Some updates on the Occidental College situation.
First, for those who didn’t see my post yesterday, a quick recap: Yesterday, Men’s Rights Redditors discovered that Occidental College has an online form that allows victims of and witnesses to sexual violence to report the incidents anonymously.
Although the information is being collected to track trends, and no one will be charged with anything as a result of such a report, a number of Men’s Rights subreddit regulars decided it would be a great idea to flood Occidental College with false reports to basically break the system, and they suggested this to much acclaim; others proudly reported that they’d sent in bogus reports.
So what has happened since then? The story has been picked up by a number of sites, including Gawker, Business Insider, RawStory, and LAist. In a followup post, Adam Weinsten of Gawker confirmed that Occidental College had indeed been hit with some 400 bogus rape reports in the past 36 hours — that is, after posts encouraging false reports appeared on 4chan and the Men’s Rights subreddit.
Meanwhile, on the Men’s Rights subreddit, after belatedly realizing that this whole thing makes them look kind of bad, the subreddit’s mods are trying their best to make the whole embarrassing thing go away — and not really doing a great job of it.
The first mod to say anything publicly was sillymod, whose initial reaction to the calls to flood Occidental with false reports of rape was to boldly announce that … the mods really weren’t going to be doing anything about it. In a post titled “With regards to Occidental College’s ‘rape report form,’” Sillymod wrote:
some people are claiming that it violates the Reddit TOS. It is not clear to me that it does, and I have not removed the article yet. But I will assume that Reddit admins will get involved at some point. So be it. At least then we can get a definitive ruling on whether it breaks the TOS.
What leadership! A true profile in courage.
Sillymod went on to note that the headline of the post he wasn’t going to remove was actually completely wrong in implying that people were going to get charged with crimes after being anonymously reported, and then made a few suggestions:
As always, when something gets you outraged – pause, take a few deep breaths, and then think of the most productive action to take. Don’t knee-jerk your response like feminists do. Do you want to be viewed the same as Big Red?
It might seem a tad ironic — or perhaps completely and mind-bogglingly hypocritical — to bring up, as an example of a person behaving badly, a women who was the victim of online MRA vigilantes when trying to cool off the online MRA vigilantes in your own subreddit, but never mind, because a couple of hours later Sillymod returned with a new response to the Occidental College thing.
First, he removed the thread from the subreddit. (Note: removing a thread on Reddit doesn’t make it go away; it just removes it from the subreddit’s index.)
Then, in a new thread entitled “‘Why did sillymod remove the Occidental College post?’ Let me tell you why,” he decided to blame the whole thing on trolls.
So I was reviewing the post and the multitude of reports on it. I noticed a sad trend.
I noticed a lot of very young accounts encouraging bad behaviour, I noticed that the post was made by a self-proclaimed “shitlord”. I noticed that there was a lot of misconception/misinformation about the form in general, whether willfully spread to take advantage of people choosing not to read these things for themselves or not.
In the end, I can’t help but feel that we were trolled, and that is why I removed it.
Sillymod, who apparently doesn’t research anything before posting, added:
Some people have alleged that 4Chan was involved, which would support the idea that we were trolled.
Yeah, the dude who posted the original thread said explicitly he’d found out about it on 4chan, and there are screenshots of the 4chan thread floating around that would take all of 5 minutes to find.
In any case, Sillymod’s “argument” — or, rather, his assertion — that the Men’s Rights subreddit was the victims of “trolls” with “very young accounts encouraging bad behaviour” was quickly shown to be utter nonsense:
In the discussion that followed, a Men’s Rights regular called oneiorosgrip tried to use another specious argument in order to suggest that the whole controversy had been ginned up by evil feminist trolls. All those screenshots showing terrible comments with lots of upvotes? Those comments were, she suggested, upvoted by feminists to make the subreddit look bad:
So what you’re telling me is that initially, just in time for SRS to post it as “evidence” that MRAs were flooding Occidental with false reports, a comment with less than 60 upvotes was the top comment in the sub… and despite the fact that the comments you cite represent less 0.00002% of the sub’s population, you claim that single moment in time proves MRAs flooded occidental with accusations.
Weird, because by the time I discovered the thread, a number of the comments I screenshotted had been up for 15 hours, and one of the worst had a lot more than 60 upvotes.
15 hours is a pretty long “single moment in time.”
But hey, Sillymod and oneiorosgrip have their stories, and they’re sticking with them. Who are you going to believe, them — or your lying eyes?
Men’s Rights Activists: No matter what terrible things they do, it’s always someone else’s fault.
The MensRights mods have begun to try to clean up the mess — or at least remove the evidence of it. They’ve deleted most of the comments I linked to yesterday (Always Be Screenshotting). Has anyone involved in this faced any repercussions beyond having a comment or two deleted? I sent the mods a message to ask if they’d banned any of those who’d made those comments, and Nicemod replied:
I don’t see any reason why we should tell you anything at all.
I’m guessing that means “no.” But I wouldn’t really have to guess if they simply told me. Masters of Public Relations, these guys are not.
There’s more discussion of all this going on in the AgainstMensRights subreddit (which I feel I should mention again is not actually against men’s rights, but against the so-called Men’s Rights movement).
Here’s a discussion of another thread — which I hadn’t seen — in which Men’s Rights redditors talked about spamming Occidental College with false reports of rape. There are screenshots.
Here’s a thread with screenshots featuring our old friend ThePigman, an MRA blogger and long-time contributor to the Men’s Rights subreddit, proudly prooclaiming that he’d submitted a bogus rape report.
And here is a particularly damning screenshot of the entire Men’s Rights Occidental College thread some five hours after it went up. The second comment on the page, then three hours old and with several dozen upvotes, provides two links to lists of names of Occidental College staffers to serve as potential targets of false accusations. (It was later deleted, but SirSkeptic’s original comment was around for me to screenshot it 11 hours later.)
This, sadly, is what Men’s Rights activism looks like.
Oh, and MRB2012 was still posting in the Men’s Rights subreddit as of 5 hours ago, so it looks as though he hasn’t been banned even though he provided his MRA comrades with a specific list of individuals to falsely accuse of rape. And I have no way to check if he has been banned since then because the mods won’t speak to the evil Man Boobz.
Way to go, mods. Great job!
One last thing: Gawker’s followup post included a great quote from Occidental College sociologist Lisa Wade that I think puts the whole espisode in context perfectly:
The men targeting Occidental’s anonymous report form are mad that women are being listened to, that men’s voices are no longer given so much power that they can effectively drown out the voices of women. They’re mad because they’re not the only ones that matter anymore. I get it. To them, it really does feel unfair. Something really is changing. They ARE being demoted — from a superior to an equal — and it feels wrong to them because they’re so used to being privileged …
[The backlash is] a good thing. It means we’re winning the fight. They’re gonna have to get used to it.
I think she’s absolutely right. It’s going to take a few years — well, probably more than a few — and we’re going to see a lot more outbursts like this, but these aren’t the battle cries of a rising “human rights” movement. They’re the tantrums of small subset of the male population that can’t accept that the world has changed.