THE EVIL THAT MEN DO
A couple of months back, Jason Fortuny, a 30-year old Kirkland, Washington computer programmer decided to play a prank. He posted a personal ad on Craigslist, a classifieds website, posing as a 27-year old female looking for a consensual sexual experience involving violence and subversiveness.
Within 24 hours, Fortuny, or the woman he was posing as, received nearly 150 responses, some included pictures (the classified requested photos), personal phone numbers, email addresses and the real names of the responders. Fortuney therein decided it would be funny to post all of this information online. And that's when it went from being prank to a disaster.
From the Wired blog
:Fortuny, whose MySpace profile says he likes to "push people's buttons" then posted all the photos and correspondence on what may be the web's lamest wiki, Encyclopedia Dramatica.
Judging from the comments in his LiveJournal page, Fortuny seems not to realize or pretends not to realize that his prank may cost people their jobs and possibly, their marriages (if you really want to see the pics and original ad, click on the first link in that post).
He also doesn't seem to get that he's opened himself up to huge civil lawsuits under Washington law.
These aren't prominent people, there weren't breaking the law and there's no news value in posting their identifying information. There'd hardly be any value in posting the stuff even with the information removed and faces blurred on the photos, but there might be some -- if only as a warning to naive people.
And I hope Fortuny does get sued.
At first I thought of this "prank" as frat boy boorishness, but its worse than that.
My sympathies to the guys who responded and take note -- any of you out there -- anything you divulge over email can come back to haunt you, even when divulging that information is illegal.
If you want to respond to personal ads on the internet, use a non-work address and be discreet until you are certain you can trust the other person.
And, just a note about people who say they "like to push other people's buttons" and who are prone to writing things like "See, I get away with everything I do because I understand how the system works. You sit there frustrated and bitter at people like me because, try as you might, you just can't get past yourself. And you can't see how it's possible to be like me, and that just eats you up inside."
People like that aren't charming or funny.
They're narcissistic sociopaths. In this case, a narcissistic sociopath who doesn't yet realize he needs a good lawyer.
While I am by no means condoning deviant behavior and infidelity, I still find myself despising Fortuny and sympathising the responders. Despite his warped and backhanded valiant efforts as a moralist, Fortuny is nothing more than a mean-spirited child. The mentally deformed and scarred personality has been through a great deal
himself and perhaps saw this as an opportunity to gain notoriety but as a result, ruined the lives of many.
But I have yet to explain why this bothers me so. Craigslist issues and the potential deconstruction of cybertrust aside, Fortuny represents everything ugly about the Internet: the detached anonymity, the antipathy of distance, the maliciousness spawned by boredom, but it's the inability to regret his actions that saddens me the most. The subhead of his blog
reads "getting away with everything you can only dream of," his livejournal picture shows the smug prankster raising his middle finger. On his MySpace page, he lists Anydy Kauffman as one of the people he would like to meet. In his own warped mind, Fortuny saw this as brilliance, a new level of cyber-comedy.
Even worse, Fortuny has inspired a copycat; Michael Crook, a New York state resident, with a reprehensible past has done the same thing but with worse repercussions (i.e., divorce, job loss, publicly sullying reputations beyond repair, exposing deeply personal information to the masses). Crook not only posted the names of the responders, but he actively investigated their lives digging up social security numbers and deeply personal information. Again, a new level of low.
And while Fortuny's deviant humor is problematic, it never quite dabbles in Holocaust revisionism. On Crook's blog
, he writes the following post entitled "I like this guy":Tuesday, December 12, 2006, 10:09 PM - News
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's President, is a pretty cool guy.
Because he says that jews will soon be wiped out.
I respect anyone who has that as a goal.
After all, any religion that whines about a supposed "holocaust" needs to end.
Common sense dictates that that the holocaust never happened. Race heroes like David Duke have proven that the gas chambers were never used to kill jews.
But it's okay..whenever there's trouble, a jew just yells "hellllp! Anti-semitism", and the world comes running.
Crook is also the creator of ForsakeTheTroops.com
, a "controversial" website featuring poorly written content like the essay Our Troops: Paid Too Much
. Crook's poisoned mind created the site with the sole intention of offending visitors to the extent that the offended would purchase the URL just so they can take it down. And astonishingly, it worked. ForsakeTheTroops.info now reads, "This hateful site has been purchased and removed." It's no coincidence that Crook's official website features the subhead, "It might sound harsh but it IS all about the money."
Fortuny and Crook are both sick individuals with incredible misplaced anger, one just happens to be more original than the other. But surely this is something people of their respective levels of depravity already know--these men are no strangers to self-loathing.
I can only ask myself why these stories are occupying so much mental space right now. I guess it's the same reason why nearly a month after the Michael Richards incident, I still feel uncomfortable watching Seinfeld
. Being exposed to the ugliest part of the human soul is truly sobering, a painful reminder of the awful things we're capable of. Or maybe the saddest part is that just recently, in the past couple of months, there was Fortuny which begot Crook and I'm pretty sure that in the not-so distant future, there will be others...