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Haters' Rights vs. Human Rights

by Charles Carreon
March 5, 2015

Public Citizen's Paul Levy Making the World Safe for Identity Thieves, by Tara Carreon

Hater’s Rights

Public Citizen Litigation Group, the brainchild of Ralph Nader, was hijacked by the free-hate-speech movement some years back when head litigator Paul Levy decided that the Internet just wasn’t vile enough — haters needed more rights!  And you know, if you build a road, people will drive on it, and once PCLG opened the way, a whole business grew up around hate and the destruction of online reputations. A recent mea culpa posted by Sam Biddle, one of the leading lights of  the free-hate-speech movement, argues and convinces himself that destroying reputations is not a personal thing — it’s just business.

A Hater Spills His Guts 

This is actually Biddle’s version of a deep self-reflection piece, and it all started when the phone rang one day, and one of Biddle’s rapeutation victims was on the line, asking him out for a drink.  Her name was Justine Sacco, and Biddle had joined in reposting her tweet to his blog on ValleyWag.com, where hundreds of haters joined the pile on, feeding a very large DIRA that blew up after Sacco tweeted an un-pc statement that she was White and therefore unlikely to get AIDS while visiting Africa.  Of course, Justine Sacco was in fact an international PR woman, and has some insight into how to handle people, because she has Biddle apologizing to her, making excuses for the apology, and singing her praises in fifty shades of bullshit.  Ever the realist, though, Biddle feels sorry for the poor little girl who thinks that someday someone’s actually going to find her LinkedIn profile on Google page one for her name.

We All Make Mistakes

Among other things that Sacco had to deal with when her DIRA was burning actively, and not merely smoldering like a digital Fukushima, was coordinated, malicious action to exploit her own identity by creating fake Twitter accounts in her name and tweeting insane things that would feed the DIRA.  PCLG has been a leader in the fight to defend this practice, and attempted to keep the identity of Christopher Recouvreur secret from me after he registered “charles-carreon.com,” built a fake blog, and made fake posts in my name, that were in fact attributed to me.  Biddle doesn’t address these types of abuses that afflicted his new friend Sacco, because after all, he doesn’t do those things — all he needed to do was post the text of the tweet and he knew it would take on a life of its own.  And as the nasty comments piled up, he did nothing to breathe the cool breath of reason on the commenters — no — because he thought Sacco was an insensitive monster, just like everyone else.

So at the bottom of his big confessional, Biddle admits that he had it all wrong, and Sacco is a nice woman who meant no harm.  Yep, she is not a monster, not an arrogant, insensitive [insert misogynistic epithet here].  She was tweeting a joke to her circle of friends and relatives, many living in South Africa, who would very well understand her tweet to be a satirical jab at Whites who think their skin color makes them immune to a deadly retrovirus.  At no point does Biddle say, “Gee, that’s the sort of mistake that could lie at the heart of all of these rapeutations.  Maybe we should stop dousing people with lighter fluid and igniting them after reading a few hastily-tapped phrases that seem to suggest they might have an inappropriate way of expressing themselves.”  Nor has he ever used the ever-mutable nature of the Internet to post an addendum to the damaging re-tweet post that, to this day, continues the chorus of hatred deriding Sacco’s humanity, and sliming her with anti-woman epithets.  Of course, he can’t go too far, because you know, those free-hate-speech people eat their own.

Losing Your Name Isn’t Easy to Do

Biddle got a little DIRA of his own, and folks tried to get him fired, and he got turned into the very first writer at Gawker to be given a sabbatical for all of November 2014, after which he returned to a less prominent role at Gawker.  This happened all because he said something about #Gamergate that got so misinterpreted that … oh well, now he understands me better, because the most important question in this debate is “Whose Ox is Gored?” Once your reputational ox has been gored, like Biddle, you’ll be slapped stupid, and start expressing topsy-turvy notions that suggest you’re suffering from some species of mental derangement:

“I was writing about the law (especially free speech and other constitutional law issues) long before Danger & Play. I am a radical proponent of free speech. When I heard that the court system was being used to silence a young man, I decided to speak out.

Rather than ignore me or let me speak my mind, Social Justice Bullies (a loose collection of toxic people such as Gawker writers and their supplicants) went on the attack. They harassed me, cyber stalked me, and otherwise spread their stench towards me.

I looked into #GamerGate more and saw some revolting faces. I saw people like Sam Biddle (who bullies nerds), Max Read (who enjoys talking about date-rape drugs) and other vile people.”

Poor Sam.  He took it square in the face and he’s gone batshit crazy.  It’s our fate here at Rapeutation to keep the light on for every DIRA victim, even, or perhaps especially, someone who has sinned like Sam Biddle, because he is still human, and has human rights.  The destruction of your good name, as Biddle learned, is quite painful, and it brings the nauseous spectacle of the Internet into sharp relief:

“I watched a whirlpool of spleen and choler swelling till it had sucked in most of my energy and attention, along with that of many of my coworkers. Hundreds of people tweeted or emailed me or my editors; blogs and minor internet personalities sprang into action to challenge me. Their demands started with my firing and escalated from there.”

Oh yes, that is the sound of someone realizing, “Holy shit!  My ox is gored!”  Biddle may be a big tech blogger, but he is human and every DIRA victim knows this feeling of losing control over their name.  When it’s over, they’re not really sure they like the sound of their own name anymore.  I suppose back when DIRAs were news, the fact that people were having their names destroyed, one here and one there, now and then, didn’t seem so bad.  But when you see that it results in unemployment, divorce, loss of friendships, depression, and suicide, then you gotta wonder, where’s the “public benefit” in twisting the law into a license for online hate speech?

The Right to Be Remembered As Who You Really Are

According to the European Union Court of Human Rights, human beings have the right to prevent Google from indexing their name.  On the factsheet about implementation of the ruling, the Euro-regulators say that “Individuals have the right to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them where the information is inaccurate, inadequate, irrelevant or excessive for the purposes of the data processing [and] could not be justified merely by the economic interest of the search engine.”

Hundreds of thousands of Europeans, with the French leading the pack, have used Google’s webform to process requests for removal of their names from the index.  Google had been taking names only out of its “local” websites, i.e., Google.de, Google.es, etc.  In November 2014, the EU told Google to take the results off Google.com, so this human right has legs.  Maybe long enough to reach our own, native shores?  Oh, that seems so very unlikely with so much money to be made in the flaying of human flesh, and with the press calling it “the right to be forgotten.”  As if to be “remembered” were to have your name and image mutilated for the benefit of Gawker and its “wags.”  I don’t want to be forgotten.  I’d just like the right to be remembered as myself.