Vigilante Internet Justice, or Counter-Harassment?
I read this article on the NYT recently, and I have seriously conflicted feelings about it. Ariane Friedrich is German woman who works part time for the police, and is an Olympic athlete. She recently received an unsolicited and completely inappropriate nude picture of a man she doesn’t know, along with a sexually explicit email. She posted his full name and the town he lives in on Facebook to publicly shame him for .
On one hand, I completely sympathize with her. I can understand how she must have felt when she received this message, and given her semi-celebrity status as an Olympian, she very likely receives them on a regular basis. Being forced to participate in this man’s sexual fetish, whether she liked it or not, is essentially mental rape. I am sure that she was outraged, angry, and felt violated. She lashed out.
On the other hand, this man clearly has no concept of what is and is not appropriate. Sending an unsolicited explict email and picture of yourself to a stranger is antisocial behavior, and he needs help. Unfortunately, the police generally are not concerned with violations of this nature, as there is no physical violence. There’s also the fact that this man shares a name with another person in his town. This other man did nothing wrong, and now his name is associated with a public shaming.
On my… foot, I guess, as I only have two hands, I know a man who has been falsely accused of inappropriate behavior. While his accuser has a history of publicly outing other people who she felt acted inappropriately, she did not name my friend. She did, however, spread her story around a conference they both attend each year, and my friend received some veiled threats from other men (along the lines of “I know what you did last year, and you’ll leave this conference if you know what is good for you”) until the conference organizers put a stop to it. While it wasn’t a public internet outing (as her others have been), the girl could have done this, again, and ruined a man’s life, again. I am thankful that this wasn’t the case.
What do you all think? Should Ariane have publicly shamed this man, or should she have let the government do their job?