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Iphigenia, Silent No More

by Charles Carreon
January 20, 2014

[Ken Popehat White, "The Beast"] “Say What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law”
by Tara Carreon

Lucretius begins his great work of rational inference about physical phenomena, “On the Nature of the Universe,” with a heinous example of the evils wrought by superstitious ignorance.   He tells how King Agamemnon made a special sacrifice to secure the Immortals’ blessings for the Greek fleet bound for Troy.  He offered the gods the life of his daughter, Iphigenia.  The Immortals sent the wind, and the Greek armies pillaged Troy, as Cassandra had predicted.  Lucretius evokes the horror experienced by a poor, frightened child whose father, for reasons incomprehensible, has turned into her mortal enemy.

Like Iphigenia, I have known the experience of being surrounded by persons cheering for my death.  I have been surprised to discover a world I thought friendly to be antagonistic in the extreme.  I am silent, rendered voiceless by a mob.  Iphigenia’s death was the price of a successful military victory.  What was my reputational destruction supposed to buy?

The First Amendment Mafia encourages the sacrifice of Internet victims to Internet hate-mongers because, they say, by encouraging Internet lynchings, we keep the world safe for wholesome, socially constructive speech.  Thus, the Jews of Skokie, Illinois had to sacrifice their peace of mind to the malicious theatrics of the Illinois Nazis, cloaked in First Amendment privilege.  

I’d almost consent to be Iphigenia, if my suffering would materially advance the cause of free speech for meaningful causes, like free Internet libraries. But there’s a negative connection between the proliferation of free Internet hate speech and the quantity of useful, socially productive speech. The volume of hate speech and lies have eclipsed the volume of useful, fact-based analysis on almost any topic. 

Vast numbers of Internet users have slipped into the gossipy madness that used to afflict only small towns, where rumors set tongues to wagging and reputations die overnight.  People used to move to the big cities to get away from that, but now there’s nowhere to go, and some people are discovering that, unlike in dreams, if you die on the Internet, you die in real life.  Or maybe, even though it’s America, you can rot in jail, like Mr. Shuler down in Alabama, who has been jailed for refusing to stop blogging about the governor’s son.  You would think that a man in that position would get some support from Ken Popehat White, but Ken calls Shuler “creepy and crazy … a vexatious litigant, a serial pro se abuser of the court system.”  And according to the ACLU, that quotes Popehat as an authority on which way the wind blows in stink-land, Shuler has already lost the trial in the court of public opinion.  So now that the Internet has uncovered the truth that Shuler’s a bad guy, there’s no need to keep him in jail. 

You know, mobs have come a long way.  Used to be mob justice was a bad thing.  Now a mob’s findings are cited in court, through their Mad Magistrate, Ken Popehat White.  This doesn't seem like progress.  Courts are supposed to determine the truth of facts by deliberating about the evidence.  But crowds don't deliberate, and the news stories that drive crowd "opinions" are fueled by personal accounts, often by so-called "eyewitnesses," whose loaded statements provide the necessary scandalous spin to conjure up a typhoon of obloquy against the current target of hatred. Only later, and far too late to do any good, do the true facts come out, after "eyewitnesses" have been discredited by investigations that never receive the attention bestowed upon the first, irresponsible accusations.

Although crowds can make decisions, a Colosseum full of spectators giving the thumbs-down has not deliberated over the evidence, and cannot pass a legitimate judgment on its victim; rather, it is arbitrarily determining the fate of the powerless. Confusing the opinions of Internet lynch mobs with legal judgments empowers mobs to sentence anyone to Internet ignominy.   If conceding the actual existence of a “court of public opinion” is now a legal principle, then the Law has lost its way entirely.

The public is always looking for guidance, and today, they often seek it from lawyers.  As our society becomes more bureaucratic, more deterministic, lawyers assume greater authority, and the Cult of the Law becomes more attractive and influential.  But what is this Cult of the Law delivering to our society?  In the realm of the First Amendment, there are many who wish to make it: “Say what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”  When Aleister Crowley declared the same to be true of our freedom to act without restraint, it  scandalized the world.  But the notion that speech cannot injure people, and therefore should never be restrained, has been promoted relentlessly by the media industry, and has now lodged itself solidly in the public mind.  As a result, more and more people are seeing their lives and reputations mutilated overnight, sacrificial victims of the Cult of the Law.

As one of these many Internet Iphigenias being sacrificed, let it be said of me that I did not go silently.