All over the news tonight are reports of the Steubenville case: in short, some high school football players apparently drugged a girl into unconsciousness and then raped her, and then a bunch of their buddies laughed about it. But like many modern mechanized morons, they thought it would be a good idea to photograph and video themselves doing this, then posted that stuff online, and then yapped about it on Facebook.
As I said, morons.
Much of this information, though, would not have come to light had it not been for the hacker group “Anonymous.” They took it upon themselves to hack email and Facebook accounts, gathered this incriminating evidence, then presented it to the world. What Anonymous did was probably illegal. And I say, good on ‘em.
I think what we’re seeing here is a part of a gradual cultural evolution. When I was high school age (long, loooong ago), there were, as there are now, the jocks and the nerds. Feel free to speculate which camp I was in. If you said “jock,” well, no, not so much. Back then, there was no internet that we were aware of; no social media. Hackers existed but were a very specialized rarity. It was very much the jocks world… a world of physicality and no recorded evidence. Jocks, of course, ruled. If you were a nerd (or, let’s face it, a girl), watch out. Unpleasant as those days were, they did nevertheless teach important lessons. If a jock liked to punch you in the hallway during the rush hour between classes, a thin wood plate under your shirt served as a deterrent… especially if it was covered in thumbtacks. Fighting back *physically* was often the fast road to a serious beatdown… but if you learned to talk right, you could come out ahead. If you learned to speak the right words in the right tone so as to inspire utter terror, you could utterly upend the thug/victim relationship.
But of course, that all came with great risk. An important lesson that many a nerd-who-fought-back learned, you either won and won decisively, or you simply pissed off your tormenter. And so for many on the non-thug end of the social scale, hiding or otherwise keeping ones head down was the tactic most often employed.
Kids today, however…
Now as then, the body-proud thugs are *generally* really quite stupid. Even if their brains are actually wired for smarts, for those to whom success comes not from thinking but from nearly pure physicality – or even just from winning the genetic jackpot and being physically very attractive – there is no *need* to develop their minds. And so… stupid. And so they record their crimes. And so they joke about their crimes publicly. When they are constantly touted by their peers and their community as being heroes, even though all they do is play childish games, that evolved stupidity gets married to a sense of entitlement. Put that all together and you’ve produced a monster.
But now the monsters live in the world the nerds built. More, while the monsters know how to *use* the various technologies that are available, the nerds *understand* the technologies. Nerds are gaining the upper hand. And the beauty of it, the beauty that Anonymous demonstrates, is that now the nerds can fight back… and the monsters don’t know who’s doing it. Hell, it could be a nerd on the other side of the planet. So even if the monster lashes out and threatens or even hurts people… he’s not only not going to shut down his opponent, he’s actually just adding to the pile of evidence that will be used against him.
And so now we have some jocks-turned-monsters who thought it’d be fun to rape a girl. This is one of those things virtually *designed* to piss off nerds. Jocks can easily Get Some. Nerds… can’t. Humans are what a million years of evolution have made us, and the big caveman necessarily is more appealing to the female than the scrawny (or fat) weakling. Fair enough. But when those who could easily Get Some because there are girls willing and eager to Give It Away decide, instead, to Steal It… for those from whom “Getting Some” is a distant and forlorn hope that’s just too damned much to bear. And so, the nerd dreams of being the hero riding in on his white horse to slay the monster and rescue the damsel in distress. Hell, the subset of Anonymous that focuses on going after rapists even calls themselves “Knight Sec“.
Wanting to be a hero to me sounds good and proper (as opposed to… what? Wanting to be a monster? A victim? A bystander?), but it is an attitude that is often sneered at. Look at the sarcastic nastiness tossed towards people who carry concealed, for example. But actually riding to the rescue of a damsel in distress is of course often impossible. Often, the distress is already over; there’s no rescue possible. But the monster remains at large. The monsters chuckling buddies remain at large. Bringing them to justice is a worthy goal… not only to bring them punishment, but to bring a small measure of closure to the victim… and to keep there from being more victims in the future. And dredging up information is something nerds *can* do. Dig through the muck, find the evidence and plaster it all over CNN.
With luck, this sort of thing will only grow. With luck, the nerds will take down many a rapist and their cohorts. Lock them into prison at the age of 18 and keep them there till they’re 50, and you will do the gene pool a *world* of good. Keep taking down monster jocks, and perhaps people will finally come to realize that watching a few kids run around on a field or a court is just not all that important. If *half* the money and effort that goes into football and basketball went into readin’, writin’, ‘rithmetic, science and industrial arts, the United States could end the energy crisis in a single Presidential term, and could colonize Mars by the end of the decade. Glorifying athletes produces… what? Kids that want to be athletes. OK, fine… but that doesn’t bolster society in any meaningful way. If those kids were instead to grow up to want to be metallurgists or electricians, physicists or scientists, entrepreneurs or technicians… wow. What a world this could be.