Gawker/Reddit Followup

Getting in a couple of points before I ignore you all for the rest of the day to write fiction:

* One of the side effects of writing about the Gawker/Reddit kerfuffle, and subsequently having Gawker pick up the piece, is that now people seem to think I am Team Gawker, which if they are on Team Reddit means I am a bad man.

To which my response is: Seriously? There are actually teams now? Do we divide on the field of battle, in t-shirts with the Reddit android on one side and the Gawker “G” on the other, and huff and puff our doughy, chair-bound bodies to the center of the field, therein to engage in face-turned hand-slappery? Because that seems tiring. And silly.

For the record, I am neither Team Gawker nor Team Reddit. I am Team Scalzi. Team Scalzi, or this member of it, actually visits both Reddit and Gawker on a daily basis, because he likes to wander the Web and be distracted by its shiny objects, and Lord knows both Gawker and Reddit are full of shiny, linky objects. He also believes that neither Gawker or Reddit are full-time paragons of either virtue or of vice, and that in both cases their owners (Nick Denton and Advance Publications, respectively) are perfectly happy to grub about if there are coins to be found in the dirt. It’s a living.

This is not to say that maybe Gawker and Reddit, as organizations, don’t have an antagonistic relationship going on. Maybe they do. But if they do, as I work for neither nor feel an intense association with either, I don’t know how that ends up being my problem.

Now, in this particular case, Reddit’s (rightly) on the defensive, because this Brutsch character is manifestly a creep and Reddit as an organization profited from its association, and that association throws into sharp relief some of Reddit’s less savory corners, characters and practices. This fact undoubtedly makes some folks who strongly identify as being “redditors” a little defensive and pissy, and of course that’s totally understandable. It doesn’t mean that those of us commenting on the event, and pointing out what we think it means for Reddit, are automatically the enemy. Even if our pieces are reprinted on Gawker.

In short, there may or may not be a slap fight between Team Gawker and Team Reddit, but it’s not my slapfight. If you invite me to it, I’ll decline the invitation. I’ll watch, however.

* This may lead to the question of, if I’m not on Team Gawker, why did I let them reprint the entry? In short, because they asked. If someone from Reddit had asked, I’d’ve been likely to let them reprint it, too. Seems relevant to both parties. That said, because of what Reddit is, it seems more likely the site would link out anyway rather than ask to reprint.

As it happens the piece has been linked to on Reddit, although I’m not seeing a whole lot of follow-on traffic; most of what traffic it’s getting is coming from the “ShitRedditSays” subreddit, which is (in a grand example of Redditors policing themselves) dedicated to highlighting the particularly asshatted things that are said on that site itself. This may mean something, or it may not. I would understand if the mass of Redditors who regularly upvote things decided they wanted to leave this particular entry alone. It’s been a rough week for them.

I’ll note that Gawker sites reprint stuff from Whatever from time to time; Jezebel reprinted the guest post I had on transvaginal ultrasounds earlier in the year, and Kotaku did the same for my “Straight White Male” piece and its follow-up. Again, it’s because they ask and because I thought in those cases it would be useful to get those pieces in front of more readers (and also, because I’m not entirely the selfless type, to give them a secondary boost after their reader numbers peaked on Whatever).

That said, lots of sites and publications reprint my stuff from time to time and the act off allowing a reprint doesn’t bind me to them. I am no more in the tank for Gawker than I am, say, for CNN, which reprinted my piece on Klout last year, or for any of the several dozens of sites and publications which have reprinted “Being Poor” over the years.

This doesn’t mean I shouldn’t practice discrimination; if someone from Stormfront wanted (unfathomably) to reprint something of mine on its forum, as an example, I’d pass. But Gawker’s sites, generally speaking, get over that particular bar. I’m sure they’re relieved to know that.

* One of the things that has been suggested by some of those affronted by the piece is that I must be one of those people who thinks free speech is okay, so long as only nice people use it. Well, no. If you don’t give even the scumbags a right to free speech, etc. But again, this isn’t about free speech, it’s about what speech Reddit, a private company, decides it wants to tolerate on its site, and, separately but not less importantly, why it chooses to tolerate that speech.

I understand many Redditors want to believe Reddit has a high tolerance for the creepy because it has high-minded moral and ethical principles on the matter of tolerating even the most controversial types of speech, and, well. I think that’s adorable of them to believe so. I am less convinced, personally, as I have noted, although I certainly understand why Reddit would choose to invest itself in the cloak of high-minded principles of unfettered speech than jangle unabashedly down the street wearing only the jockstrap of unfettered commerce. But again, just because Reddit finds it convenient doesn’t mean I’m required to sign onto it, nor should anyone else.

* Likewise, I’m personally not enjoined to believe that every creep who enjoys whacking off to pictures of women who didn’t consent to have their pictures used in that fashion actually gives a squirt in a bucket about free speech, in any other sense other than a dread fear that someone will make it more difficult for him to find all his masturbatory fodder in one convenient, semi-respectable location. It’s like the dudes burbling their way through a bowl of weed who talk about the medicinal properties of marijuana and how awesome hemp is when all they really want is to not worry about their own supply.

Yes, some mouth-breathing upskirt enthusiasts actually are ardent defenders of free speech in a constitutional context, just as some couch-surfing stoners are actually deeply committed to stumping for recognition of cannabinoid compounds as legitimate instruments of medical therapy. Speaking as someone who is both for free speech and for the disprohibitionmentation of marijuana, however, I will suggest their actual number, as a ratio against those dudes who just want their whack and weed, is low indeed.

Which is why, upskirt dude, when you come at me with your “free speech” argument, I am skeptical, shall we say, concerning your sincerity regarding, knowledge of, and commitment to, free speech. I will judge you if it quickly becomes apparent — as it so often does — that you haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about on the subject. Because then not only are you a creep, you’re an insincere creep, and you think I am as ignorant as you are, which is also unsurprisingly offensive to me.

If all you want to do is be a creep, then please don’t drag free speech into it. Free speech really does deserve better.

* Finally, no, “disprohibitionmentation” is not a real word. But I really think it should be, don’t you?

162 thoughts on “Gawker/Reddit Followup

  1. Privileged white het dudes who assume they’re entitled to that privilege are traditionally terrified of mobs of angry people they’ve been crapping on since forever. They will move heaven and earth to shut down anyone being critical of their excesses as “witch hunts” or “lynch mobs” as much as they can.

    The redditors and 4chanites and other trolls who’re outraged over Brutsch’s outing are pearl-clutching over the questioning of privilege, not over free speech.

    If I want to promote free speech, I’ll give to the ACLU, not to Reddit.

  2. Which is why, upskirt dude, when you come at me with your “free speech” argument, I am skeptical, shall we say, concerning your sincerity regarding, knowledge of, and commitment to, free speech. I will judge you if it quickly becomes apparent — as it so often does — that you haven’t the slightest idea what you’re talking about on the subject. Because then not only are you a creep, you’re an insincere creep, and you think I am as ignorant as you are, which is also unsurprisingly offensive to me.

    Added to my quotable snippets file. Thank you.

  3. John, I think you should know that when you least expect it, someone is going to come up to you on the street in a cloak, then draw it back dramatically to reveal nothing but a jockstrap sewn from $100 bills. This is now virtually guaranteed. Enjoy your future.

  4. ““disprohibitionmentation” is not a real word. But I really think it should be, don’t you?”

    Well, let’s see . . . [pokes at it speculatively] . . . hmm.

    I’ll pass, I think. It doesn’t seem to fit in my mouth properly. It seems to get snagged between my uvula and my tonsils. Sorry.

  5. I shall engrave “Implement of Free Speech” on my Mallet of Loving Correction.

    … though, perhaps it’s difficult to appreciate irony when one is required to duck with the required alacrity.

  6. Speaking as someone who is both for free speech and for the disprohibitionmentation of marijuana

    I am too, which I suppose makes us disprohibitionmentationtarians.

  7. John, I came to your blog to comment because someone referred to our blog as a balanced treatment of the issue in the comment stream of my blog, and *my* reference to free speech is to the discussion of the principle. Good luck with your writing, and ty for the forum for discussion.

    Non carbarundum. Isn’t that the root of what trolls are about and why we even find his issue interesting? The net is a wonder we pay for in irritation, and how each person copes with that irritation (whether by dishing more out or by insisting on strict behavior standards or by developing a sense of humor or by going and periodically immersing oneself in real work? ;) shows the chaos and diversity of humanity and culture in transition in relation to a new institution.

    Most people hate change, so the dialog will be charged. Ultimately, you are not the target. Knowing that, participation can detached — less irritating and personal. Keep your spirits up as a catalyst if not an activist — thank you! ;)

  8. A bit of a side note, but I’ve never understood the logic behind “stoners only support medical marihuana because they’re hoping they can get in on it, or push things down the Slippery Slope ™ or whev.”

    For one thing, if someone supports disprohibitation of marijuana, why would they *oppose* medical marihuana? On the other hand, it’s not at all surprising that some folks honestly support medical marihuana but oppose general disprohibitation, because that’s kinda why the whole “prescription” concept exists.

    Also, gee, humans often support (or oppose) things because of a mix of self-interest and empathy for others. Being dismissive of them by pretending that only their self-interest is real is rhetorically convenient but not otherwise helpful.

  9. Bearpaw:

    “Being dismissive of them by pretending that only their self-interest is real is rhetorically convenient but not otherwise helpful.”

    One, unless of course they really do have only their self-interest in mind, and two, I’m not sure how a judgement of whether making recognition of that fact is “helpful” or not matters at all in this particular conversation.

    Three, I don’t at all want to make this thread about the legalization of marijuana, because that’s bound to be tedious, especially as I’ve noted that I’m not opposed to such legalization. So let’s go ahead and snip this in the (heh) bud.

  10. If Upskirt dude would be comfortable looking up actual skirts in public, and claiming “free speech” when they cart him off to jail… then I don’t see a problem with him having his own forum on reddit.

  11. @Bearpaw
    “Also, gee, humans often support (or oppose) things because of a mix of self-interest and empathy for others. Being dismissive of them by pretending that only their self-interest is real is rhetorically convenient but not otherwise helpful.”

    I’d hardly say Scalzi was being dismissive. His third from last paragraph just expresses an initial skepticism. When you start arguing for free speech, or legalizing marijuana, or school prayer, or any other issue the first natural assumption is you’re doing so out of self interest. You get over that bar through further discussion, showing you really do know the subject and are open to hearing opposition to your position. If someone wants to defend reddit’s choices there are valid arguments to be made. If someone just wants to declare Chan and Gawker part of a Junta and scream oppression they’re not helping the conversation.

  12. Finally, no, “disprohibitionmentation” is not a real word. But I really think it should be, don’t you?

    Frankly, no. I think it is a very unwieldy word, not unlike compound nouns in German, which Mark Twain once commented weren’t words at all, but rather were “mountain ranges.”

    But, since Congress can make no law prohibiting it, go ahead a use it if you like.

  13. I agree with both what you and Josh said.

    Also, I read this at 9:23 my time, and between the “squirt in a bucket” in proximity to Brutsch and a Reddit dude wearing a jockstrap made of money, I am never going to a) eat or b) have sex again, ever.

  14. Three, I don’t at all want to make this thread about the legalization of marijuana, because that’s bound to be tedious, especially as I’ve noted that I’m not opposed to such legalization.

    Legions of stoners just sighed in relief now that they don’t feel the need to rouse themselves from the couch to defend their hobbyhorse.

  15. While the revolution may not be televised, any slap fight between Gawker and Reddit supporters absolutely should be (or least least streamed online).

  16. John, clearly there is plenty of overlap between fans or your work and redditors. I would really be interested in some sincere advice on how redditors can go about improving the site in such a way that the underbelly gets hosed down with a high concentration of bleach, yet the majority of the site maintains its free-wheeling, unfettered liveliness. Something less antagonist than a reddit boycott. Any ideas?

  17. To be fair, popehat pretty well covered this with the same conclusions a day or two before John voiced his opinion. So he’s not the only one. Popehat did a little more with the legal side as well.

  18. As always, it has been a pleasure to read your well thought out and carefully reasoned takes on an issue of note. When people ask me why I enjoy reading Whatever, it is pieces like this (and the previous that led to it) that I point to. Thank you for being such a good voice of reason and intelligence amongst the often lack-there-of on the Internets.

  19. Do you (plural you) always ask for consent to all the subjects of your sexual fantasies?

    Fantasizing about someone (or something, we’re not here to judge) within the confines of your own brain is entirely different from taking pictures of someone without their consent and posting them on a forum expressly dedicated to perving on them. Conflating the two completely dissimilar things for the purposes of argument is not a valid tactic.

  20. @Shokolov –

    “Do you (plural you) always ask for consent to all the subjects of your sexual fantasies?”

    Well, no; that would be difficult in all sorts of ways. However, what we also don’t do is stalk such potential subjects, capture invasive or compromising photos of them without their consent, and then post said photos on a forum where we brag about the fact that they are powerless to stop us from stalking and invading their privacy, treating them as objects rather than people. Nor do we praise those who do so. That’s really not terribly complicated, is it?

  21. I think I may have to institute an official time limit on these sorts of things. As in “If you respond more than five minutes after I said a conversation should be closed, I delete your comment.” Might be good to have a rule.

    If I instituted that particular rule, Eric, you would have missed deletion by about 30 seconds.

  22. In my defense, I am a somewhat slower typist than most. No problem with the rule, though; it’s certainly reasonable to decide where a line has to be drawn.

  23. “…choose to invest itself in the cloak of high-minded principle of unfettered speech than jangle unabashedly down the street wearing only the jockstrap of unfettered commerce.”

    While your entire post is full of excellence, this particular line made me laugh out loud. Thanks so much for this delightful imagery!

  24. All this stuff makes my head hurt. In the end my advice is: interact with others as you would like them to interact with you. And before you start thinking I carry a rosary ring in my pocket, I’m buddhist. Those are good words to live by though.

    On the other hand, this may all be an elaborate version of The Sims, but one has to swing along some plane in the end. I say swing for compassion.

  25. It is endlessly dizzying watching totalitarian hate-mongers claim that free speech criticism of them is actually censorship. Nothing whatsoever has happened to Reddit. No one country government controls the Internet, at least for the moment. And anyone on the Internet is free to say anything about anyone on Reddit, including about creepy pedophile guy who went running around in a T-shirt that proclaimed he was creepy pedophile guy. Free speech is not a one way street. If creepy pedophile guy is not the poster boy for all of Reddit, then Scalzi isn’t the poster boy for all of Gawker, just because he let them reprint a piece saying Reddit was having hysterical vapors. If Reddit can’t stand the free speech heat, then it should get out of the kitchen. As for creepy pedophile guy, I’m sure he’ll find a new career from some well-funded porn site, hate group or right wing organization that appreciates his talents. But there is no right to privacy on the Internet, as creepy pedophile guy well knew when he stole photos of teenage girls and subjected them to harassment from whacko stalkers on the Internet.

  26. I’ve read this somewhere else (apologies for redundency if it was in the other thread, but I don’t think it was), but it’s a very obnoxious, yet effective tactic to attack the publisher of a work if you don’t like the work itself. Given how journalism is changing, and the relative mobility of bloggers/journalists who make a name for themselves, I feel comfortable associating the publisher with the writer (i.e. I think a little better about X publisher because they hired Y writer that I admire), but I don’t think that the reverse is true. I’m sure there are some writers so popular that they can choose to have their work published wherever they want, but generally the power and money seem to rest on the publisher side of it, with the writer just wanting to get their work and their name out there. Drawing a line somewhere north of Stormfront and somewhere south of Gawker seems totally appropriate.

  27. jangle unabashedly down the street wearing only the jockstrap of unfettered commerce

    Rarely has a phrase been uttered for which the emoji “O.o” is so apt.

    That said, I now have a companion Halloween costume for the “Invisible Hand of the Marketplace” costume I’ve been meaning to do for years.

  28. “Likewise, I’m personally not enjoined to believe that every creep who enjoys whacking off to pictures of women who didn’t consent to have their pictures used in that fashion actually gives a squirt in a bucket about free speech, in any other sense other than a dread fear that someone will make it more difficult for him to find all his masturbatory fodder in one convenient, semi-respectable location.”

    I really think this is beside the point, and has little to no bearing on whether the creepshots forums should exist. People are going to whack off to anything they can find.

    As a long time redditor, I’ve learned it doesn’t matter where reddit draws the line, something will always be identified as ‘the most offensive thing on reddit’. Some portions of reddit will make a big stink about it until it becomes a big news story or goes away. If it goes away, it typically becomes a permanent part of reddit. If it becomes a big news story, it sometimes gets dealt with by admins creating a new rule, and sometimes it also just blows over and becomes permanent.

  29. Josh – I’m uncomfortable over this, and not for reasons which have anything to do about white het privilige.

    One of the subreddits I frequent is one which is filled with still-closeted gay men. The subreddit is something of a safe space for them to talk about coming to terms with their sexuality; for many of them, particularly the young ones, the people they talk to there are the only other gay people they interact with. For the identity of those individuals to be revealed would be devastating to them emotionally, and in some cases, could put them in serious difficulty with their family, employers, or government.

    Now, to be fair, they’re not Brutsch, and they’re not engaged in the kind of conduct Brutsch has been engaged in; and it’s possible to hold that it’s OK to out Brutsch but not OK to out these guys. And yet the acts are sufficiently similar to make me uncomfortable about the outing of Brutsch, because of the precedent it implies for other subreddits, and for other, less creepy people.

  30. ““disprohibitionmentation” is not a real word.

    Dude, it is now :-)

    I have consulted the official job description of “science-fiction author”, and creating new words is one of the job responsibilities.

    Please be careful, don’t butt-dial us in the next post.

  31. Finally, no, “disprohibitionmentation” is not a real word. But I really think it should be, don’t you?

    Well, John, there’s a language for those who like that sort of thing. It’s called German. Example: Donaudampfschiffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerk-
    bauunterbeamtengesellschaft
    . Which means “association of subordinate officials of the head office management of the Danube steamboat electrical services.” Me, I happy with leaving it as supercalifragilisticexpialidocous for English.

  32. I am not going to hang around here as I fear you have kicked the hornets nest & then whacked it a few times for good measure! 8-{D I expect an onslaught of ugly, that new MoLC should be limbered up & ready – best of luck

    Love “disprohibitionmentation” btw.

    Probably the worst thing you did was to speak sensibly and honestly, that can’t be tolerated when it breaks my imagined reality.

  33. aphrael – are you seriously worried about Gawker Media going on a mass outing of closeted gay men?

    I’m queer, and I’m not at all worried. But you know, anti-QUILTBAG people are out there. Being a closeted queer person is dangerous. That’s why they’re closeted. But Gawker’s outing of a deeply popular creepy ephebophile troll should not worry you.

    Quite frankly, I’m glad that there’s social outrage over total creep trolls. I don’t think sheltering those people is a price to be payed for keeping closeted gay men safe. That’s a false equivalence. If you disagree, we can discuss that, but that’s where I’m coming from.

  34. @measure76: “I really think this is beside the point, and has little to no bearing on whether the creepshots forums should exist. People are going to whack off to anything they can find.”

    Do you really think so? Because I think that for a lot of people it would be a real bonerkiller knowing that the people in their wank file didn’t consent, or were coerced, or thought that the video/picture would never go public. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a good deal of willfull ignorance going on, but that’s not the same as saying that people are so desperate for wank material that the source doesn’t matter. If anything, I think that the reverse is true: there’s so MUCH material so easily available that it’s pretty easy to avoid the skeezy stuff and still have more than enough to satisfy you.

  35. Re “lynch mob” and “witch hunt”: one thing both those phenomena have in common is that they consist of the (relatively) privileged attacking the (relatively) less privileged.

    Thus making it even more amusing when they are employed as metaphors by the (relatively) privileged.

  36. jangle unabashedly down the street wearing only the jockstrap of unfettered commerce

    Oh…

    Oh god.

    Just to riff on Mythago’s halloween costume idea, I think the Invisible Hand of Capitalism would be perfectly represented if his superhero costume were nothing but a jockstrap of hundred dollar bills..

    But still….

    Oh Gawd!

  37. A link of interest for John and anyone else which revolves around the subject of blogs, moderating and abuse. Her blog is of a liberal flavor and largely feminine in subscription. It’s a different sort of abuse, but relevant nonetheless.

    All in the interests of connecting data to create information.

  38. I’d upvote ‘disprohibitionmentation’ any time. Especially if I can apply an arbitrary Law of Conservation of Sesquipidalianism and swap it out for some other word of equal weight but lower amusement value.

  39. aphrael: But from a practical standpoint, what can anyone do about it? You can register your discomfort, but even if Gawker hadn’t outed Brutsch, it’s still entirely within the realm of possibility that some jerk could try to out the closeted forum members; they certainly don’t need Gawker’s sanction to do so, nor is it a notion no one had ever come up with before Gawker. If anything, Brutsch’s outing is, among other things, a useful reminder that if you want to stay anonymous online, you have to be very careful (and even then, there’s no guarantee).

  40. @Megs The problem is, if you decide whether content is ok or not based on if people whack off to it, people can just claim to whack off to whatever they want to ban.

  41. You know, there’s no real shortage of actual porn sites out there populated by pornstars who choose that occupation. But if you’re seriously worried about someone trying to get, say, pictures of baby animals banned because they claim they get off on it, , I really don’t care about you, because it’s a stupid thing to worry about. It’s not a slippery slope.

  42. This whole outing episode confuses me. Nobody said Captain Creep couldn’t be a creep, nor did they take away his right to free speech (private/public I know, but for arguments sake lets assume their hypothesis of free speech everywhere all the time is correct). All they did was attach a name to his free speech. I must have missed the article in the Bill of Rights that entitles a person to Free Anonymous speech.

  43. I think the one of the overlooked (or at least underreported) aspects to this whole issue is that Violentacrez sold tee-shirts of his profile pic to fans of his sub-boards and posts. Being a creep is one level of seedy, but profiting from it is another level entirely. Now I hear he’s taking up PayPal donations, presumably for some legal defense or offense, but in light of recent Kickstarter campaigns going well beyond what they asked for, I would hate to see this … is scumbag too harsh? This reprobate? Whatever you call him, I’d hate to see him become wealthy after all the smoke has cleared.

  44. My personal rule of thumb is to say everything under my real name or associated trademark (I’m a musician) and try to remember not to say anything I that I wouldn’t want associated with me or my “personal brand”. There is a subtle elegance to this kind of guideline in that I’m have free speech, but I have to deal with the fallout. So I just pick which swords to fall on and what hills to die on. If you want to be a creep? Then fucking own it. Be an unrepentant creep, don’t puss out and try to hide. Can’t do that? Then maybe you should listen to your internal Jimminy Cricket. The internet is like a cocktail party, with HD video simulcast that lasts for ever: choose your words carefully.

  45. I’m with Dazed and Confused. This guy told how many people his true identity? And now that he’s lost control of the telling, we’re supposed to feel like he’s somehow been wronged? Boo hoo. As I tell my kids – deal with it.

  46. @measure76: “The problem is, if you decide whether content is ok or not based on if people whack off to it, people can just claim to whack off to whatever they want to ban.”

    I’m pretty sure that I’m not following you. I don’t think that anyone–certainly not me in my last response to you–was saying that the fact that someone jerks off to X means that X is bad. Your first comment included the statement “People are going to whack off to anything they can find.” I think this is untrue for the reasons stated above. Just because some people do or do not whack off to a particular thing doesn’t make that thing inherently good or bad. Some people juggle geese. And just because someone thinks the things that other people get off on are gross and immoral–like creepshots–doesn’t mean that we necessarily want it banned. But you can’t just say that people will jerk off to anything as a way of saying that something isn’t gross and immoral, because the fact that someone finds X sexually appealing ultimately says nothing about X, but might say a lot about the person.

  47. I think free speech on the net and in the real world are different. In the real world there is a public square where free speech is protected and with few restrictions open to anyone, even the creepy or hateful. Saying that similar free speech is available online but that private companies don’t have to carry it is troubling. Where is the public square on the internet? Reddit can shut you down, so you start your own blog. But then your hosting company can shut you down. Perhaps your internet service provider could do the same if you decide to host yourself. An open public square on the net is much more difficult to access without regard for underlying owners, than it is in the real world.

    So, while I agree with Scalzi’s sentiment about the free speech arguments at Reddit, I think that simply saying private companies can do whatever they want is a bit unfair. I like the idea of an organization that says, “Hey come do and say what you want on our forums.” It sounds like a free park for the internet. I’m sure it will attract the fringe, weird, creepy and hateful but free speech protects these things for a reason. Your idea of fringe, weird, creepy and hateful may be my idea of religion, government, or sexuality.

  48. The dirty little secret is that reddit doesn’t actually care about free speech, hence how they constantly lose their shit when SRS reposts peoples’ horrible comments.

    (That and how people frequently buy into men’s rights crap so they think that their lame racist jokes and underage fapping are political speech against THE MATRIARCHY DUN DUN DUN.)

  49. “But might say a lot about the person” should probably be in parentheses or a separate sentence, btw.

  50. Josh, no i’m not worried about Gawker Media going on a mass outing of closeted gay men.

    But I *am* worried that if Reddit is unable to enforce non-outing standards on its membership, then someone else will do such a thing.

    ——

    I have no problem with social outrage over total creep trolls; I find them outrageous, too, and I don’t frequent the subreddits this guy frequented for that reason. But I think that sheltering such people is the only way to shelter closeted gay men who use the same website to talk to each other; I think a clear “thou shalt not out people” rule is much easier to explain and enforce than one riddled with exceptions, and i’m particularly uncomfortable with a rule which is based on “it’s not ok unless the person is a really bad guy.”

  51. @jmc:
    “I think free speech on the net and in the real world are different.”

    Although it might not seem like it sometimes, the internet really is the real world. I can’t tell whether you’re using “free speech” to mean the legal right or a social ideal, but given that you go on to use terms like “public square” and “protected,” I’m going to assume you’re leaning more in the legal right direction.

    “In the real world there is a public square where free speech is protected and with few restrictions open to anyone, even the creepy or hateful. Saying that similar free speech is available online but that private companies don’t have to carry it is troubling. Where is the public square on the internet?”

    Why would it be troubling that private companies don’t have to provide spaces for free speech? That’s not how free speech works. Only in very limited circumstances are private companies required to allow free speech on their property. And why does every type of media need its own public square, anyhow?

    “I like the idea of an organization that says, “Hey come do and say what you want on our forums.” It sounds like a free park for the internet. I’m sure it will attract the fringe, weird, creepy and hateful but free speech protects these things for a reason. Your idea of fringe, weird, creepy and hateful may be my idea of religion, government, or sexuality.”

    And I don’t disagree with you that it might be a good idea to have a free park for the internet. But saying that free speech protects “the fringe, weird, creepy and hateful” people who hang out in that park is simply not true. If an organization like Reddit wants to say “hey, here’s this space, go nuts” they can do it, and one of their reasons for doing so might be to promote the social ideal of free speech, but in terms of a legal right to free speech on the internet? Until the government starts providing online public forums, then that just doesn’t exist.

  52. @aphrael: If Reddit wants to have a community standard that says no outing, that’s prefectly fine. But Reddit ends as soon as you navigate away from that page. If someone or something on Reddit becomes of interest to an outside audience, and the someone has done very little to conceal their identity, the fact that everyone on Reddit has agreed to a community standard means diddly to someone who doesn’t belong to the Reddit community.

    Boo double post. Sorry!

  53. The other benefit of always posting under “real life” moniker (besides the reasons given by Ben Jarvis) is that posting under semi-pseudonymity is impossible in the really-existing Internet, given enough time. So why indulge a false sense of security?
    I find it best to remain “hidden in plain site” by being a total tiresome blowhard. If anyone actually compiled and studied my full Internet blatherings, I would flattered to the point of becoming flush in the face to the point of passing out.

  54. aphrael: If someone really wants to out closeted gay men, I’m not sure why any sort of rule would stop them from doing so, no matter how clearly it was written. How would this rule even be enforced? There’s a good chance you couldn’t even figure out who violated it. (“Dear Website That Has Published This List of Closeted Gay Men: Could you please let us know who tipped you off so that we can take action against them?”)

    A rule wouldn’t really help here. It might even inculcate people with a totally false sense of security (as reddit’s internal culture of anonymity seems to have done in the case of Violentacrez).

  55. Team Scalzi needs a mascot. I’m torn between Team Scalzi Old Men and Team Scalzi Baconcats.

    The drill team, of course, are the Malleteers.

  56. jangle unabashedly down the street wearing only the jockstrap of unfettered commerce.

    You have given me that mental image, and now I can never mentally unsee it. Thank you very much.

    And by “thank you very much”, I mean, “AAHGH, SCALZI, WHY.”

  57. “If you don’t give even the scumbags a right to free speech, etc. But again, this isn’t about free speech, it’s about what speech Reddit, a private company, decides it wants to tolerate on its site, and, separately but not less importantly, why it chooses to tolerate that speech.”

    I don’t care about this particular issue or whether it involves free speech. My point is that in the normal physical world, I can stand on my land, or perhaps the “public square” and profess my idea or viewpoint. My concern is regarding Mr. Scalzi’s idea that Reddit being a private company makes free speech irrelevant. I think it still does have some relevance. The government does not need to start an online forum. Someone who can control the private means of their internet connection could do it instead and declare it a free speech zone. Maybe Reddit?

    I find it disconcerting that belief in the the value of free speech is so low that people can think that it is irrelevant because a forum is privately owned. Whatever is a great blog, but if the underlying business owners don’t like what Mr. Scalzi has to say would it be ok for them to have a policy allowing them to remove it? WordPress could shut it down. The hosting company could shut it down. The company that provides the internet pipe could shut it down. Maybe the company making the isp’s internet routers could shut it down. If people feel this way then there would be no online free speech. I think most people wouldn’t agree with this, and that usually takes care of the problem. Should a large internet provider decide not to sell bandwidth to the Church of Scientology, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day saints, or Church’s Chicken because the provider doesn’t like their beliefs? How would this effect free speech? I don’t think it would be good.

    I believe it is worth questioning Mr. Scalzi’s assertion that it isn’t about free speech. It could be. It might be. Its worth thinking about a bit more deeply, rather than accepting the amusing, snarky dismissal that it isn’t.

  58. @aphrael “the acts are sufficiently similar to make me uncomfortable about the outing of Brutsch”

    I posted this on Gawker but I’m gonna repost here because I thought I made an excellent point. :-)

    An ACTION in and of itself is never divorced from the CONTEXT in which that action is performed. There are very few actions in the world about which you can say “This is always wrong, regardless of why it’s been done!”

    To use an extreme example, imagine that a guy comes at me in a dark parking lot with a knife and I kill him in self-defense. Now imagine that I sneak into a guy’s house at night and kill him in his sleep. Same action: I kill a guy. But because the context of my action is different, the judgement I’ll face both morally and legally will be totally different.

    Michael Brutsch was not outted simply for laughs, or even for posting morally objectionable content. In his article, Chen lays out a pretty compelling argument that Brutsch, due to the sheer number of volunteer hours he put into Reddit and his relationship with the paid staff, was and is a major shaping force in the controversial side of the most popular websites out there.

    In other words, this was a case of journalism, your honor.

  59. jerol Does the Team Scalzi t-shirt come in red and is there a picture of Will Wheaton on it?

    Yes. Wheaton is riding a flying unicorn cat and Scalzi looks like an ogre.

    Megs: Why would it be troubling that private companies don’t have to provide spaces for free speech?

    I think “Internet Neutrality” is an attempt to push back against one issue around an entirely privately owned internet: “Roads”.

    In the meat world, everyone has their property, their house, their apartment, and some people have their stores. Zoning laws control where you can build houses and stores and what kind of stores. Public roads connect everything.

    On the internet, the libertarian paradise that it is, the “roads” are privately owned and while it has been mostly just paying for a connection, some road owners want to charge to let you drive faster on their road. Which could mean that to stifle competition, all someone would have to do is pay the tollmaster a bunch of money to make it easier ot get to theri store, and the competition will then have to pay to keep or go out of business for having a crappy, bumpy, dropped connection website. By monopolizing the connection, you can force compeititon to pay more to keep up, and if you already have a lot of money, its easy for you, and harder for the startups to start up and compete.

    Net neutrality wants to keep the “roads” the same for everyone.

    This is one example of what happens when everything is privately owned. monopolization is possible and the only way to prevent it is regulation.

    I am sure that in the future we will find other examples of negative effects of having everything on the internet privately owned. And some of it may impinge on not just the commerce clause of the Constitution, but several of the Ammendments in the bill of rights.

    I remember a while ago when WIFI was just coming out and a bunch of cities were trying to deploy public WIFI access for everyone. I think these ideas usually got shot down as competing against private companies providing wifi. But it would have been a great opportunity to provide that “public” access to an otherwise all-privately-owned environment.

    The one other example I can think of is Wikileaks. It operates, essentially, entirely within the internet. And the US government has leaned on Paypal and various other private companies in an effort to crush it.

    The cops in England jamming various online services during protests and riots, being another example.

    I don’t think the reddit/gawker thing really tapped into free speech issues or larger potential connundrums on the internet that may need regulation or might be abused by the government in the future. But for the larger question of “Why would it be troubling that private companies don’t have to provide spaces for free speech?”, I think there are issues about the entirely-privately-owned internet that has caused real problems and probably will again in teh future.

  60. “It could be. It might be.”

    I’m sorry to break the bad news but just about anything could be or might be, and using that assertion in an attempt to justify a copious collection of straw men merely makes it even more obvious that straw men are all you have…

  61. On the “free speech” argument – a newspaper (and I’ll say up front I give no shits at all about your opinion of the long-term viability of the industry or your traditional-media bashing, so don’t even start) will not generally print a potentially damaging photo without news value or the consent of the subject. You know, like a Creepshot. It’s not because they’re high-minded, overly corporate or even because it’s strictly illegal. It’s because one very brave woman sued a newspaper for printing a photo of her asleep in her hospital bed that was taken without her knowledge, and attached an unflattering headline. The U.S. Supreme Court took her side, and since then, it’s been an accepted boundary of First Amendment rights to avoid that because you are financially culpable if you don’t.

    Reddit gets away with things like this almost solely because anything done on the internet is very hazy in terms of jurisdiction, and it’s leading to a series of sites that can capitalize on a pretty shiny loophole to do as they please and call it free speech. If the press – the press, of all institutions, which is specifically named for higher protections in the fucking First Amendment – would not be able to get away with the free speech argument in this case, it’s bullshit for some Creepshooting asshole to even try. What expression, exactly, do they think they’re protecting? What kind of contribution are they making to the marketplace of ideas by threatening the safety and future reputation of these women? They have the right to be terrible people and say terrible things. Not to endanger unconsenting women.

    It’s a pretty basic line, and one Reddit, or Gawker or any site should be ashamed and unwilling to cross. Hell, if legal systems were properly equipped to handle online issues, they could face serious consequences for crossing it without ever violating the First Amendment. Because again, free speech gives you the right to be an asshole, and Reddit is within its rights to allow you a space to be one publicly – although the right to anonymity is another question that I won’t get into right now. Being a predator is not a protected status, and for Reddit to give you the space to engage in predatory behavior without consequence makes a mockery of a right thousands of people are still fighting for.

  62. I’m trying to say, there’s much better ways to say “/r/creepshots is bad” other than “People whack off to it.” It’s already bad enough that the expectation of privacy of the individuals being photographed is being severely violated. Leave the whacking off for arguments about whacking off.

  63. @jmc “My point is that in the normal physical world, I can stand on my land, or perhaps the “public square” and profess my idea or viewpoint… Someone who can control the private means of their internet connection could do it instead and declare it a free speech zone. Maybe Reddit?”

    First: on your land or on the public square you would not be anonymous. You can do that at Reddit too – unless they edit you – but you should no more expect a guarantee of anonymity than you would when standing shouting in the public square.

    Second: no matter what they said today about “letting” you be “free” to speak on their forum, tomorrow Reddit would be on firm legal ground if they literally erased everything you’d ever written there for no reason at all. They can ‘disappear’ you from their space the way the government cannot (supposedly). So… a private space (reddit) is not analogous to a *public* square. Your ‘freedom’ to post at Reddit is granted strictly at its owners’ pleasure, and them hypothetically pinky-swearing not to censor you proves the point! Don’t get it twisted.

  64. Going on a tangent on the subject of followups to previous Whatever posts,

    [Aaaand the rest deleted, because it's not actually relevant to this thread -- JS]

  65. @jmc I find it disconcerting that belief in the the value of free speech is so low that people can think that it is irrelevant because a forum is privately owned.

    And I find it disconcerting that you think “free speech” has anything to do with how people may or may not moderate private forums. That makes about as much sense as insisting that a church host a satanist black mass because of freedom of religion.

  66. jmc:

    “My concern is regarding Mr. Scalzi’s idea that Reddit being a private company makes free speech irrelevant.”

    I’m trying to decide if this is genuinely the stupidest thing anyone’s said on this thread to date, or if it’s merely poorly written. I am going to assume the latter. That being the case.

    1. Free speech issues, in a general sense, are not irrelevant in the least, says the man who’s worked as a writer — ie, a field deeply concerned with free speech issues — for two decades.

    2. Independently, the kerfuffle with Reddit is not about free speech. It’s about what speech Reddit allows (and why), but that is not the same as being about free speech.

    3. Apparently not understanding the difference between points one and two does not make point two about free speech.

    “I believe it is worth questioning Mr. Scalzi’s assertion that it isn’t about free speech. It could be. It might be.”

    It’s not.

    Although I agree that you, at least, should think about it a little more deeply than apparently you have.

  67. We need some term for the concept that there is a public benefit to allowing unmoderated speech OTHER than free speech, because I’m getting a headache trying to figure out when people are talking about that concept and calling it freedom of speech, and when they’re genuinely confused about when the First Amendment applies. (If such a term exists, please let me know). The first clause of the First Amendment says “Congress shall make no law.” If there’s no law, there’s no freedom of speech issue. End of story. There may very well be a discussion about Why Moderation is Bad for Society, but that’s not the same conversation.

  68. I am Team BaconCat, for sure.

    I now am also glad that Scalzi isn’t going to cons next year; otherwise, I would fear a great outbreak of cloaks over jockstraps.

  69. measure76, you can keep repeating that the problem people have with r/creepshots, r/jailbait, et. al. was that “people whack off to it” but that is not the problem I have with those subreddits and their itinerant posters, and it is not the issue that I have seen raised against them. The problem was that those pictures were taken and uploaded without the consent or knowledge of the subjects.

    If a person takes a picture of my body from a compromising angle (upskirt, downblouse, etc.) it is not free speech, it is illegal. If a man masturbates at me in public (which has happened more than once), he is not freely expressing his sexuality, he is involving me in a sexual situation without my consent. It is illegal and wrong. The key factor here is the consent of the person being used for another’s sexual gratification. There are volumes, vast and unending fountains, of legitimate porn that was created with the consent of all involved. What is wrong with that porn? Could it be that the vicarious thrill of using pictures of the unconsenting is the point?

    Just because taking (highly suggestive) pictures of people in public and sharing them isn’t illegal doesn’t mean that it is behavior that should be condoned or even actively encouraged, which it is hard to argue Reddit wasn’t (and isn’t) doing. I see no reason why the anonymity of these amateur photographers should be preserved or their photo galleries tolerated.

  70. Kat Goodwin – “If Reddit can’t stand the free speech heat, then it should get out of the kitchen.” I couldn’t agree more. There’s a double-layer of misinterpretation coming from certain free speech advocates involved in this discussion:

    1) As Scalzi says, this isn’t a free speech issue, because Reddit is privately owned and has the right to host or ban whatever content it sees fit.

    2) But let’s say it IS about free speech, just for a moment. Free speech gives you the right to discuss and even support downright horrible ideas. Free speech does not immunise those ideas from critique. On the contrary, the entire POINT of free speech is to allow the public to openly debate and criticize.

    The fact that someone can post creeper photos without getting jailed isn’t the same thing as creeper photos being an acceptable thing in our society. If this is a free speech issue, and not a Reddit issue, then you’re no longer on Team Reddit, you’re on Team Creeper.

    In other words, if you think this is about free speech then Scalzi is doing you a favor. You don’t want this to be a free speech issue. If it’s a free speech issue then you’re still wrong, and in a much more embarrassing way.

  71. To all the people concerned that it’s way too ethically complicated to make a distinction between outing abusers and outing people who are attracted to people of the same gender:

    I am curious. Would you consider it appropriate to out the outers? Like, if Adrian Chen had written his post anonymously, would it be ok to out him? If someone was outing gay men on reddit, using an anon, and banning said person was proving difficult without sharing information about who that person was offline,* would you be for or against outing? If someone was anonymously outing gay men offline (using information gained from reddit or elsewhere), would you consider it acceptable to let everyone know (on reddit, or elsewhere) who that person was so that they could be sure not to confide in them?

    *assuming this is not a farfetched scenario, at least in the sense of sharing the outers personal information making it easier to keep banning new accounts as they crop up. I am not on the up and up regarding how modding works in the technical sense, so I could be wrong.

  72. @ Megs: The point of all this that I’m trying to hold onto is that the First Amendment is a reference to government censorship. A private organization is a different legal entity, and can decide, within legal limits, the nature of its content on websites. Thus, free speech, like John has pointed out, is really not a factor here, and anyone who says otherwise is misinformed.

  73. Reddit’s CEO reportedly did an internal memo which Gawker has now leaked: http://gawker.com/5952349/reddit-ceo-speaks-out-on-violentacrez-in-leaked-memo-we-stand-for-free-speech
    in which he says that journalism like Gawker practiced is free speech and beyond Reddit control, but that the practice of individuals doxxing (outing the annonymous,) is an “act of violence” against the person outed and will continued to be banned on Reddit, even though it’s perfectly legal to do.

    Apparently, however, doxxing teenage girls by taking their photos from their private Facebook pages and outing them on the subreddit where the guys who enjoy them can easily follow links back to these girls and harass them is not an “act of violence” to Reddit, and, being legal only because of the peculiarities of the Internet, perfectly peachy as free speech. But if one of these girls or their parents were to have found out who creepy pedophile guy was — which was extremely easy to do apparently — and declared their outrage of this person on Reddit, that would be a banned act of violence rather than considered free speech. Especially because creepy pedophile guy was an important person at Reddit, which is what the Gawker article was about. It was about Reddit not simply allowing this guy an outlet for hate speech, but giving him a large hand in running parts of their site and doing so in a way that actively exposed people without their consent and harmed them by setting people after them and having them harassed sexually and with hate speech — by taking away their free speech rights even though they may never have gone on Reddit. And they did it because it made them a lot of money. So apparently free speech is great on Reddit as long as it makes them money. If it’s going to upset the volunteers they have handshake deals with, though, screw free speech on supposed free speech principles.

    That’s their right as a private site and until enough lawsuits occur to get them to stop harassment policies and act of violence policies, as they’ve already encountered. But the holier than though, defender of free speech, how dare you say Gawker is not evil for doing its job attitude is pure bullshit. The people at Reddit seem to be actively working to surpress free speech as much as possible when the free speech doesn’t go their way. And that does not encourage me or a lot of other people to come on their site, and it’s going to cause a lot of folk who do use Reddit to continue criticizing hypocritical stances their admin may take, such as Scalzi did.

  74. @Gar: I enjoy that the “jockstrap of unfetterred commerce” and the “jockstrap o’ fun fettered commerce” would be in competition for the same domain name (in addition to being in competition for all of our hearts and minds).

  75. My quote of the day: ” I certainly understand why Reddit would choose to invest itself in the cloak of high-minded principles of unfettered speech than jangle unabashedly down the street wearing only the jockstrap of unfettered commerce.”

    Personally, I find a loincloth is much more unfettered than a jockstrap, but the imagery and scansion are perfect as-is. Make sure this one makes it into your next compilation volume.

  76. John,

    I have been in the legal field for over a decade now as a paralegal, and took a handful of Constitutional Law classes while getting my BA. You are one of the few non-lawyers I’ve read who actually understands how the Free Speech protected by the 1st Amendment works. Thank you for that! I think it is incredibly important in these discussions in which “Free Speech” is bandied about so willy-nilly that people truly know what it is that they are defending and arguing for.

    Just wanted to pass on my kudos and appreciation for that, and that you made weary paralegal smile.

    Thanks and all the best,
    Paul

  77. “Finally, no, “disprohibitionmentation” is not a real word. But I really think it should be, don’t you?”

    It’s obvs not a word, and coining silly words should totes be forbidden.

  78. Speaking as someone who is both for free speech and for the disprohibitionmentation of marijuana, however, I will suggest their actual number, as a ratio against those dudes who just want their whack and weed, is low indeed.

    The Whackers Against Weed (WAW*) and the Potheads Unaligned with Freaky Fapping (PUFF†) object to being unfairly lumped together! They’d have protested themselves, but the spank and kosh are unrivaled this time of year.

    * Pronounced Whaaaaaaa!!!

    † Pronounced What was the question?

  79. Really the only issue I take with your criticism of the “free speech” part of the argument is the idea that this isn’t a free speech issue because Reddit is a private company, not a public institution. And my issue is a rather pedantic one, so I’ll wait till you finish rolling your eyes because it’s really hard to read when you’re rolling your eyes. I know this from experience.

    OK, so this is a “you’re right, but…” post. You’re right, Reddit as a private corporation isn’t actually covered under the Constitution, 1st Amendment, etc., and those are usually the principles people knee-jerk refer to when they talk about “defending free speech” and so on. The Constitution only places restrictions on the government when it comes to how speech is to be handled, and unless Reddit is actually taking government funds they aren’t under any compulsion to protect anything, speech-wise.

    That said… free speech isn’t just a constitutional amendment, it’s also a principle, and it was a principle *before* it was a constitutional amendment, and companies can take a stance of “free speech” based on defending its principle. And some do. And Reddit, being a) an service that was started on the Internet (where there is at least a sort of passing resemblance to a quasi-history of holding up free speech as a principle) and b) as something that was formed as a reaction to Digg (which is a little more complicated) can make a compelling case that “freedom of speech” was, if not a founding principle of the service itself, was a very important cultural element of the community that formed the earliest days of Reddit.

    THAT said… you’re right to point out that it also makes them money. And a steady revenue stream tends to distort principles even among the best of men and women. So you can then volley back and point out that whatever freedom they purport to defend may be compromised and influenced by the fact that it is now highly profitable for them to think of upholding that principle in a way that doesn’t interrupt that revenue stream.

    But I did think it wasn’t entirely on point to dismiss the “free speech” argument on the grounds that “free speech” doesn’t apply to corporations, because that treats it as a law only.

    The debate on whether companies can actually have principles is an entirely different matter. That discussion would be pretty entertaining actually.

  80. Hey, Scalzi, I think you’re pretty cool.

    I see your books on the shelves of the bookstore in which I work every day, and think to myself, “maybe I should read genre fiction again.” But then I don’t. And then I see ads for the Humble eBook Bundle, contemplate the same, count my ever dwindling pennies (books are an intellectually rewarding business, not a monetarily rewarding business), and decide otherwise.

    But you’re an alright guy. This reddit thing really has validated some of my worst opinions about the internet and humanity. I like that there’s some people out there that aren’t massive jackasses, that don’t drag lofty philosophical ideals like “free speech” through the mud for the sake of validating their entitled need for morally dubious porn. Gives me some warm fuzzies.

    So I’m going to buy some of your books. I think I might like them. Then I think I’ll tell other people, coworkers and customers, that you’re an alright guy. I like buying things if I know the people behind them aren’t shitheads. Just thought I’d let you know.

  81. jennygadget says:

    To all the people concerned that it’s way too ethically complicated to make a distinction between outing abusers and outing people who are attracted to people of the same gender:

    I am curious. Would you consider it appropriate to out the outers? Like, if Adrian Chen had written his post anonymously, would it be ok to out him? If someone was outing gay men on reddit, using an anon, and banning said person was proving difficult without sharing information about who that person was offline,* would you be for or against outing? If someone was anonymously outing gay men offline (using information gained from reddit or elsewhere), would you consider it acceptable to let everyone know (on reddit, or elsewhere) who that person was so that they could be sure not to confide in them?

    *assuming this is not a farfetched scenario, at least in the sense of sharing the outers personal information making it easier to keep banning new accounts as they crop up. I am not on the up and up regarding how modding works in the technical sense, so I could be wrong.

    I’m going to assume that you are either straight or too young to remember Gay history prior to 1999, because this entire strawman is complete and utter bullshit. Please stop: anyone and everyone who thinks this is an appropriate analogy, just no. Fuck, no. Okay?

    I have lived through forced outing of LGBTs. I have been on both sides of the debate for almost 40 years, and I would like it very much if straight folks would quit fucking using a “war” I fought and nearly died in as a rhetorical gotcha. And I’m one of the lucky ones.

    LGBT and LGBT-accused people around the world, including in this here US of A, actually are dying because of forced outing, and the harassment and murder of an oppressed minority is not in any fucking way analogous to the “outing” of the most privileged class of oppressor as an asshole. Just stop it, please.

  82. Finally, someone addressed a point I wanted to bring up myself (@jennygadget 4:52 pm).
    In the social (non-legal) realm, there is always a back and forth between those who advocate and act for one point of view (e.g. outing a particular individual) and those who oppose it in that case. Society should judge the outer as well as the outee. This is how a social balance is maintained.

    It is when the social process fails that one gets into the legal realm, (as was pointed out in a prior thread), and that legal process is much more difficult, expensive, and dangerous for everyone. People calling for “objective” standards of behavior, are, I believe, implicitly calling for legal, governmental sanctions. Be careful what you wish for; you might get it.

  83. This is the third site where I’ve been following this discussion that has had the “what if it were closeted gay men . . .” issue brought up.(never women for some reason). I don’t even bother with it because I don’t consider the situations morally or ethically equivalent–so what’s the problem? You can play “What if?” all night. People try to coach these questions in broad terms until they get the “AHA!” answer they want.

  84. mintwitch

    First, I want to say that I am truly sorry that I said something that hurt you and made you feel that I was making light of the real dangers that LGBTQ persons face. I do not know that fear personally, and I am young enough that my friends fears have been more often about loss of jobs and relationships than serious personal danger, but the violence that people face merely for being LGBTQ is not abstract to me, even if it is less immediate to me than it is to others. This is actually why the whole hand-wringing over “but if we out abusers….will gay men be next?” has me so infuriated.

    I was in college when Matthew Shepard was killed. And while I have never had to wonder if that would happen to me for that reason, my first thoughts were of my closest friend at the time and fears about her own safety. The idea that people would equate outing my friends, or Shepard, with people naming abusers has me completely dumfounded.

    I wasn’t asking what people would think about an anonymous person outing Brutsch because I thought “haha! let’s see how they weasel out of that one!” I was asking because it’s depressingly typical for victims who speak out to be subjected to further abuse for doing so, and many who do try to speak out try to maintain anonymity for this reason.

    I wasn’t asking the last question about warning people because I was attempting a rhetorical gotcha. I was asking because, again, this is a situation that women are trying to avoid sexual harassment face fairly frequently. By which I mean the part where we pass around names of which men to avoid and why – but in secret, because god forbid anyone actually take harassment seriously. Most of all though, be careful who knows that you are doing this, lest you be accused of ruining the names of good men just because.

    I wasn’t asking the questions about people being outed to stop further abuse of others because I was playing devil’s advocate, but because this seems to me to be exactly what has happened here.

    The fact is, there’s a bit of privilege in worries about “still-closeted gay men.” Not because they don’t face real danger and violence, but because many have the option of passing if they want to. My twelve year old self didn’t have have the option of hiding my already C cups from the men and boys who harassed me. Which, you know, would be why most of the people arguing that this may be an extremely slippery slope keep bring up gay men. That argument doesn’t work as well when talking about women who are lesbian or bisexual – or pretty much anyone else that is LGBTQ.

    As Fred the Fourth said in different words: life is messy. And complicated. Trying to pretend it’s not messy – that you can make inflexible, simple rules and let that be that – doesn’t actually help anyone. Least of all oppressed minorities. (They tend to not get to be the ones making the rules.)

  85. er. that should NOT be “but because many have the option of passing if they want to.”

    Badbadbadbadbad choice of words. (I had one sentence, changed it around. Didn’t remember to change all of it. Usually this leaves me with singular nouns and plural verbs, or vice versa. This time: *massive facepalm* )

    What I meant to change it to was: “but because many have the option of passing if that’s a better choice for their situation.”

    @Harold Osler

    “(never women for some reason).”

    yeah…I wonder why that is….

  86. @jmc
    You ask where the “public square” is on the Internet. It’s the Internet Protocol, what techies call “layer three”. Anyone meeting technical requirements can register a domain name or request a range of IP addresses, and there are public network access points where one can connect to the ring and exchange traffic with other networks. Individual networks can have internal policies and legal jurisdictions can apply laws within their territories, but these are exceptions to the general rule of network providers being common carriers, carrying whatever traffic people send. What is inside the packets is the business of users, not networks.

    Websites are private property. If you’re not the webmaster (or domain owner, really), you don’t have control over what happens there. You want free speech, set up your own website.

  87. Kat Goodwin,

    It is a pleasure to agree with you 100%. You are so right about the bag of shit that is violentacrez.

    I believe in free speech. I’m hugely libertarian about a lot of things, and I understand why people want to remain anonymous online. But there is a difference between Free Speech and Anonymous Speech. We all have the right to say what we think, but we should have to own it if we are called out.

    This worthless monster gets all whiny and butthurt about getting the same treatment he gave to all those kids (and parents of those kids) over the years. It’s not like he misspoke or even said something that was offensive and out of character. He was a serial abuser. What he did was abuse, not speech. If there is such a thing as a soul, his is a dark, stained, putrid husk. Personally, I hope it just gets worse for him. He deserves it.

  88. Christopher Wright: “And Reddit can make a compelling case that “freedom of speech” was, if not a founding principle of the service itself, was a very important cultural element of the community that formed the earliest days of Reddit.”

    No they can’t because they don’t seem to have much interest in free speech. If they believed in free speech, then they wouldn’t have allowed the Jailbait photos in the first place as they were a violation of free speech of the teenage girls. If they believed in free speech over and beyond any country’s laws, they would not have then removed the Jailbait area because of a lawsuit. They would not ban anyone, but they do ban. They would not moderate. They would not have a rule to ban those who dox others that they apply only to people they feel like applying it to. They would not have banned the links to Gawker because a journalist wrote an article about them. They are a privately owned site, so they do what they want and free speech be damned.

    But more to the point, though Scalzi can roll his eyes himself, the issue has nothing to do with free speech because no one’s free speech rights in principle or otherwise were violated by the Gawker article. Reddit’s free speech was and is entirely unencumbered. Creepy pedophile guy was not deprived of any free speech rights. Going by anonymous or a pseudonym is not a free speech issue, nor is having your identity revealed. Nor was Scalzi advocating for the repression of anyone’s free speech. Free speech rights is a strawman used to advocate that other people should not have free speech and should shut up about Reddit. Some folks at Reddit just don’t want to be criticized and so seem to be claiming that anything negative said about them is a free speech violation. Which is an authoritarian stance against free speech, not for it. If Reddit was truly for free speech, they would have welcomed the Gawker article with open arms. And if Reddit admin does decide to shut down various areas of their site, those who object should be taking it up with Reddit, not screaming at the rest of us.

    The reality is that nobody likes to be criticized. That’s not a free speech issue.

  89. I‘ve seen a lot of hand-wringing over false-positives, which I find bizarre given the facts in this story. Like the fact that Brutsch is unrepentant and people (his former employer included) now know trusting in him is foolish. I think it’s important to remember through all of this that he isn’t being ostracized because he’s lost his anonymity. He’s being ostracized because he screwed over actual innocent† people and he’s being judged on his actions in exactly the one way the general public has an uncontestable moral prerogative to judge him, by deciding he isn’t someone with which they want to associate. This isn’t mob justice, this is calling a dirtbag a dirtbag for willfully, unrepentantly and even admittedly doing fucked up shit to other human beings. His anonymity merely insulated him from the consequences of his own actions, and removing it meant he could no longer continue with impunity.

    There is a big difference between mob justice like the vigilante shit Spike Lee brought down on an innocent elderly couple, and holding someone responsible for his own deeds. And I’m sorry if some people can’t grasp the distinction between showing up at the wrong people’s house to harass them, and firing your employee because he’s been taking perv shots of other people in the building and uploading them to a public website where he discussed how much he wanted to violate them. George Zimmerman was already known and facing consequences; they just weren’t swift or bloody enough for Spike Lee and some of his Twitter followers. Brutsch wasn’t even known, beyond his inner-circle, to be the harasser and bully we all now know him to be. But if you don’t get the difference…Too Damn Bad.

    And finally, yes, outing can be used for both good and evil. So can untold thousands of other tools. That’s what ethics are for. If your starting point is that no one should ever take a step that could turn out bad for them or someone else, don’t be surprised when the rest of society doesn’t surrender all the arrows in its quiver. If what you want is a discussion of how to encourage people to use the tools at their disposal wisely, fine, but then this should make you happy unless you don’t think Brutsch deserved to face the consequences of his own actions.

    † I shouldn’t have to point it out, but I will just in case: I don’t mean innocent in any absolute moral sense‡; I mean innocent of doing anything to deserve what Brutsch and his horde of assholes did to them.

    No one is absolutely innocent, so objecting to a practical contextual use of the word innocent on that grounds is as useless as insisting on saying transfinite instead of infinite.

  90. On another topic…I bet Stormfront’s hit-o-meter (or at least the Google search counter for that word) has gone through the roof.

  91. Kat Goodwin, I did admit I was being pedantic here. I’m not trying to argue that this guy’s free speech was violated in any way. I’m also not trying to argue that Reddit’s position is *right*.

    One of Reddit’s defenses for protecting this guy’s anonymity was that they consider the ability to post anonymously a component of “free speech.” One of Scalzi’s objections to this argument is that Reddit, as a private company, has nothing to do with free speech. My objection to Scalzi’s objection is that while legally he’s right–the First Amendment doesn’t apply to what people do on private property, which is what Reddit is–“free speech” existed as a principle before it existed as a law and companies can take a stand on principles even if the laws surrounding them don’t directly pertain to them. Scalzi seemed to be saying that there was no instance, ever, when a “free speech” argument could be made by a company (or levied against a company) because the first amendment doesn’t apply to them, and my push back is the argument can be made if the company decides they want to make it an issue on prinicple rather than as a matter of law.

    Your argument (please correct me if I’m misstating) appears to be that Reddit isn’t making it an issue on principle, they’re just using it as the excuse because they don’t like being criticized. Honestly I agree there’s a lot to that. But I want to make a distinction between “free speech might be a valid defense, if this was actually what was gong on here,” and “nope, sorry, free speech never applies in this case because Reddit is a company.”

    My personal opinion, which is worth considerably less than the time it costs to read this post, is that when Reddit was founded, one of its community values was to advance an ideal of “free speech” that was pretty extreme and uncompromising. That ideal was not an uncommon one in the days of UseNet, for example and Reddit’s structure is very much like UseNet, only with extra voting widgets. However hyper-idealistic and (as Scalzi says) adoooorable that value may be, yes, I can believe that when Reddit was founded it was there. But I *also* believe that this stated it value made it easier for them to turn a blind eye to the nastiness that goes on in the dirty corners of Reddit, and that the fact that they made money off the ability of that nastiness to exist made it easier for them to justify it. And finally, I beleive that when you say you are defending “freedom” by protecting the anonymity of your own community at the expense of the anonymity of people who had no choice to opt-in, you are not defending freedom, you are creating social castes. And this is what Reddit actually did in this case. They created a privileged class of anonymous Reddit members who could freely violate non Redditors in ways that they would never do to themselves. And when Gawker finally did it to one of their own–legitimately–they cried foul.

    Essentially I agree with you, and with Scalzi, except that I don’t agree with the position that a private company can never make a legitimate argument on the grounds of “free speech.” They can, because it’s a principle as well as a law, and you can argue the principle.

  92. Christopher Wright, a theoretical private company can argue on the basis of that principle. I agree with you there. People, including those who run private companies, can have principles that aren’t codified in laws. Reddit’s use of that argument is way disingenuous at this point because it isn’t actually operating on that principle if Kat Goodwin’s description is correct. If they ban and moderate and take down links, they are not operating on the principle of freedom of speech, and they lose the right to make any claims that they are (well, they can make the claims, and we can point and laugh). I’m willing to accept that Reddit started with that principle, or at least thought it sounded worthwhile, but how people act on a principle matters.

    Still, I understand your point, and I agree that a private company may operate on the principle of freedom of speech and make that claim. They can’t claim it as protected speech, though–that’s where the legal part kicks in. And people are free to criticize them for their actions or their lack of action. If such a private company were to say, “One (or many) of our users did this, and you might not like it, but it’s how we operate, and we accept that you’re not happy about it, and you’re free to complain because, you know, freedom of speech,” and then go on about their business, no problem. But if the company (or its users who claim to believe in the principle of freedom of speech) wants to complain that they’re being treated badly because they upheld their principle, sorry, no. Upholding the principle doesn’t mean everybody else has to be nice to you. Upholding a principle can get you in a lot of trouble. Ask people who have been jailed for civil disobedience because they believe that a law is unjust. They have the right to act according to their principles, and they know that they are liable to arrest when they do. Theoretical companies who operate by the principle of freedom of speech–and who understand the principle–are liable to have other people’s free speech fall on their heads, and should know this and accept it as part of living by the principle.

    So I agree with your basic premise on that, but Reddit is not such a company.

    Also, Usenet is (it’s still around, I still post there) a different kettle of fish. It’s a distributed system that is not structured like Reddit at all. Reddit might have aspired to be a Web version of Usenet, but the way Usenet is organized and operated is such that the principle of freedom of speech is much more to be seen in action there–for good and ill. I’ve been saddened by Usenet’s decline as people seemed to prefer Web forums, the user base dwindled, and the cost of running the system increased as it became more and more a distribution method for stolen music and videos (i.e. unauthorized by the copyright holders), requiring huge amounts of bandwidth and storage space. But Usenet isn’t privately owned and isn’t subject to many of the problems people have discussed wrt privately owned spaces for speaking on the Internet, so it’s too bad that is seems to be dying, and it’s probably too late to bring it back.

  93. BW, I’m not trying to defend Reddit’s specific actions here, I’m just uncomfortable with the argument that free speech is an invalid defense for a company on the grounds that it’s an invalid defense based on the law. In other words, Scalzi’s comment was rather more sweeping than made me comfortable, and the sweeping nature of the argument carries implications about other situations that go beyond this one that I *really* don’t like, and he has plenty of material to ding Reddit’s response to the Gawker article left over if you take that one away.

    (And I know Usenet is still around, but it’s not even close to what it once was, and while Reddit isn’t technically implemented like Usenet the way it’s organized, the way it organizes discussion topics reminds me a whole lot of the alt.* servers, which are on the whole a lot more boisterous than the others. The difference between alt. robert-jordan group and the rec. robert-jordan group was… immense.)

  94. I got that, Christopher, and I didn’t mean to say or imply that you were in any way defending Reddit. I guess I was using your post as a jumping-off point to expand on why, in my opinion, even a company that is using that principle as a defense/explanation has to understand the principle and abide by it if it wants the defense to be taken seriously. I hope I made clear (by excessive repetition!) that I agree with your basic point. I’m glad you raised it.

    And another jumping-off point to lament the current state of Usenet. All those people hankering for a public space on the Internet that’s not run by Facebook or Reddit or other private companies, Usenet was pretty close, and they should have used it and tried to help it survive (and maybe some of them did).

  95. @ Dazed and Confused: “I must have missed the article in the Bill of Rights that entitles a person to Free Anonymous speech.”
    @ Billy Quiets: “But there is a difference between Free Speech and Anonymous Speech. We all have the right to say what we think, but we should have to own it if we are called out.”
    @ Kat Goodwin: “Going by anonymous or a pseudonym is not a free speech issue, nor is having your identity revealed.”

    The First Amendment actually does protect anonymous speech in certain circumstances (@D&C: no, it’s not in the article itself, it’s one of those judicial made interpretations), particuarly in the area of religious or political speech. The extent of that protection is something that’s still being debated – at least two SCOTUS justices are on record as saying that donor lists of groups opposing gay rights should be protected anonymous speech, for example. The distinction on this issue isn’t free speech vs. anonymous speech, it’s First Amendment Capital Letter Free Speech and the broader ideal of free speech/non-moderated speech. The main reason that this isn’t a Free Speech situation is because there’s no government involvement, not because of the anonymity issues.

    Also, sorry I don’t know how to quote people all nice and stuff. I usually lurk but this situation combines so many issues that I’m interested in that I wanted to jump in.

  96. “@JoshJasper: Privileged white het dudes who assume they’re entitled to that privilege are traditionally terrified of mobs of angry people they’ve been crapping on since forever.”

    I have to basically agree with John’s take on this issue.

    However, reading some of the comments in the above thread, I would like to offer a slightly different perspective. Josh Jasper, for example, is off the mark when he attempts to conflate this with the tired old saw of “white male privilege” (whatever that is supposed to be.) Also, Josh, are you suggesting that all of the people who viewed Brutsh’s posts were white? Why even bring the race card into this matter at all?

    The problem with Brutsch’s conduct was that it had violent undertones and violated other people’s right to privacy (posting the photos without approval of the subjects, etc.)

    It wasn’t that he was “creepy,” a word that is way overused nowadays. In the current PC parlance, any expression of male sexual desire that doesn’t fit a tightly prescribed definition of political correctness is commonly described as “creepy.” For example, I have heard 35-year-old men who hit on coed-aged women called “creepy.” Men who look at Playboy are called “creepy”, etc. etc. Enough with the “creepy” bit already.

    Brutsch wasn’t simply horny, nor was he merely engaged in typical (if politically incorrect) middle-aged male fantasies. Brutsch was mean and he was invasive. That was why he deserved to be outed–not because he was a dumpy middle-aged man who had the temerity to have politically incorrect sexual desires.

  97. I have to basically agree with John’s take on this issue.

    Okay, that’s like an *attempt* at camouflage, but when you then saddle up a whole team of hobbyhorses and start GALLOPING around.

    the tired old saw of “white male privilege” (whatever that is supposed to be.)

    It has been discussed in some detail here, and appearing to take pride in not having read any of it seems a little lazy.

    For example, I have heard 35-year-old men who hit on coed-aged women called “creepy.”

    The poor dears! Broken by creep shaming, unable to leave the house ever again.

    political correctness

    This I would also advise against, it’s a bit of a red flag for a lot of people.

  98. @adriansmth: Why is “white male privilege” an acceptable term but “political correctness” is “red flag” as you call it? To me, WMP is a big red flag, particularly Josh’s use of it in this discussion.

    And yes, I read the previous posts, but I happen to disagree with them. And why is it okay to call men creeps indiscriminately, but derogatory names for women are offensive? Are women who are called derogatory names “poor dears” too?

  99. @ Adrian Smith: “The poor dears! Broken by creep shaming, unable to leave the house ever again.”

    Oh that’s nothing. When I was in college, we used to call anyone who kept coming to on-campus parties when they’d been graduated for more than five years creepy. Men as young as 27 could fall victim to our harpy tongues (and not in the way they were hoping)! Poor lambs.

    “This I would also advise against, it’s a bit of a red flag for a lot of people.”

    Indeed, a flag that says, alas, this thread seems to have run its course. Back to “being productive.”

  100. Todd:

    “And why is it okay to call men creeps indiscriminately”

    Todd, I realize it’s in fashion in some especially thick circles to declare “creep” is a male-only appellation, especially among those who like to whine about how they can’t use words like “bitch” without people getting strangely upset with them. However, it’s not, and what you’re attempting to do here is to engage in yet another attempt at linguistic revisionism to beat your chest at the plight of the poor, set-upon man, and/or to rationalize those thumping on women with sexist language and having a stock excuse when someone confronts them on it. Stop it. No one’s memory here is as faulty as you apparently seem to believe it is.

    Beyond that, men are not called “creeps” indiscriminately. They’re called “creeps” when they are being creepy. So stop that nonsense, too.

  101. In the abstract, I’m always a little troubled when people think it’s great to destroy someone for, essentially, saying stuff they take offense (even reasonable, extreme offense) to, and then saying, “well, the First Amendment only applies to the government.” Yeah, thanks, I get that–I’m a lawyer, so I had to convince my school and my state bar that I understood that, and then I even went on to litigate constitutional issues in my state’s appellate courts. So when I discuss something like this in terms of “free speech,” I’m not talking about “this is protected by the First Amendment,” but rather, I’m discussing the abstract concept from which the First Amendment grew. Freedom of speech is considered sufficiently important that we needed to put it in the constitution because the founding fathers knew (often the hard way) that it is frequently convenient for governments to squelch dissent, and so if you give them enough time, that’s what they’re going to do. They even managed to prove their own point by passing the Sedition Acts less than ten years later, and that’s WITH the First Amendment that applied to the government! But I digress.

    In any event, the First Amendment applies only to government because it’s the government that we need protection from–private citizens are supposed to know better. Private citizens are supposed to understand the value of free speech, and respect it. It turns out that they don’t, though, as is often the case when someone quickly points out that “the First Amendment only applies to the government” when justifying a wholesale campaign to silence people they disagree with. Yeah, sure, but freedom of speech is SUPPOSED to apply to us all. It’s just that we’re not supposed to need the constitution to protect ourselves from each other.

    That’s all in the abstract. In this particular case, it’s hard to feel too sorry for this guy, who, by all accounts is a creepy assclown who probably hasn’t even gotten everything he has coming, karma-wise. But on the other hand, as John has acknowledged, the problem with denying creepy assclowns their rights is that it then becomes easier to deny other, less creepy/assclownish people their own. Often, in these comment sections, someone will (GASP!) disagree, often heatedly, with something someone else has posted. Ask yourself if you think it would be fair or acceptable for a group of them to engage in a campaign of exposing and destroying you for posting something to which they took exception. If you think it is, great. If not, then what happened to this particular creepy assclown should at least give you pause.

    Yes, we’d like to think that since we’re not (or at least, I’m not, and I think John’s not, and most of you seem not to be) creepy assclowns, our risk of something like that happening is somewhat slim. On the other hand, though, you don’t have to look very hard to see examples of how civility and tolerance for opposing viewpoints is slipping away. Think of the TV shows that have had to endure attempts to destroy them by having one group or another aim boycott campaigns at the show’s advertisers. Often, you look at what made the group so angry, and you say, “jeez, there’s nothing wrong with that!” And to you, it may not be so bad. But one person’s humor can be another person’s inane trash and yet another person’s abomination against Jesus that must be wiped from the face of the earth, and so on.

    But after all of that babbling, yes, John’s right–reddit is not the government, and can choose, therefore, whatever points of view it wants to permit in its forum. That’s not really the freedom of speech issue in my mind–it’s the glee with which people seem to greet the news when they learn that someone with whom they disagree has been hounded and destroyed for what they have to say. That isn’t such a good thing, even when (and in a way, especially when) what they have to say is so terrible.

    And if you don’t end up zapping this or banning me, thanks for allowing my long-winded stream of consciousness on this subject, John. :-)

    (Also, this may mark a personal record for the number of times I’ve used the word “assclown” in what is otherwise supposed to be a thoughtful post. Or ever, really.)

  102. @ Geoff Brown – that’s interesting, but completely ignores the “free speech” and other actual legal rights of the women subjected to being photographed without consent and then having that image posted for the whole world to see. What recourse did they have to remove the images? Any?

    Also, violentacrez was able to say what he wanted, was never banned from Reddit (I think) and can continue to do the slimy, creepy things he creeped. Everyone else also has the “free speech” right to call him out on his creepitude.

  103. Christopher Wright: “One of Scalzi’s objections to this argument is that Reddit, as a private company, has nothing to do with free speech. …. Scalzi seemed to be saying that there was no instance, ever, when a “free speech” argument could be made by a company (or levied against a company) because the first amendment doesn’t apply to them,”

    Not exactly no; you’re not pedantic enough. :) Scalzi was not saying that a privately owned company cannot argue for free speech in the public square and for its free speech rights on a particular issue because it is a company in all cases. What he was saying, (he can talk for himself but he’s writing,) is that folk at Reddit initially complaining that the Gawker article is a free speech issue is not a true claim, and that people who go on a privately owned site are not exercising their free speech rights, which is true. If I go into the public square (and this is not simply the 1st amendment in the U.S., it’s the principle of equal free speech,) then I can speak freely, as can anyone else. If I go into a person’s house and he’s having a party with lots of discussion going on, that person doesn’t have to let me stay in his house if I’m saying stuff he doesn’t want in his house, or attacking and causing harm to another guest. Likewise, on Reddit, people are not exercising free speech. They are having discussions Reddit allows in the space Reddit provides and owns (and the same for Whatever and us here.) If Reddit doesn’t want it there, it isn’t there. That’s not free speech and that’s not free speech being protected. Reddit decided that it did want pictures of underage girls without their consent because it was legal (largely because Google gets to do what it wants on the Internet, as does Facebook,) and because it made them money, but that outing an anonymous user, which is also and way more legal but does not make them money, was unacceptable in their house. That’s not a free speech issue; it’s an editorial content policy.

    Reddit does not protect anyone’s speech. Ever. It has no capability to do that. The Internet is full of free speech, being an international public square, and does not need Reddit to protect it in any event. What Reddit does is decide what it wants on its site and what it does not and who can use the site or not and who can see the site content or not. People can criticize Reddit for that, boycott, protest or negotiate with Reddit over its editorial content decisions, and that is free speech, but Reddit doesn’t have to listen because that is also free speech. But what’s on Reddit is not a matter of free speech rights issues but of what Reddit decides it wants to have on its site, the same way you or I would pick a background color for our blog. So that’s what Scalzi was talking about. The Gawker article was not on Reddit and they had no say over it, because free speech and free press. They did have the right to ban Gawker links from their site if they want. They have the right to suppress speech by banning anyone speaking of another’s identity on their site. But for them to declare that this is actually advocacy for free speech is unfounded and hypocritical. Essentially, the people at Reddit, in a variety of different ways, tried to shame the Internet for not following their rules for which targets it’s okay to go after and expose and which targets it isn’t, in order to try and get out of how the site was being criticized for its editorial content policies and repair their image in a half-assed manner. And they did that because for the last several years it sounds like the site is running into the consequences of its editorial policies on content, including lawsuits — consequences which are directly the result of others exercising their free speech rights in the public square. So maybe the folks on Reddit might want to try listening for a change, instead of proselytizing at the rest of the Internet. I don’t find it as adorable as Scalzi, though it obviously won’t suppress the Internet.

  104. @Karina: They could probably make any number of claims, actually, depending on where the pictures were taken. But why people hated that guy went way beyond the sleazy pictures. And destroying the guy’s life is not usually an option you’re given in a legal proceeding (although it can be something of a result if you win).

    But I don’t want to look too much like I’m defending the guy, because, as I said, it’s hard to feel bad for him. I’m just asking us all to think about this. Let’s say I disagree with something you post here. I decide I’m going to round up some people and we’re going to make it our mission to make you “pay” by hounding you, and calling up your boss until he or she fires you. I think you, and most everyone else here, would (correctly) think of me as the world’s biggest assbag, because how dare I ruin your life for having an opinion. My point is that not everything has to be “a law” before we agree, more or less, to abide by it. ” “Try to be decent to other people” is one of those things (and your point, a good one, is that violentacrez violated this one to the extreme). “Respect other people’s right to free speech” is supposed to be another.

    On the other hand, if people were able to be decent to each other and to resolve their differences like rational human beings, I’d have to find something else to do for a living.

  105. Karina: actual legal rights of the women subjected to being photographed without consent

    On public property, you can photograph people without their consent as long as there is not expectation of privacy. Taking an “upskirt” picture violates the expectation of privacy, and wouldn’t be legal. But if I take a picture of the Empire State Building, I don’t need permission of everyone standing in front of the building because there is no expecation of privacy.

    On private property, photography rules are mostly whatever the property owner says, with some exceptions. If you own the property, you can dictate what people do on your property. If you’re on your property, but its visible from public property, you might not be able to legally dictate whether people take a picture of you.

    i.e. Tourists on public property don’t need permission to take a picture of the privately owned Empire State Building. Tourists walking around inside the private property that is the Sistine Chapel are supposed to abide by the “no photography” rules dictated by the property owner.

    and then having that image posted for the whole world to see.

    Publishing photos is legally separate from taking the photos. You can take pictures of other people from public property without their consent. But to commercially publish those photos, you *may* need the person to sign a model release form. (if you have a picture that is mostly the Washington monument, and people are tiny specs, then no. If you have a picture that is mostly someone’s face, then yes).

    I don’t know what the laws are for non-commercial publication though, which is mostly what the reddit stuff is.

  106. Geoff: Let’s say … I decide I’m going to round up some people and we’re going to make it our mission to make you “pay” by hounding you, and calling up your boss until he or she fires you.

    What you’re describing is getting into the realm of harrassment. That’s not what happened to the reddit guy. What happened is someone did this thing that’s called journalism and published information about the reddit guy.

    journalism =/= harrassment.

  107. me: If you have a picture that is mostly someone’s face, then yes

    that should be “then MAYBE yes”.

  108. It seems to me that when some in this discussion have said “freedom of speech,” they meant “the right to freedom of speech” (as protected in the United States by the First Amendment and laws based on it), and when others said it, they meant “the principle of freedom of speech,” which is the the basis for that part of the First Amendment but not synonymous with it. So in some cases, people seem to be talking past each other because they’re using the same term but talking about different things.

  109. @Greg except there wouldn’t be anything legally wrong with what was done, most likely. Again, think of the boycott campaigns–those work sometimes. Sponsors drop out, and then suddenly your show’s getting canceled. And even if it’s harassment, what do you think is easier for your employer to do? Hire a lawyer and pursue a harassment lawsuit? Or fire you and hope it goes away? I’ll tell you this much–I could almost defend that harassment suit in my sleep, on, ironically, First Amendment grounds.

    And while it’s ostensibly “journalism,” it was published knowing that this guy–who hadn’t actually broken any laws–was going to get fired if he was outed. I’m not sure what greater truth knowing his identity served, but it definitely did get him fired, like he said it would (I think the story would have been just as informative if his name had been left out of it). I suspect the journalist isn’t losing much sleep over that. And, I’ll say it again, it’s not exactly easy to feel bad for the guy. But the absolute glee I’m seeing at him being punished for saying stuff people didn’t like is at least a little troubling in the abstract, since most of those people have said or done, at one time or another and in one forum or another, something that might get them fired if their employers knew.

  110. @Greg – yes I see your point… other than most states do have laws preventing the types of photos posted on those subreddits I agree that actually taking a picture in a public place that has people in it isn’t illegal and shouldn’t be – good enough? I think your point is pretty tangential to the post though…

    @Geoff – I wasn’t trying to get too onto your case either. I think there is something interesting to say about the IDEA of free speech rather than the constitutional definition of free speech.

    However, I think Mr. Scalzi does a great job demonstrating that “free speech” in either context doesn’t actually apply here because Reddit has censored/banned not even controversial, but embarassing to Reddit, material (i.e. links to Gawker articles done in, I’m guessing, retaliation). So I do feel free to point and laugh when they say “free speech”. They’re not abiding by that principle, so I don’t see how they can hide behind it.

    Also, the article didn’t destroy his life, he did that himself by his admitted actions. If he hadn’t taken picture of co-workers and customers and uploaded them to a subreddit, possibly there might have some type of argument there. As it is, his BEHAVIOUR, not simply moderating a creepy site, likely led to his firing. His behaviour online wasn’t disassociated from his job.

    I may be more conflicted if he was only a moderator who did not create or participate in these subreddits.

    If you’re talking in the abstract – well, sure I can come up with situations where publishing a nominaly anonymous person’s real identity would make me uncomfortable. Particularly in cases of mistaken identity.

    I don’t think there is a one size fits all solution to doxing – like most tools, it can be helpful or harmful.

  111. Geoff Brown, do you really think Mr. Brutsch is being punished for something he said? My impression of this whole brouhaha is that some people are gleeful because he is being punished for things he did.

  112. @BW My take on it–and it’s just the comments that I’ve seen–is that people are at least as focused on him being a “troll,” if not more, as they are on the pictures he posted. To me, that’s about what he says. People here are at times accused of being trolls, even by our gracious host Mr. Scalzi. Trolling is annoying, but I’m not sure it should lose anyone their jobs. But yeah, I get it–this VA guy went way beyond the usual troll call of duty.

    My life is fairly boring now (I have a one-year-old, so I mostly go to work and then home to him) so I’m not TOO worried that there’s anything I say or do that could get me fired, but I wouldn’t want to bet my job on it. It’s a long way to go from this reddit thing, but I think it’s not too farfetched to think that we’re approaching a time, if we’re not already there, that you almost have to be afraid to say much of anything for fear of repercussions from it. That, to me, violates the spirit of free speech if not exactly the law.

  113. One thing that strikes me right off is that the Constitution doesn’t provide a right to anonymity. The Framers probably assumed you’d have the courage to use your own name when speaking freely. After all, they did.

  114. That’s not really the freedom of speech issue in my mind–it’s the glee with which people seem to greet the news when they learn that someone with whom they disagree has been hounded and destroyed for what they have to say.

    So my wait, if I’m glad that a creepy troll who was posting pics taken of women without their permission and encouraging other men to leer and objectify them gets his just deserts, that upsets you?

    And I should care that you’re upset by this why, exactly?

  115. Geoff: I think it’s not too farfetched to think that we’re approaching a time, if we’re not already there, that you almost have to be afraid to say much of anything for fear of repercussions from it.

    I don’t know that this case qualifies as cause for alarm for being “afraid to say much of anything”. I think what Brutsch did was located within the realm of sexual harassment, and companies have to prevent harassment on the job. So the only question I can see is “Is rampant off the job sexual harassment enough of a valid concern for an employer to decide that sexual harassment on the job might occur?” And I’m thinking its probably OK to assume there’s a connection there, given the stuff Brutsch was doing.

  116. Josh: And I should care that you’re upset by this why

    What is this, exactly? Reverse Concern Trolling? Unless Josh is concerned, why is anyone else talking about it?

    It’s an… interesting… rhetorical tactic.

  117. Jake: while you are absolutely right that anonymity is not enshrined in the Constitution, the founders did take advantage of it. Publius of the Federalist Papers was alternately Madison, Hamilton and Jay. I point this out in the hopes that more people will google off to read them!

  118. @Greg If “rampant off-the-job sexual harassment” is a firing offense, you and I could probably walk into a bar tonight and spot about twenty men (and possibly a couple of women) who should lose their jobs.

    But really, assuming one is an at-will employee, an employer can fire the person for that reason, because the Yankees lost the ALCS to the Tigers, because there is a big solar flare, or for no reason at all (although not based on stuff like race, etc). That’s not, strictly speaking, the point. The fact is that most employers, even of at-will employees, don’t just capriciously fire people. There’s usually some reason, and I think most of us agree that the less related to work the reason is, generally speaking, the more unfair it feels. Sure, it’s easy to feel great that the Brutsch guy got fired for what he did–he took internet asshattery to levels that surprise even me, and I’ve seen a lot of asshattery.

    But let’s say your employer is unenlightened, and for some reason doesn’t like John Scalzi, and takes offense to the fact that you read and post here. Especially that one post (I’m just making up an example, not saying that you actually posted something like this) where you say something favorable about a politician your boss doesn’t like. All of this is done on your own time, but that jackass you work for is so evil, he routinely GooBingles his employees to root out dirt. Sure, it’s *legal* for him to fire you, but is it fair that you got fired because you posted something perfectly reasonable that just happened to make your boss mad? I think most people would agree it’s not. I think most people would agree that that violates the general principle of free speech (if not the legal/constitutional principle.)

    While it’s easier in this case to say, “yeah, well, that guy was just way off-the-charts unreasonable,” the problem with making “unreasonable” be the yardstick is that (even reasonable) people will often disagree about what “unreasonable” is.

  119. Todd: To me, WMP is a big red flag, particularly Josh’s use of it in this discussion.

    And there are many fora full of people who would agree with you heartily, where you might in fact be happier posting.

    Are women who are called derogatory names “poor dears” too?

    Well, if they behaved in ways which others considered predatory, got called on it and then started whining about wanting to go back to the pre-peecee Good Old Days, they probably would be.

  120. There’s a huge – huge – difference between “speech one doesn’t like” and “predatory behavior,” which is a really key distinction in this case. Even in cases where free speech is a principle and the First Amendment is not specifically applied, the general agreement is that you violate free speech when you object to the content of what is being expressed. In this case, it’s the context in which it is being expressed and that’s the crucial difference between the two categories I mentioned.

    In this case, it’s not even that they’re posting creepy pictures. It’s that neither the photos nor their publication is consensual that people have a problem with. Speech and expression generally can be limited, even by a government entity, in cases like this where there are safety concerns unrelated to the content of what is being said.

    Violentacrez went a long way toward removing a lot of his expectation of privacy because his actions elevate him beyond the status of Joe Internet. He is engaging in borderline criminal, certainly predatory, behavior as a prominent member of a prominent site. It isn’t significantly different to “out” him here than for a newspaper to connect a VP at a local company with an alias he uses to run a shady strip club.

  121. Geoff: If “rampant off-the-job sexual harassment” is a firing offense, you and I could probably walk into a bar tonight and spot about twenty men (and possibly a couple of women) who should lose their jobs.

    Brutsch was rampant. He did it for years, he encouraged others to do it, he created forums and moderated them to allow them a space to do it. Taking “upskirt” photos without consent is illegal. He created a forum for creeps to talk about jailbait, which, by its very name, points towards illegal behavior.

    Maybe we go to different types of bars, but the ones I go to don’t have anything like that going on. Is the place you go to called “Roadhouse” and Patrick Swayze is the bouncer? Does it have a sign in the bathroom that says “Don’t eat the big white mint?” If so, then I really can’t speak to that experience.

    No, the bars I go to don’t have anything resembling the rampant sort of sexual harrassment that Brutsch demonstrated.

  122. Geoff: But let’s say your employer is unenlightened, and for some reason doesn’t like John Scalzi, and takes offense to the fact that you read and post here.

    Lets say a journalist uses his powers of journalism for evil, should we outlaw journalism? No.

    Lets say a doctor uses his knowledge to murder someone. Should we outlaw doctors? No.

    Lets say a driver uses his automobile to hit and run. Should we outlaw automobiles? No.

    Let’s say an employer fires an employess for evil reasons, should we outlaw employers? No.

    This *kind* of argument keeps coming up. There must be a logical fallacy for it already. Its far too common. It’s like the “What if the journalist outed some gay men who were still in the closet?” question. What if a journalist did what they did to Brust, but did it for some evil purpose?

    It’s like a non-sequitor fallacy, Or a non-causa-pro-causa fallacy. It’s shifting the focus to somehting not actually the problem. The problem with a journalist outing some gay men who are still in the closet is NOT journalism. The problem is homophobia.

    I mean, I support the idea of some restrictions on free speech. You can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theater unless its actually on fire. I think I support the notion of resricting hate speech. So, if this journalist had outed gay men because he was a homophobe, then maybe he would have violated a restriction on hate speech. But that’s not what happened here. What happened was he outed a serial creeper who was using anonymity to be a creep. I don’t see a need here for regulating or restricting free speech or regulating or restricting journalism.

    Now, if the guy got fired for being a creep, and you think that’s an issue, then that’s not the journalist’s fault. That’s a problem with the employer and maybe you think we ought to have more strict laws on how a company can fire someone. The US is rather lax in its employment laws in that regard and maybe you can convince your fellow americans to take up the banner.

    But if you think the firing was unfair, then regulate firing, don’t try to regulate journalism.

    What this journalist did was reveal the identity of an online creep. I don’t see anything in that action that deserves regulation to free speech or to free press. This journalist’s actions were not the problem here. The creep’s actions were the problem. If you don’t like the fact that he got fired, then just because you don’t think you can get rid of the “at will” employment approach in America, doesn’t mean you should fall back to the journalist and regulate journalism just in case the next journalist outs a gay man and the gay man gets fired for being gay.

    You see what I’m trying to get at here?

    If you think the problem was Brutsch was unfairly fired, then the problem is employee at will laws, not journalism laws. The solution is to say an emplyee cant be fired for what they do off hours, the solution is not to regulate journalism *just in case* they print something that causes an employer to unfairly fire someone.

  123. Geoff Brown: “And while it’s ostensibly “journalism,” it was published knowing that this guy–who hadn’t actually broken any laws–was going to get fired if he was outed. ”

    That’s part of journalism, of having a free press. Saying that one person should be protected and not reported on because the person may get fired, but it’s perfectly okay to report on another person who won’t get fired, is suppression of free speech, not advocacy. Saying journalists can’t report on people’s behavior at all because there might be bad consequences isn’t advocating free speech — it’s suppressing it. Saying it’s okay for a man to target teenage girls, take their photos from their Facebook pages and publish their identities to a group of men who will then be able to stalk and harass them but it’s not okay for a journalist in a free press to investigate and profile the person doing this is not advocating free speech, it’s suppressing it. And in this particular case, creepy pedophile guy did break laws — that’s why Reddit had to shut Jailbait down and suspended him several times. And he made money off of merchandise from what he was doing with the pictures and hate speech; he made a business out of it which may have been breaking laws. And it was that which probably caused his employer to fire him — the threat of police investigation and lawsuits from his behavior.

    “But the absolute glee I’m seeing at him being punished for saying stuff people didn’t like is at least a little troubling in the abstract,”

    Again, you’re not advocating free speech here — you’re claiming higher status for one type of speech. It’s okay for folks to lust after kids, hate Jews and want to hurt women and express those feelings (and it is,) but it’s not okay for people to be gleeful that someone with those views had to face the consequences of his expressing his thoughts and for them to then express those feelings. You’re trying to shame one type of free speech while claiming we shouldn’t be so hard on another type of free speech. So no, it’s not troubling in the abstract or direct — it’s simply free speech all the way around.

    “It’s a long way to go from this reddit thing, but I think it’s not too farfetched to think that we’re approaching a time, if we’re not already there, that you almost have to be afraid to say much of anything for fear of repercussions from it. That, to me, violates the spirit of free speech if not exactly the law.”

    It’s a long way and yet you’re going there because you’re building a false equivalency. (I understand that you are not defending creepy pedophile guy.) We all face every day people coming after us for what we say, in private or the public sphere, even if we are saying something many consider noble. When the head of the soup kitchen Ryan barged his way into expressed distress and worry because the soup kitchen is supposed to be apolitical and they could lose donors over it, the soup kitchen found themselves the target of not only withdrawn donations but angry broadsides by Ryan supporters. And that’s free speech on all sides. There are consequences to anything you might say and others have the free speech right to criticize anything you say, just as you had the right to say what you said. There is no “free speech for me and none for thee,” just because others’ free speech might mess up your life. There are, however, depending on the country in which you live, laws against specific types of harassment that cause threat and harm, and against seeking to harm the other person or their property physically, such as stealing your neighbor’s political lawn sign, stalking, etc. These laws are unevenly applied or created, which is why creepy pedophile guy could harm and harass teenage girls on the Net without it being illegal. But other people do have the right under free speech not to be nice to you, to shun you, to boycott you, etc., same as you have the right to speak.

    “Sure, it’s *legal* for him to fire you, but is it fair that you got fired because you posted something perfectly reasonable that just happened to make your boss mad? I think most people would agree it’s not. I think most people would agree that that violates the general principle of free speech (if not the legal/constitutional principle.)”

    At will laws are a piece of right wing crap — crap which ironically creepy pedophile guy supported on Reddit — but a boss firing you because he doesn’t like what you said somewhere isn’t a free speech issue again; it’s a fair employment issue. The boss isn’t suppressing your free speech; the boss is discriminating against you as a member of a group — Scalzi commentators in your hypothetical case. It’s the same as firing you because you’re black or Catholic or have a speech impediment. Which is why having laws that prevent that sort of discrimination in employment, from equal pay on down is very useful if you can get them (but still require you to prove that the discrimination occurred.) At will laws instead are unconstitutional in the U.S. (despite their existence) and protect discrimination without consequences for the employers. But again, that doesn’t lead to an argument that journalists should only investigate people who live in states that don’t have at will laws, which is an argument suppressing free speech and free press, not advocating it. Journalism operations have to make editorial decisions about what they will or will not cover. Saying that they should all never cover anonymous speakers doesn’t make a great deal of sense to me. It certainly isn’t a free speech argument.

    The philosophy that doxxing someone on the Internet is bad is not a free speech philosophy. It’s an assertion that an individual’s right to privacy is more important than others’ rights to free speech. It’s also a blanket of special status for those who speak anonymously or with a pseudonym over those who speak openly. If you speak anonymously, they are asserting, you get more rights, including the right to suppress others who would openly confront you on your identity. The Internet makes it very easy to speak anonymously, and the Internet is largely for the well off who often confuse privileges their money buys them with rights. Some people seem to feel that speaking on the Internet gives them special rights over others and get all outraged when they find it does not. It is a hard free speech lesson to learn and a lot of the folks at Reddit seem not to have learned it yet. Free speech is free speech for all, not just for the person under fire from others.

  124. “Reddit decided that it did want pictures of underage girls without their consent because it was legal (largely because Google gets to do what it wants on the Internet, as does Facebook,) and because it made them money, but that outing an anonymous user, which is also and way more legal but does not make them money, was unacceptable in their house.”

    Yes. I’d also like to clarify that while all of this is still morally wrong even if the pictures are of adult women, or of teens that are legally minors but above the age of consent, we are also still talking about children here. And I don’t just mean teens. I mean under-the-age-of-twelve children.

    Because of the way that r/creepshots and r/jailbait were set up, especially the way in which lack of consent was a requirement, and photos of teens were encouraged, means that there is a zero chance that all images of minors were scrubbed, even all images of children under the age of twelve or so.

    There is a reason a reason why places that sell alcohol set the age at which they card people at 30 something and not 21. (unless of course they just don’t card, but, that’s beside the point) Anyone that thinks that they can tell how old a 9-18 year old girl is by looking at her (or boy, for that matter) hasn’t spent much time around groups of tweens and teens. You can’t say that photos of younger adults are ok, but teens are not – or that photos of teens are ok, but photos of children are not – and require that these photos to be taken without consent and then not have some of them be of children that are younger than your supposed guidelines.

    The fact that the redditors have no idea which children are indeed children and not teens does not mean that their actions do not still consist of sexualizing and harassing children not yet old enough to see PG-13 movies by themselves. Nor does it change the fact that reddit’s continued refusal to deal with this shit contributes to a culture that treats even children as fair game, and discourages not just adult women but even children from reporting when they have been harassed and abused.

    “While it’s easier in this case to say, “yeah, well, that guy was just way off-the-charts unreasonable,” the problem with making “unreasonable” be the yardstick is that (even reasonable) people will often disagree about what “unreasonable” is.”

    And this is why this argument is such bullshit. No one is arguing that what Brutsch did was merely unreasonable. We are arguing that what he did harmed people – including children. You can go on all you like about how outing Brutsch makes you all thinky about hypothetical scenarios about being outed by what people read on the internet. I, quite frankly, find it insulting that you would equate the two. What your excuses sound like to me are not deep thoughts but the exact same reactions victims always get whenever they speak up about abusive behavior.

    You know, as someone who actually works with minors, and whose job involves explaining to parents that my job is not to act as a substitute parent, that what they don’t want their children to read is not the deciding factor in what the library purchases, and that no, we are not going to take that book off the shelves, etc… Well, I have a lot more reason to worry about moral panic and people getting fired for the sake of the children than most (non-creepy) people do. Strangely though, people getting fired for constant sexual harassment of others – including children – doesn’t make me fear for my job. Instead it means I worry just a little bit less for the children in my care.

  125. @greg – it was a serious quetion. Why should I care about the upset of people who’re upset at the glee of others that this pervy troll got fired? We’ve established (at least I think so) that there’s really no slippery slope wherein people who’re posting cat videos are likely to get fired.

    What is it about the satisfaction that I feel in someone horrible getting their just deserts that’s a bad thing? Geoff is upset at the level of glee he sees in Brutsch’s comeuppance. What’s the cause of his upset, and why is it relevant to me?

  126. Josh: No, it’s not a “serious question”. It’s called Appeal to Emotion Fallacy. Geoff did it a bit of appeal to emotion pointing at the “glee” that people felt about someone getting fired, but then he went into employment-at-will repercussions of free-speech stuff. So, he may have started with an appeal to emotion, but he at least tried to make an argument.

    You quoted the “glee” part, ignored everything else, and attempted to disprove his statement with an argument that was entirely founded on an appeal to emotion: “Why should you be upset?” you asked. You made it ALL about emotions and nothing else.

  127. Greg:

    My serious question to you is: why are you taking it upon yourself to pick fights with people for no particularly good reason? Leaving aside that the question Josh asked was not directed at you and that you’re leading the discussion into a direction that is not relevant to the topic at hand, the fact that you appear to be lecturing Josh on how he should be feeling on a personal level means you are skating perilously close to being a complete asshole.

    My suggestion to you at this point is to back off from Josh, center yourself and possibly examine whether or not you need to be on the thread anymore at this point, because you appear to be more interested in rhetorical chest-puffery than adding anything of value to the discussion.

  128. John, sorry. Geoff and I were discussing when Josh said why should Josh care that Geoeff was upset. Since Geoff and I were in a conversation , I responded even though it wasnt directed at me. And for me to botch an explanation of appeal to emotion fallacy to the point that it landed as if I was telling Josh how he can feel was horrendously bad explaining on my part. So again, sorry. To be clear, Josh can feel however he wants to feel. I was trying to say that his feelings do not say anything about Geoff’s point being right or wrong.

    My apologies.

  129. @Geoff Brown: You do realize we’ve been at the point of ‘people may try to destroy your life because of things you say on the Internet they take a dislike to’ for some time, right?

    But yes, let’s save our outrage for the Free Speech Means Tits Or GTFO brigade; it’s a horrible thing when someone confirms their real name so they can’t play the game of ‘I can attack you but you don’t know who I am, ha ha’ anymore, and being able to criticize said dude or talk on Internet blogs about what a douche he is doesn’t count as free speech….somehow. Free speech means being a dick; it doesn’t mean people getting to call you on that. /eyeroll

  130. Well these arguments — yelling at Scalzi and calling him the enemy on Team Gawker — are based on apocalypse scenarios, that if someone suffers the consequences of what they say not being liked, even if they are a dick doing quasi-legal, extremely harmful things, this will result soon in everyone being punished for anything they say on the Internet, for the Internet being shut down as a place for free speech, etc. In reality, we have sites like The Daily Capper, which tries to get underage girls to show their breasts and then blackmails them into showing more. You get major status points in the community based on the amount of harm you cause these girls. Nobody is shutting them down (and indeed can’t shut them down.) Despite the valiant efforts of law enforcement in many countries, child pornography is still all over the Web and the quasi-legal stuff even more so. Spambots invade popular sites to up SEO rankings and are not easily stopped. The hackers and virus makers are in a continual race with security folk and generally win. Sure, you may eventually get charged more for accessing areas of the Web, and yes, China attempts to shut off access of its people of certain thing (emphasis on tries,) but the reality is you have about as much chance of shutting down free speech on the Internet as you have of going to the moon in a cardboard box. Unless the whole system collapses and is shut down, free speech is in no danger, at least for those who can afford to get on the information highway, one way or another.

    Reddit, with or without child porn, hate groups or closeted gay men support meetings, is not nor has ever been in any danger of losing free speech, which again makes their railing against the Man for the championship of Net free speech hypocritical, melodramatic and plain ignorant. It’s a nice sales tactic, but it’s snake oil. And meanwhile, we have a black market going on in a free for all war on 12-year-old girls. And one of the dealers in the black market got exposed, and the black market got discussed in free speech all over the Internet. And folks at Reddit panicked and tried to claim that free speech should shut up while showing that they are perfectly willing to viciously strike out at anyone who disagrees with them or criticizes them for being unethical in the service of greed. I’m saying this not because I think all the folk at Reddit are fake and mean — they are us, after all — but because I’m tired of this doublespeak where everything is a cult of faith. The faith at Reddit is rotten, their admins owe an enormous debt to these young girls, and none of us are going to cry over exposure and bad luck that comes to the folk who run parts of the child porn black market and hate speech market, like creepy pedophile guy did.

  131. Kind of disappointing to see Scalzi weigh in on this perfect storm of douchebaggery. Everyone involved is a huge asshole. End of story.

This is the place where you leave the things you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s