"No, no, we're completely normal, we swear!"

There are times when you just have to laugh at the absurdity.

First, a little history:

There's a fellow who, about a year ago, managed to post 146 messages on SD.Net's BBS before they banned him. He was by no means the strongest debater in the world . . . his sporadic decent points were not well-stated, and his inexperience left them as not-well-argued. Worse, he allowed their swarm tactics and personal attacks to distract and mislead him. He all too often fell back on tales of his personal military background which seemed unbelievable. But, when challenged, he'd always offer to demonstrate in person to nearby debaters, and even placed cash bets on the matters in question.

The SD.Net groupthink brigade, however, simply declared that (1) his tales were all completely impossible (in spite of at least a couple of them being acknowledged as possible by board posters), (2) he was a troll for either (a) posting too much or (b) not posting enough when people demanded a reply, and (3) he was a complete BS artist because he (a) did not have an operable scanner with which to (b) produce paperwork in support of his own background. He offered to mail them, but of course the SD.Net people declined.

Note, though, that I'm not really faulting them too much for the above. The personal attacks, mindlessly self-contradictory complaints, and other such distractions are the SD.Net status quo, and while this guy had the occasional interesting observation he was, alas, by no means the sharpest newbie debater ever seen.

Had that been the end of it, it would be a non-event . . . just another episode of the banning of the opposition by the SD.Net crowd. But, of course, they had to go and obsess over the guy:

- They looked up his phone number and encouraged each other to call it.
- They googled based on his name and town and made quite inventive claims based off of it.
- They posted aerial photos of his home.
- They passed around his IP, e-mail, and home addresses.
- They contacted the Better Business Bureau about the company he claimed to work for, and threatened to try to call the IRS (or, for non-US readers, the tax men) on him.

Naturally, Wong not only allowed these to be posted on his board, but also posted all the info on his website. And, of course, he has made a habit of encouraging his followers to harass his opponents outside of the Vs. Debate in examples innumerable. ("Stonesour" was a classic example of a direct encouragement, though tacit permission (such as was given to MK Sheppard) is also included.)

Oh, but before you think them completely insane, just step back for a moment, because you're obviously, clearly mistaken. You see, they are completely normal, and it is everyone else who is obsessed with them. It's so obvious, when you think about it. Naturally, everyone wants to be a part of their peculiar subculture.

I mean, really . . . if you disagree with someone about a TV show or a movie, don't you always make sure you can find aerial photos of their home and tell people you know to call them and harass them or send them death threats over their opinions while you make up a website with their personal info on it?

And so now, we come to the current events that inspired this post:

Of course, I've previously pointed out the profound contradiction of Wong's wherein he bemoans the "ASU Coward" who called his house to harass him, yet also posts other people's personal information and encourages its use for harassment. (Such contradictions are fairly common over there, after all . . . if SD.Net's BBS is invaded it is wrong and evil, so they simply pretend to all be going over to other boards individually when they're the ones doing the invading.)

But, I have to revisit the "ASU contradiction" for a moment. You see, the basic principle that Wong has evidently operated by is that it is morally okay to have your online opponents harassed offline. Be this at work, home, school, via government, or what-have-you, it's alright because if their opinions differ from yours regarding a TV show, politics, or whatever, they are idiots who deserve what they get (or whatever you can cause them to get).

And so I find recent events amusing . . . the guy who got banned a year ago apparently has contacted one of Wong's site sponsors and pointed out that SD.Net's BBS denizens trade in porn. Wong got a hold of the e-mail, then promptly posted to the BBS that this guy was a "chickensh[!]t" for trying to get a sponsor to withdraw and bring about a closure of the site. In other words, Wong got mad.

Now, while I don't condone the guy's actions, I have to laugh at the reaction of Wong and friends. After all, the guy simply took a silly online debate into the 'real world', after Wong and his fellow freaks had done the same to him. And, of course, we have to compliment the guy . . . he at least had the decency to keep his 'real-world' 'reprisal attack' SD.Net-related! Wong and friends never make such distinctions with their 'real-world' 'aggressions'.

(I would say that this might bite them in the butt someday if they found someone who plays as dirty as they do. But, they already know what this is like, at least in the online side of things . . . when Wong and SD.Net attacked TrollKingdom.com, for instance, the SD.Net BBS moderator's forum was suddenly available for public consumption. It was an interesting read, but more amusing for the smackdown value.)

Wong's re-posting of the reprisal attack instantly produced over 75 angry messages from the SD.Net crowd, which viewed him as stupid and vindictive. Almost immediately they were talking about signing up the posted e-mail address for spam and porn, actively stalking him all over the internet, making fun of him for being Republican (SD.Net regulars seem to almost all be leftists/Democrats), posting satellite maps of his neighborhood and downplaying its real estate value, and . . . inevitably . . . they then talked about doing drive-bys to take pictures of his house, stopping to knock on the door, and so on.

The only one of the above which got a negative response was the part about property values in the area, and that was only a guy saying it was a nice neighborhood, not asking why in the hell it mattered or pointing out that trying to say he was poor as another personal attack was just infantile.

All the rest of the suggestions or stalkings were seconded or applauded by the crowd. And yet, it's everyone else that is odd . . . not them.

But seriously, it isn't that they don't recognize that such activity is weird. Some of them got on to "MK Sheppard" when he was trying to call my home and workplace, and "Mike_6002" for his threatening e-mail, noting that such behavior was wrong. The only problem is that the leader of their little subculture doesn't agree, and over time they've all softened to the idea. (IIRC, "Stravo" was one of the ones who got on to "MK Sheppard" and/or "Mike_6002", though this time around he was the one calling for signing up SD.Net's enemies for pornspam.)

And, of course, to hear them tell it they really are completely normal and well-adjusted individuals. For instance, take Wong's hardline approach to those who disagree with him (i.e. to him they're all idiots and are treated as such), mix that with his posting of information about his opponents and encouragements to harassment, and then read the following quote:

"I don't think the man is brain-dead so much as just plain evil. Seriously, he has shown himself to be utterly devoid of anything resembling ethics; he has his little book of rules which everyone in the world must be forced to live by, and any kind of dishonesty, bullying, or otherwise immoral tactics are perfectly acceptable means to that end."

That quote comes from Mike Wong, during the recent Schiavo controversy. Ironic, isn't it?