Over the weekend someone released hundreds of revealing photos of celebrities that appear to have been stolen from private storage. In response to this, a bunch of anonymous guys on the internet copied them and posted them all over the town square, because the internet is written in ink and if you are ever a victim once in your life the internet will remind you of it forever.
These men are the detritus of human society for whom the internet provides a warm blanket, so let's remove the warm blanket for a minute.
These men are the detritus of human society
It's still not clear how the private photos were obtained, but there's a good chance the victims were hacked — it's happened before. The last time, a man named Christopher Chaney illegally accessed more than 50 email accounts to steal nude photos and was later rewarded with 10 years in prison. Now, the hunt is on for the latest perpetrator. One theory pegs at least one user of AnonIB for the hack, and 4chan thinks it has already identified the guy who did it. While that's going on, people are looking for other things to blame, like iCloud and victims that didn't use better passwords. In any event, there's a small group of one or more people responsible for this heinous intrusion. But they're not the only ones responsible for it.
Take some of the members of Reddit, for example. If you're not familiar with Reddit, this is the best way I know how to describe it: it's an "anything goes" online message board where the loudest voices belong to misogynistic trolls who value anonymity over decency. In reality, "anything goes" is a bit of hyperbole, since the site does have two major rules: no child porn, and no posting "personal information." And because Reddit is a special place, its ban on posting personal information will protect you unless you happen to be an attractive woman that lots of people want to see naked.
At ground zero of Reddit's celebrity nude leak, where, as you are reading this, an orgy of men are sharing and ogling and re-sharing and re-ogling, lies this placard:
DO NOT POST ANY INFORMATION, TRUE OR FALSE, ABOUT THE IDENTITY OF THE PERSON(S) LEAKING THESE PHOTOGRAPHS AND VIDEOS. IF YOU DO THAT YOU WILL BE BANNED FROM THIS SUBREDDIT.
If the hypocrisy of this dim herd is not bare enough for you, consider this: these people want to protect someone who stole and exposed the private nude photos of women because logically their actions are roughly equivalent to someone who leaks state secrets like illegal mass spying on American citizens. And it's not just people on Reddit who share this perspective.
Fortunately, the internet is written in ink. Here are some men who don't think it's a big deal that Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities had their nude photos exposed.
This sums it up what's going on pretty well. http://t.co/1MdQ1wltsy Who's gonna win? People or Gov?— Larry WACHS (@houseofwachs) June 10, 2013
Larry Wachs is a creator and host of an Atlanta talk radio show called "The Regular Guys," which, according to Wikipedia, has a target demographic of men aged 25 to 49. He's been fired by Clear Channel Communications more than once. He apparently doesn't like it when the NSA spies on Americans illegally, especially since Barack Obama is president. Surely he would be horrified to learn that private citizens are being violated in a crass public manner!
Oh, nope. Larry thinks it's the victim's fault.
Larry thinks Jennifer Lawrence is dumb. Larry advises Jennifer Lawrence not to step on power lines.
Am I the only one who puts electrical tape over my webcam so the government can't spy on me through it?— #hashtagslacktivist (@zaiger) March 20, 2013
Twitter user "Zaiger" has issues with women. He doesn't like that feminists are attacking the games industry for being sexist. "You light one bitch on fire and everybody freaks out," he once tweeted. (Zaiger clarified after this story was published that he was quoting an It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia episode.) Zaiger is so concerned with privacy that he puts electrical tape over his webcam so the government can't see him.
@M_E_Winstead I felt great after I came.— #hashtagslacktivist (@zaiger) September 1, 2014
But Zaiger doesn't mind looking through other people's cameras and pleasing himself at their expense.
If America has an embarrassment of riches, it is from the endless wealth of talk radio wisdom. Steve Yuhas, another talking head, has strong opinions on privacy. He thinks we need to ɢᴇᴛ ᴄᴏɴᴛʀᴏʟ of the government because the NSA is spying on citizens. Surely he will sympathize with the victims of a severe privacy breach!
@M_E_Winstead Most people in the public eye ignore things they don't want ppl to be interested in. Almost like you're enjoying the attention— steveyuhas (@steveyuhas) September 1, 2014
Steve doesn't think it's a big deal, the victim is obviously enjoying the fact that her private nude photos are on the internet. (Update: Mr. Yuhas contacted me on Twitter, clarifying that he fully supports the NSA's foreign intelligence mission and that he believes Edward Snowden should be jailed or droned.)
It's NOT ok to make gun laws, but it IS OK to tell women what to do with their bodys and other acts in the name of religion? I give up.— Sean Bartley (@SeanBartley) January 19, 2013
Sean Bartley is a music producer and self-described "big booty enthusiast." He doesn't have much to say on Twitter about the NSA, but he definitely supports women. Sean appears to be against the idea that society would leverage the legislative and judicial systems to impose religious beliefs on women's bodies...
... but blames women when someone commits crimes against their bodies. (Update: After this story was published, Sean responded on Twitter with an apology. "Sometimes the heat of the moment gets the best of me and I was wrong," he wrote. "It's not a representation of my nature.")
The internet is just a series of tubes, connecting us to miserable assholes
That's just a sample — you, reader, are familiar with the vile and lecherous tendencies of the internet by now. Except blaming "the internet" is a dumb way of talking about what happened yesterday. "The internet" is just a series of tubes, connecting us to miserable assholes from around the world. In the coming days we'll find out who leaked the photos and which room of the house they did it in and which weapon they used, but those details are just a different kind of pornography for people who would rather know the caliber of a mass shooter's guns instead of the names of his victims.
The perpetrator of this crime will probably one day be unmasked, vilified by the decent and heroized by jerks, and then fall into oblivion the moment they're shipped to prison. (Remember Christopher Chaney? Exactly.) But just like the photos themselves, the jerks who inflamed this spectacle, the ones who shared the photos and poked the victims publicly, will still be around.
Let them know the internet is written in ink. Let their horrible ideas be preserved and ridiculed publicly. It's their own fault.