Last week a Gawker contributor named Adrian Chen outed the creepy, pedophile, racist, misogynist internet troll Violentacrez (pronounced Violent-Acres) as a programmer from Texas named Michael Brutsch. Brutsch crowing glory was “Jailbait”, which “was the online equivalent of systematized street harassment. Users posted snapshots of tween and teenage girls, often in bikinis and skirts. Many of these were lifted from their Facebook accounts and thrown in front of Jailbait’s 20,000 horny subscribers. Violentacrez and his fellow moderators worked hard to make sure every girl on jailbait was underage, diligently deleting any photos whose subjects seemed older than 16 or 17.”
Clearly, this guy is a prince among men.
Some of the other things Brutsch, feeling secure in his anonymity, liked to create were “offensive subreddits to troll sensitive users. Some of the sections Violentacrez created or moderated were called:
You can probably guess the theme for each of those subreddits. They are sufficient to make any decent human being’s skin crawl.
Although it was fine to violate basic decency and the privacy of women/minorities, there was an extreme outcry when poor widdle Michael Brutsch was outed as a creepy pile of shit. Apparently if a guy cannot hide behind a fake name and compile pedophile porn his first amendment rights have been trashed!
No. I have a pseudonym. I like the freedom and privacy it affords me. However, I don’t think it is a magic “freedom from consequences” card. If the US government tried to shut me down for expressing my opinion, that would be a violation of my first amendment rights, but if they shut me down for hate speech or inciting others to violence then that is within their legal purview, since both hate speech and dangerous speech, such as falsely crying fire in a crowded theater, are prohibited. Furthermore, if a conservative troll outed me and started an harassment campaign then that is also NOT a violation of my free speech, since it isn’t an action by the federal government. It would be an (admittedly unpleasant) consequence of someone else’s opinions about my opinions. Free speech rights do NOT protect you from consequences.
You know what? Two other sites summed it up better than I ever could. Here’s John Scalzi’s viewpoint on Gawker:
“ Reddit is not a public utility or a public square; it’s a privately owned space on the Internet. From a legal and (United States) constitutional point of view, people who post on Reddit have no “free speech” privileges; they have what speech privileges Reddit itself chooses to provide them, and to tolerate. Reddit chooses to tolerate creepiness and general obnoxiousness for reasons of its own, in other words, and not because there’s a legal or constitutional reason for it.
Personally speaking, when everything is boiled down to the marrow, I think the reason Reddit tolerates the creepy forums has to do with money more than anything else. Reddit allows all those creepy subreddits because its business model is built on memberships and visits, and the dudes who visit these subreddits are almost certainly enthusiastic members and visitors. This is a perfectly valid reason, in the sense of “valid” meaning “allowing people to be creepy isn’t inherently illegal, and we make money because of it, so we’ll let it happen.” But while it makes sense that the folks at Reddit are either actively or passively allowing “we’re making money allowing creeps to get their creep on” to be muddled with “we’re standing up for the principles of free speech,” it doesn’t mean anyone else needs be confused by this.
If someone bleats to you about any of this being a “free speech” issue, you can safely mark them as either ignorant or pernicious – probably ignorant, as the understanding of what “free speech” means in a constitutional sense here in the US is, shall we say, highly constrained in the general population. Additionally and independently, the sort of person who who says “free speech” when they mean “I like doing creepy things to other people without their consent and you can’t stop me so fuck you ha ha ha ha” is pretty clearly a mouth-breathing asshole who in the larger moral landscape deserves a bat across the bridge of the nose and probably knows it. Which is why – unsurprisingly – so many of them choose to be anonymous and/or use pseudonyms on Reddit while they get their creep on.”
And here is Jill’s two cents on Feministe:
“Here’s what free speech means: It means you get to say pretty much whatever you want without the government coming in, shutting you down, and/or arresting you. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, you can say something offensive or vile and the police aren’t going to drag you away in handcuffs. However, the thing with free speech is that other people have it too. So if you say something vile that other people don’t like, those other people can in turn criticize you and say vile things back that you don’t like. And if we’re arguing that “free speech” extends into the right to take photos of random women on the street and post them on Reddit, then certainly “free speech” extends into the right to say “Hey FYI guys, the person posting under the name Violentacrez is actually a gross dude named Michael Brutsch.”
And yes, the person posting under the name Violentacrez is actually a gross dude named Michael Brutsch.
And he and his supporters are whining right now because he was outed and that’s so unfair, and he has a family, and his wife is sick and he needs to not get fired from his job. And that is all very sad, and I am sorry that his wife is ill. But (a) I’m unclear on how Michael Brutsch was even able to do his job given the amount of time he spent on Reddit, and (b) the content that he put on Reddit sounds like it would make him a serious liability to his company. This is a man who brags about his boner for under-age girls. Who created an entire board dedicated to the glorification of beating women (posting images of women being beaten up), then created another board dedicated to pictures of dead underage girls.”
I really cannot add anything. I think they got it all.