Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Strange Internet Vendetta Against an 11 Year-Old Girl

During a conversation with the poet Allen Ginsberg, the poet William Carlos Williams supposedly pointed out a window and stated, "There's a lot of bastards out there!" This is a cynical observation by a rather brilliant man -- the idea being that the world is full of bad people who are capable of causing great mischief and pain.

The corollary, I would like to point out, is also true. "There's a lot of decent people out there!"

But the bastards make the headlines. The bastards cause the problems that the rest of us have to deal with. And now, thanks to the internet, the bastards have more power than ever before.

I'm not just talking about the fanboys who take to message boards to call Armond White filthy names because he didn't like "Toy Story 3." There's even more troubling people than that.

The people who, back in the good old days, would have been at the head of a mob ready to burn witches at the stake. The people who get caught up in the idea of inflicting misery on someone for the sake of, oh, relieving the boredom of their own lives. Or something.

This is something I think about occasionally. Most people in the world have no freaking idea who I am and thankfully don't care. And yet I suppose I want some measure of internet fame -- after all, I have a blog (a couple of blogs, actually), I write for another website occasionally, I sometimes post "humorous" animated shorts I've made.

I do all this under my own name. So if someone, for any reason, wanted to do me dirt, said someone could do so, and probably pretty easily.

It happened to an 11 year-old girl called "Jessi Slaughter" (not her real name -- she's savvy enough to have a nom de internet [she's savvier than me]). Gawker has the baroque story, over a series of three increasingly disturbing posts. Some highlights from the first:
Earlier this month, Stickydrama—apparently the Gawker of 13-year-olds with long bangs who loiter in mall food courts—dubiously linked her to the lead singer of emo band Blood on the Dance Floor, Dahvie Vanity. When Stickydrama asked Jessi for comment, she said: "gtfo dahvie and I dont exist, I'm just a fan." Stickydrama concluded: "If Dahvie were a pedophile, why would he pick her! Other than the fact she's a slut!"

So, Jessi had haters. A few days ago, she posted this YouTube video calling them out, issuing such threats as "If you can't stop hating, you know what? I'll pop a glock in your mouth and make a brain slushy." Ha ha. Unfortunately for everyone involved, someone posted it to the Internet's scariest hive mind: 4Chan.org's /b/ board, and Tumblr.

The Internet started picking on Jessi Slaughter relentlessly. But it was more than just mocking: People started circulating Jessi's real name, phone number, address and links to all her social networking accounts. Someone prank called her. According to Encyclopedia Dramatica, pranksters spammed her Facebook and MySpace accounts, had pizzas delivered to her house and were considering sending call girls off Craigslist to the address. (Encyclopedia Dramatica currently has a three part section on "How to troll" Jessi: 1) "There are pics of her holding her boobs" 2) "Tell her to kill herself" 3) "Tell her dad that we are going to beat her up.") Slaughter's information and videos also shot through tumblr, aided by the blogging platform's reblogging system.
Here's the video referenced in the excerpts above. It's Not safe for work!:



Her first mistake, of course, is reading the comments on her videos. Her second mistake is replying to them. Her third mistake is acknowledging that she reads the comments. Her fourth mistake is claiming that she doesn't give a f*ck about them. Her fifth mistake was the worst of all: She was an 11 year-old girl who just happened to fly onto the radar of a bastard.

I actually kind of like that people can present themselves unfiltered in a video blog like this. Kids today -- even 11 year-olds -- have unprecedented access to tools that aid their self-expression. When I was a kid, I had pens and pencils and paper. Kids today have computers that come equipped with cameras.

This is turning into one of those "kids today!" posts. I'll stop that.

The unfortunate side of is that, as William Carlos Williams is supposed to have remarked, "There's a lot of bastards out there!" And those bastards have access to the same tools as the 11 year-old girls, and apparently have no compunction about using them to try to smear one of those 11 year-old girls.

Or the 25 year-old lead singer of an obscure electro-pop band.
Sometime last night after 10pm, a /b/ user posted a proposition that the board's users troll the "pedophile" Dahvie Vanity. 4chan was still basking in its earlier harassment of Jessi Slaughter, so users quickly got on board—the thread exploded with suggestions and encouragement accompanied by unrelated pictures of boobs. One user compiled a dossier of Dahvie's personal information—name, date of birth, links to his social networking profiles and articles about him. Someone posted a link to a chatroom. ...

The early plans thrown around were the most technically ambitious, involving hacking into Vanity's MySpace or email accounts....

None of these deception tactics worked. ...

So they decided to launch a more pedestrian attack on Vanity's Internet reputation by Googlebombing him. Googlebombing consists of artificially boosting the number of searches for a term so it shows up in Google Hot Trends. (The origin of the virulent Justin Bieber syphilis rumor.) The phrase in this case was "Dahvie Vanity raped Jessica [redacted]"—Jessica being Jessi Slaughter, 4chan's earlier victim. The bomb was primed with a post on /b/ telling users to type the phrase into Refreshthing, a website which can automatically Google a phrase once every five seconds.

Users also created scores of pages on the crowdsourcing service Yahoo! Answers, asking questions like "Did Dahvie Vanity actually rape a girl?" Hey, just asking!
Wow. And today comes the update that Jessi Slaughter is in police protective custody over death threats.
Jessi Slaughter's real name, address and phone number was distributed widely on the Internet through 4chan's /b/ board, Tumblr and other Internet backchannels. Jessi's mother, Dianne Leonhardt, tells us they've received a slew harassing phone calls since the video went viral Thursday.

Some of those phone calls have been death threats, and the local sheriff's department has launched a criminal investigation into the video. Jessi was placed under police protection and brought to a safe house soon after it went viral, Leonhardt says. She came home today, but she's not online: A court order has barred her from using the Internet for at least three days.

So far, things haven't escalated past phone calls and online vandalism of Jessi's social-networking accounts. But Leonhardt says the family's life has been completely upended by a stream of prank calls." I've had people calling, impersonating themselves as cops, as child protection services," she says. Though Leonhardt says Child Protection Services is in fact involved in the case. "Something we never wanted!" Leonhardt's husband shouted from somewhere in the room when she told us this over the phone.
I suppose you take your life into your own hands when you put yourself online. Most people are decent, and just want to live their lives, and don't really care about the videos of 11 year-old girls. But, unfortunately, "There's a lot of bastards out there!", and if a few of them with a little bit of internet savvy decide they want to make your life hell, they can do it.

12 comments:

shampoo said...

there are some insane, insane, insane people on the internet. although, wtf are her parents doing letting her put videos threatening to make a "brain slushie" on youtube. i don't think she deserves all this harrassment, obviously, but a statement like that is going to get some negative comments on youtube. i mean, it just will.

just today i read a profanity-filled rant calling jennifer anniston out for once saying she wanted to have a baby, but never actually having one. i have no idea why some random person would get upset about that.

Ricky Sprague said...

Her parents are kind of creepy, too. If you follow the Gawker links you can see the video response that the entire family got together to make. The father rants directly into the camera, while the mother is off-screen making comments. The girl is in the foreground crying.

It's an... unusual family.

Jessica said...

How sad. However, the only one's to blame are Jessi's parents, teachers and local preacher for never warning her the Internet is owned and controlled by the devil himself!

Ricky Sprague said...

Has the devil got hold of the internet now?

Damn!

A.Jaye said...

This is the funniest thing I've come across since I tried (but failed) to con British Telecom into giving me broadband.

Ricky Sprague said...

A.Jaye, tell them you need broadband to protect yourself from the internet predators.

shampoo said...

irl, blood on the dance floor loser has a record of stat rape:
http://www.stickydrama.com/2010/07/confirmed-botdfmusic-lead-singer-dahvie-vanity-arrested-for-felony-sex-assault-in-colorado-2009/

yeah, it's on stickydrama, but it's real. btw, stickydrama is a weird, weird place...

i found a report that he had been arrested for stat rape of jesse slaughter, but i'm not sure it's real. his real name is david jesus torres.

remember at the beginning of jessie's rant she says "there's no me and dahvie" well, apparently some fans have been talking for a while about this dude. this is partly the point behind this, i think.

Ricky Sprague said...

shampoo, I couldn't get your url to work, the page has either disappeared or something is wrong with the tubes in my section of the internet.

However, I have found a link that suggest that the lead singer of Blood on the Dance Floor has possibly been charged with statutory rape in the past, and is possibly being held right now in connection with the case I wrote about above:

http://www.mi2n.com/press.php3?press_nb=132120

But the article is so badly worded, and I can't find any other verification of this story anywhere else, that I can't tell.

In the Gawker story, the police were called in because of death threats against Jessi Slaughter. In the article above, the police were called in because the Blood on the Dance Floor guy had some kind of contact with her?

I guess I'm now thoroughly confused.

shampoo said...

i am sorry the link doesn't work. gawker has started a feud with stickydrama saying the owner is a perv. the owner says it's for sale.

i found other stuff about the 09 stat rape. so, i think it's real, there's an old thread on absolute punk where people were talking about it and they are saying they aren't too surprised to hear this (and how botdf sucks).

i read that there were no death threats against j.s. but, they may have been worried things could escalate especially since her real name and addy were published.

a judge ordered j.s. off the internet for three days, but the parents have let her back online. she is doing some really wild stuff online (and sounds like IRL, too). i don't think her parents have much sense.

in the video where she's crying (and dad is yelling) she says "i do know dahvie! my mom has answered the phone for him!" now why would a 25 y.o. be calling an 11 y.o.? so, she herself has alleged contact between them.

Ricky Sprague said...

It does seem odd a 25 year-old would be calling an 11 year-old, but maybe he was just trying to be nice to one of his biggest fans? Or maybe the little girl who said that all she would stick a gun barrel in the mouths of her "haters" to create a "brain slushy" is embellishing?

This story is extremely byzantine. I can't figure it all out.

Jessi seems to be an extreme case of the modern, internet tween. Totally plugged in, and with seemingly very little parental direction.

But...

...is it possible that all those message board creeps who were alleging stat rape were right? And, won't that just embolden them the next time they get an itch to malign someone?

shampoo said...

i don't know if he really called her. i'm just saying she said he did. she's the one who has alleged this contact.

also, around 7-10ish some chick put something on stickydrama about jessie being a (er... what to call an 11 y.o., well...) due to something that happened with dahvie (which might not have happened, idk). so, jessie made a video (one different than you have posted) in which she says, "dahvie, if you get arrested, i didn't say nothing." now, this does not all PROVE anything, but this may be why she made the "there's no me and dahvie" video because the other one basically confirmed the chick's story.

also, i have noticed many people who have a problem with her are ages 14-17. some think she's a hoax... that no 11 y.o. could really be like that and her parents helped her construct this character to become famous. her ps don't seem that smart, but i have to say otherwise, it makes sense. it's pretty wild to hear the "kids today WTF" from teens when they hear about her. although one girl said j.s. shouldn't complain because she TOLD them to "keep hatin" because it "didn't phase her", so they did.

idk about your last question... but, i think this case is much more complicated than it appeared at first. as you said, it's byzantine.

shampoo said...

i found where dahvie vanity says he was arrested in denver in fall 2009*. he says, and other sources confirm this, that the girl refused to take tests for the police so they had to let him go. the records are sealed due to the victim being 15. it was a felony rape charge. of course, an arrest is not proof of guilt. (*btw, he wrote this in 09.)