver.” The victim replied, “I don’t care about looks, at least I have a heart.” D.S. and the victim were approximately ten feet from each other during this exchange.
D.S.’s friend than approached D.S. and said, “let’s go.” The two left the scene and went to D.S.’s house. The victim was hurt by these words and went home and cried, reporting the incident to her mother.
Well, that was real life. On the Internet, you get even more of this -- but then, don't go on the Internet if you don't like it.
When it's only about a kid's hurt feelings and another kid being an ass, parenting is at issue, school policies, and so on -- it's not a job for the criminal courts.
Of course, Kathy Sierra may be able to push this further, given the other pain and suffering she experienced from this creep who stole her personal data and harassed her with it from beyond the "fat, skanky, bitch" level:
In March of that year, some visitors to Sierra’s blog called "open season" on the now 57-year-old. Hundreds of commenters on her blog made rape and death threats. "I hope someone slits your throat," wrote one person. People posted photoshopped images of her with a pair of panties choking her, or a noose near her head. She had enraged scores of men for supporting a call to moderate reader comments, which is of course common practice now. Sierra went public about the threats, writing on her blog, "It’s better to talk about it than to just disappear."
But disappear is exactly what she did next. Andrew "weev" Auernheimer, a well-known provocateur, hacker, and anti-Semite, circulated her home address and Social Security number online. He also made false statements about her being a battered wife and a former prostitute. Not only did Sierra find herself a target for identity theft, but all the people who had threatened to brutally rape and kill her now knew where she lived. So, she logged off and didn’t return to the web until two months ago. She gave up the book deals, speaking engagements, and even fled her home. An anonymous internet group had chased her off the web and out of tech, and it finally managed to hijack her offline life.
But here's what I have to say about all this: it's important to fight back. Fight back hard. Document, relentlessly. Fight. Push. Fight especially for the prosecution of CFAA crimes, which hackers are constantly trying to minimize and wish away.
And push back verbally on the hateful hacker culture that produces things like the tweet at the top of this post. Write about it. Call it out. Expose it. Keep documenting.
This is the exact opposite of what some people tell you to do (*waves to a new acquaintance*). They think you should block trolls and report crimes to the authorities. They imply if you don't, you are the problem -- although of course you're not, the asshole hacker is.
And...except, there isn't a crime here -- look at the recent court decision -- precedent in court cases matter in this country.
And blocking doesn't make this behaviour -- which has metastasized from the Well and other early online geek enclaves and spread throughout all of society today -- go away. The mainly males who tell you to shut up and block "trolls" - and imply you bring harassment on yourself if you don't, or are hysterical and exaggerating attacks on you if you don't -- have not succeed in eradicating this ugly phenomenon their way. They've only succeeded in enabling it. That's the fact of the matter.
The feminist approach to all this annoys me, however, precisely because it's parochial. It's not about feminism. It's about a nihilist machine-induced culture of coders that in fact is a threat to all of our civil society, men, women, and children.
Precisely because there can't be a criminal or even civil solution to hacker hatred and incivility, I think the solution has to involve documenting it and calling it out. I don't know any other way of dealing with persistent abuse. I don't care if somebody thinks this is unproductive or "brings it on yourself" -- the reality is, their silence and their "blocking of trolls" who live to harass somebody on a new alt the next day isn't working, either.
"Sunlight is the best disinfectant." Lack of documentation and exposure and discussion -- induced by net-nannies telling everyone "don't feed the trolls" only enables it.
The solutions to the speech of this nature are going to vary from community to community. But I do know one thing: it starts with calling it out and documenting it. That the omerta has to be broken, and the disparaging, condesending "don't feed the trolls" advice has to be thrown out the window. It is complicity.
Don't want to think it's complicity because you're a decent and kind soul, and you only have the best interests of the victim at heart? Great. You can find your way with trolls yourself -- but stop suppressing others who wish to do battle with them and call them out. Again: you method doesn't work.