Alex Madrigal, one of the "progressive" geeks who has taken over the former intellectual magazine The Atlantic, wins the net-nanny race following the horror of the Boston terrorist attack with this piece, Hey Reddit, Enough Boston Bombing Vigilantism.
Of course, there's the spectacle of the Global Village scolds trying to achieve by browbeating what they can no longer achieve in the age of social media, through institutions which they destroyed (like the newspaper editorial or op-ed piece, which is now drowned out in a zillion reader comments).
The shushing of the 'progressives" on Twitter has been thunderous -- anything to get people to stop trying to figure out who a terrorist is, eh? Because this might offend someone's tender sensibilities.
What's most awful about Madrigal's finger-wagging here is the double standard -- he was unavailable to condemn Anonymous' vigilantism around Steubenville or Aaron Swartz's case, although their acts were far, far worse and actually violated civil rights through hacking, heckling and exposure, whereas the group effort of Redditt is based on publicly-available media.
This entire scold would be a thousand times more persuasive if you had fired it up and delivered it when Anonymous was hacking and heckling and harassing everyone around the Steubenville rape case. But you were nowhere to be found then, and other Atlantic authors were only thrilled. Anonymous vigilantes hacked into the football team's website and the coach's phone and invaded their privacy and began making all kinds of suppositions -- claiming the coach had picture of young girls on his phone and was guilty of child pornography when in fact he had pictures of his adult girlfriend. People who weren't related to the crime there were savaged -- you had nothing to say.
Leftist journalists and feminists everywhere praised these thugs as if they were a new crowdsourced force of "justice" that would replace what they viewed as discredited institutions infected by sports culture and patriarchy. But the prosecutors said in the end that Anonymous only hampered justice -- they had to promise some witnesses immunity to get them to testify in this horrible climate. Anonymous with its operations JusticeSec and KnightSec ended up outing the victim's name, in fact, when they carelessly grabbed documents and they ended up humiliating this victim far more than she would have been without them, which was bad enough, by spewing the video of her tormentors virally over the Internet.
If anyone criticized Anonymous and their tactics, they would be doxed and have their private information exposed online, or aggregated in such a way as to bully them. Journalists and bloggers like me were savaged and bullied because we called out this vigilantism. You were missing in action then.
Now you spring to action over this collective action and call it vigilantism, and while elements of it may be, you're completely omitting the fact that there are two factors that make it different:
1. The police *asked the public to get involve* in looking through social media knowing of the thousands of pictures and videos taken -- some people may have taken pictures they didn't upload yet and they should examine them.
2. Redditt is looking at open and public sources, not hacking like Anonymous did, and yet you wag your finger.
Why? The fact is, you can't stop them. There is nothing that can stop people from using the Internet to look at publicly uploaded material and commenting on it, alone or in groups. Nothing at all; in fact, interfering with that would fly against the First Amendment.
But I'm most troubled by the implications of your double standard here. It was okay for Anonymous to really use vilgante tactics to go after the entire football team and everyone surrounding them as well as law-enforcement -- and you were silent because it was cool. Maybe you take the side of nerds against football jocks or you dislike the police?
When Anonymous hacked US government servers in protest against Aaron Swartz's case, you had nothing to say either. Anonymous vigilantes went and stalked prosecutors they didn't like such as Carmen Ortiz even at their homes. Where was your "hey, knock it off!" then?
Instead, you bring out the heavy moral cannons over terrorists. Do you feel ambivalent about terrorism itself, that maybe they are chickens coming home to roost? That maybe fighting terrorism can't be a war, a war the public supports, but can only be "police work" in keeping with the "progressive" view of such things? Are you worried that the crowd would go after targets that the left feels protective of, far more than they do of football teams? Well, Alex?
The Redditt process is unstoppable in any event, and in any event, there are correctives to those who jump up and say "hey, that man is running while black" -- they will face a challenge even from that crowd.
I'm less worried about Redditt than I am of the horrid net-nannying the "progressives" have engaged in all through this tragedy -- constantly scolding and telling everyone to shut up, not speculate, not express an opinion, and wait for the pre-cleared approved "thought leaders" to tell us what to think. No thank you. People lost their family members or their limbs. If some clue in one of the numerous images online could help bring the perpetrators of this horror to justice, it should be accessed. After all, it will still have to go through the scrutiny and due process of our justice system -- the justice system that Anonymous severely undermined without any protest from you.