They want to bully strangers from behind a mask

So now the guy who created the Trump Beats Up CNN meme is the new martyr-hero of the noble cause of Free Speech With No Consequences For Internet Harassers And Stalkers And Bullies. Abby Ohlheiser at the Post reports that the new martyr-hero apologized in a Reddit post, and called for peace.

“This is one individual that you will not see posting hurtful or hateful things in jest online. This is my last post from this account and I wanted to do it on a positive note and hopefully it will heal the controversy that this all caused.”

It didn’t.  

#CNNBlackmail was the top trending Twitter topic  Wednesday morning, thanks to the efforts of a furious Trump Internet, who had concluded that the user’s apology was forced by a “threat” from CNN. Their evidence? A story CNN itself published, detailing its attempts to contact and identify the anonymous Reddit user ahead of their apology, whose offensive posting history suddenly became part of a national news story.

Did CNN do anything underhanded to find Martyrhero’s identity? CNN [with ss swapped for ** in HanAssholeSolo]:

The apology came after CNN’s KFile identified the man behind “HanAssholeSolo.” Using identifying information that “HanAssholeSolo” posted on Reddit, KFile was able to determine key biographical details, to find the man’s name using a Facebook search and ultimately corroborate details he had made available on Reddit.

On Monday, KFile attempted to contact the man by email and phone but he did not respond. On Tuesday, “HanAssholeSolo” posted his apology on the subreddit /The_Donald and deleted all of his other posts.

CNN found him via biographical details he’d published himself. Is that underhanded? No. It would be shitty if they’d done it to bully him for no good reason, but they did it after he bullied them for no good reason. See how that changes the moral equation? Apparently this is beyond the Trump Internet.

Back to the Post:

The part of the article that infuriated the Trump Internet — and people on both sides of the political spectrum, who questioned the ethical standards of the network’s decision — had to do with how CNN described its reasoning for not identifying the Redditor by name. Reporter Andrew Kaczynski wrote that CNN had spoken with the person behind the account, and would not identify the user because “he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology,” who had promised not to continue flooding the Internet with offensive memes.

But, he wrote, “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.”

The TrumpInternet is shouting that that’s blackmail.

Is it?

Here’s the thing. Martyrhero is a private citizen who was using his private citizen status to stir up hatred against individuals and classes of people. Why should his “privacy” be respected when that’s what he’s using it for? Why should anyone else respect the secrecy of his identity when the secrecy is protecting him from social opprobrium for being a bullying harassing shit? Internet harassers are like that – they carry on like ardent believers in their own campaigns of harassment and yet they do it from behind a mask. If they’re such ardent believers, why the mask? We’re not talking resistance to a tyrannical government, here, we’re talking harassment of people who advocate egalitarian political ideas. They don’t rely on privacy for their safety, they rely on privacy for their ability to talk shit at strangers with social impunity. They want to have it both ways. They want to bully strangers online, but they don’t want their friends to know they do that.

The media has often struggled to cover Trump’s online supporters, whose skepticism of mainstream publications has evolved into a total rejection of the idea that places like CNN are even trying to report the truth. At the head of that rejection is the president himself, who regularly tweets that news outlets he doesn’t like are “fake news.” Media ethics experts who look at CNN’s article on all this might discuss it in the context of a long and tricky media discussion about outing anonymous, racist Internet trolls. On the Trump Internet, however, the subtext of the meme is that “blackmailing” sources is a normal part of mainstream journalistic practice. The difference is, they believe, that someone finally got caught.

And so the battle is raging.

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