Reddit, perverts, free speech, privacy, toughtcrime, misogytrolling™, and my own personal ignorance all wrapped up in an article that’s way too long for anyone to read…which is probably for the best
Let’s start with one of my favorite tunes. “Smut” by Tom Lehrer:
Okay then. Time to make myself a moral pariah. Again.
Interesting exposé by Gawker’s Adrian Chen is interesting. Since you’re on Internet, I presume you’ve read it. But, anyway, it’s about one Michael Brutsch. He lives in Texas.
Has Had some shitty job. Just a normal guy who likes to anonymously propagate jack-off pics — up-skirts, ripped Facebook bikini shots, etc. — of unwitting underage girls on the Reddit. He’s also into “Niggerjailbait” and “rapebait” stuff. He’s the Internet’s most prolific peddler of taboo. Well, he used to be, before Chen outed him.
Now we’re left with a truly interesting debate on exploitation, smut, free speech, sexuality, anonymity…heavy ethical shit.
Look, I’d like to be able to say that some part of me wants to fuck Sean Hannity until he’s paralyzed…
Look, I’d like to be able to say that some part of me wants to fuck Sean Hannity until he’s paralyzed…
Before we really get into this, let’s take a deep breath and admit that men want to fuck teenage girls. If they don’t, it’s because they want to fuck teenage boys. Let’s be grown-ups, and accept the young, pert, and ostensibly fertile facts. It’s an extremely modern concept that a, say, 33 year-old dude should not want to fuck a pubescent girl/woman. For 100,000 years — give or take — men have been fucking what we now call children. The first known age of consent law doesn’t appear in human history until 800 year ago in England. It stated that men shouldn’t “ravish” a “maiden within age” — don’t rape 11 year-olds. That was the going age of “consent” as late as 1880 in the United States. By 1920, a
prude feminist campaign succeeded in raising the age of consent in all states to 16 -18.
This is not to excuse Brutsch with the whole of depraved boys-will-be-boys history. We’re awful creatures, then and now. And, duh, 14 year-old girls should be off limits, physically. It makes sense. They’re children. But that wasn’t always the case, and until we’re honest about the male libido, we can’t have a meaningful discussion about any of this interesting, sexy, disgusting, offensive stuff. Trying to tackle these issues without acknowledging the inherently perverted biology of most men would be like talking about the idiotic Drug War without considering demand, poverty, and the Prison Industrial Complex — you know, the actual reasons that drugs are rampant and we have more people in prison than any other country. Demand matters.
To get ahead of myself, many Redditors are irate that Chen outed Brutsch. They value the kind of unfettered speech of which most are not capable without strict anonymity. Brutsch’s life, professional and personal, will surely suffer. He may deserve that. I don’t know. Maybe Chen crossed the line. I don’t know. The case can also be made that Chen, having been told Violentacrez real name, had a moral obligation to share it with the world (because every last starving African kid & Thai sex-slave, like, really cares about all this). At any rate, Brutsch is an idiot if he can’t turn this into a filthy and fulfilling career. Anonymous Redditing may be over for the dude, he
may lose lost his job, he’ll probably have a hard time finding a new one, but demand, demand, demand. That much seems obvious, like an erection in sweatpants.
It’s a good thing. Unconditionally. The uglier it is, the more us ‘Murkans should thank the nonexistent gods that we have the right to express, encounter, and be offended by free-flowing ideas. We should love that Holocaust denial is not a crime. And we should appreciate that we can openly deride such cretins — or the kind of slimeball who’d post up-skirts of 13 year-olds (though there’s a potential exploitation component there, and I’ll get to that). It’s an old saw, but at the very least, freedom of expression helps us know who’s an asshole. Like me, for example.
Free speech only matters if we allow the speech we find objectionable. Otherwise, it’s all bullshit. Now, while saying this will make feminist-heads explode, this is a fairly nuanced issue. Reddit, as a rule, has heretofore allowed every disgusting thing a person could possibly say, post, etc., so long as it wasn’t illegal — no terrorist threats, no for-reals kiddie pr0n. Another interesting aspect of the Brutsch saga is that he was a very active moderator. So while he was posting horrific, morally questionable stuff, he was also the guy who kept Reddit relatively clean, legal. Naturally, this can be done without also posting exploitative jerk-off pics of teens, so…
Chen, feminist critics of Brutsch, generally decent people who don’t like perverts wackin’ it to their daughters’ stolen Facebook pics, etc., are not the jackbooted, speech-crushing fascists some Redditors imagine. They’re merely exercising their own right to free speech. That’s how this shit’s supposed to work. We have the right to draw a picture of Mohammed chugging donkey-cock. And Muslims have a right to express their outrage. (Again, the exploitation angle makes this case different. Maybe.)
Lost in the mix, however, is that this has almost nothing to do with free speech. The state hasn’t censored Brutsch. Reddit moderators can block or allow whatever content they want within law. Decrying a loss of freedom here, or in similar cases, is slightly disingenuous. And the fact that Reddit has now banned all Gawker links shows that their cries for freedom of speech are wholly insincere.
It brings out the best and worst in people. Online pseudonyms allow people to express themselves without fear of retribution in real life. They can talk shit about a lying scumbag like Paul Ryan, and not have to worry that they’ll lose their job at the Koch-owned Georgia Pacific plant. But without real names, and the consequences, people can also say, do, post some truly horrific things. Not many would casually threaten feminist writers with rape, etc., were it not for anonymity.
What reasonable expectations of privacy should we have in the internet age? None. Is it creepy to snap a teenage up-skirt? Hell yes. Is it wrong to steal some high school student’s sunbathing photo from Facebook? I guess so. But that’s just gonna happen. Should it happen? Is it morally awful? I don’t really know, but it’s easy to offer an unqualified “yes,” so I’ll go with that for now.
The hypocrisy is that some Redditors are livid about Chen “intruding” on Brutsch’s privacy. If you don’t want people to know something, see something, don’t put it online. Also, don’t share your secret identity with people if you want to keep it secret — especially if you’re hellbent on pissing off everyone, as was Violentacrez. So even if you view Chen as a villain here, he’d have had nothing without Brutsch’s brazen incompetence (or backward desire to be outed, given his proper “fame”).
It’s bad, m’kay? Is that what we’re talking about here? I don’t know.
Believe it or not, you are an object, and some people are gonna want to stick things in your holes. I’ve never understood what “objectification” really means, to be honest, and why/how it bothers women/men. From what I gather, it has to do with portraying or perceiving women (for the most part) as sexual objects, which is said to be dehumanizing. I don’t really understand that either because not a lot of people want to sex up nonhuman objects. A few do. It’s a kink. Wait. Maybe I get it: Objectification is bad because it’s a mechanism by which women are seen only as a sex-things — meaning, less than men. Right? I don’t know.
However you look at it, it’s not something that will ever stop. We’re all objects. The most progressive man can think of women in this way at times, while still seeing them as social equals, and if we’re talking about feminists, they’re capable both willingly, shamelessly objectifying themselves, and turning it on men, too. On a systemic, cultural level — where women are viewed as lesser beings — objectification is a problem. I think. Maybe. I don’t know.
Top-notch feminist wonk Amanda Marcotte’s called Brutsch a “sexual predator.”
I do not understand how Brutsch is a sexual predator…because he’s not. He’s a creeper, all right, but he wasn’t actually trying to have sex with anyone, as far as I know. Marcotte’s a force of good on Internet, but words mean what they mean, and even the righteous need to use them properly. Otherwise, it undermines and confuses one’s argument. Maybe posting “rape bait” pics and engaging in actual predatory sexual behavior is the same to Marcotte, but conflating those two distinct concepts is quasi-libelous.
We can say, “Posting ‘rape bait’ pics may very well encourage a culture of predatory sexuality in real life,” but as much as you perhaps-rightfully hate the guy, you can’t just say he’s something that he’s not. I mean, you can, clearly (“He’s a Sasquatch!”), but maybe you shouldn’t if you want to have an honest discussion about what the hell this is all about.
It is really easy to say that Brutsch and his ilk are morally reprehensible. Maybe too easy. They may be. But maybe they’re not. I’m not going to pretend I know. But there are things worth considering when talking about child, or near-child, pornography (now, strictly speaking, this Reddit stuff isn’t porn – like the Victoria’s Secret catalog). There are a few studies showing that legalizing child pornography lowers instances of pedophilia. This is entirely different than the pubescent Reddit stuff, but it’s probably not a stretch to think that high school girls are safer IRL if Internet perverts have access to cheer leader whack-off pics.
While people clearly have the right to complain about the Interweb’s seedy underbelly, I’m personally not comfortable saying that this kind of thing (it’s all case by case) is always wrong, or impermissible. Internet is a democratizing force, potentially, theoretically, and this is a worthwhile conversation to have while we wait around for global warming to decimate civilization. We do need to get a grasp on what ain’t allowed, and why banning certain things may set a far worse moral trajectory — one we’re already on, apparently, as US child porn law covers anyone who “knowingly produces, distributes, receives, or possesses with intent to distribute, a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting…” So, basically, it’s illegal to post drawings of kids playing doctor.
We’re going far astray of the Chen piece, but what prurient stuff our society considers legally permissible is interesting to me, and I write here, so deal with it. And it just seems incredibly fucked up to me that someone can go to jail for drawing…anything. It’s dangerously close to fundamentalism, imo. And if the above studies have any credibility, it’s a wildly irresponsible way to deal with some people’s unsavory desires. Throwing a guy in jail, for playing make-believe, no matter how disturbing we may find it, is all sorts of wrong. But, yeah, this is a different issue.
Unlike kiddie Manga, these Violentacrez-esque posts are real women — girls, in this day and age. So there is an unsettling exploitation factor (though nothing like actual child pornography). Then again, if no one ever knows who these girls are, faces and tattoos obscured, etc., it seems like a victimless crime — which is also not an actual crime. We’re talking about bikini pics and the like…and “rape bait?” I think that’s just drunk chicks with their butts hanging out. Stuff like that.
Rape fantasies are weird. Some men have them. Even a few women have them. One out of four women definitely do not have that fantasy. I’m of the mind that fantasy can be a healthy release of unhealthy thoughts. It’s feasible that drunk Internet chick pics could prevent rape. I don’t really know. But we’re essentially debating what kind of fantasies are OK, where and if those fantasies are online-appropriate, to what extent the expression of those fantasies constitutes exploitation, and even if indulging taboo thoughts reduces real-world occurrences. Maybe. Or maybe I’m just writing because I don’t keep a dairy.
The other day, I was driving by a cop, and I enjoyed a lovely fantasy wherein I beat him to death with my fists. I’m not going to do that IRL. But I’d like to be able to snap a candid of that cop, and share it with Internet, so everyone can proverbially fap to it. I don’t think the demand is there, but I’d like to have that weird freedom.
Firstly, it’s a word I just made up. Secondly, the main underlying offense here is the rampant, unapologetic misogyny, of course, and whether or not Brutsch, other Redditors, Chan-fags are sincere in their women-hating is almost besides the point. The point is to troll the Internet for outrage. And in that regard, Brutsch has done well for himself. Too well. He and other Redditors have been pretty well-fed by the Internet Feminista. Sorry. I’ll use the PC term: Feminazi. Apologies. Some of my best friends are Feminazis.
It’s kind of cheap to crow, “Don’t feed the trolls,” because at some point — genuine or not — misogytrolling™ encourages an environment of real sexism. Maybe. The line between fact and fiction is pretty damn blurry these days. That said, it is sort of weird that someone like Brutsch can become popular enough to warrant criticism. Before Internets, he’d just be some dirty old man that Gloria Steinem wouldn’t bother to piss on. He’s like a toddler shitting on the carpet for attention. And we’ve all given it to him.
My Own Ignorance
It’s on full display here, but I thought I should double-down, and just add one more thing: Being a progressive man is hard some times. Many times, the PC expectations are too much to live up to. There’s a lot known, shared about the shame society places on women, for being “too” sexual, having body fat, working instead of mothering, whatever dumb Christian shit about abortion, etc, etc, etc, but we don’t often talk about the shame men feel. And when it is talked about, it’s generally agreed that we should feel shame. We’re no good pigs. And, you know, some times we are.
Our biological desires often conflict with our mental attitudes, and that can be difficult to navigate, for some. Like, I hate SE Cupp. I also want to fuck her face. She’s awful. And hot. A dancer’s body with Ayn Rand’s brain. I don’t hate her because she’s a woman, or an attractive woman, but because she’s morally and intellectual diseased. Am I a sexist for thinking it, or am I a sexist for saying it? Or is it only sexist if I said that I want to fuck her until she dies? Because I almost never think of that every few minutes.
Look, I’d like to be able to say that some part of me wants to fuck Sean Hannity until he’s paralyzed, but I can’t honestly say that. But, I don’t know, I mean, if Hannity got all dolled up, I was pretty drunk and full of Viagra…I’d probably want to fuck him to death more than Cupp. Because he’s far worse. He deserves death by dick. And I’d be honored to carryout the sentence, if physically possible. If not, I could just wear that fucked up homemade strap-on knife from Seven. Yeah. That. Legal issues aside, it would make for a great essay, if nothing else. Hmm.
The point is that it is easy to hate a guy, but not so easy to hate an attractive woman. And sometimes, without ever bringing the woman’s appearance, or your filthy, shameful lust into the mix, we can still be seen as misogynists. Just for hating a woman. Not because she’s a woman. Just for hating her. This is feminism gone awry — the kind of tactic employed by horrible right-wing women, mostly, who shield themselves from criticism by crying about the “War on Women.” Life just isn’t fair. Or something.
Yeah, yeah, I’m a white guy whining about my first-world problems, so I can’t possibly have a valid opinion. Right? Well, you know what else is a first-world problem? Cancer. Think about it. Because I haven’t.
So In Horrific Summation…
…I’d like to end this nearly pointless screed with a quote from the film The Aristocrats. If you’re not familiar with the movie, and the infamous joke on which its based, this is the shtick: A family goes to a talent agency to audition; their act is almost always a filthy variation on incest, shit-eating, jerking off with vomit, etc. — just the most disgusting stuff you can imagine; then the agent asks what the act is called, and the family enthusiastically says, “The Aristocrats!”
The funniest version, imho, is the inversion proffered by comedy writer T. Sean Shannon:
Three women of color, they go into this agent’s office. He says, “What do you do?” She goes, “Well, my sister plays the cello. She plays Chopin’s third movement, in B minor. I lie on a chaise lounge, naked, reading sonnets from Shakespeare, and my third sister, she makes a painting very similar to Decroix’s ‘The Girl’.” He says, “Wow, that sounds good, what do you call this act?” “Oh, we’re Nigger Cunts.”