It’s been said (probably) that the measure of a person is in how they react to the unexpected, the unwanted, and the unpleasant. Few things in this world strike straight to the outrage gland like a wrongful accusation. Being called a liar when you know you’re telling the truth? infuriating. Being called a thief after paying? Almost unbearable. And it was THIS accusation that led a young gentleman to set off down the merry trail of multiple lawsuits, stopping at poor judgement junction several times along the way, only to land at the inevitable destination : idiotic Irish court ruling.
So there’s this youtube video, right….
A clip appeared a year and a half ago of somebody, not the gentleman in question, skipping out on a cab fare. HIVEMIND TO THE RESCUE! The internet, never missing an opportunity to cock things up (see also reddit and the Boston bombings), falsely tormented a chap called Eoin McKeogh when he wasn’t even in the country at the time. Yes, it was a terrible thing for somebody to have done. Yes, it was even worse the dog’s abuse that this young fella got for it when it wasn’t him. That’s pretty much where the story should have ended, with online insults being countered with online exoneration. The circle of digital bullshit righting itself, one might say. Anyone in McKeogh’s place would have felt wronged, and perfectly entitled to stand up for themselves. And, of course, make the whole thing much, much worse. What did Eoin do? LAWYER UP!
…and now your man is after suing google, right…
And Facebook, both of which organisations did not act quickly enough to remove the commentary on the video. Let me give you a little bit of context here. There’s a simple formula that states that when you take a group of people, give them an audience and add anonymity you end up with disgusting, incoherent, racist, ranting morons. For the most part it’s 100% true, which is why places with comment moderation (e.g boards.ie, youtube comments, reddit to a degree) end up with ome measure of control but plenty of opportunity for insults to fly. The safest place on the internet? Facebook, because the anonymity is exactly nil. Everyone uses their real name, everybody behaves a lot better. Turn off the identification and you know what you get? 4chan, an absolute free-for-all that can throw up absolute genius as well as absolute horror. The point i’m getting at here is that when your internet usage moves beyond facebook, your college intranet, and anything to do with Jim Henson, most people learn to toughen their hide just a little bit. Most people accept that there’s a bit of slagging that goes on. Sometimes that slagging goes too far. The worst thing that anyone can do in that situation is draw more attention to it (see also Streisand Effect). Eoin embarked upon a legal crusade to make Google and FB remove all comments as well as the video itself, which i’m not going to link to from here. I don’t know whether he really thought this through or was led by a lawyer spotting euro signs above a cash cow, but the obvious thing happened and the press got a hold of it. Uh-oh, thinks Eoin, this could possibly lead to even more embarassment for me! How could i POSSIBLY manage to turn the media against me even though i did nothing wrong in the first place?
….so then he tries to block the newspapers from publishing his name, right….
Yes, I’m serious. Early in 2012 Eoin tried to keep his name out of the press using yet more lawyering to gain injunctions against all major news groups. The beauty part? He lost. Now, if he hadn’t bothered doing that, he’d have been an “in other news” at the end of the half ten Yoof Newz segment on rte 2. But what, my friends, do you suppose happens when you lose a court battle to stop the press from publishing your name? That’s right. Neon lights, fireworks, a week of non-stop coverage of “That Little Shit That Tried To Silence Us” from the Irish media.
I have two major problems with Eoin’s handling of this. Firstly, he went to court because someone made mean comments about him on the internet. While this is absolutely his right, it also makes him, by the definition of any internet user, A Giant Bitch. In fact, to protect his anonymity, i’ll just refer to him as “Bitch” for the rest of this rant. Bitch’s second mistake was to think that by shouting “shut up, shut up, stop looking at me” through a giant megaphone that this would all blow over and someone would hang a medal off the cross on his back. Through both means, Bitch has managed to take a situation in which he could not possibly have come across as the bad guy and make himself look foolish on a huge scale. Surely anyone with common sense could see that the kid is either misguided or taking extremely bad counsel? Surely the legal institutions of this great nation would step in and protect the foolish young Bitch from his own ruinous machinations of litigated mania? NOPE!
….so now the JUDGE reckons he has to be deleted from the internet. EVERYWHERE!
Yes, Bitch has finally found an ally in the paleolithic ignorance of the Irish bench. Today the judge in the original case (the one against Big G and FB) has said that all reference to the video must be deleted from the internet worldwide by Google and Facebook. In other words, “Sure them lads are the internet police, aren’t they? tell them to delete it all or whatever. Now, sonny. Is that what you wanted, yeah?” Can either company deliver on this? Well, technically they’d have to get rid of this article, wouldn’t they? But it’s not on their domains! Oh no! If the judge in question understood any of the last 4 sentences i’ll eat my own head.
The problem for Bitch is simple. It’s impossible to remove anything from the internet completely. He started off on a righteous crusade and has turned himself into a self-righteous, injury claims 4 u, misguided naif without any credibility. For the rest of his life, he’s going to be the guy that tried to sue his way out of a slagging. Even if he didnt deserve it, he’s made it so much worse now that it’s out of his control.
As for global deletion of all references, I’ll be waiting to hear from Google and the Irish judicial system to tell me to delete this post.