Internet Lynch Mobs
This began with a post at the Xici Hutong forum on September 26, 2006 by a netizen using the name Yuyouyan (意悠然). The whole thing is translated in the following.
(Xici Hutong) I gave birth to the baby and hope she will get to see her father! September 26, 2006.
Yesterday, I went to get assistance at the Women's Association. The workers told me that in the absence of the other person, the judicial process cannot move forward. They encouraged me to persist. When they heard me tell them that the man's aunt has a company in Nanjing, they encouraged me to look her up so that she can pay some of the child care expenses because the child is related to her by blood. But I said that this won't work, because she said that she wanted to deal with us rationally. That kind of "rationality" means "no human qualities." When I proposed my ultimate solution, they agreed because I was forced to do so. My ultimate solution is to publish an Internet warrant at all the major BBS forums around the country. Yes, I hope some kind-hearted person can help me find him. I hope that he has no escape so that he has to face up to his responsibilities.
Lu Jun, male, born on November 8, 1982, ID# 320621198211083519, place of birth: Hai'an (Jiangsu), graduated from Nanjing Industrial University on July, 2005.
Let me briefly describe what happened between us.
We first met on August 6, 2005 at the Third Anniversary Meeting of the Xici Hutong "Only Love Strangers" forum. At the time, I liked him somewhat, and then he ask me out. So I was wavering. I am an experienced woman, so I was concerned before this started. After I told him about everything (including my health), he said that he could accept it. So we got together.
I soon realized that he did not go with me because he liked me, but I could not give up on him. He also hid many things from me, such as his love affairs which he only told me when he wanted to split up. But when we were together, he betrayed me and I did not blame him. I was just hurt and I wanted to leave him. Thanks to his "efforts" I succeeded in leaving him. During those two months, I lost a child because he never wears condoms and I miscalculated the safety period.
But because my love of him had not died and I still wanted to be by his side, if only to take care him, I helped him on his matters. Often, I didn't think about myself and I had my mind on him. Finally, we got back together and we moved in together.
Yes, we lived together. Apart from work, we lived together. Most of the time, I did everything. Although we are of the same age, I am more mature than him. So I was used to taking care of him on cooking and everything else. Sometimes, we argue but we would make up. I also felt that he needed me. Although he had never been in love before, I felt that he was changing. We were happy. We were accustomed to each other. He said that he was happy with the plain life and I was good enough for him.
Since he did not use employ any protection, I caught an infection. At the time, I was diagnosed with ovarian problems. I did not dare to take any more medicine and I was sure that I would become infertile. But I got pregnant all the same. Of course, before I was sure, he saw my unhappiness and said that if I should have the baby if that was the case. I was quite happy. But when he actually faced up to reality, he backed off. He was afraid of facing his parents and he forced me to have an abortion irrespective of my personal health. He even said some unkind things, which caused me to become emotionally unstable and take some extreme actions.
My parents objected to my co-habitation with him, but they accepted it at my insistence. They loved me and they cared about me and, obviously, him as well. After I got pregnant, my parents cooked for us and they always made the dishes that he liked. He did nothing, but received plenty in return. He will never be able to repay my parents.
He decide to let me have the baby and he promised to marry me. But he was indecisive. Finally, I asked him to tell his family about this. His father was kind and tried to calm me down and asked the aunt to talk to me. The aunt accepted me. But I knew that he was criticizing me to his family. I knew that he was afraid that his family would blame him, and therefore he blamed everything on me and said that I trapped him. But when his aunt agreed to our marriage, he embraced me and celebrated our soon-to-be wedding. His aunt came to our home and met my parents and they agreed upon the marriage. His elder brother and wife came to Nanjing. He and I even went to take wedding photos. It was innocent, fatiguing and exhilarating.
They were leery about my health, because I have leg problems. But at the time, the problems did not seem big. But they were afraid that it might affect him, so they asked me to get X-rayed at the hospital. I refused, because X-rays should not be done during pregnancy. But they wanted me to get an examination at the hospital and I agreed. Once they learned the results, they nervously held a conference. He told me that his parents were actually there, but they hid from us. Only his two aunts accompanied us. After the examination, they decided that he should leave me. He came back crying to me and told me that they objected to the marriage and wanted him to leave me. He wanted me to have the baby. He would not be taking his clothes with him and he would definitely come back. He told me that he used to think that he did not love me, but he only realized that he loved me just as we were about to separate. He cried sadly that day. We agreed that we would not give up. He tried once again to fight back, but he was still wavering. He said that the family background will allow him to struggle a few decades less. So I knew that he could not give up.
I thought that business people can be depended on trust, but it did not work for that family. His father kept saying that the son would decide and they would not object. They would talk to me about the wedding after the New Year. I believed in them and I bought presents for him to take back home. But once he left, he went to Shenzhen as this was their plan. They had convinced him because he had to depend on his family for a living. When I went to Hai'an to look for him, they found out that I was coming by myself and so their whole family took off with their dogs and cats. The neighbors did not dare talk to me, because they were afraid of the nasty tongue of his mother. I understand that their family had a mean reputation in the area. So I had to go back to Nanjing and beg his aunt to let him call me. In the last telephone call, he said that he is not a man and he did not want to face me. He asked me to forget the past because he was afraid that he might break down and come back to me. So that was how he left me. He even left behind the computer that his classmate lent him. He said that since no one will be able to find him again, the computer does not have to be returned.
I thought about hiring an investigative agency to help me find him. I know that he was not that wicked and if I showed up in front of him, he will change his mind. But I don't have that much money to spend. He is supposed to be in Shenzhen. But how was I going to look up him? His aunt came down to my neighborhood committee and asked them to persuade me to get an abortion. They said that money is no object if I abort the fetus.
I had an idea of getting an abortion, because I was afraid that I could not provide a normal life for the child. But when I learned that I had an ovarian tumor, I was firm on having the baby. I believe that life cannot be rejected, and I will not lose the chance to become a mother. I found a night job, which was tough but I persisted. To avoid the neighborhood gossip, I moved away from my parents to live by myself. Then my body became stressed and I had to move back with them to rest. The ovarian tumor, the kidney thing and other problems gave me not a single day of comfort. Even when I was preparing for the Caesarian operation, my body still gave me problems. Finally, I and the baby were both safe, and my parents could finally breathe a sigh of relief after worrying most of the year. They put up not only a lot of money, but the pressure on them was no less than mine.
I have no fixed employment. My parents are retired and have only a meager income. Several days after the child was born, I called Lu Jun's very tough aunt in Nanjing and told her that the baby had arrived. She said coldly, "This is not a blow to me." A month later, I continued to talk to her because she was the only one who could be contacted. She asked me to come up with a proposal and then get back to them. When I proposed a one-time solution to the child alimony problem, she said that Lu Jun's family is in Shenzhen on business and they cannot come back just for this. On that occasion, I insisted on a date. Perhaps she was afraid that I might cause trouble for her company, she promised me to get back to me in a week. A week later, she came up with another trick. She said that I should talk to their lawyer. More than a week afterwards, she said that nobody can deal with this matter except for Lu Jun himself because nobody else has the right to act on his behalf. But he is no longer in Shenzhen. He was working at a company but he resigned, changed his telephone number and now nobody can find him.
This is how it is. His aunt wants to shirk responsibility. They used the excuse that Lu Jun has vanished so that I cannot sue him. Many people want me to abandon the quest for alimony, because they felt that I would be hurt by that beastly family. But for the sake of the child, I cannot give up. Actually, I want most of all to let the baby see her father, even just once. I am having trouble meeting the expenses for the baby and my parents are having a hard time together with me. We all made mistakes, but I don't want to go over the past. I want to be responsible to the child. I also want him to act like a man. I don't want him to do anything, but I want him to fulfill his responsibilities and obligations. After all, this is his child, which is something that he can never deny. But they are forcing me to look for him in this manner. I have no choice. No matter what, I hope that people can help me. I hope that Xici Hutong can support me. Thanks!
What happened two weeks later at Xici Hutong is given in this newspaper account:
(Nanjing News) October 17, 2006.
At 10:06pm on October 13, a "Re-organization Notice" appeared at Xici Hutong:
In September 2006, the Xici Hutong netizen Yiyouyan posted the article "I gave birth to the baby and hope she will get to see her father!" After netizen discussions and re-postings elsewhere, this case has drew the attention of many sectors of society. Concerning this issue, certain Xici Hutong netizens used extreme language and lost control of their behaviors. They did not value the Internet environment for tolerant communication and used the convenience of the Internet to engage in attacks on other netizens ...
These futile arguments does not help to resolve the matter. Instead, it seriously interrupted the normal lives of other netizens. In order to encourage a friendly atmosphere and put a stop to Internet mob violence, Xici Hutong has re-organized the related forum posts and the related user accounts will be banned."
According to this notice, those netizens who used extreme language and went out of control will be banned hereafter from posting and commenting at Xici Hutong.
Why did the website choose to re-organize before this sensitive case was resolved? Does re-organization imply depriving the speech rights of certain people? Our reporter interviewed Xici Hutong product manager Mr. Ni. He said that the "notice" was in the works for a long time.
"There is a nasty atmosphere on the Internet right now. Certain 'Internet troublemakers' are using the open and convenient Internet platform to employ mob violence to cause trouble and release their tensions. The environment is deteriorating. Certain netizens who genuinely wanted to offer help were being drowned out by the abusers." Mr. Ni said that the website was not deciding upon the rights and wrongs in the Yiyouyan affair. But the original call for help has turned into a battle of saliva. It did not help the case, but it only encouraged bad behavior on the Internet. As a website, they have the obligation to watch over what is happening and they want to provide a better environment for communication.
As for the idea of suppressing speech, Ni emphasized: "Re-organization does not mean controlling what netizens say. We want to restore the environment for normal discourse and we want to maintain a good atmosphere. This is normal maintenance for the website. Unfortunately, this one involved a sensitive case. As a website, we are only offering a place for exchange. We have no opinion on any topic. This was just a call to remind that we all have speech rights, but we need to pay attention to our way and language of expression."
The following is a Xici Hutong post from a media worker with respect to the "Re-organization Notice."
(ReporterHome.com) I support Xici Hutong cleaning out "Internet mobsters" By Zhang Rui. October 18, 2006.
Yesterday I read the "Re-organization Notice" at Xici Hutong that certain "Internet mobsters" who have been abusing and insulting people will be banned. These abusers will lose "their right to speak out at the website." So I gladly raised both my arms to show my strong support!
The "re-organization" was caused by Yiyouyan. Nobody needs me to tell them that Yiyouyan is the alias of a female netizen. She co-habited with a guy and gave birth to a baby. But the guy "vanished." So she has issued an Internet warrant for this boyfriend. This has made her an Internet celebrity.
Frankly speaking, I am impartial with respect to these two people. I felt that they are a couple of clowns who have managed to turn a sad tragedy into a farce. The girl refused to follow the legal path and she kept whining day and night on the Internet without finding the guy. Instead, she drew waves and waves of abuse and insults until she is thoroughly worn out. Meanwhile, the guy must have received good advice from some wise people because it did not matter what storm was blowing on the Internet, he stuck to "he is a man and when he says that he won't show his face, he won't." Since he knew that the Internet warrant came from his girlfriend and not the police, he could not care less.
But no matter whether they deserve sympathy or not, it does not mean that other people can abuse them. Just as Yiyouyan is not the police and therefore her warrant is invalid, the other netizens are not judges and how could they pronounce verdicts?
It was not just Xici Hutong, but there were battles of abusive words also at Sina.com, Sohu.com, Tianya and other websites. For every essay post, whether it is good or bad, there were people following behind like flies buzzing in extremely filthy language. Looking at these abusive comments, one has to admire the supreme state of the acerbity of their language, the bitterness of their words, the vileness of their minds and the artistry of their curses. At the same time, it shows the worst of their nature: they don't have anything better to do, but they can really get going with cursing. Some people cursed out others as if they were righteous; some people lecture others as if they were instructing others about how the world works. Actually, all they were doing was denigrating others while elevating themselves, or else this was purely releasing personal anger by hurting others without gaining anything for themselves.
We cannot see the faces of the abusers, but we sense their selfishness and egotism, their extremism and prejudices. Is our younger generation so enthusiastic about attacking and hurting others?
One should say that the pervasive abusive behavior on the Internet is due to the ineffectiveness of website administration. There is a whole list administrative regulations, but there are insufficient methods for effective controls. Besides, the cost of tracking down Internet violence is high and there does not exist a set of legal regulations against Internet violence. Thus, the civilized Internet is just an empty slogan.
Even as many innocent victims are hurt, the websites also suffer. Many organizations now prohibit their workers from posting on the Internet and many well-known forums are losing popularity. This is also due to the negative results from the bad environment on the Internet. Once a website becomes a place of controversy, who wants to get into trouble for no good reason? More and more people are scared of the Internet and they stay away. Is this not the sadness of modern civilization?
Therefore, the Internet environment needs to be clean up really good. This is the time to do something about the "Internet mobs."