Guys with guts: Andrew Riddle

He has a name straight out of a Harry Potter book: journalist trainee Andrew Riddle, Australia.

I’ll like to introduce him here as part of a new series called “guys with guts”.

http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=10417

Who is Anonymous?

When Nina Funnell was bashed, strangled and narrowly escaped rape, she thought telling her story was the most responsible thing she could do. What she was not prepared for was mockery.

An anonymous online group posted her picture alongside a poll asking how “rapeable” she was. Some responded “she is heaps hot and I would totally rape her”; others that “she’s too fugly, I wouldn’t bother raping her from even behind with a box cutter blade” (the manner in which she was attacked). One responded, “what a conceited bitch for thinking she is even worthy of being raped, The guy just probably wanted to give her a good bashing in which case job well done.”

Who could be so callous, so misogynistic, so cruel? Anonymous, that’s who.

n the years since the internet went mainstream, a new generation has grown up expecting the freedom to say and do as they wish online. Many of them see the internet as a place completely devoid of morality and consequences.

They call themselves “The Anonymous”. They congregate on the imageboards which sprang up early in the decade. They ooze world-weariness and the cheap cynicism of middle-class teenagers; they identify each other through endless in-jokes or “memes”. They were exposed to pornography and imagery of all sorts from an early age, and it holds no fear for them. In the world of Anonymous, only outsiders, the old and the feeble-minded take offence – and they had it coming.

Most disturbing is the deep misogyny which has become the norm within this culture. Rape is a joke; women are habitually referred to as “cumdumpsters”. If a female joins in, she is told “tits or GTFO” (as in, post pictures of your breasts or get the f*** out).

So who are they?

Encyclopaedia Dramatica (ED) CEO Joseph Evers knows a thing or two about Anonymous. His US-based site, which began as a lampoon of the self-serious Wikipedia, has become a sort of moving cultural record of the Anonymous world, attracting massive amounts of page traffic and intense controversy.

He sees the Anonymous culture as an expression of middle- and working-class disenchantment. “Young people are overwhelmingly looking at the life their parents led, and how hard they worked, and what they got for it – which was garbage, y’know? – and you work like a slave, and you barely get to eke out a standard of living, and hopefully, you won’t end up in crippling debt at the end of your life. No one wants to buy that garbage anymore, and they’re expressing their discontent.”

Other clues lie both in the culture’s endless self-mythologising and self-parody. Anonymous calls itself alternatively “the final boss of the internet” and “internet superheroes” – yet members of Anonymous are often referred to as “basement dwellers”, invoking the stereotypical image of an obese man who lives in his parents’ basement.

There is certainly the desire within the Anonymous community to be seen as noble. Occasional mass actions have been organised, usually in defence of free speech. For example, in “Project Chanology” beginning in January 2008, members of Anonymous declared war on the Church of Scientology, in response to its efforts to censor an embarrassing video of Tom Cruise through legal action. Members disrupted the Church’s activities with pickets and elaborate pranks.

Similarly, in February this year, “Operation Titstorm” struck at the Australian government over the planned internet filter, bringing down departmental websites and spamming offices with pornography.

However, such noble intentions are more often derided – Project Chanology is now considered “moralfaggotry”, and is more likely to be referred to with disgust than admiration. Any attempt to stand up for women by an Anonymous member is howled down as “white knighting” – one of the culture’s most contemptuous epithets.

The culture defines itself with its outsider status – the uninitiated are referred to as NORPs (normal ordinary responsible people). A popular description of the typical member of Anonymous says “you find women disappointingly pretty”. Anonymous members feel like drones, surplus men who will never find love, so they console themselves with endless consumption of pornography, and strike back at those distant, pretty creatures where they can.

An honest man would admit that their misogyny is not entirely unfamiliar – it reeks of the heady regressive-masculinity vibe that arises when men in the company of men egg each other on to greater heights of crassness. It can be observed in the military, or a workshop, or the NRL; something similar was uncovered in the elite colleges of the University of Sydney recently when male students started a “pro-rape” Facebook group.

What seems unique is the way Anonymous confronts the vulnerable. Anonymity itself might be to blame; it lends a false courage that leads to this sort of behaviour.

Also, in these other scenarios, the men are often separated from women, but the lack of geographical space between the anonymous sites and the broader internet make it easier for this misogyny to spill out.

Of course, anonymity makes it hard to draw the line between real and make-believe. It is not uncommon for a user to post on an Anonymous site claiming to be about to commit suicide, to respond to their own post with deliberately cruel and callous remarks, and then return a few days later pretending to be a bereaved relative. Perhaps many of those attacking and insulting women online see it as merely an extension of this game, separated from real consequences.

Or perhaps the most important factor is the way anonymity makes the actions of individuals seem like they belong to the collective. Or as Anonymous puts it: “none of us is as cruel as all of us”.

39 Comments

  1. So you may have a person that agrees with you…Make sure we all know. Shall I list all those that agree with us…lol. This could be fun.

  2. Actually, hubbard was very clear about the defintion of “anti-social”, creating an 11 item checklist.

    There IS indeed an item about criticality:

    2. “Such a person deals mainly in bad news, critical or hostile remarks, invalidation and general suppression.”

    However, this does not, clearly, preclude one from being critical in a single subject, else every CCHR sympathizer (as pointed out by anon) would be anti-social for criticising the single subject. Me, I do indeed criticize this single subject. However, I also speak very positively of other concepts that do not warrant such criticism. Therefore, that item does not apply to me. Phew!

    There are some other items to consider:

    1. He or she speaks only in very broad generalities: Such as some people claiming that all critics are criminals, for instance.

    6. The antisocial personality habitually selects the wrong target: such as those that target scientology critics for the actions of unrelated chan board viewers.

    7. The antisocial cannot finish a cycle of action: Such as those that will post an angry comment or a question, and then disappear for the rest of the conversation. Not mentioning any names, of course.

    9. The antisocial personality supports only destructive groups and rages against and attacks any constructive or betterment group: Maybe that’s a matter of opinion, of course…

    11. Helping others is an activity which drives the antisocial personality nearly berserk. Activities, however, which destroy in the name of help are closely supported: Likewise… just making a mention :)

    So, I would mention that I’m not anti-social. I’m certainly not saying that anyone else here is, but that’s certainly something that we should each consider…

  3. “Those who look for the negative will do that in any subject, not just Scientology. It’s anti-social, as far as I’m concerned. Who wants to walk around all the time being downtone? I sure don’t. ”

    You also only see the negative in Psychiatry. In fact Scientology has a whole organization, the CCHR, that is dedicated to only one purpose : Finding the negative in psychiatry and promoting only the negative side of Psychiatry.
    The CCHR does NOTHING to help anyone, it just wants to DESTROY psychiatry. And why? Because L. Ron Hubbard said that Psychiatry is evil and must destroyed. That’s the only reason for the existence of CCHR.
    So you are anti-social.

  4. “That’s why Scientologists put their attention on what’s right and helping where we can.”

    Unfortunately you are not helping anyone, because you insist on using Scientology to help people and it is actually your main purpose not to help people, but to use and promote Scientology, whether it helps or not.
    If you really wanted to help people, then you wouldn’t stick to a close minded totalitarian ideology as Scientology, but instead seek out for the best method that helps the people depending on the situation. In the Haiti for example the best method to help people is not Scientology, but medical help. If you really wanted to help victims of disaster then you would join or support disaster relief organizations that are specialized on helping these people and who use the best tools available, independent of any religious ideology or hidden agenda. This is the red cross and not the volunteer ministers. The red cross has much better tools and better educated people than the Volunteer Ministers. It provides more efficient help than the Volunteer Ministers.

  5. You know, I was just going to ignore the obvious trolling and personal insults, but I will ask how it is that you know me well enough to know how I feel and spend my personal time? It would be nice if you ere able to stick to the issues, any of them, without personal attacks and insults, especially such below the belt ones.

  6. Me neither! Glad I don’t!

  7. @Comment by Bigdaddy on May 20, 2010 2:24 pm

    “So I, who have evaluated pro and con data, fits your concept of what a critic may be?”

    I would like to know exactly what you did to evaluate pro and con data. Based on your posts in this forum about your opinions of the Church, I think that we have a different idea of evaluate. I refer specifically to the article called Personal Integrity by LRH. I don’t consider anything evaluated unless you’ve tried to see if some piece of knowledge worked for you or not. The time the critics spend on this forum could (and should) be used out there helping people like in Haiti or Nashville etc. You want us to care that you’re critical? It just isn’t important in the overall condition of the planet at this time. When you go looking for negatives that’s what you’ll find ANYWHERE. That’s why Scientologists put their attention on what’s right and helping where we can. Those who look for the negative will do that in any subject, not just Scientology. It’s anti-social, as far as I’m concerned. Who wants to walk around all the time being downtone? I sure don’t.

    Pat

  8. Bear in mind that not all critics are fair or balanced. Just like not all advocates are fair and balanced. Some people are very personally effected and very passionate. People are still entitled to their opinions, without invalidation, no matter WHY they believe what they do.

    Surely you would agree that not all scientologists have fully explored the cons?

  9. So I, who have evaluated pro and con data, fits your concept of what a critic may be?

  10. ” Comment by Bigdaddy on May 20, 2010 2:17 pm
    Seriously? Are you saying that people don’t end up critical once they review all available information?”

    Not really, but their criticism (and I only have a very low number examples for that) is fair, diverse and shows that it is understood what actually happens.

    – L

  11. Seriously? Are you saying that people don’t end up critical once they review all available information?

  12. “Comment by Bigdaddy on May 20, 2010 9:21 am
    Sorry, Mae = naw
    but anon makes a good point. What DO you think of those that carefully weigh both sides of the issue, and end up, or remain, critical of or anti Scientology?”

    They don’t.

    – L

  13. Sorry, Mae = naw

    but anon makes a good point. What DO you think of those that carefully weigh both sides of the issue, and end up, or remain, critical of or anti Scientology?

  14. Mae, just making a point in a humorous way

  15. “Comment by Bigdaddy on May 20, 2010 8:23 am
    I believe that she’s saying that a scientologist who only views pro-Scientology information, and does not consider the legal convictions, judicial statement, etc, is criminal. Maybe I missed the point…”

    Ah, bd doing some logical extrapolation… .

    – L

  16. ” Comment by Anon on May 20, 2010 6:06 am
    “Certainly not all critics are criminal in the sense of the law. Just morally. Or maybe not even that. That’s those critics whose only crime is to only read one-sided information. Those can be helped, usually. ”
    So if a critic has read both sides and is still a critic than he is moral criminal in your opinion?”

    Ah, Anon doing some logical extrapolation….

    – L

  17. I believe that she’s saying that a scientologist who only views pro-Scientology information, and does not consider the legal convictions, judicial statement, etc, is criminal. Maybe I missed the point…

  18. “Certainly not all critics are criminal in the sense of the law. Just morally. Or maybe not even that. That’s those critics whose only crime is to only read one-sided information. Those can be helped, usually. ”

    So if a critic has read both sides and is still a critic than he is moral criminal in your opinion?

  19. “Comment by bigdaddy on May 19, 2010 9:31 pm
    In the meantime, have yourself a great night- get some sleep, slugger.”

    ;-) Thanks, you too.

    – L

  20. well, madam, I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

    Sometime, I would be very interested if you could come up with any NON-ANON critics that are also criminals, but I don’t think that we’ll see that information any time soon.

    In the meantime, have yourself a great night- get some sleep, slugger.

  21. “Comment by bigdaddy on May 19, 2010 9:12 pm
    How do you figure that all anons are criminals?”

    Anons, as in Anonymous, are choosing to support an identity, that of Anonymous, which – by their own definition – is a bunch of immoral people who enjoy being cruel to others. That’s criminal in my book. Then, being that way and creating such a group, is a breeding ground and pool for psychos, who find it completely ok to break the law for whatever reason and are being supported by others. In all, passively and/or actively criminal.

    “By the meme, you’re anonymous, as you hide behind a false identity, and say things that you certainly wouldn’t say in real life- how are you not part of the same subculture?”

    No, I am not Anonymous (with a capital A) and not only because I don’t hang out on 4chan.org but because I am rejecting their whole “culture”.

    “Are you aware of any scientology critics that do NOT consider themselves to be a part of “anonymous” that have committed crimes?”

    Yes, absolutely. But I won’t get into this game. I do believe that people can reform and I do believe that reform can be reached by sane, logical and straight means (this is not a Scientology sermon but my viewpoint).

    ““That’s those critics whose only crime is to only read one-sided information.”
    Do you generally present both sides of the “debate” in your own blog?”

    No. I leave the other side up to you.

    – L

  22. okay, I’ll tone it down if you don’t like it…

    How do you figure that all anons are criminals? By the meme, you’re anonymous, as you hide behind a false identity, and say things that you certainly wouldn’t say in real life- how are you not part of the same subculture?

    Are you aware of any scientology critics that do NOT consider themselves to be a part of “anonymous” that have committed crimes? In your previous postings, the only examples you’ve been able to come up with have been related to “anonymous”.

    “That’s those critics whose only crime is to only read one-sided information.”

    Do you generally present both sides of the “debate” in your own blog?

  23. “Comment by bigdaddy on May 19, 2010 8:42 pm
    Okay, good! That’s a start! So the anti-scientology critical movement started before “anonymous”, we agree on that?”

    Don’t be so enthusiastic, that gives me goose bumps. Yes, we agree on that.

    “And, we also agree, that not all critics also self-identify as members of the “anonymous” subculture, correct?”

    Yes, agreed.

    “So, someone like me, who doesn’t visit the chan boards or go to ED, I don’t really fit the mold that seemed to be established in some of your previous comments, about “terrorists” and “criminals”, etc?”

    I didn’t say that all critics are criminals. But I do say that Anons are. Passively or actively.

    “So, it would follow, that the few crimes of a few criitics who also self-identify as “anonymous” don’t represent the entire critical movement?”

    No, there are also the crimes of critics that are no Anonymous members.

    But I understand what you are saying. Certainly not all critics are criminal in the sense of the law. Just morally. Or maybe not even that. That’s those critics whose only crime is to only read one-sided information. Those can be helped, usually.

    -L

  24. Okay, good! That’s a start! So the anti-scientology critical movement started before “anonymous”, we agree on that?
    And, we also agree, that not all critics also self-identify as members of the “anonymous” subculture, correct?
    So, someone like me, who doesn’t visit the chan boards or go to ED, I don’t really fit the mold that seemed to be established in some of your previous comments, about “terrorists” and “criminals”, etc? So, it would follow, that the few crimes of a few criitics who also self-identify as “anonymous” don’t represent the entire critical movement?

  25. “A question I’ve asked many times, but never had answered- how do you explain the many critics that are in no way related to “anonymous” activities?”

    How about that: Critics are older than Anonymous. Most Anons weren’t even conceived yet when “Scientology critics” figured out their propaganda lines. So certainly not all critics are Anonymous nor all Anonymous are critics. Some love a good conversation and couldn’t care less about the shit others of their group “fight for”. But they are the minority still.

    – L

  26. I’m sorry, I meant I was INCORRECT, thinking that you thought that the author agreed with you. It seems that you DID know that he holds the opinion that critics =/= anonymous, and also that the “anons” that also protest scientology feel that it is a noble endeavor.

    A question I’ve asked many times, but never had answered- how do you explain the many critics that are in no way related to “anonymous” activities?

  27. Noted, and taken. It seemed, and now I see that it was correct, that you felt that this author agreed with you, but I can respect that you are beginning to post dissenting points of view, even when it directly contridicts your own. I can agree with the author, that those that solely protest scientology are indeed NOT “anonymous”, and indeed are seen by the subculture as seperate from their “other” less noble actions.

    So your statement to anon, trying to tie the project chanology folks with the “anons”, is erroneous, but I assume you’re making a joke.

    On another note, I see that Fowler is up for arraignment tomorrow morning.

  28. bd,

    this is a blog, so sometimes my pure opinion can be found here, and some articles i come across. Andrew Riddle has such a sweet name, and did I forget to mention the name of his university? Wollongong! Isn’t that ultimately sweet?!?

    No contradiction here, just info, and my opinion why it is remarkable. Just take it as it is.

    – L

  29. Anon, learn2read: “There is certainly the desire within the Anonymous community to be seen as noble.”

    Some people have a desire.

    Within the Anonymous community.

    To be seen as noble.

    And certainly “destroying scientology” is thought of being noble if you are a bunch of criminals that lives for making jokes about raped girls and slaughtered kittens.

    – L

  30. well, maybe you could educate me a little bit. The irony seems to be that your own posting contradicts your previous points, where you try and tie the entire “anonymous” subculture into the anti-scientology movement.
    Would appreciate it if you could make me smarter.

  31. “Where does he say that?

    Pat”

    He wrote it as a comment here:
    http://forum.onlineopinion.com.au/thread.asp?article=10417&page=2

  32. “Not so. He’s referring to the Australian governments action of implementing an internet filter as being noble.”

    and if you’re not just trolling, how did you come up with this gem?

  33. Pat, I’m not feeding trolls. You obviously haven’t done any research, and are just looking fir a reaction. The text is all there, and louanne provided a link. Stop making things up.

  34. @Comment by bigdaddy on May 18, 2010 11:46 pm

    Where does he say that?

    Pat

  35. @ Comment by Anon on May 19, 2010 5:34 am

    “Note that the author calls Chanology, i.e. the protests against Scientology, a noble intention.”

    Not so. He’s referring to the Australian governments action of implementing an internet filter as being noble.

    Pat

  36. Note that the author calls Chanology, i.e. the protests against Scientology, a noble intention.

  37. Actually, I’m starting to like this guy. Andrew Riddle says:

    “The reductive idea of trolls as having ADHD is in itself evidence that they need more discussion and exploration. Trolling can be quite a complex way of gaming the rules of social behaviour, and I suspect many of the people involved are actually very high-functioning. (While, of course, very many of them are bored teenagers.) It’s clear that many people who would consider themselves part of Anonymous are actually much smarter than many parts of the internet or society.”

    That’s sweet of him.

  38. Oh, ouch. Louanne, this is quite an embarassing thing…
    You obviously posted it because you hate this group you call anonymous, but I think your hate has blinded you.
    You see, I’ve always said that those that protest scientology are NOT the same that you post so hatefully about, so often. Even your “ballsy” author disagrees with you:

    “However, such noble intentions are more often derided – Project Chanology is now considered “moralfaggotry””

    Your author draws a distinction between “anonymous” and “project Chanology”, even saying that project chanology- the protest of scientology- is a “noble intention”. Your author goes on to say:

    “There is certainly the desire within the Anonymous community to be seen as noble. Occasional mass actions have been organised, usually in defence of free speech. For example, in “Project Chanology” beginning in January 2008, members of Anonymous declared war on the Church of Scientology, in response to its efforts to censor an embarrassing video of Tom Cruise through legal action. Members disrupted the Church’s activities with pickets and elaborate pranks.”

    So while he’s not entirely on the mark about assigning membership roles to “anonymous”, he certainly does understand that project chanology is a noble endeavor, and that the scientology protests are different than “anonymous”.

    For once, we agree!

    • “2010/05/18 at 11:17 pm
      Oh, ouch. Louanne, this is quite an embarassing thing…”

      Nope, I like people who do some research before blabbing. And he is a trainee so certainly there is room for improvement. You missed the irony, mate…

      – L


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