For the uninitiated, and for those with a shred of human decency, revenge porn is difficult to wrap your head around. It starts like this: you're lucky enough to get your partner to allow you to take illicit pics/videos of her, or she sends you them herself. Yay, everyone is having a good time. Later on, the relationship goes south, and rather than being an adult and simply going about your business, you decide to post these images online at a "revenge porn" site like Ugotposted.com (no working links here, as sending incoming traffic to these sites is like setting up tiny prayer wheels to Satan). But the pictures are just the beginning: users of these sites, wanting to consign their victims to more than just embarrassment, also attach identifying information to these images, up to and including the subject's name, city, links to social networking sites, and sometimes even home address. Because what's a little slut-shaming without the element of physical danger?
Unfortunately, the justice system has been slow to respond to this specific kind of cyber-harassment. Despite leaving victims open to in-person as well as online harassment, ridicule, stalking, and perhaps even sexual assault, as well as jeopardizing their ability to find gainful employment, only New Jersey, Florida, and now California have bills or laws criminalizing so called "revenge porn." From the Huffington Post on California's current bill:
The bill was inspired by the death of Audrie Pott, a 15-year old student from Saratoga, Calif. who committed suicide after she was allegedly sexually assaulted by a trio of teenage boys while passed out a party. Before Pott's tragic death, graphic photos of the incident were circulated around her high school.These laws seem destined to get tested in higher courts on First Amendment grounds. The thing is, while legislatures try to play catch up in the digital age, people are beginning to take matters into their own hands in both legal and non-legal means. Earlier this year, a group of 23 women sued the website Texxxas.com and GoDaddy.com for violating their privacy by posting naked picture of them without their consent. On the flip side, speaking of without consent, the hacker group Anonymous has officially declared war on Hunter Moore. Hunter Moore is the man who popularized Revenge porn on his site "Is anyone up" by posting pictures and personal info on his site of a former girlfriend after she supposedly hurt his fee-fees really bad. The poor baby. I suppose I should feel bad that Anonymous hacked all of his sites, posted personal information online like his social security number and user passwords but then I remember this is the man who famously said "Yo, I can make money off of titties and fucking people over." So Hack on Anonymous. Hack on. It got me thinking though. What we need is more legal means to combat this stuff.
We'll call this the Sloan Sabbith Law. Sloan Sabbith, for those of you who don't watch HBO's The Newsroom is a financial reporter played by Olivia Munn. Recently, her character got caught up in a revenge porn storyline. The usual stuff. Naked pictures used by a former boyfriend specifically to get back at her for a break-up or other imagined slight. Sloan, after wallowing in shame for most of the episode, finally figures out a way to make herself feel better.
The thing about freedom of speech and the First amendment is like many other rights, they are not absolute. Yes you can say virtually anything, but you know (or at least you should) that you can still become a social pariah because of that speech. You could lose you job if you say the wrong thing. And what's so aggravating about the whole revenge porn phenomenon is that these people can just blithely try to ruin someone else's reputation and livelihood all from within the comfortable confines of internet anonymity. So the way Sloan Sabbith Law works is if you are a victim of revenge porn, you're allowed two free shots at your tormentor. These shots are completely absolved from criminal and civil liability. Then you are allowed to post these images online at a site called Fuckthesedouchebags.org, with your story of the ordeal complete with your ex's own personal information and links to their social media profiles. Now neither I nor anyone associated with the Non Blogosphere would advocate violence, of course. However, we will advocate that the Sloan's Law be followed exactly, and this whole revenge porn thing may just sort itself out.