Mob Justice

Anonymous Harambe Gorilla VideoThe death of Harambe the gorilla is the latest example of trial by social media as the motley hordes of the interweb sharpen their pitchforks and light their torches in readiness to march on the parents’ house in the mood for blood.

Apart from the seething anger and demands that the parents pay for this tragic incident, others have gone further and issued chilling anonymous threats against the couple.

The media joined the feeding frenzy, digging up the criminal past of Deonne Dickerson, father of the four year-old boy whose fall into the enclosure sparked the shooting of the gorilla. What exactly this had to do with the events at Cincinnati Zoo isn’t obvious, but certainly helped fuel the rage of the twittersphere.

Petitions have been started, an innocent woman harassed because she happened to share the same name as the mother and all in the name of justice, or so the perpetrators claim, but you have to wonder whether these expressions of outrage and anger somehow satisfies an need within the outraged.

There is an analysis of the dangers of internet mob justice on Vox (thanks Roger) and whether this selective, random attention is how justice is supposed to work when it is based on any story that happens to go viral.

It treats justice as a sort of random lightning bolt from the sky; one is reminded of the vengeful but arbitrary gods of Greek or Roman lore.

Personally, it saddens me that Harambe had to be killed whatever the reason, but I’m in no position to judge either the parents or the zoo authorities because I wasn’t there. And neither were the millions who have leapt to the barricades of blame

Libby Purves in The Times said: ‘The freedom of nasty people is the liberty of us all’. And she has a point, but I wonder at what point we might ever lose our desperate urge to condemn strangers without pausing to examine our own failings.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

4 comments… Add yours
  • Yorkshire Pudding 3rd June 2016

    Four year old kids can be very naughty as I am sure you were when you were a four year old boy. It was very sad that an innocent silverback had to be killed but why this should have ignited such feelings of vengeance is beyond my comprehension. Do these idiots get as angry about a child starving to death in Aleppo or the countless babies who die from diarrhoea in Africa?

  • Maria 5th June 2016

    It’s honestly sickening to read the comments under the many articles decrying a gorilla to the point of wanting to destroy the lives of people who meant no harm to anyone. The parents have had death threats and now more than half a million people are call for their lynching. Where are all these fanatics coming from? Am I expected to believe that someone from across the planet is losing sleep over a dead animal in the US? And yet, they are adding to the incredible stress that family is under. It must be nothing short of a nightmare to know that half a million people want your life ruined and some even want you dead.

    Some celebrities (who are not yet sick of their own voices) started their own choir of condemnation, using their platforms to propagate this hysteria. How disgusting of them to increase the hounding of an ordinary family who does not enjoy the secured mansions and protection they’ve got and can’t simply speed off on a private plane to a remote island when the pressure gets to an unbearable level. After seeing hundreds of thousands already attacking this family, they felt the need to add some more. They’re more worried about virtue signalling and writing inspirational quotes on Twitter.

    I’m not sure how many of those who added their names to the witch hunt, between a cup of coffee and a wank, pardon the language, even realise that this is real life and affecting real people, whilst they will tranquilly go about their day after inflating the numbers. Clicking is very easy.

    Thank you for one of the – very few – logical articles on this subject.

    • Mr Parrot 6th June 2016

      It would be interesting to know what would have happened if the boy had fallen into the snake pit and say a boa constrictor had been shot. I doubt there would have been the same outpouring of grief for a reptile.

      • Maria 13th June 2016

        In this day and age, who knows.

        These people don’t even employ anything resembling logic. They went as far as organising a vigil and constructing a memorial.

        Fortunately, local authorities had more brains than they did and put a swift end to the story. It turns out the person who started that petition is a “petition hobbyist”, this one being number 13 on her list already. Such people sit and wait for something to latch on to so they can gain some notoriety. It backfired right in her face.


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