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home : commentary : column April 15, 2014

8/12/2013 3:13:00 PM
The hypocrisy of a vindictive Internet

By Joey LeMay

Editor's note: The following editorial contains some graphic language (not the editor's.) It is used as a truthful example to emphasize the editor's opinion. It is not meant to offend.

The following words are raw emotion. They are words that are resentful, angry, impulsive, protective and full of plea.

There are times when I despise the Internet. There are far more instances when I loath comment sections on news stories and social media posts, and, subsequently, the people who write them. I find these comments to often be hateful, shortsighted, shallow and sometimes inhumane.

This recently hit home with the callousness of a witch-hunt.

One of my good friends from college had tragedy strike their family. I won't indulge in details for the sake of their own privacy and protection, but my friend's sibling was charged with murder. It's life at its realest, and despite me never meeting my friend's sibling, the news manifested itself in my mind for days.

I was angry at their sibling for doing that to another family, but also for doing it to my friend's family, who now have to live with shame, remorse and guilt. I put myself in my friend's shoes, wondering how I would feel if my sibling were involved in something so heinous.

I have no answers.

In the days following the news, I kept my ear to ground to stay updated on the story's developments. I perused the Internet for story snippets, and in doing so, made the mistake in reading what others thought:

"I wish the death penalty were legal in the state right now," wrote one Facebook user.

"I hope [they get] raped and rot in prison," wrote another social media user on a local news affiliate's post.

"I hope [they] suffer and die to make up for what [they] did," wrote another commenter.

It seems awfully counterintuitive to denounce murder by wishing for someone else to "rot" and be subjected to dehumanizing acts. Pardon my language, but who in the hell do these people think they are?

These online savages know next to nothing about my friend's sibling other than what they read in regards to the case. There are a myriad of variables to consider prior to judging someone for their actions.

But don't tell that to these commenters; they're the judges, juries and executioners.

This also isn't something that I've recently noticed only because I have a vested interest in the case. This attitude is ubiquitous. It's branded into the American psyche.

People who say these things will defend it by calling it their brand of justice. An eye for an eye, right? That's not justice; that's giving up on another human.

I've long been a proponent of rehabilitation services for young prisoners who have the potential of a successful life in front of them. I'll refrain from getting political, but a growing private prison industry that relies on quotas will phase that out.

And that's unfortunate. I'll be the last person to ever defend a murderer, as I believe they ought to serve their time and pay their dues. But since when did we eliminate the idea of second chances from our collective ideology?

Instead, we strip the accused of their humanity and replace it with a personal ideology of suffering.

I have a hard time believing that those who feel that rape and "rotting" to death is an answer to an ill society's woes would wish that upon their own family member if presented with that situation.

I've spoken quite candidly with my friend since her sibling was charged. Her and her family's world has been absolutely decimated by an ignorant and judgmental population.

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