Learning to Fall Out of Love with Hate, Part 2: Violentacrez Loses His Job


David Ryan

David Ryan is a boat builder and USCG licensed master captain. He is the owner of Sailing Montauk and skipper of Montauk''s charter sailing catamaran MON TIKI You can follow him on Twitter @CaptDavidRyan

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24 Responses

  1. Avatar MikeSchilling says:

    Officer Dible


  2. Avatar James B Franks says:

    Wow that Michael Brutsch situation is messed up. I fall firmly into the, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it” camp. This sort of thing needs to get stomped on fast.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      I am in that camp as well but speech like all actions comes with consequences. The problem with the people like Michael Brutsch is that they want to remove the consequences part. I am not talking about legal/criminal consequences for speech (of which there should be none) but they put the burden on everyone else. We are too sensitive, can’t take a joke, etc. He smacked of privilege and not realizing how offensive, hurtful, and vile his speech is. People who complain about “political correctness” often are really complaining about treating minorities with decency and dignity.

      Also Mr. Chen’s free speech rights as a journalist include outing trolls.Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Right. In a way, it seems like Brutsch is just being trolled here. If you’re going to be a troll, you kind of have to expect trolling in return.

        This is the sort of situation where I don’t think this dude is getting anything that he doesn’t deserve, but I still feel sorry for him and his family for the suffering they are going through and will likely to continue to go through for some time.

        Perhaps I just missed it in the past, but it seems to me that this “free speech means saying whatever the hell I want without any repercussions whatsoever” view is relatively new, and extremely dangerous. It is, in essence, an anti-free speech perspective, in that it says that I am free to say what I want, but you are not free to say what you want if it has anything to do with what I say, which is a really good way of stifling dissent and ensuring that the only viewpoints that get aired are those of the people who have the loudest voices, which is to say, the powerful.

        Also, David, these are two good posts. Thanks for them.Report

        • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

          I imagine that Brutsch probably has enough fans of his ‘free speech’ stance that he could probably raise a substantial sum of money from the reddit community who love him.Report

          • Avatar Chris says:

            Eh, probably true. I wonder how long that will last, though. The internet has a notoriously short memory. In a year, people will be saying something like, “Oh yeah, I remember that Violent Acorn whatever his name was. When was that? Way back in like 2012?”

            That said, maybe one of the his reddit fans will hire him.Report

            • Nob Akimoto Nob Akimoto says:

              Well, I a humble blogger with far fewer fans (though if quality were a measure rather than quantity, I have him beat by a mile) managed to raise a decent amount (and hope to raise more eventually) so I don’t see how he’d have trouble raising a lot even if it’s just a short burst of sympathy.

              God knows these people defending him seem to think Chen was driving a Type-59 tank over the protesting Michael Brutsch.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          I don’t know if it is new but I agree with your penultimate paragraph points on it being anti-free speech and why. Perhaps we notice it a lot more. I am very anti-Meme for the reasons you describe.Report

        • Avatar NewDealer says:

          I feel sorry for his wife because she is seriously sick. I do not feel sorry for him

          Though I really, really hope the story about the 19-year old stepdaughter is not true and just trolling.

          If it is true then I don’t know what to make of the entire family.Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller says:

      I’m uncomfortable with people getting fired for their non-work political activity, but I’d also be uncomfortable about asking my employees (especially females or minorities) to interact with this guy in a professional setting. If I were a woman or a minority, I certainly wouldn’t feel confident that he was evaluating my proposals fairly or responding to my requests honestly. The next time he disagreed with a woman in a meeting, the question on everyone’s mind would impact his personal views were having on his professional behavior.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer says:

        I am also generally of the belief that people should not get fired for their non-work activities as long as it does not hurt their job performance.

        However, this guy’s activities were not political. Riling and being a jerk are not political activities.

        I feel sorry about his wife but I have a hard time feeling compassion for violentacrez. He is a coward. He seems to have learned nothing from his actions.Report

        • Avatar Dan Miller says:

          Who gets to decide what counts as political? Is being in one of Tony Comstock’s films political? What about getting an abortion? What about supporting the communist party, or the American nazi party?

          There’s no clean line between political and non-political. So perhaps I should rephrase my comment: I’m uncomfortable with people getting fired for the non-work activity, full stop. This is an edge case no matter what.Report

          • Avatar NewDealer says:

            Perhaps but I refuse to say that “everything is political” as a way of justifying bad and asocial behavior. Just because people have a unique gift for making everything and anything political does not mean that everything and anything is political.

            The guy is an ass. Most trolls are pompous asses with no sense of compassion or empathy. This is an interview with a troll:


            Why does he get to decide that people take things too seriously and that being earnest is a major bummer? That is a pretty damned arrogant opinion of oneself as an arbitrator of what should and should not be on the internet.Report

    • Avatar James Vonder Haar says:

      This strikes me as a misinterpretation of the situation. Violentacrez wasn’t outed for offensive speech so much as he was for harassment – specifically his moderation of and contributions to the “creepshots” reddit. This was a board dedicated to takjng clandestine photos of attractive women, sometimes upskirt or something similar, and posting them online. While within the letter of the law, such actions are a clear villation of privacy and bodily autonomy, and I suspect will not be legal for long.

      That said, there is signifcant concern that such tactics could go beyind legitimate tsrgets to chill unpopular speech or harass unpopular minorities. As a queer kid growing up in an online world, I found thr anonymity the internet afforded me key to navigating years that otherwise could have been pretty painful. Maintaining a norm in favor of strict protection of anonymity may well be worth tolerating the violentacrezes of the world.

      Though perhaps of more importance would be establishing a norm of strict separationo professional and private life, with the ability to provide for one’s family not contingent on the approval of your employer of every single one of your lifestyle choices.Report

  3. Avatar Pyre says:

    The problem with Violentacrez is that he was firmly stuck in a web 1.0 (Wild West) mentality. We are well into web 2.0 (monetization) and we’re now dipping into web 3.0 (legislation). Given Obama’s coming victory, the shift to 3.0 will do nothing but accelerate.

    With Michael Brutsch/Violentacrez, I found myself irritated with the story that outed him. At first, I wasn’t sure why. Yeah, Adrian (the guy who doxed him) was a jerk for doing so but Michael had been a long-running troll who hid behind anonymity to post underage bikini shots. Given that I’ve often said that personal accountability is the best way to deal with trolls, it seemed odd to get irritated now, ailing wife or no.

    I eventually realized that this is all the fourth estate aspires to anymore: Revealing internet trolls. Everything else that actually affects us isn’t something that our “journalists” investigate anymore. Whether it’s because the parent company tells them not to or it doesn’t fall in line with their bias or another reason, this has become the high water mark in investigative journalism. To me, that’s probably the most bothersome part of the whole story.Report

    • Avatar David Ryan says:

      Solid comment!Report

    • Avatar NewDealer says:

      Some thoughts:

      1. You shouldn’t read Gawker and expect the Gray Lady. You should read Gawker and expect the Post or Daily News. Not all journalism needs to be a stunning expose like the Pentagon Papers or Watergate. I think of Chen’s story like being nuts and bolts local news on crime or the tavern owner who sells watered down beer to make a higher profit.What sort of news should an on-line magazine (that is largely concerned with on-line events) report?

      2. Gakwer is a creature of the Internet. Trolls are a creature of the Internet. This is the kind of story that the Internet needs in order to become more civilized and welcoming for all people. The guy is rather pathetic with everything he does. His “I just want to rile people up” stance is also sad. Why rile people up? Why is this his right?

      As you mentioned above, there are still plenty of people who want the Internet to be the Wild West variant when it was largely a sub-culture thing. Brutsch is one of these people. However, the web is changing. Most of us are not trolls and do not find his antics amusing.

      3. What sort of legislation do think Obama will propose to shut down trolls?Report

      • Avatar James B Franks says:

        Freedom of Speech. He can say what he wants where he wants outside of very specific circumstances.

        I doubt President Obama will propose anything of that nature.Report

      • Avatar Pyre says:

        Lotsa work this week so I can’t take long. (I’d comment at home but the siren call of SW:TOR would lure me away from any other non-serious activities.)

        1) The problem is that, when I read the Gray Lady, I’m largely reading the same level of journalism. Same with the Wall Street Journal. If it was a case of Gawker is down here and other media is up here, that’d be one thing. However, this is more the case now:


        except that there would be a 20-minute side piece on Lindsey Lohan before Pepsigate.

        3) The legislation phase, for purposes of Web 3.0, would be best described as internet laws that do not have finance as the prime motivation. This is a bit more nebulous a term than I like but trying to separate out the differences between establishing internet gambling laws and ACTA/SOPA type laws would take more time than I have.

        I don’t know what legislation he will propose. However, putting aside his day 1 support and signing of ACTA as well as his executive orders (which, depending on the news source, have all been fair, enlightened, and rational orders which could never be abused or the end of all internet freedom), Obama’s overall conduct in office doesn’t really scream “I believe in net neutrality”. If you combine that with no longer having to worry over seeking a second term and people’s overreaction everytime a Megan Meyer kills herself, I would not be surprised to see some Web 3.0 laws come out of the White House in the next 4 years.Report

  4. Avatar LWA (Lib W Attitude) says:

    Deadwood is in fact a terrific metaphor for the relationship of people and government, liberty and community.

    I would be failing as a liberal if I didn’t note that what is interesting- and historically acurate- is that it was the business interests who more than anyone recognized the benefits of social order, even if it placed burdens on themselves.Report

  5. Avatar Stillwater says:

    I dunno. I had a hard time making it thru all the prose, so maybe this is completely tangential, but … in any cultural context there will be people on the outside looking in. There will be people who’s choices lead them into loss. I don’t know what the moral of your story is, but the moral to me is that *choosing wisely* is a subjective determination who’s outcome is often beyond the individuals control and sometimes it doesn’t work out well for them. I mean, you’re taking Brutsch’s story and making it into an allegory, yes? How is that any different than the Occupy people who turn an individual over-burdened by student loan debt into an allegory?

    Is the moral the same in both cases?Report

  6. Avatar bookdragon says:

    Question: Was Brutsch fired because of the negative publicity associated with Violentacrez, or was he fired because after being outed, his boss took a look at the vast amount of stuff that had been posted under that pseudonym and realized that a lot of it had to have been posted on company time?

    If the later, this ceases to be a ‘free speech’ issue and becomes a simple ‘goofing off on the company dime’ issue.Report