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Monday, May 23, 2011

Wild accusations still stick

I debated about making this post because I did not want to promote the website that will be under discussion. Then I realized that as it receives something in the neighbourhood of Canada’s total population in hits every two months, the impact my three readers have (even if they become rampant fans) will be pretty negligible.
TheDirty.com. That’s the site. If you’re thinking it’s about porn, your mind follows the same path mine did. However, it isn’t “dirty deeds” but “dirty secrets.” It’s a gossip site. Not just generic, mostly harmless whispers that people exchange at an office, but nasty, cruel, vicious stuff. Basically you are allowed to post anything you want. At all. Complete with swears, details, and, most critically, names. All of your posts are anonymous.
There is no fact-checking. No effort at all to confirm if any of this stuff is true or false. If the site were in Canada, the host could be held liable for the libels. In America, the host isn’t. A Canadian citizen accused on the site has zero legal recourse to escape. Should you discover your name is up on the site, you have absolutely no way to have it removed. Anyone is free to claim anything about anyone they choose. Accuse them of crimes. Lies. Cheating. Personal attacks. It’s all allowed, in fact, encouraged.
The “gentleman” behind the whole deal goes by the name of Nick Richie, but that’s not his legal name. He believes his site is “helpful” and a very useful tool to hold people accountable for their actions. I would support the argument if he didn’t let people post in cowardly anonymity.
I am all for free speech. Even though I am regularly irritated/infuriated by what someone else says, I don’t want to take away their right to do it. Informed free speech would be even better, but you can’t really have both. If some third party can vet what you’re going to say because you’re too ignorant, it isn’t really “free.” What I don’t support is hidden speech. If you’re going to make some outrageous claims, have the stones to step forward and identify yourself. We don’t live in a nation where you’re likely to get shot for saying something unpopular (not everyone has that wonderful gift, I will grant you).
It is part of the legal process that you have the right to face your accuser. All of those people hurling slurs should at least be compelled to show themselves. Anything that allows a consistent and recurring ability to hide from your own stupidity inevitably generates a vicious cycle of vitriol and venom. Richie’s website is a classic example. It’s very popularity saddens and dismays me, as it should anyone with a sense of decency.
There. Let’s see him survive the staggering power my blog wields. (Is there an emoticon for sarcasm?)

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