In the aftermath of the public outcry with the Daisy Coleman rape case, hacker group Anonymous have come on board to broach their special kind of rallying cry as to why they believed justice wasn’t served in the case, and of course their determination to see that is, no matter the means.
On some level, the group known for administering a kind of vigilante justice has taken on the role of what once used to be the role of media, that is to point out inconsistencies, injustices and to reflect on what actually takes place in society. Sadly few outlets in the media world necessarily spend a great deal of time doing that, as attention is constantly focused on chasing celebrity scoops, catch trending key words and catering to muted discussions or no discussion period at all.
But unlike traditional media, anonymous has the potential to cause great harm as an unregulated group unaccountable to anyone in who they choose to vilify (media entities have to be weary of slander) incriminate without necessarily having to show due process or accept responsibility for erroneuous indictments. Something that normally takes place in a court of law.
But that too may be the point about anonymous, they are not necessarily seeking to work within the system but rather outside the system, to question its ways and if need be capitulate it so some truths are heard.
Yet that too creates a quandary, as anonymous has been known to get it wrong in the past and not necessarily have access to police files (although the group likes to present their own dossier from some nimble research and hacking) and they do have the power to destroy people’s lives as they are sometimes painted as perpetrators.
Reflected a variety of commentators on the web:
Vigilantism is dangerous because it’s fueled by emotion, not by fact. Anonymous is not an appropriate group for handling criminal justice, because Anonymous doesn’t have resources to do forensic examinations or to record interviews on the record with people involved in the case, or the ability to empower a jury. Vigilantes don’t develop consensus the same way a jury does, after hearing the evidence -the consensus of vigilantes is based on people who already take the word of the group joining the group. It’s all about passions.
I agree to a certain extent, an alleged criminal should not be harassed by an online vigilante group, however, the public officials who failed to protect its citizens are fair game.
how long before someone with the same name as one of the perpetrators gets harassed/hurt?
As for the restaurant and the college — the anger should be directed at the legal system that let these guys go, not their school/employer. They weren’t convicted — likely both the college and restaurant could face discrimination lawsuits if they treat these boys as convicted.
Real life is not a Batman movie/comic book. Vigilantes do get it wrong, and with serious consequences. As nice as it is to fantasize about someone out there correcting wrongs and saving the day, that’s all it is, a fantasy.
When the justice system is composed of elected officials, then the justice system is for sale.
I want Anonymous to look deeply into the bank records of everyone involved in this case, from the DA who thinks that ramming a penis into an unconscious child is all in good fun to the employer that fired the victim’s mother because she was “making trouble”.
I have zero sympathy for ANYONE in that town.
As to the meat of the issue, we need internet vigilantes like I need another hemorrhoids. Even if they did have good results in the Steubenville case, this is a very dangerous thing to be supporting. If the town likes to cover up for rapists, then this needs to be taken to the feds, not to a bunch of people who are letting their emotions do the talking, no matter how righteous those emotions may be.
Maybe what we need is a statewide agency that the victims or their families can appeal to when charges are not brought. They could examine the evidence and the reason charges were not brought and recommend to a state prosecutor if charges should be filed. Let’s say a 6 month statute of limitations or something like that.
“Already there’s misinformation in the Anonymous press release: “How was video and medical evidence not enough to put one of these football players inside a court room?” Anonymous asks. The problem is, the cops don’t have a video. According to the Star’s report, the witnesses claim that a video was taken, but the investigation didn’t turn one up.”
The boys who took the video deleted it shortly after taking it.
Anonymous and the Star would know this if they bothered to do research.
I’m all for an investigation of the process that lead to the case not being prosecuted. If there was any actual corruption, let’s find it.
But this sort of witch-hunt justice serves no one. If there was corruption, it lets the corrupt officials off the hook. If there was no corruption, it means that justice is applied selectively only when you manage to get enough people upset.
Then there was this thoughtful reflection courtesy of slate which also attempts to address what role anonymous plays and should we as a society be welcoming of their attempts to use whatever means necessary to bring forward what they believe to be the true, never mind who gets caught in the cross winds:
Of course, Internet vigilantism has its major downsides. During the Steubenville case, a lot of misinformation flew about wildly. Already there’s misinformation in the Anonymous press release: “How was video and medical evidence not enough to put one of these football players inside a court room?” Anonymous asks. The problem is, the cops don’t have a video. According to the Star’s report, the witnesses claim that a video was taken, but the investigation didn’t turn one up. After the Steubenville trial, this kind of lackadaisical attitude toward the truth from internet vigilantes led to a couple of articles portraying the townspeople as hapless victims of a smear campaign. (Though it would also do reporters well to be skeptical of people who claim, after the guilty verdicts, to have supported the victim all along. After all, at least one adult has already been arrested in Steubenville for his alleged role in the cover-up.)
Despite all this, it’s important that Anonymous is helping to keep the Maryville story from disappearing. Post-trial, Steubenville resident Nicole Lamantia characterized rape as a matter of just a few bad apples, complaining to reporter Katie Baker of Jezebel that the case was “about an entire town being destroyed for what two people did.” But as Emily Bazelon wrote here Tuesday, these cases are not, in fact, isolated incidents, but follow a very specific pattern: Drunken alleged assaults involving privileged athletes, followed by communities rallying around the accused rapists and demonizing the alleged victims. Whether or not Anonymous can pressure the authorities into reopening this case, they are succeeding in drawing attention to the fact that this is a pattern we need to break.
Which might lead to the more apt question, why wasn’t the media on top of this story a long time ago and why did it take the brilliant solitary reporting of one Kansas City Star reporter to bring this case to the fore when we should have all been taking the time to explore stories that expose the conundrums and injustices of society?
Which is to beg, ought we expect the media world to provoke discussion and be a purveyor of justice and moral guise or should we just accept the media as a facilitator of banal entertainment whilst the real work of bringing attention to injustice goes into the hands of vigilante groups as the media and the legal justice system fall by the wayside….?