the magazine of the columbia daily spectator
May 1 2013
Mmm, baby: The very best in food porn
April 27 2013
Alternatives to Butler
April 19 2013
Red Bull and relaxation
April 17 2013
Back to the kitchen: A short journey through sexist pop culture
April 12 2013
Bikinis and big booties, y’all
April 8 2013
Azealia Banks Did What?
April 5 2013
More stories from Columbia’s military veterans
April 3 2013
Sing, O Muse, of some sappy story
April 1 2013
Missed the Cliterary Open Mic? Check out the highlights here
March 29 2013
Sex & Low Beach
We at post-Obamanard Columbia are uncomfortably familiar with the drama and strife that some good old-fashioned trolling can stir up. For those still blissfully unaware, trolling is the annoying practice of using the Internet to get people angry. Trolls are never “serious,” but they say all sorts of offensive things in order to rile people up. However, not even the most facetiously vitriolic Bwog commenter can match the influence of the infamous Reddit user Violentacrez.
For years, this anonymous user gained notoriety through some hardcore trolling and the creation of a number of controversial forums (or “subreddits”)—including “jailbait,” a thread devoted to voyeuristic photos of underage girls; “creepshots,” a forum in which users could post sexualized, paparazzi-like photos of everyday women; and many more lovely subjects, such as “chokeabitch,” “jewmerica,” “rapebait,” and so on. He continued unchecked until this past October, when Adrian Chen, a Gawker journalist, publically revealed Violentacrez’s real name, Michael Brutsch—an “outing” that ultimately caused Brutsch to lose his job.
Believe it or not, Violentacrez has emerged as a sort of Julian Assange figure for the blogging set, drawing support from many Reddit users citing first amendment concerns. His popularity has long depended on users who voted up his controversial postings to make a statement about free speech. Some say that, by outing him, Chen violated the right to privacy guaranteed to Brutsch by the anonymity of the Internet. Other critics have even gone so far as to imply that, by publicly exposing somebody who wanted to maintain that privacy, we have stooped to his level and are no better than the kind of man who would post suggestive photos of a young girl’s body online without her consent.
Admittedly, there is something pitiable about Violentacrez, now that his identity has been revealed. He is an average-looking, 49-year-old man who begged Chen not to out him when he realized his cover was blown. He seems like someone who simply got a power trip from riling people up—who likely found pleasure in little else outside public forums.
However, let’s be clear here: his general troll- ing, while ridiculous, is not the main issue at hand. The curation of a place in which pedophilia and violent female objectification could fester is. In the original Gawker article, Brutsch is quoted as saying, “I’ve always been upfront about the sorts of things that I find attractive.” Well, Mr. Brutsch, allow us to be “upfront” about assuring you that you are a scumbag.
The arguments surrounding free speech are always complex and slippery, and it’s dangerous to consider imposing any sorts of boundaries. However, the discourse surrounding rape culture and the objectification of women touches an equally tender nerve. While Brutsch and his supporters have pointed out that what they do is entirely legal, the fact remains that all of the girls in the “jailbait” photos were minors who were not asked for their permission before their images were posted in a public forum. These are not little Lolitas who exist solely for the fantasies of sad old men. No, they are real young women—women who go to school and shop with friends and head home for dinner and now have to worry that every man checking his smartphone on the subway has access to a part of them, the base appeal of which relies upon a lack of their consent. By saying that Brutsch is justified in having posted these photos, his supporters are saying that his right to free speech is stronger than these girls’ right to decide what happens to their own bodies. Even Internet pedophiles should be able to recognize that that’s pretty weak logic.
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