This is something that has been weighing heavy on my heart and mind for about a year now. First to clarify something. What is a vigilante or vigilante justice? It is a person or a group of people who decide that justice was not done and decide to take it into their own hands to give the justice they think was deserved. They operate outside of the law. The Free Dictionary defines it as “A person who is not a member of law enforcement but who pursues and punishes persons suspected of lawbreaking.” And sometimes internet vigilantes just do not like a person and attack them.
I think my first inkling came when I was an avid bear lover and loved to watch them on the internet and sat in total shock when people on the internet became so enraged at a hunter who shot a bear legally and they wanted to literally hang him. One woman wrote she would pay someone to hang the hunter up by his male appendage and skin him alive. The comments ranged from giving out the private information of whom these people “THOUGHT” was the hunter. They did not know for sure but they were going after someone. It ranged from death threats to vulgar and nasty attacks on the person.There was a lot of horrible things written. And it seems to be getting worse.
Then last year we had the story of the Dentist who went to Africa and paid the guides to take him in and allow him to kill a lion. Again the vigilante justice started with death threats to this man and his family, harassing him, deciding it was their job to make his business close down. They did not give any thought to whether this man had children that depended on his income to survive. Nor did they give any thoughts to whether or not this man’s children or wife were reading what they said. It was if all of them were guilty and in fact they said if the wife did not leave the husband she was guilty of killing the lion. The literal frothing at the mouth and the desire to punish the perpetrator in such horrific ways just makes me sick at my stomach.
And as we move forward, we had the story of the 4-year-old child who fell into the zoo and one of the gorillas got him and drug him all over the water because all the people yelling and carrying on were agitating him. There have been cases of female gorilla’s protecting children that have fallen in but this time it was a male gorilla. The zoo brought in their team and they tried to figure out what to do without hurting either the child or the gorilla. But then it was decided that they could not shoot the gorilla with a dart with tranquilizer in it because he might become agitated before it set in and hurt the child.
So, the decision was made to kill the gorilla. I admit it broke my heart that they had to do this but then the internet vigilante force started in and they were calling the family, threatening the family of the child, and even said the child should have been shot and not the gorilla. I found myself gasping when I read that and all I could think was “What is wrong with you people?” The hate in these vigilante people is palpable. They released names and addresses, made threats, denigrated the people, researched them to find out anything about them they could to use in their attack. Their logic becomes skewed and nothing you say can make them stop and take a breath. They do not feel justice was served and so they are going to serve it themselves.
And now we move to the case of the Stanford student who sexually assaulted the woman and the judge gave him six months and he would be on the sexual offender’s registry for the rest of his life. And again the vigilante justice crew started up. They were screaming for the judge to lose his job, calling and threatening the family, the lawyer and anyone else they could think of. They were giving out the phone numbers and addresses of the judge, the lawyer and the boy and his parents. They wanted him put to death, they wanted him in jail for life, they wanted blood plain and simple. And they did not care how they got it.
Releasing phone numbers and addresses may cause someone to go to their homes and do the actual deed of killing him and his family or the judge and his family or the lawyer and his family. They also started attacking anyone who did not agree with them. What they did not think about was that this punishment actually destroyed the young man’s life forever. He will forever be on the sexual offender registry and have to register with them. And people do go check the sexual offender registry to see if a sex offender lives near them so he will never be able to escape it. He will never get a good job. He will not be allowed in colleges anywhere unless it is some off the wall college that can be bought. He has lost every thing. His reputation will follow him and he will never have that good high paying job, will never be the darling of the girls anymore, he will become a very isolated person. But, that was not enough for the virtual vigilantes. They wanted him dead but if not death wanted him thrown into the worst prison ever and brutally raped over and over. Being a person of faith, all I could think of was “Revenge is mine saith the Lord”.
See, I believe that if things do not seem fair, then you work to make the legal system change and work to change laws. People, do not take the law into your own hands, do not endanger whole families including the children because you are furious that the person did not get the sentence YOU thought they should have. Virtual vigilantes are going against the law which makes them no better than the ones they want to get revenge on. Vigilantes do not care if the person was within the law and did something. As far as they are concerned, if they think the person did something wrong, they want to force them to suffer for it.
The college student broke the law and was convicted. But the little boy falling into the gorilla cage did not break the law. The man shooting the lion did not break the law. The transgender bathroom issue was another one where such rage was spewing forth and wanting to hurt the transgender people who were not breaking the law. The hunter making a legal kill did not break the law but to the internet vigilantes, he broke their law of do not kill animals. Just pick up a newspaper or read an article online and then start reading the comments. Read political articles, or articles that are controversial. It is a daily thing now and while most seems to be on the internet, people are starting to do it face to face and yet people do not see it for what it is. I am a firm believer in that survivors focus on solutions and victim mentality people only focus on the problems. There is so much hate going on in the world now that it is beyond belief. We have a legal system for a reason and if it is not working like people want, then they should focus all that angst and anger and hatred on making the system better. Get out from behind the monitor or screen and do something productive for trying to ruin the lives of people you are angry at makes you just as guilty of wrong doing as the person you are attacking. Breaking the law yourself is not the way to go. One day I hope the law changes and there is consequences for this type of vigilante behavior. Yes, we have freedom of speech but with that comes consequences.
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