Friday, November 7, 2008

RIP Anonymous?

The next protest is scheduled for November 8, 2008.

However, with, the organizing and reporting arm of Anonymous, being down since the end of September, and with, its replacement, being down since November 3, it is unclear how anonymous will organize the November 8 protest, and how it will report its many “Epic Epic Epic Amazing Epic Epic Epic Wins”.

Attendances for the September and October protests have already been dismal, with just a few hardcore OG and anons showing up.

The repeated demises of anon’s organizing and reporting arm, together with their less than significant attendance, the general disinterest of major media, and anon's own internal power struggle, may signify the end of a movement that made headlines at the beginning of the year and quickly went downhill after the initial enthusiasm.

Pekka-Eric Auvinen

The time I can spend following Scientology news is still limited. I do try to keep up with the main news, though, but there is rarely anything I find worth commenting on.

Today, however, I bumped into a piece of news that I found pretty scary.

I just learned that Pekka-Eric Auvinen, responsible for the Jokela school shooting that occurred on 7 November 2007, posted his intent to do it on 4chan, and that he was encouraged in his act by his fellow anons who even cheered him as it happened in direct…

Incredible? Just see for yourself, right on the archived 4chan page.

[Update May 12, 2009: it appears that the initial post is not from Auvinen himself but from "some b/tard (who) saw the news report on TV and pretended to be Pekka-Eric Auvinen". See the comments further down. The time of posting and the time when the shooting started shows this to be right. Furthermore, there were already four casualties six minutes after the initial post was made, which also confirms the assertion that it could not have been posted by Auvinen himself. I leave the post intact otherwise because the questions raised are still food for thought, however, it obviously gives a very different perspective to the circumstances in which that event occurred.]

I am not going to jump on the CoS’ PR line saying Anonymous was behind the shooting. There is not enough evidence showing that anonymous can be held responsible for his act, and nuts come in all shades in various groups.

However, it is quite a shocking revelation, and it does raise several questions.

There may be a humorous factor behind the fact that anonymous derides everything and engages in crazy verbal and net behavior, as they do on their Encyclopedia Dramatica, but at which point can this become an excuse to actually engage in actual crazy physical behavior? What prevents nuts to physically act in the name of anonymous, and what prevents other nuts to cheer him online as it happens, as seems to have been the case in this tragedy? At which point can anons cross the line between referring to black people as “niggers”, as they do in the name of questioning everything that has become accepted, and actually engaging in racist and/or criminal acts?

What would have happened if instead of writing
“hey /b/ i'm going to kill people at jokela high school today in the name of anonymous”
Auvinen would have written
“hey thetans i'm going to kill people at jokela high school today in the name of Scientology”?
In which way popular concepts among anonymous (being anonymous, deriding everything, indulging in various pranks) helped to trigger that crazy act? Which philosophy is the most likely to trigger it? That of Scientology or that of Anonymous?

By all means, as I said, that news came as a quite shocking discovery for me, and really got me thinking further on that issue. As if this tragedy was not devastating on its own, the fact that is has been announced in the chan, encouraged, followed, and cheered by his peers online as it happened in real life adds an absolutely creepy dimension to it. This all certainly makes the above questions legitimate.

PS - The New York Times published an outstanding article about Anonymous last August. It is a first-hand researched article where the author actually lived with the major hackers and channers for days to get into the whole scene.