By Tracy Clark-Flory
Saturday, Oct 20, 2012
I picked up the phone and dialed the number for the local field office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. “I’ve found what I think is child porn,” I told the operator, my voice shaking.
I was researching a popular “jailbait” message board this week when I discovered a thread filled with webcam screengrabs and videos of what looked to be pubescent girls in various states of undress and sexual activity. I’ve come across “barely legal” porn before, but this was different: These girls looked like they weren’t a day over 13. The intimate webcam context lent an additional believability to it: It was easy to imagine someone convincing each of these seemingly underage girls via video chat to take off their clothes, all the while recording the action to later distribute far and wide or even to use as a bribe to get future “shows” out of them.
That is what so-called “cappers” do — and they are what brought me to the jailbait message board in the first place, and ultimately to the FBI. They screen-capture live webcam chats — which can involve anywhere from two to several hundred people — while pressuring girls and young women to strip down. It starts with “show your stomach!” and quickly progresses from there like an online game of Truth or Dare. Sometimes all they get is a quick bra flash; other times they get a full-on “bate” (when a girl masturbates on camera). In the capper community, the latter would be called a “win.”
To be sure, some of the stars of these “caps” are simply of-age exhibitionists, but the most in-demand videos are of unsuspecting minors — those like Amanda Todd. The 15-year-old committed suicide last week after enduring years of bullying, online and off. In a YouTube video that has since gone viral, she shares the story of how years ago, while still in middle school, she went on webcam chats with her friends. She was met with flattery and attention and was asked to flash, and she did. A man screen-capped her big reveal and then used the image to bribe her to “put on a show.” When she refused, he sent the photo to her family and friends. On note cards held up to the camera, she explained: “I then got really sick and got anxiety, major depression and panic disorder.” The nine-minute clip goes on to explain how the bribery and harassment led to bullying at school, as well as multiple suicide attempts.
Last weekend, the hacktivist group Anonymous revealed the name of an alleged capper it claims is behind the harassment of Todd. Officials have denied the connection.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/2012/10/21/amanda_todds_only_the_start/
By Amanda Hess
Posted Monday, Oct. 15, 2012
Last week, Gawker’s Adrian Chen revealed the real-life identity of one of social news site Reddit’s most notorious users. Online, the man known as Violentacrez has been active in such Reddit forums as “Chokeabitch,” “Misogyny,” “Incest,” and “Creepshots,” a subreddit that encouraged men to snap sexualized stalker photos of women in public, then share them online with creeps everywhere. IRL, Violentacrez is a 49-year-old computer programmer at a Texas financial services company named Michael Brutsch. His outing on Gawker has reopened a longstanding debate surrounding anonymity, freedom of expression, and harassment online. The big question: Is the Internet real life?
In the early days of online communities, anonymity was the norm. Users relished in crafting their new online personas, and becoming anyone they wanted to be. (When I surveyed various Internet personalities about their first online handles last year, those thrilling new identities included “Darius007” and “PrincipalRichardBelding.”) The rise of social media has devalued anonymity. Now, we compete to boost our real-life profiles in Google searches and amass more Twitter followers. And in some networks, like Facebook and Google+, real names aren’t just encouraged—they’re required.
Not so on Reddit, where the only community value more important than saying whatever you want is not saying who anyone else is. The special mix of anonymity and anything-goes speech encourages radical conversation on the most taboo of topics. And Reddit’s most devoted users sink a lot of their real-life hours into this corner of the Internet, where no one holds them personally accountable for what they write, and the rules of society do not apply. Oddly enough, that freedom of expression often just frees users to engage in the same bottom-feeding commentary you see offline, too—the harassment of gays, minority groups, and women. “Under Reddit logic, outing Violentacrez is worse than anonymously posting creepshots of innocent women, because doing so would undermine Reddit’s role as a safe place for people to anonymously post creepshots of innocent women,” Chen wrote. After Chen outed the troll, many subreddits banned all Gawker links.
Users like Violentacrez may defend their online domain as a “thought experiment” divorced from real life. But the truth is that though Reddit users can always create a new handle, they can’t really change who they are. When Chen sought out the “man behind the troll,” he found a guy just as depraved as his online persona—a middle-aged white man who admits to an attraction to underage girls, boasts about having oral sex with his 19-year-old stepdaughter, and apologizes for nothing. Online, his reach goes that much farther—he’s not only empowered to exert his control over members of his own family, but also to exploit any 14-year-old girl from around the world.
Yes, the Internet is real life. But the trolls are correct—the rules of society do not always apply here. Reporters like Chen can help bring the Internet’s worst offenders back to reality, where the “free speech” of harassment is less valued. Violentacrez was canned from his real-life job soon after Chen’s story broke. But holding anonymous users accountable is hard work. When trolls are exposed in real life, they can always slip into a new skin and continue the destruction online.
The HBS Trolls are bullies, pure and simple.
They use anonymity to keep from being punched back by people fed up with their bullying.
I have a troll name Jennifer Usher who devotes at least a third of her blog to trashing and abusing me. This troll is so spoiling for a fight, she challenges me to come to her blog and debate her.
Sorry Jennifer, I have better things to do than get down and dirty wrestling you in a pig pen filled with mud and shit.
Others hide themselves behind masks and aliases. Claiming they are “stealth” when real stealth has become nearly impossible for anyone who transitions later than about two years old. There are literally dozens if not hundreds of private data collecting services that know your entire life history. Not to mention governmental ones.
Others act as though being transsexual or transgender is something so shameful they are only able to speak the truth from behind a screen.
That doesn’t cut it either when one rarely if ever hears anyone who defends TS/TG people claiming the they have to hide behind a mask to do so.
One of the things I like most about Facebook is how having pictures and profiles as well as monitors civilizes the discourse.
Perhaps it is time for bloggers to crack down on the Troll Bullies and plonk them from commenting.
I have a string of names on moderation, and others who are permanently barred form posting to this blog.
I’ve modeled this blog after a newspaper, albeit a progressive underground paper from the 1960s. It has a point of view. My position is if you don’t like it start your own blog that reflects your point of view. Commenting here is a privilege not a right to come here and use my platform to spread your bigotry.
From The American Prospect: http://prospect.org/article/voting-while-trans
A man walks into a polling place. The rolls list him as female. Can he vote?
October 18, 2012
Here’s the thing I loved about talking with Mara Keisling this week: her flat-out declaration that transpeople are winning their civil rights and cultural acceptance battles. I’m crazily Tiggerish on lesbian and gay issues: we’ve come so far so unbelievably fast, over my lifetime, that some days I bounce with glee. But given that the trans part of the LGBT coalition got started about 15 years later and has had very different challenges, I was still an Eeyore about their efforts. So it made my day to hear Keisling, the National Center for Transgender Equality executive director, declare a coming victory. “Science is on our side, first of all,” she explained. “Common sense is on our side. Decency is on our side. When you get that combination, you win every time.”
But of course, winning is not the same as has won—which is why we were discussing the right to vote, and whether transpeople will be able to exercise it this year. Until NCTE launched its “Voting While Trans” initiative, it had never occurred to me that there’s no need to list voters as either male or female. The 19th amendment is nearly 100 years old; I’m pretty sure that I have a right to vote whether “E.J. Graff” is male or female. At the polls, the only info that matters is whether I’ve registered to vote and whether I live at the qualifying address. Why identify my sex? Would I get a different ballot?
But ID, Keisling was explaining to me, can be one of the central hardships for transpeople, whose presentation and legal identification may not match. “It’s absurd,” Keisling told me. “We still put gender markers on things that don’t need to have them. For instance, driver’s licenses. The nice policeman doesn’t pull you over and say, So you’re a man, you can go 82, but if you’re a woman you could only go 72.” When I said that, presumably, my driver’s license has my sex so the cop knows it’s really me, Keisling pointed out that most identifying data has disappeared from driver’s licenses since states started putting pictures on those little pieces of paper. So I went and checked. Sure enough, my Massachusetts driver’s license no longer has my height or weight–people lie about both, and what does it matter, really? Nor does it have my race or ethnicity, since that’s insultingly irrelevant, and often complicated. So why does it need to list my sex?
You thought you hated going to the DMV. Imagine doing it if your gender marker and your appearance don’t match–and you’re not going to be able to file for new documents any time soon, whether because of laws or finances or some other reason. As NCTE reports on its website:
Continue reading at: http://prospect.org/article/voting-while-trans
By Zack Ford
on Oct 18, 2012
Anoka-Hennepin School District in Minnesota continues to serve as a shining example of what not to do to support LGBT students who are being bullied. For years, the district had some version of a “don’t say gay” or “neutrality” policy that prohibited teachers from affirming LGBT students — or interrupting the bullying they were suffering. After a Rolling Stone article profiled the school’s negative climate for the nation to see in February, the superintendent tried to claim that bullying had nothing to do with the spate of student suicides the district experienced, changing his tune just two weeks later.
In March, the Department of Justice completed its investigation, finding that Anoka-Hennepin had not properly protected its students from harassment. In fact, detailed narratives showcased the many ways administrators allowed it to persist. The DOJ required that the district implement a new model policy for supporting LGBT students and reducing bullying. The Parents Action League, a vile anti-LGBT hate group that seems to exist solely to reinforce stigma in the community, insisted that its rhetoric — including promotion of ex-gay therapy and references to AIDS as “GRID” (Gay-Related Immune Deficiency) — be included in the new policies moving forward. Now it seems they might just have that opportunity.
Truth Wins Out points out that Anoka-Hennepin has made some troubling choices in who it has appointed to its new anti-bullying task force, and who it has rejected. Tammy Aaberg, whose son Justin was one of the students who committed suicide and who has since dedicated her life to anti-bullying efforts, was rejected from the task force. So too was Jefferson Fietek, an anti-bullying trainer who serves as the faculty advisor for the local Gay-Straight Alliance. But the task force has appointed Parents Action League spokesman Bryan Lindquist, an anti-equality activist who has described homosexuality as a “lifestyle choice” and who was the primary proponent of promoting ex-gay therapy in the school.
According to right wing Christian assholes transkids do not have the right to an education free from bullying and abuse, an education in a school that respects these kids for who they are.
From The Windy City Media Group: http://www.windycitymediagroup.com/lgbt/Aurora-school-board-repeals-transgender-protections-UPDATE/40022.html
by Jason Carson Wilson
East Aurora School District 131 now has no procedures to help keep transgender students safe. On Oct. 15, District 131 school board members had passed a policy, that detailed how transgender students should be treated. They reversed themselves during an emergency meeting Oct. 19.
School attorney Bernie Weiler said it was an amendment to an anti-bullying policy that would have add specific procedures for “handling gender identity issues.” Weiler said the policy was rescinded in order to get state guidance.
Johnson apologized for the board’s actions, while defending its commitment to District 131 students.
“I sincerely apologize that we didn’t watch closer,” she said. “[But] public education has to address everyone’s needs.”
With that said, Johnson tried making everyone understand she could relate to their struggles.
“I was a tomboy,” she said. “I know how it goes.”
With board members Mary Anne Turza and Stella Gonzalez absent, Board President Annette Johnson and members Richard Leonard, Raymund Hall, Anita Lewis and Ignacio Cervantes voted unanimously to end the policy.
Concerned parent Susana Alfero was among those packing the Student Service Center. Alfero is the mother of 7-year-old, Kayla, who identifies as a transgender youth. Kayla wore a red baseball cap, red sweatshirt and jeans.