Hate Speech and the Internet
By David Peterson at Aug 19, 2006
I for one believe that posts to websites such as the one that I'm about to reproduce below the page-break constitute hate-speech. Were, for example, you to receive an envelope via the postal service, and upon opening it, found that it contained a handwritten or typed letter that expressed the exact same message, it clearly would count as an instance of hate- and/or threatening-speech, and very well may be prosecutable under Federal law as as well as (in all likelihood) the laws of all 50 U.S. States. My question, therefore, is simply this: Does it or does it not (Should it or should it not) also constitute an instance of hate- and/or threatening-speech when the person uttering this message chooses to post it anonymously to an electronic website—in the present case, to some other person's weblog?
ny-ex chicagoan said... [*]
Don't worry, fuckhead, I haven't read a single word of your stupid blog. I wouldn't dare. And I didn't even glance at your stupid pictures. I just wanted to say, GOOD RIDDANCE ASSHOLE. We won't miss you at jaythejoke.com.
(* For the original instance of this message, see the Comment that was posted to "The Kibitzer Salutes...," at Chicago Sports Kibitzer, August 16, 2006. For more postings by this same person (presumably the same person, that is, since the Internet permits so much anonymity and phony identities), also see Chicago Sports Fans Unite, a website by "NY-Ex Chicagoan.")
As you no doubt suspect, the list of similar--indeed, far worse--postings could be greatly expanded. I am intrigued by the phenomenon for various reasons. Not the least of which is that in the past it has caused one or more of the ZNet bloggers as well as the people posting comments to ZNet so many headaches. (See, e.g., "Blog Comments v. Discussion Forums," "This Is Not FOX News, Folks," and "Free Speech?")
More important, the (pardon my jargon) socio-psychology of hate equally amazes and intrigues me. You see, I continue to be impressed by how structures of lies so rapidly coalesce around demonized figures, no matter whom they are. Take this classic, ageless and enduring pathology of human relations (i.e., the scapegoatting of demonized figures, and the license to hate them), then add onto it the relative anonymity that the Internet provides, and what do we get?
Immediately, we ought to recognize how important it is to shine a light on the haters who otherwise lurk in these anonymous shadows. The nature of which we've never understood. Let alone conquered. But the tools of which keep multiplying. Relentlessly.
Combatting Extremism in Cyberspace: The Legal Issues Affecting Internet Hate Speech, Anti-Defamation League, 2000
Illinois Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes (Homepage)
Chicago Commission on Human Relations (Homepage)
FYA ("For your archives"): An entry proposed for the Wikipedia website on the date given (August 11, 2006), but since then dramatically revised and later merged into a separate entry--the revisions and merger constituting one small act of historical fabrication out of a whole litany of the same for which I believe we have every reason to count the open-source Wikipedia project a disinformationist's dream. (Note that although the hyperlinks in the References section still might work, the rest might not. I am simply leaving them in place because they were parts of the original.)
Created and posted on Friday, August 11, 2006, around 5 PM, ET.
Jay the Joke
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jay the Joke is a website that was launched anonymously on May 21, 2006, by Pat Dahl and Matt Lynch, whose true identities were only later revealed. _________________________________________
When it began, Jay the Joke's sole purpose was to carry out a smear campaign against the Chicago Sun-Times's sports columnist, Jay Mariotti.
But, in turn, the website attracted individuals for whom the anonymity that the website provides made it possible for them to join in acts of vulgarity and hate-speech that soon extended beyond its original target.
By this stage in the website's devolution, Jay the Joke smears anyone who does not post material according to the website's presumptive rules, which, to oversimplify only slightly, are as follows:
The first rule of Jay the Joke states that all posted material should denigrate Jay Mariotti.
The second rule of Jay the Joke states that whenever someone violates the first rule, and either fails to denigrate Jay Mariotti or denigrates him insufficiently, the posted material should also denigrate this other person.
Thus the phrase ‘Jay the Joke' now denotes a range of meanings that refers not only to this particular website, to its administrators and posters, and to the smear campaigns they are conducting.
The phrase also denotes the contemporary, deeply troubling, social-pathological phenomenon in which a smear campaign carried out against one single person via a website created for this specific purpose rapidly morphs into a platform for hate-speech and acts of intimidation and virtual violence more generally.
1. Teddy Greenstein, “Columnist gets a slow roasting,” Chicago Tribune, June 27, 2006; Michael Miner, " The Plot To Get Mariotti," Chicago Reader, July 14, 2006; and Teddy Greenstein, "Dahl's son in on website jabs at columnist," Chicago Tribune, July 17, 2006.
Update (September 3): Have written to two different Wikipedia administrators about their August 30 decision to delete the 'Jay Mariotti' entry in its entirety.---See below for a copy of one of these letters, addressed to a person who lives and works in France.
Dear David Monniaux:
I see that the old Wikipedia entry for ‘Jay Mariotti' has been deleted (“Logs”); that you were the person who undertook this action (17:41, 30 August 2006); and that the reason you gave is that “Almost all the sections in this article had big warnings complaining about lack of sources and contained potentially libelous material.”
What I myself had noticed about the old ‘Jay Mariotti' entry, and have pointed out to different Wikipedia administrators in the past (e.g., REDVERS), is that content-wise and organizational-wise, the entry read very much like a smear of its ostensible subject matter.
In fact, I noticed this the first time I ever looked at the entry (around June 24-25), and have tried to call it to several people's attention.
Now I do not know whether Wikipedia archives the history of entries that are subsequently deleted. But if Wikipedia does, then I strongly urge administrators to take a look at the history of the now-deleted ‘Jay Mariotti' entry.
As I wrote to REDVERS on August 22 (“Merging ‘Jay the Joke' into ‘Jay Mariotti'”), of the approx. 178 different versions of this Wikipedia entry that had existed through August 22, the entry remained tolerably accurate and fair through 06:58, 15 June 2006. But this ceased to be the case at 18:08, 21 June 2006 or shortly thereafter, and the entry ever since then had become so riddled with biases against its ostensible subject that it read like an expression of these biases, rather than an entry about the individual under whose name it appeared. Presumably, this kind of basic objection is what you had in mind when you deleted the entry in its entirety.
On a related matter, I am very intrigued by your comment to a user named “Shermerville” that you regard “Shermerville” to be a “sockpuppet” (17:41, 30 August 2006). As I've also mentioned in the past, Wikipedia's “anyone can edit” philosophy makes this project just as vulnerable to what we might call negative (or black) sockpuppeting as it does to the other, more positive and self-promotional kind. Much of the history of the now-deleted ‘Jay Mariotti' entry after 06:58, 15 June 2006 struck me as the product of negative sockpuppeting. If there is any validity to this judgment at all, then you did well to delete the entry. Since its post-June 15 revisions paralleled very closely a negative publicity campaign that has been carried out against the Chicago Sun-Times's sports columnist Jay Mariotti in recent months, Wikipedia might consider studying the post-June 15 revisions in this light.
CC: Also see "RE: The Deletion of the 'Jay Mariotti' Entry" (User Talk: REDVERS).
Update (October 18): Only today did I learn that the Wikipedia entry for 'Jay Mariotti', currently a sports columnist with the Chicago Sun-Times, has recently been "Protected against Vandalism." The reason for it was stated at Wikipedia's "Talk: Jay Mariotti" webpage as stemming from the entry's repeated violations of the "Biographies of Living Persons" guidelines. "Editors must take particular care when writing biographies of living persons," these guidelines explain, and this includes entries that incorporate a "degree of sensitivity" as well as strict adherence to Wikipedia's "content policies."The assorted guidelines include "verifiable information only," drafted from a "neutral point of view," and rule out biographies based on "original research"—perhaps the most problematic of the guidelines. As Wikipedia explains its objective:
We must get the article right. Be very firm about high quality references, particularly about details of personal lives. Unsourced or poorly sourced controversial (negative, positive, or just highly questionable) material about living persons should be removed immediately from Wikipedia articles, talk pages, and user pages. These principles also apply to biographical material about living persons in other articles. The responsibility for justifying controversial claims in Wikipedia, of all kinds, but especially for living people's bios, rests firmly on the shoulders of the person making the claim.Last, the "Biographies of Living Persons" guidelines add that in any dispute over the content of a biography (though these requirements clearly extend to the whole open-source enterprise), participants in the dispute should "assume good faith" toward one another, retain a sufficient degree of "civility and etiquette," and refrain from "personal attacks."
Admirable objectives. To say the least. If the Wikipedians would replace the notion of sensitivity with fidelity, then I'm even more in favor of it.
However. The question arises as to why the Wikipedia entry for the Chicago Sun-Times's Jay Mariotti has proven to be so problematic? Why, over the course of the past four months, has this entry in particular given Wikipedia so many vandalism-, page-protection-, and deletion-related headaches?
I believe that if we're interested in answering this question, we ought not look to the actions or the sports commentaries of the ostensible subject of the entry, Jay Mariotti. Instead, we ought to look to the much broader interrelated phenomena of social scapegoatting, socially sanctioned hatred, and the kind of breeding ground that anonymous Internet-based fora provide for individuals thusly targeted.
When I first took a close look at the history of the Wikipedia entry for Jay Mariotti some time prior to the decision taken by the Wikipedia administrator David Monniaux to delete it in its entirety (August 30), what I had found was that the entry remained tolerably reasonable for a biography of a contemporary American sports columnist through the middle of June, 2006. After which time (i.e., beginning on or about June 21), the entry rapidly descended into a vehicle for smearing its ostensible subject matter. Even organizing its themes around negative allegations about the target (or negative sockpuppeting).
With respect to Jay Mariotti (I mean the sports columnist—not the zero-morpheme into which so much vilification has been poured like toxic sludge into an empty vessel), there is no doubt that we are witnessing an Internet-based hate campaign carried out by highly-motivated individuals whose sole objective is to smear the person in question.
So that what we find (at first-order) is a core group of individuals committed to smearing Mariotti. (Their ultimate motive is anybody's guess.) And on top of this, we find (at the second-order) a much larger group of people (virtually all males, it goes without saying) attracted to the opportunity provided them by the website of the core group to participate in precisely this kind of anonymous, Internet-based hate-filled behavior.
Anybody who doubts that this is what is driving Wikipedia's problems with its entry for Jay Mariotti need only take a look at the websites which provide the fora for the hate, and the extremely narrow range of comments posted to them. I won't bother reproducing any of it here. But if you'd like to observe some concrete cases of the sort of thing to which I'm referring, then see, e.g., Jay The Joke (Homepage); and "Jay Mariotti Might Be Somewhat Sensitive To Criticism" (Deadspin, October 17). In each case, be sure to scroll-down to the respective comments sections. Notice the number of different posts and how closely each of them hews to a single, hate-filled objective. Notice, additionally, how the overwhelming preponderance of these posts hide behind the kind of anonymity that only the Internet provides. (Presumably, technological advances have enabled the old instant gratification of anonymous telephone calls at three o'clock in the morning, with their heavy breathing and their "Fuck you's!", to be superseded by the new instant gratification of anonymous Internet postings.) Notice, above all, how virulent these posts can be. Observing the kind of comments these websites encourage, it appears that in the States, males and sports and hate travel hand-in-hand with a disquieting regularity.
In closing, let me simply repeat what one of the founders of the Wikipedia project noted elsewhere ("What happened to the article?"): “There is an attack site, trolls who hate the guy, etc. It's a stupid fight from somewhere else.”
Attack-site being a gross understatement. Of course.
'Jay Mariotti' - History – Wikipedia
Talk: Jay Mariotti - Wikipedia
"What happened to the article?" - Wikipedia
Category: Protected against Vandalism – Wikipedia
Biographies of Living Persons – Wikipedia
"Biased or malicious content" – Wikipedia
Wikiproject Biography – Wikipedia
List of Administrators - Wikipedia
Jay The Joke (Homepage)
Fire The Fucktard (Homepage)
"Jay Mariotti Might Be Somewhat Sensitive To Criticism," Deadspin, October 17, 2006
"Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006
Update (October 26): An announcement by the Chronicle of Higher Education states that the Chronicle will be hosting Quinnipiac University Assistant Professor of Communications Alexander Halavais in a "live" online discussion of the Wikipedia project later today (Thursday, October 26). ("Wikipedia: Beat It, Join It, or Ignore It?")I'm going to try posting a short comment via the Chronicle's "Ask a Question" facility. But since my hunch is that I'll never be able to reach the Chronicle's ultimate discussion page, I've sent a copy along to Halavais, which I'll reproduce here.
As I see it, the No. One problem with the Wikipedia project is no different than with what afflicts every other human endeavor. It is rooted not within an academic versus democratic or populist divide, between knowledge and superstition, with the alleged devaluing of expertise flowing from Wikipedia's open-source commitments. Rather, it is rooted within the human heart (i.e., in the struggle between honesty and dishonesty), and within the normal behavior of institutional actors who seek to exploit Wikipedia's open-source philosophy for their own cynical ends. (For a single case in point that I believe extrapolates nicely to the whole Wikipedia project, see "Talk: Jay Mariotti." Specifically, see "What happened to the article?")
Fact: Anonymity is a breeding ground for every form of deception the human mind can imagine.
For Wikipedia's core problem (almost a syllogism of the human heart), we need look no further than right here.
Now. It is clear that no one involved with the Wikipedia project needs me to remind them about this.
But what might be worth pointing out is that the academic world is as rife with dishonesty as any other—the world of sports, let us say.
The only real difference being that academics make more sophisticated liars and deceivers than the general public. But that is all.
"Building an Encyclopedia, With or Without Scholars," Brock Read, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 27, 2006
"Can Wikipedia Ever Make the Grade?" Brock Read, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 27, 2006
"Co-Founder of Wikipedia, Now a Critic, Starts Spinoff With Academic Editors," Brock Read, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 27, 2006
"Students Flock to an Easy-to-Use Reference, but Professors Warn That It's No Sure Thing," Brock Read, Chronicle of Higher Education, October 27, 2006
Citizendium Project (Homepage)
"Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006
Update (October 27): During yesterday's Chronicle - hosted discussion of Wikipedia - related issues with Alexander Halavais ("Wikipedia: Beat It, Join It, or Ignore It?" October 26), a friend of mine called to Halavais' attention the very curious and strange fact that the world's most frequently visited and most influential online encyclopedia (at least in sheer numbers of hits) does not regard itself as a (quote-unquote) reliable source.
Really, this point too beautiful not to repeat here. As the Chronicle's Brock Read explained in an accompanying article ("Can Wikipedia Ever Make the Grade?" October 27):
Two years ago, when he was teaching at the State University of New York at Buffalo, the [Professor Halavais] hatched a plan designed to undermine the site's veracity -- which, at that time, had gone largely unchallenged by scholars. Adopting the pseudonym "Dr. al-Halawi" and billing himself as a "visiting lecturer in law, Jesus College, Oxford University," Mr. Halavais snuck onto Wikipedia and slipped 13 errors into its various articles. He knew that no one would check his persona's credentials: Anyone can add material to the encyclopedia's entries without having to show any proof of expertise.
Some of the errata he inserted -- like a claim that Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist, had made Syracuse, N.Y., his home for four years -- seemed entirely credible. Some -- like an Oscar for film editing that Mr. Halavais awarded to The Rescuers Down Under, an animated Disney film -- were more obviously false, and easier to fact-check. And others were downright odd: In an obscure article on a short-lived political party in New Brunswick, Canada, the professor wrote of a politician felled by "a very public scandal relating to an official Party event at which cocaine and prostitutes were made available."
Mr. Halavais expected some of his fabrications to languish online for some time. Like many academics, he was skeptical about a mob-edited publication that called itself an authoritative encyclopedia. But less than three hours after he posted them, all of his false facts had been deleted, thanks to the vigilance of Wikipedia editors who regularly check a page on the Web site that displays recently updated entries. On Dr. al-Halawi's "user talk" page, one Wikipedian pleaded with him to "refrain from writing nonsense articles and falsifying information."
Thus, in the 22nd post overall (i.e., counting from the bottom of the webpage up, as the Chronicle lists contributions in the reverse of the order in which they were received), the Flossmore Public Library's Dale Wertz noted how important it is to understand the hows the whys behind the production of information. Whatever the product is (e.g., "news," the "biographies of living persons"), and wherever it appears (e.g., FOX News, the New York Times, Wikipedia, ZNet, the Church of Rome), all information will "entail biases of some sort," Dale wrote. (Actually, I'm not sure whether this is true. But let's push this matter aside.)
[C]onsider what Wikipedia's editors or users or trolls (your guess is as good as mine) think of Wikipedia as a reliable source. The quote is from Wikipedia's "Reliable Sources" page as of 11:30 am CST on October 26, 2006.
"A tertiary source usually summarizes secondary sources. Encyclopedias, including Wikipedia, are tertiary sources. Wikipedia articles may not cite Wikipedia articles as a source, because it is a wiki that may be edited by anyone and is therefore not reliable. However Wikipedia may be used as a primary source about Wikipedia, subject to the constraints above. Publications such as the Encyclopædia Britannica, World Book, and Encarta are regarded as reliable sources."
For the sake of emphasis, let me repeat this expression of Wikipedia's self-understanding: "Wikipedia articles may not cite Wikipedia articles as a source, because it is a wiki that may be edited by anyone and is therefore not reliable."
Well. We've all heard of problems associated with the lack of self-confidence and poor self-images before. But this one very well may take the prize. At Wikipedia, the world's most influential online encyclopedia, the Encyclopedia Britannica, the World Book, and Encarta are regarded as reliable sources. But Wikipedia does not regard itself as a reliable source. And the reason why Wikipedia's governing rules (which comprise an large, very reflective, finely articulated, and impressive body of literature in their own right) exclude Wikipedia's entries from the category of reliable sources is the wikiness of the Wikipedia project--its distinctive anyone-can-edit open-endedness. In other words, what makes Wikipedia what it is also makes Wikipedia an unreliable source. At least in Wikipedia's eyes.
Clearly, a concept of irony is in play here. The only question is whether it is the kind of irony that resolves itself, ultimately, into something stable or unstable.
"Wikipedia: Beat It, Join It, or Ignore It?" A Chronicle of Higher Education Discussion with Alexander Halavais, October 26, 2006
Some Definitions - Reliable Sources - Wikipedia
"The Semantic Conception of Truth," Alfred Tarski, 1944
A Rhetoric of Irony, Wayne C. Booth, University of Chicago Press, 1974
Update (November 12): On the opening pages of the essays he collected under the titled Black Skin, White Masks (1952), Frantz Fanon—a revolutionary voice if ever there were one—noted he would demonstrate that “what is often called the black soul is a white man's artifact.”
As with all of Fanon's work, these essays dealt with the “hellish cycle” of that kind of “blackness” which acquires it meaning (or which is constructed, to use the more hip terminology) only within the white-European colonies of the Third World—and, more importantly, within the larger, much wealthier and more powerful metropolitan centers back home. Which also happen to be where most of the lawmakers, the writers and artists, the historians and cartographers, live and ply their crafts.
In "The Fact of Blackness," the celebrated fifth chapter of this collection, Fanon recites philosophical, anthropological, and literary works to depict the “crushing objecthood” of subjugated people everywhere. But of black people in particular. (He happened to be writing about his experiences in French Martinique and French Algeria. But unquestionably the lessons generalize to whichever regions of the planet the human species has spread.)
Fanon may just as rightly have called the "The Fact of Blackness" the problem of “blackness” (i.e., within quotation marks, to denote its artifactuality, its constructedness). For it is Fanon's argument that we cannot understand the simple “being of a black man.”
The reason? Because, as Fanon put it, “not only must the black man be black; he must be black in relation to the white man.”
To help explain the problem of “blackness,” Fanon uses Jean-Paul Sartre's essay on anti-Semitism. Here are some of Sartre's words that Fanon uses: “[P]oisoned by the stereotype that others have of them,…they live in fear that their acts will correspond to this stereotype….[T]heir conduct is perpetually overdetermined from the inside.”
Notice, however, that in Fanon's hands, this formula is rewritten. To explain the problem of “blackness,” he accepts the first-half, not the second.
Poisoned by the stereotype that others have of them. But perpetually overdetermined from without.
Not from the inside, that is. But from the outside.
“[T]he slave not of the ‘idea' that others have of me but of my own appearance.”
“And so it is not I who make a meaning for myself, but it is the meaning that was already there, pre-existing, waiting for me.”
“The Negro is a toy in the white man's hands….”I've taken up Fanon's next-to-impossible-to-paraphrase writings here for one reason, and one reason only: Upon reading a little review in the Chicago Sun-Times's books section of Natalie Hopkinson and Natalie Moore's recently published Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation, I was immediately reminded of another "Tyrone" (quotation marks and all, as one must slip on a pair of Playtex gloves before touching "him"). A "Tyrone" that very well may never have been deconstructed. (Who'd bother?) But certainly a "Tyrone" that has been constructed. As in fabricated. As in cut from the whole cloth. Right down to “his” bogus black masculinity. ("Hey Peterson and Miner, FUCK YOU also. Both of you are a bunch of worthless sacks of shit. Enjoy raping Joe Egan you psychotic bastards....”). And “his” Hip-Hop whatever-the-hell it's supposed to be. As Monifa Thomas explained in her review of the book about the deconstructed Tyrone ("Sisters on brothers," November 12), “Tyrone isn't so much an actual person as a product of the mass media—the black man as defined by images on BET, SportsCenter and the evening news.” Indeed. It was while thinking about the “Tyrone” in the title of Hopkinson and Moore's Deconstructing Tyrone that I also thought of the other, bogus "Tyrone." On top of which the problem of “blackness” in Fanon's work was immediately apparent. To repeat the Fanon: “The Negro is a toy in the white man's hands….”
White skin. Black mask.
Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation, Natalie Y. Moore and Natalie Hopkinson (Cleis Press, 2006)
"The Hip-Hop Generation, Raising Up Its Sons," Natalie Hopkinson, Washington Post, October 18, 2006
"Sisters on brothers: Female authors examine black masculinity from different perspectives," Monifa Thomas, Chicago Sun-Times, November 12, 2006
"The Fact of Blackness," Frantz Fanon, 1952 (as posted to the Chicken Bones website)
Black Skin, White Masks, Frantz Fanon, Trans. Charles Lam Markmann (Grove Press, 1969)
Anti-Semite and Jew: An Exploration of the Etiolgy of Hate, Jean-Paul Sartre, Trans. George J. Becker (Random House, 1995)
"Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006
Update (November 14): Question: Why would Wikipedia (or any other reference source not only straining for credibility, but also heavily weighed-down by everything from honest error to outright fraud) permit anonymous and pseudonymous individuals to draft, to edit, and to rewrite its versions of the world--in the present case, the biography of a living person who happens to be a sports columnist with the Chicago Sun-Times?
Fact: Through Tuesday, November 14, 2006, there had been at least 287 interventions into this gentleman's Wikipedia biography. The very first entry, the one that launched the whole chain of 286 revisions, dates back to the 16:09 hour of May 21, 2005 ("ErikNY"). The very last revision occured at the 05:46 hour of November 10, 2006 ("Rogerd"). I myself tried to make one revision at the 22:44 hour of August 22, 2006--though not understanding the Wikipedia software, I marred it badly. And eventually was bailed-out by one or more other users who actually knew what they were doing, and fixed my screw-ups.
Between May 21, 2005 and November 10, 2006, there have been several occasions on which Wikipedia administrators took extraordinary measures to help ensure this entry's accuracy, and to protect it against vandalism. (Though these actions do not appear to be fully reflected in the History of the entry.)
On August 30, for example, the administrator David Monniaux decided to delete the entry in its entirety. (A wise decision, in my opinion.)
And later during the month of October, the entry was placed under full "protected" status, while administrators discussed the pros and cons of deleting it, thus washing Wikipedia's hands of the problem, once and for all. (See "What happened to the article?")
Eventually, the entry was re-opened to future revisions. But I suspect that, sooner rather than later, the same kinds of problems will recur. The same bandages will be applied. And the discussion about what to do next will come back around to the critical points that were raised during the month of October. (For all of it, see "Talk: Jay Mariotti.")
Now. I just spent a little while looking through the History of the Wikipedia entry for 'Jay Mariotti'. Among the many people who have contributed revisions to it, two categories of contributors stand out: Since the exact same point extrapolates to the whole Wikipedia enterprise, it's worth emphasizing it here.
These are the contributors (i.e., editors, revisers) who post material under pseudonyms; and the contributors who post material anonymously, and whose identities at the Wikipedia website are recorded as nothing more than their I.P.s (i.e., the addresses of their Internet Providers).
Here is a list of every I.P. Editor who has contributed to Wikipedia's 'Jay Mariotti' entry. It's always possible that I've failed to list one. But this list is close enough to being 100 percent complete to serve our purposes. (They are reproduced here in reverse-chronological order: The most recent at the top, the oldest at the bottom.--Also, try plugging them into the SamSpade.org search engine, and see what you find.)
18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 4 .154.115.189 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168 22.214.171.124 126.96.36.199 188.8.131.52 184.108.40.206 220.127.116.11 18.104.22.168
Clearly, some editors do identify themselves. (Me, for example.) Though the largest group appears to use pseudonyms. And the second-largest resorts to the strict anonymity of IP addresses. Overall, for the totality of posts ever to have been made to Wikipedia, it would be very interesting to know how these percentages break down: Real names versus Internet pseudonyms versus anonymous IP addresses.
However, all the IP addresses that I've listed above represent individuals who made changes to the Wikipedia entry for 'Jay Mariotti' while declining to identify themselves and to take credit for the changes they made. When we add these anonymous IP users to the number of people who are willing to post only on condition that they can do so pseudonymously, what we find is a method for producing an encyclopedia (a comprehensive version of the world) that is inherently distorting.
The fundamental reason why this is so cuts to the root of what it means to be a person. Truth-claims can be meaningful only when they are made by persons for whom the act is something in which they are willing to invest their true identities.
Otherwise, truth-claims remain hollow gestures at best. While at their very worst, they descend to the Jay The Joke - class.
Thus to repeat the question I raised at the outset: Why does Wikipedia permit people to draft, to edit, and to rewrite its versions of the world, if these same people won't even identify themselves, and take credit for their drafts, edits, and revisions?
I can appreciate why some people--particularly those not motivated by vanity--would prefer not to be bothered with recognition for their labors.
But for an open-source Internet encyclopedia, this whole method strikes me as inherently unsound. And a breeding ground for every form of deception the human mind can imagine.
SamSpade.org (One Internet Service Provider Search Engine)
"Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006
Update (November 25): In our day (a point already true for the past decade, if not longer), no propaganda operation can afford to neglect the power of the Internet. And no sophisticated psych-ops would. (By which I mean to say the kind of operation aimed at changing how people think and feel about an event or person or other kind of entity, whether positively or negatively, and which the professional propagandists in various ministries of information around the world, not to mention among the much more vast body of public-relations firms, can undertake at the drop of a dime).
In terms of mobilizing a highly-committed core of true believers to act on a given topic, with a given objective, at a given time, or simply in terms of insinuating one's message into the public realm, if you don't play the Internet, in effect you are silencing yourself.
And this is equally true, whether the goal is to promote favorable perceptions of your side, or, like Jay The Joke and Fire The Fucktard, simply to smear the other's.
For several news media clippings on one such psychological operation, that is, what the Israeli Government is calling its "Give Israel Your United Support" campaign, see below.
"Behind the Headlines," Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs
"FM Livni to Int'l Institute for Strategic Studies: The world faces conflicts over values, not territories," Tzipi Livni, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, November 21, 2006
Give Israel Your United Support (GIYUS.org)
- GIYUS - Blog
"Israel backed by army of cyber-soldiers," Yonit Farago, The Times, July 28, 2006
"Israel's new PR focus: Internet 'talkbacks'," Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, September 1, 2006
"Israel's stock rises in US Europe despite war," Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, September 19, 2006
"Don't mention the war: Israel seeks image makeover," Dan Williams, Reuters, October 26, 2006 (as posted to the Global Exchange website)
"Photos of despair trump sound bites," Tovah Lazaroff, Jerusalem Post, November 14, 2006
"Israel ups the stakes in the propaganda war," Stewart Purvis, The Guardian, November 20, 2006
"Hate Speech and the Internet," ZNet, August 19, 2006
Update (June 17, 2007): It appears that Wikipedia's editors -- though of course there are exceptions -- are always good for a laugh:
"Wikipedia," Brian Leiter, Leiter Reports, June 17, 2007