Facebook-wielding mobs

Wondering what a torch-wielding mob looks like? Check out these facebook hate-pages dedicated to venting against the apparently intellectually disabled man accused of the murder of an eight-year old Queensland girl named Trinity Bates.

Because it’s Facebook, you can actually see the faces of ordinary Australians as they devise all sorts of brutal punishments to be enacted on this man whether he’s found guilty or not. Chemical castration, prison rape, immolation, physically ripping him apart – you couldn’t tell by looking at them just how violent their imaginations really are. You might say “it’s harmless – these people are just being tough over the internet” – but there’s also every chance that some REAL nutter is reading these sorts of comments and will be inspired by the belief that others are with him into actually carrying something out.

Anyone who thinks we’ve moved on from pitchforks, here’s a wake-up call.

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36 responses to “Facebook-wielding mobs

  1. violent murder fantasies of a stranger is acceptable, when the stranger is accused of the terrible crime of violent murder

  2. “violent murder fantasies of a stranger is acceptable, when the stranger is accused of the terrible crime of violent murder”

    Let’s wait for a conviction.

    The mob writes:

    ” ALLYN JOHN SLATER SHALL DIE FOR WHAT HE DID”

    They forgot the word allegedly, stupid mob!

  3. “Let’s wait for a conviction.”

    my jab at mob hypocrisy was fail…

  4. I’m not a big fan of the mob myself Jeremy, but it isn’t hard to get a mob to assemble in support of almost any immoral activity if you try.

  5. “my jab at mob hypocrisy was fail…”

    ooops ;)

  6. It might be ugly, but it certainly shouldn’t be banned. Facebook is a fairly harmless way of venting, and the rage would be less palpable if there was any prospect of an appropriate punishment (like a death sentence) under our soft-cock legal system.

    Besides their behaviour is far less egregious than the President of the US and his drop-kick Attormey-General stating that a particular accused will be convicted in advance of his trial.

  7. Northern Exposure

    You should be talking about interesting things Jeremy, you sound like those idiots on Sunrise calling for an Ombudsman to police the internet.
    SB you’re just as idiotic as those other people, we have a great legal system, mandatory sentencing is crippling judges authority and credibility. When a person is convicted of a crime, it should be the judge, and not some holier-than-thou self-absorbed legislator looking to appear tough on crime. Death penalties in this country are exactly where they bloody should be, in the past. Courts executing people is probably the most grotesque, barbaric outcome possible for any case. If it had been my little girl that was murdered, I would want to take a screw driver and gut the cunt in the centre of town, infront of a screaming cheering crowd and see the fear in his eyes, and the lights fade from them…which is why it shouldn’t be up to me. Court cases aren’t a way to make us all feel better, they’re to weigh the legal arguments for either conviction or acquittal, dispassionately.
    An Eye for an eye leaves the world blind.

  8. You’re right. You’re RIGHT, damn it! It’s tiome for a return to the pitchfork wielding mobs of yesteryear. True, we don’t have any pitch to fork now… so we’ve got to use them for something! Who needs newfangled technologies like facebook when you can do a good old-fashioned pitchforkin’ for half the trouble?

  9. Northern Exposure

    How many characters can you use with pitchfork@?

  10. Jeremy
    The reason that such venting is inspired in the is because the people have lost a great deal of faith in the courts to deliver justice to the perpetrators of crimes like the murder of this little girl. If this man is found guilty what sanction is he likely to receive and can any amount of time behind bars be enough to make up for the cruel way that this child has been dragged from her bed and murdered????
    People hug their own children after hearing about this sort of crime and think about how they might feel if it was their child lying dead in a Bundestag mortuary. And you think that it is just the peasants being revolting? It a mixture of empathy for the victims family and a good measure of “there but for the grace of god go I”.

    Think about that next time that you knock the people who want to vent about these horrible crimes.

  11. “The reason that such venting is inspired in the is because the people have lost a great deal of faith in the courts to deliver justice to the perpetrators of crimes like the murder of this little girl.”

    That would make sense if he’d just been found guilty and sentenced. He hasn’t.

    “If this man is found guilty what sanction is he likely to receive and can any amount of time behind bars be enough to make up for the cruel way that this child has been dragged from her bed and murdered????”

    No. That’s part of the problem – people want the punishment to somehow “make up” for what’s happened. That’s impossible. It cannot be done.

    “And you think that it is just the peasants being revolting?”

    Hugging their children, no. Plotting violent revenge against an accused, yes.

    Well, except that “peasants” is your word.

    “Think about that next time that you knock the people who want to vent about these horrible crimes.”

    Maybe they should think next time about just what kind of person has violence as their first resort, and what would happen if they were wrongly accused of a crime they hadn’t committed.

    “Innocent until proven guilty” isn’t an empty phrase. It is a vital part of real justice.

  12. Jeremy

    That would make sense if he’d just been found guilty and sentenced. He hasn’t.

    I was of course speaking about the publics view of the justice system in general when it comes to this sorts of crimes rather than about the man accused of this killing.

    No. That’s part of the problem – people want the punishment to somehow “make up” for what’s happened. That’s impossible. It cannot be done.

    In absolute terms of course you are right but a severe sanction would go a very long way to meet the aspiration that we all have that justice should not only be done but that it should be seen to be done

    “And you think that it is just the peasants being revolting?”

    Hugging their children, no. Plotting violent revenge against an accused, yes.

    Well, except that “peasants” is your word.

    It is you who is suggesting that these people are taking up “pitch forks” and those who do in the movies are usually the peasants …

    “Think about that next time that you knock the people who want to vent about these horrible crimes.”

    Maybe they should think next time about just what kind of person has violence as their first resort, and what would happen if they were wrongly accused of a crime they hadn’t committed.

    As you well know people venting and people actually matching their rhetoric with real violence are two very different things. So you are wrong to suggest that the contributors to this page are resorting to violence because iof they were this accused man would be dead already.

    “Innocent until proven guilty” isn’t an empty phrase. It is a vital part of real justice.

    True there is no justice without a just punishment either . So I would like to know what sanction you think is adequate for the the brutal kidnap and murder of an eight year old girl?

    please don’t quibble about things that may be raised in mitigation Just tell us what you think is a suitabele statrting point for a crime like this.

  13. “I was of course speaking about the publics view of the justice system in general when it comes to this sorts of crimes “

    Yes, well, that’s one of the things I regularly criticise News Ltd for – its shameless campaign of exaggeration and outright misinformation as regards sentencing. Here’s the result.

    “As you well know people venting and people actually matching their rhetoric with real violence are two very different things. “

    Did you read the post? I pointed out that the problem with this sort of venting is that the REAL psycho, the person who WOULD act on it, reads it and thinks everyone else is with him…

    “So I would like to know what sanction you think is adequate for the the brutal kidnap and murder of an eight year old girl?”

    Many decades in jail – for reasons of specific deterrence, general deterrence, punishment. Of course, if it is true that this man is seriously intellectually disabled in a way that affected his commission of the crime, his understanding of it or in another serious way, justice would require that the sentence be amended accordingly.

    “please don’t quibble about things that may be raised in mitigation “

    Yes, the News Ltd papers aren’t keen on reporting those factors, either – which is another reason people don’t understand sentences and we have the problem above.

  14. I think these people are revolting for setting up these groups. But saying disgusting, horrible things is normally not against the law.

    The way the media is reporting it you’d think police are going to arrest people for merely joining these disgusting Facebook groups. This is mainly because the internet confuses most presenters from the mainstream media so they dumb it down.

    Having said all that Facebook is shocking at enforcing its own policies. I have seen some vile things and reported them and they’re still there a year later. No point having a policy if you’re not going to enforce it.

  15. As the father of two (young) girls I was horrified to hear about this crime, and am very glad that a probable suspect has been arrested.

    However, that gladness does not extend to violent revenge (or for that matter, torture) fantasies about an eventual punishment.

    “Oh, but what if it were one of your children?”

    Well f**k me flat, if it were one of my children, I certainly wouldn’t trust myself to pass a reasonable, considered sentence. A profesionally dispassionate judge will have a hard enough time (once guilt is definitively established)

  16. Jeremy:

    That would make sense if he’d just been found guilty and sentenced. He hasn’t.

    It makes sense because people are already aware of the sad sentencing record of Australian courts.

    Ravenred, revenge is so entrenched in humans because, in an evolutionary sense, it is a good thing.

    There is not enough weight placed on revenge when it comes to sentencing. If public morality is not vindicated, the legal system falls into disrepute, and people feel that society is failing them.

    It happens time and again when, at the end of the process, the guilty criminal is a lot better off than the innocent victim.

    People see this in rape cases where the victim is often torn to shreds in the witness box while the smirking criminal sits there knowing that they won’t face any cross examination at all.

    Sexual assault is massively under-reported in our society precisely because the victims know that doing so will only produce more trauma and slight vindication.

    Also, the sentencing options are too limited. We need to reconsider castration, caning and capital punishment.

  17. Totally agree with you Ravenred..
    It is a different thought process once someone applies the “what if it were one of your children”..

  18. but theres only one set of parents in this tragedy…

    it does bother me that theres so many people out there who dream of violent torture/snuff… on someone they dont even know, who did nothing to them.

    do these stories just give them the opportunity to reveal their hidden sadism?

  19. What was that case in the US with that little girl who was murdered and then years later some creepy guy came forward and confessed to the crime?

    And then it turned out he was making it up?

    Yet members of the public were ready with the pitchfork mentality yet again – before the true story came out.

    And in that case the parents were not above suspicion. These cases are never clear and I can guarantee that something odd is going to come out of it.

    In my home town, around twenty years ago, a boy died after being doused with petrol and set alight. Before he died, he gave a description of the guy who had done it. Rage against the attacker was flowing fast, with people grunting “I hope that catch that mongrel soon” and much worse …

    … but the outcome was that the boy had in fact set himself alight.

  20. “It makes sense because people are already aware of the sad sentencing record of Australian courts.”

    You’ve read plenty of material here as to why that’s quite wrong – people who rely on the tabloid media for their information often have an entirely erroneous understanding of the sentencing record of Austarlian courts.

    Every time a comparison has been done, the fully-informed public are LESS tough on offenders than judges.

  21. It would appear that at least one of our senior Supreme Court judges doesn’t agree with you in regards to sentencing for violent crimes Jeremy:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/25/2829523.htm

  22. … revenge is so entrenched in humans because, in an evolutionary sense, it is a good thing.

    There is not enough weight placed on revenge when it comes to sentencing. If public morality is not vindicated, the legal system falls into disrepute, and people feel that society is failing them.

    Congratulations SB, you’re the first anthropologist to link evolutionary outcomes to social and moral variants within a cohort.
    Can’t wait to read more!

    Leaving that aside, as a Catholic, aren’t you supposed to preach ‘turning the other cheek’ instead of mounting a defense of ‘honour killing’?

    Also, the sentencing options are too limited. We need to reconsider castration, caning and capital punishment.

    So sez Mullah SB!

    Cheers.

  23. Interesting Gavin, but doesn’t contradict the evidence whenever actual tests have been done.

    Also, Cummins may have been a particularly tough judge. There’s a spectrum of opinion on the bench just as there is in society.

  24. That’s true too Jeremy, although I’m not sure how tough judges can be within the confines of sentencing rules.

    As you say everyone has their own opinion — including judges — but it’s unusual to hear one actually speak out about lenient sentencing…Even upon retirement.

  25. Congratulations SB, you’re the first anthropologist to link evolutionary outcomes to social and moral variants within a cohort.

    I know LOL is often misused, but I have literally LOLd. Thanks for that!

  26. Marek:

    you’re the first anthropologist to link evolutionary outcomes to social and moral variants within a cohort.

    Marek, the argument is similar to that used to explain the presence of a facility for religious consciousness in humans.

    Of course, not all such developments are good or necessary, although revenge is far more rational than say, killing your daughter because she is becoming too westernised. Revenge is usually a proportionate response to a wrong done to a person.

    Honour killings are usually performed by persons totally without honour against some weaker person who has not done anything wrong.

  27. Hey Jeremy, how does this compare to the vile death threats and abuse heaped on Overington because she took a light swipe at “gamers”? Didn’t notice you thumping the table about the horrors of mob vigilantism then …

  28. What “death threats”? I must’ve missed the CAROLINE OVERINGTON SHOULD BE BURNT ALIVE groups, or the advocates for literally tearing her limb from limb.

  29. Youvobviously didn’t read the stuff that was being thrown around about her on Twitter.

    Or, on the same subject, hear about the threat slipped under the SA A-G’s door (and I agree he’s an idiot, but still, what’s sauce for the goose, etc…)

    Anyway, have a lovely weekend.

  30. Atkinson’s made more than enough about that lone “threat” he received. It’s not the same as the mob publicly calling for some defendant – not a powerful AG, an intellectually disabled defendant – to be torn apart.

    And if there’s something even close to the stuff on those FB groups regarding the defendant on twitter about Overington, feel free to quote it. I recall HER making serious threats, not the other way around.

  31. Yikes, I’ve hit a nerve! Hmmm, I”ve just re-read CO’s column, not sure I see the “threats”. And for the record Jeremy, I actually agree with the broad thrust of your post above, I just think you could be a bit more consistent.

  32. I’m going to wait until the court case and the sentence if he is found guilty before saying too much about this — but what I will say is that an 8 y.o. girl was abducted from her bed, raped, murdered and her body thrown in a drain…I don’t give a rats arse if the perpetrator is intellectually disabled or not, there are no mitigating circumstances for a crime such as this, if guilty, in the absence of a death penalty he should never, ever be released.

  33. Gavin, there is no point getting emotional. Being emotional about the victim is not allowed in this game. You are, however, allowed to shed tears when the sentencing plea is presented, largely unchallenged. The references will say what a fine fellow the killer is, how completely out of character the crime was, how he has bullied and abused as a child, and how he has some mental problems.

    I completely fail to see why someone who commits a crime like this should not face the death penalty.

  34. The problem is – Can we ever be 100% certain that the accused is guilty. There are a number of instances where the accused was gaoled but subsequently released. Fortunately the death penalty does not exist in Australia so that option remains. The whole of our adversarial Justice system is skewed against the accused. Contrary to some TV detective shows, the police are charged with accumulating sufficient evidence to gain a conviction, NOT to establish guilt or innocence. The Law may say “innocent until proven guilty” but the practicalities of police investigation will always be the other way around. It must be remembered that Lindy Chamberlaine was convicted on apparent forensic evidence but the conviction was overturned some years later by the discovery of Azaria’s clothing under circumstances that provided evidence that Lindy’s claim may well have been true.
    In Queensland we have just seen the release of Graeme Stafford who was convicted many years ago of a crime similar to that of the murder of Trinity.
    In all these cases it is hard to imagine a jury could be formed that is not predjudiced in some way. Either by the publicity surrounding the case, or by unreal expectations generated by silver screen crime shows

  35. Marek, the argument is similar to that used to explain the presence of a facility for religious consciousness in humans.

    Actually it isn’t.

    What you proposed was that an extant characteristic in humans ( the desire for revenge) served an evolutionary purpose.

    What evolutionary psychologists propose is that certain extant characteristics (religiousity, jealousy, depression, aggression, etc.) are caused by evolutionary imperatives which are no longer needed (or valued) in modern society.

    The definitive difference is subtle, but the practical difference is stark.

    For example, to witness how the desire for revenge is a destructive and anti-evolutionary impulse, one needs only look at the Highland tribes of Papua New Guinea.
    Happily, they seem to be moving away from their self destructive habits.

    I completely fail to see why someone who commits a crime like this should not face the death penalty.

    So, just to clarify, do you formally and publically denounce the principle of ‘turning the other cheek’?

    Cheers.

  36. Men like going about business.

    Boys however are not yet men.

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