Anonymity.

Some people have this innocent assumption that anything they say or do on the internet is untraceable, because they’re using an invented name or handle, and that combined with a second email address not in their real name means all rules of common civility can be abandoned. They say things on the internet they’d never dream of saying face to face in real life. I think it’s a combination of a rather bland daytime nobody in reality becoming this enigmatic powerful mover and shaker at night on the internet, and a sprinkling of mean and frankly spiteful character flaws.

All their assumptions are wrong. Conceptually, the internet is just one big tape recorder and anyone determined to find you just replays the tape enough times until they locate you and you get that knock on the door from the police or whoever. Just look at all those oh so slick hackers doing time in prison. It’s possible to be nearly totally anonymous on the internet, but 99.875% of people using it wouldn’t have the first clue about how to do it. Even then, notice the nearly in the previous sentence.

The essential phenomenon is that when some people think their true identity isn’t known, they feel freer to getting up to doing bad things.

We’ve all seen enough cowboy movies where the stagecoach gets robbed. All the robbers have their neck kerchiefs pulled up to conceal half their faces. That’s the same phenomenon at work. Parades originating in the times of the Spanish inquisition, which are still annual events to this day, have hundreds of people marching in costumes but with a cone-shaped hat entirely covering their head.

The KKK wore that same kind of pointed hat, though whether there’s any connection with Spain I seriously doubt, but the same phenomenon kicked in; they did terrible things. Murders, lynchings, brutality, arson – all to terrorise the newly freed slaves in the aftermath of the Civil War. At its height it had an estimated 100,000 members across America. What’s not commonly acknowledged by liberals was that it was the para-military arm of the Democrat party for decades.

Thinking in generalities is useful because you start to see patterns emerging, but there’s a subtle difference between doing that and allowing yourself to get stuck between the railway lines of stereotypes. For the vast majority of its members, the KKK was more like a lodge they and their neighbours belonged to. Sure, there was a portion dedicated to stringing up Negroes, but it wasn’t as representative as people think. This opinion of it as more a social club than a vigilante group is illustrated by the incident that caused its downfall.

In 1925 the abduction, rape and torture for three days of a young woman by the Grand Dragon or head of the organisation, caused an immediate plunge in membership from which it never recovered. She died within days of her ordeal, her body covered with bite marks, which is common psychopathic behaviour. The social club element of its membership simply didn’t want to have anything to do with such an organisation, but the hardcore element remained. There’s only an estimated 5,000 members around nowadays according to FBI estimates, and that looks to be more of a social club grouping than a string him up lynch mob.

The final nail in its coffin was the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. What was left of it had fallen deeply out of public favour and although there was nothing any city or town could do to prevent its provocative marches, it could pass a simple city ordinance forbidding mass gatherings of people whose faces were concealed. With the consequent loss of anonymity, that was the end of the KKK marching.

I’ve no doubt all those city ordnances are still on the books, since legislators attract a lot of publicity passing new laws, but never for combing patiently through old cob webbed statute books weeding out obsolete ones.

In the last few years we’ve seen the rise of organisations like antifa and others of a similar ilk who take great care to conceal their faces when they do mass demonstrations and the anonymisation produces the usual results of civil disorder and violence. You might think the people concealed behind their masks are just young thugs, but not so. One who was convicted of hitting a Trump supporter over the top of the head with a motorbike chain turned out to be a university professor in his early thirties.

In passing, he got off with an amazingly light sentence for doing something that should have left him facing a much more serious charge. Instead he was charged with what amounted to a misdemeanor, did a plea bargain and swaggered out of the court with what amounted to a slap on the wrist. The chance to make an example to reassert public order was missed. I can’t help but feel that if a Trump supporter had committed that crime, he’d have been charged with attempted murder and dealt with a lot more harshly.

The saying that history repeats itself is very true. The parallels between antifa’s relationship with the Democrat party and the old KKK’s are striking. Like the KKK, antifa is a secretive para-military organisation whose deniable activities work to undermine the Dems political opponents, in this case Trump. The same methods are used; violence, intimidation and stifling the opposition’s voice, while the police look on and do nothing.

The simple solution, and the way to stop the situation escalating into even more violence, is to pass the same type of city ordinance that finally tamed the KKK. March as much as you like, demonstrate as much as you like, because you have the right to do so, but you can’t do it with your face concealed. My feeling is that people like professor motorbike chain would definitely think twice before indulging in thuggish activities because they’d know their face would be on camera.

The other thing to be done is to stop policing being driven by purely political considerations. If the local police won’t enforce the law evenly, then you do what was done in the 1960s; you take the job off them and send in the National Guard to restore order.

As with most things, anonymity can be used in positive or negative ways. You can use a hammer to build a house or to bash someone’s skull in with. In this article I’ve talked about the negative aspects of it, but there are positive ones. My experience over nearly two decades of using the internet and especially interacting with others using it, is that you’d be very rash to do so using your real name.

I initially started contributing to the global warming debate under my own name, but quickly found it was being used to target me and my family, so I had the choice; stop commenting, which is what the intimidators wanted, or go the anonymous route. I chose the latter and have never regretted it. It gives me and mine protection and I’ve never abused it. In certain ways, it allows me greater freedom of expression.

Anonymity in cyberspace I’ve no problem with and indeed encourage it as a prudent measure, but the masked anonymity of huge mobs in the street can only lead to civil unrest and violence. That’s what must be tackled.

©Pointman

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Comments
9 Responses to “Anonymity.”
  1. Margaret Smith says:

    Just think of the Soviet-style intimidation and terror if the Dems had absolute power. Democracy once lost is nearly impossible to regain, especially if it is lost over the entire democratic world at the same time.
    I hope more and more people are waking up to this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Simon Derricutt says:

    A lot of the reason for placing importance on what someone says is based on you knowing who they are. This can be somewhat substituted by a long reading of what an “anonymous” person says (like you, Pointy) and seeing that it hangs together and is logical. Most anonymous comments aren’t worth reading, since it is often a succession of insults of various types. If I spend the odd half-hour reading comments on Breitbart or Alex Jones, I feel somewhat unclean, so I tend not to go there unless pushed. Maybe a lot are bots set up to make the comments section repugnant. Hard to tell. Possibly there are a lot of people who use commenting rather than other forms of relief from feeling bad.

    People can do some pretty nasty things if they think no-one they care for will know about it, and they aren’t going to get any punishment. If we allow anonymity we’re going to get trolls, both on the net and in life. On the other hand, if we don’t allow anonymity, few will tell things as they are for fear of being the proud nail that gets hit.

    These days may be the freest communication we’ve ever had, but the other side of that is that lies spread very quickly too. If something is repeated often enough, people tend towards believing it rather than going against the perceived consensus. In that vein, I used to accept AGW as being true, since it was always being plugged, I’d seen that weather had changed, and the people in white coats don’t lie. Oh well…. Once I actually looked at the data the hypothesis just doesn’t make sense, but then most people I know don’t look at the data because they don’t understand it. Who is going to actually read the body of the IPCC reports and notice that the executive summary doesn’t agree with the detail? I figure we can only change peoples’ minds one by one and personally, and even changing one person’s mind is quite a major success.

    Anonymity on the street is definitely a bad idea, especially during conflicts between opposing factions. The chain-wielding professor should have been sacked as well as jailed. A group of masked people would be regarded by any normal person as a threat to be taken out, too, especially if they have any weapons on their persons. One masked armed person is dangerous.

    Like

  3. TomO says:

    A small correction – the photo is from Wisconsin – the DNC that year was in New York https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Image/IM1902

    Like

    • Blackswan says:

      This is an issue that has piqued my interest for a while now. Why has adding a satirical caption to a photo in order to illustrate a point now seen as being misleading in some way?

      Probably since the MSM decided our collective attention span had been whittled down to nothing and we had to have images, and now video, to be added to every news story to give it ‘authenticity’.

      Humour and satire seem to have been erased from our collective psyche.

      Who knows? Maybe that photo is the Wisconsin Democrat contingent marching to the train station en route to the NYC Convention. We’ll never know, but the relevant point has been made with that caption.

      Like

  4. JohnTyler says:

    IMHO ANTIFA is a very near clone of Ernst Rohm’s Sturmabteilung – or more commonly know shortly later as HItler’s Brown Shirts.
    Their tactics are identical; they seek out opposition meetings and demonstrations and engage in violent tactics.
    Of course, ANTIFA knows, as does BLM , By Any Means, etc., that if arrested by the police for engaging in violence or destroying property, that absolutely nothing will happen to them – other than one night or so in the pokey,
    All those ANTIFA Nazis arrested in DC that caused a real mess there during the inauguration got off scott free.
    These violent Nazi thugs are provided PAID transportation to “demonstrate,” and are provided lawyers to get them off in the very slim chance they are arrested.
    Why the RICO laws are not used to indict the financiers of these Nazi thugs escapes me.

    And since they typically cross state lines to commit their violence, this is a Federal offense.
    But as long as Jeff Sessions is heading the DOJ you can expect him to be asleep and do what he does best.
    Nothing at all.

    Frankly, if I were him, I would be totally embarrassed at the incompetence and timidity he demonstrates.
    I wonder how he sleeps at night. (Oh, that’s right, he sleeps from 7AM to 11PM, 7 days per week)

    Like

  5. Blackswan says:

    Pointman,

    In Australia Antifa wears a different mask; here it’s a very transparent one that’s called GetUp and (like the Brown Shirts) it’s the militant arm of the Marxist Labor Party. They follow the same formula as their Comrades around the world, paid thugs bussed in to ‘demonstrate’ against any speaker with the temerity to voice a conservative viewpoint.

    However, our Labor Union dominated police forces have gone one better. They bill the visiting speaker for the police services necessary to prevent the aggressive GetUp thugs from assaulting event attendees and destroying property.

    In Dec 2017 Milo Yiannopolous was sent a bill of $50,000 for Melbourne police attending one of his speaking events, which the tour promoter refused to pay. And that wasn’t a one-off aberration.

    In the last couple of months Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern were sent a bill for $68,000 and Nigel Farage got one for $67,000.

    And this is after multiple contracted and paid-for venues cancelled at the last moment under a barrage of threats of riot and destruction of property from ‘anonymous’ callers.

    Police billing victims of violence for their so-called “security” services is nothing short of extortion – “protection money” in the grandest tradition of Organised Crime Gangs.

    “Pay us to protect you from criminal assault and property damage or … you’re on your own, and we’ll let the dawgs loose.”

    And the Media denigrates the conservative guest speakers as the “instigators, the agitators” who deserve everything they have thrown at them, while the people paying to hear their message are tagged “far right neo-Nazi fascists” who also deserve to be physically attacked by rioters as they enter venues.

    They don’t bother with masks in this, the “Lucky Country”. Here, it’s called Policy.

    Like

  6. philjourdan says:

    You continue to amaze me with your insight into American politics. You possess a knowledge far beyond most Americans themselves!

    And you are dead on again. In almost every aspect. My meager addition is that the laws created to address the KKK problem, as you noted, are still on the books. And in some cases, (at least in this Commonwealth), they are being used against Antifa. Antifa thinks it is a travesty, but I see it as the same side of the same slice of bread.

    As the KKK was before, so Antifa is today. The militant wing of the democrat party.

    I have heard it said that there is nothing really new in the world if you study history (I am talking people behavior, not iPhones). And indeed I have found that to be true. The Democrats are done with the KKK (not inclusive enough), and as a result, they are being ground under the boot of Antifa. Once the democrat party has exhausted the usefulness of people, they get rid of them. Just as Pol Pot did. Just as Hitler did. Just as Lenin did. Just as Mao did. Yet the left continues to think that this time it will be different. That is the definition of insanity.

    Like

  7. cdquarles says:

    Bah. Is history so poorly presented everywhere? It is well known, or maybe was well known, that the KKK didn’t string up black folk only. They strung up white folk, too; Jews and Catholics come to mind. Likewise, the history of slavery in the USA is more complex than the usual ‘sound bites’ presented by, mostly, leftists. There were white slaves in the USA. There were black slaveholders in the USA, too.

    Like

  8. gallopingcamel says:

    The thing that bothers me most is the politicization of the courts. It has always puzzled me why judges here run for election as Democrats or Republicans. There should be one law for everyone yet you see Leftists like that bike chain professor getting a light sentence and keeping his job.

    Then you have Hillary Clinton’s accomplices being handed immunity deals without delivering anything useful to prosecutors.

    Then you have scores of people at the DoJ and FBI breaking laws left right and center without anyone even indicted. Pointy’s earlier piece gave me some hope but another six months has gone by……………………
    https://thepointman.wordpress.com/2018/03/09/moving-purposefully-towards-the-head-of-the-fish/

    Meanwhile people associated with Donald Trump are being vindictively persecuted and not just the people in the headlines such as Flynn, Manafort, Cohn. Our DoJ is shamelessly applying Beria’s dictum “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime”.

    Worst of all Donald Trump is being relentlessly investigated without a shred of evidence that he has committed any crime. Once we again we are being told that the “Seriousness of the Charge” demands an investigation. That is scarcely better than the standards of justice that applied during the “Reign of Terror” in 1793.

    Like

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