a theory regarding anonymity on the internet

i have stumbled across a new, scientific theory that i believe best explains what anonymity does to people on the internet.
internet anonymity theory

you are free to plug in the name of your favorite abuser of anonymity and crunch the numbers because the theory accounts for a diversity of subjects. john gabriel’s ‘greater internet dickwad’ (gid) theory best explains what happens when you give a fool a mask and a microphone. of course, the theory may need slight augmentation to account for extreme cases that end up in jail, but this general theory appears viable.

(ht: the gothamist)

on malice, predictable stupidity, and chess

King and Queen together on Chess Board

King and Queen stand together on the playing field, outnumbered by their opponent.

Malice breeds predictable stupidity. Humans will do and say ridiculous things to protect pride and power. When gossip and anonymous animosity pervade a political power structure, surrendering all desire to succeed within said power structure becomes an enlightened advantage, resulting in candid lucidity and articulated observation against which those who remain within the structure, constrained by their fear of exposure, must regularly defend and duplicitously connive. The rest is just playing chess… patient, calculating chess, because malice, pride, and self-doubt cripple an opponent into a predictable stupidity, and predictable stupidity is the one weakness that consistently leads to one’s demise.

a note on dispute resolution within the church

There are three steps recommended in Matthew 18 to resolve a dispute within an organization, in this case the church. (See the note below regarding the difference between dispute resolution within an organizational/church setting vs. those outside of an organization.)

Matt. 18:15: “If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault when the two of you are alone. If the member listens to you, you have regained that one.

Matt. 18:16: But if you are not listened to, take one or two others along with you, so that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses.

Matt. 18:17: If the member refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if the offender refuses to listen even to the church, let such a one be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.

Guardian Council

Members of the Guardian Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran discussing matters.

When involved in an internal dispute, first go directly to the person and try to resolve the issue. Do not gossip. Do not go to someone else. Do not whine in an advisory committee. Do not scheme to rally opposition against the person with whom you have a problem. Do not use your friendships with others to deprecate the reputation of your perceived opponent. Go directly to the person, act like a mature adult, and attempt to resolve the issue. If there is distance between you, call them. Email them. If you can, meet with them in person. Communicate your issue like an adult. Don’t talk to everyone but the one with whom you have an issue.

If the dispute is not resolved, take a few others with you to the person and attempt to resolve the dispute. Note that it does not say go to meet with others about the person, or convene a meeting in the absence of the other person, but in the presence of all parties at the same time. Let the differences be resolved together as one body.

If there is still no resolution and the dispute remains, take it to the entire church, again, in the presence of the person in question.

Note that in all three steps, the person under discussion is present to offer a defense of his/herself, to offer his/her opinion on the matter, or to offer an explanation. At no time in the process does a group meet in closed, private session without the person in dispute in the presence of the group. Meeting in the absence of the person in dispute is nothing more than collective gossip; those meeting about another person are not following the biblical precedent, but are participating in corporate gossip about another individual.

If an issue is not important enough to bring directly to the person in question, or if the one raising the issue is too much of a gossiping coward to approach the one with whom he or she has an issue, then the matter is not worthy of discussion; any other process is wholly unbiblical. Additionally, any eldership or church leadership that invites such behavior and meets with a known gossip in the absence of the person against whom a dispute is raised, and without attempting the three prescribed remedies laid out in Matthew 18, invites, participates in, and openly endorses a corporate form of gossip, which is not only unbiblical, but undermines the credibility of the pusillanimous leadership’s authority in the resolution process.

Authority and credibility are always enhanced by transparency and open communication, and are conversely diminished by secrecy and gossip.

Any church leadership that participates in or endorses – tacitly or explicitly – corporate gossip is worthy of consistent and scathing public condemnation and should expect as much.

“For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.” – 2 Samuel 12:12

Happy New Year.


(N.B. – If someone is actively committing a crime against you, call the authorities. This is especially recommended if the person a) is not a part of your organization and therefore under no obligation to adhere to your organization’s established system of dispute resolution (in this case, the church; cf. v. 15 “if another member of the church…“), or b) expresses no interest in reconciling with you. Likewise, if a criminal offender has demonstrated that anything you write or say to him/her in private will be taken out of context and relayed publicly or potentially used against you in a court proceeding, then deal directly with the police or appropriate authorities. The point is that one should deal directly and honestly with those with whom one has a dispute within an organization with established reconciliation procedures. If the one with whom you have a dispute has exhausted any semblance of professional integrity, then further private communication will most likely prove futile, and may actually exacerbate the situation.)

california online impersonation law goes into effect jan 1, 2011

California FlagA new California state law, SB 1411, goes into effect today, which makes it a misdemeanor to maliciously impersonate someone via a social media outlet or through e-mails. The bill is in response to a rise cybercrime that uses online anonymity on blogs, email, and other social networking sites to harm, intimidate, threaten, and defraud others, not unlike the seemingly never-ending saga of Dr. Golb and the Dead Sea Scrolls that played out in New York last year.

Here‘s the bill’s history. It is one of the few California bills to pass both the assembly and senate unanimously. Precedence is being set, and the laws are finally catching up with the crime and the criminals.

jewish journal puts face on victims of anonymous crime

Archaeologist Robert Cargill examines a full-scale facsimile of the 2000-year-old-plus Isaiah Scroll at Jerusalem’s Shrine of the Book. Photo by CTVC Ltd

Archaeologist Robert Cargill examines a full-scale facsimile of the 2000-year-old-plus Isaiah Scroll at Jerusalem’s Shrine of the Book. Photo by CTVC Ltd

In an article entitled, “Slander, Lies and the Dead Sea Scrolls,” author Tom Tugend interviewed me attempting to put a face on the victims of anonymous crimes. It’s worth a read if you haven’t already done so.

trying to dig oneself out of a hole: raphael golb posts his appeal online

Raphael Golb is handcuffed and led from a Manhattan State Supreme courtroom in New York to prison after being sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years probation. Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, was convicted on 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer. Photo: Steven Hirsch

Raphael Golb is handcuffed and led from a Manhattan State Supreme courtroom in New York to prison after being sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years probation. Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, was convicted on 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer. Photo: Steven Hirsch

There’s an old saying: “When you dig yourself into a hole, put down the shovel.”

Apparently, no one ever taught this to Raphael Golb, whose latest attempt to garner sympathy from the paranoid, the friendless, and those involved in similar ordeals is now available online.

And good news: this latest volley from Dr. Golb seems to be having the desired effect. For instance, the “Overturn the Wrongful Conviction of Raphael Golb” group on Facebook has seen its membership rise significantly from 15 to 16 over the past month. Given that at least one of those “members” is a marketing bot, I’d say that it won’t be long until the Raphael Golb Facebook group has as many fans as “The Great Kim Jong-Il” group (4377) or the “Sarah Palin for President 2012” group (92). Even ol’ Jimmy Barfield’s “Copper Scroll Project” has more supporters with 394.

Yes, Dr. Golb is back, and this time per the requirements of his sentencing and bail writing in his own name! Remarkably, Dr. Golb has essentially posted his conviction appeal online. I’m guessing the State of New York thanks him for the additional time to prepare its response. I mean seriously, didn’t Dr. Golb learn anything from the trial? He hung his lawyers out to dry by posting every possible angle of every possible line of their questioning online several months before the trial actually began! Every witness knew exactly what Golb’s attorneys were going to ask because the verbally-incontinent Golb had already posted it online months before. So thanks again for the advance notice.

(Unless, of course, Golb is using the same tactic he used during the trial, where he knew he would be found guilty 30 times, but decided to use the trial to attack his victims further, and decided to attempt to try his case in the blogosphere. The only problem is, I don’t think Dr. Golb’s most recent posting on the indymedia.org website qualifies as “protected speech.” I’m assuming he didn’t make any false claims in his indymedia post…)

For those of you who don’t want to waste the time reading Dr. Golb’s rant appeal, let me summarize it for you. I’ve listed who Raphael Golb thinks is responsible for his arrest and conviction in the table below:

People whose fault it is:

(in order of appearance)

People whose fault it is not:

  • Dead Sea scrolls “guild” or “monopoly”
  • “traditionalists”
  • “creators of museum exhibits”
  • a fake “consensus”
  • “defenders of the sectarian position”
  • “abuse of power and of financial influence” by scholars and academic institutions
  • “evangelical Christian educational institutions”
  • “orthodox Jews” who shared their basic perspective
  • Robert Cargill
  • museums
  • “religiously oriented scholars”
  • Larry Schiffman
  • NYU officials
  • Assistant District Attorney John Bandler
  • Patrick McKenna, an investigating officer assigned to the New York Country D.A.’s identity theft unit
  • New York Criminal Court Judge Carol Berkman
  • “acute stress reaction”
  • agreeing “to be interrogated without an attorney”
  • “sly” interrogation techniques
  • District Attorney Robert Morgenthau
  • New York court system and “rules”
  • jury selection process
  • failure of judge “to explain to the jurors that my case was the first of its kind”
  • prevention of Golb’s attorneys “from engaging in significant cross-examination of witnesses”
  • “Judge Berkman instructed the jury to find me guilty”
  • New York Jewish Museum
  • Salem witch trial
  • Senator Joseph McCarthy
  • Stephen Goranson
  • Duke University provost
  • UCLA faculty members
  • Risa Levitt Kohn
  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • “coincidences” like despite claiming not to have known of “Johnathan Seidel,” a rabbi in Oregon named Jonathan Seidel coincidentally graduated from Golb’s alma mater, Oberlin College, and coincidentally was introduced to Norman Golb in England in 1986, and coincidentally discussed things over a coffee with him.
  • jurors’ sheer fatigue
  • ill equipped jurors
  • academic “gatekeepers”
  • getting “carried away in the midst of a heated campaign of criticism which I [Golb] directed against a group of scholars
  • duplicitous museum exhibits
  • NYU
  • Raphael Golb

As you can see, just like his father and his theories, Golb argues that the reason neither is accepted by the academy is not because of problems with the theory or its proponent, but because of a massive conspiracy involving just about everyone else in the field. Raphael Golb’s appeal argues that his conviction was not the result of his own illegal activities, but the result of a grand conspiracy, and everyone else is to blame.

Conspiracy theories. Blaming others. Not taking responsibility for actions. Victim mentality. It seems like it never ends…

golb gets 6 months in jail, 5 years probation

Raphael Golb is handcuffed and led from the courtroom to prison after being sentenced to 6 months in jail for 30 counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer.

Raphael Golb is handcuffed and led from a Manhattan State Supreme courtroom in New York to prison after being sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years probation. Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, was convicted on 30 felony and misdemeanor counts of identity theft, forgery, criminal impersonation, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer. Photo: Steven Hirsch

Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb, has been sentenced to 6 months in jail and 5 years probation after being found guilty on September 30, 2010 of 2 felony and 28 misdemeanor counts of identity theft, criminal impersonation, forgery, aggravated harassment, and the unauthorized use of a computer.

Raphael Golb, son of University of Chicago Oriental Institute historian Dr. Norman Golb.

Raphael Golb. Photo: Steven Hirsch

The charges stem from a bizarre case where Dr. Golb used an army of internet aliases to falsely charge his father’s perceived rival, NYU Judaic Studies professor Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, with plagiarism, and then criminally impersonated Dr. Schiffman by opening an email account in Schiffman’s name, emailing Schiffman’s students and colleagues, and “admitting” to the “plagiarism” on Schiffman’s behalf.

Before the trial, Golb turned down a plea deal where he would have pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, paid a fine, and received two years probation. With guilty verdicts including two felony counts, Dr. Golb not only faces jail time and 5 years probation, but also faces the additional consequence of being disbarred from the New York Bar Association.

David K. Li / NY Post (Nov. 18)
David K. Li / NY Post (Nov. 19)
Jennifer Peltz / AP (Nov. 18)
Melissa Grace / NY Daily News (Nov. 18)
Paige Chapman / Chronicle of Higher Education (Nov. 18)
John Eligon / NY Times (Nov. 18)

 


For the record, I’ll make the following statement:

 

“I am satisfied with the verdict and the sentence in the case of the People of New York vs. Raphael Golb. The sentence fits the crime. During the trial, Dr. Golb showed no remorse, never apologized for his actions, believed what he did wasn’t wrong, and stated flatly that he’d do it again. The disingenuous apology he did finally offer epitomized his defiance:

“I’m sorry for all the wounding of feelings that my e-mail antics have caused…Before this case, I did not know that satirical hoaxes of the sort were treated as crimes in the United States of America.”

He abused the protected speech afforded him by the criminal trial process to attack his victims further, escalating his absurd and false accusations against his victims with the knowledge he could not be sued in civil court. He knew he was guilty, but decided to take as many people as he could down with him. He misused the criminal proceedings against him in attempt to put a leading scholar in the field and a good man, Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, on trial for something he did not do. Because Dr. Golb wasted the people of New York’s time and money in a trial he used as little more than a soapbox for his father’s dismissed scholarly views and a weapon to attack his victims further, I believe the sentence is appropriate.

I am thankful to Assistant District Attorney Bandler and his staff for their hard work in this case. I am thankful to Judge Berkman, who presided over a fair and impartial courtroom. I am pleased that the criminal justice system worked, and that justice was ultimately done. Most of all, I am thankful to my UCLA colleagues and especially NELC Department Chairs, Dr. William Schniedewind and Dr. Elizabeth Carter, and Humanities Division Dean, Dr. Tim Stowell, for their support throughout this entire ordeal. I am also grateful for my wife, Roslyn, and daughter, Talitha, for the love and support they’ve shown me throughout this case.

Please do not mistake my reaction to the verdict and sentence in this case as a happy one. I am not happy about this entire ordeal. No one wins in a situation like this. This is nothing but a tragedy, where academic pride and malice were unleashed in a well-coordinated effort on the internet with the deliberate intent of harming the reputations of other scholars.

If there is one lesson to be learned from this case, it is that there is no such thing as anonymity on the internet. Scholars must be willing to stand behind any statements they make in their own name or else not make them at all. While anonymity has been used in the past to make unpopular and dissenting speech, and while this right of free speech should be protected under the law, what Dr. Golb did – using anonymity as a weapon to attack good scholars via criminal impersonation, forgery, identity theft, and for aggravated harassment against others – is shameful. It is a violation of the law and dishonors the memories of those who have fought and died for the freedom we call “free speech.”

It is a sad reality that Raphael Golb set out in an attempt to rewrite the legacy of his father, University of Chicago historian Dr. Norman Golb. But, because he employed deceitful, unprofessional, and illegal methods to do so, he has ultimately tarnished his father’s legacy perhaps beyond repair. And, because evidence from the trial proceedings demonstrated that Dr. Norman Golb not only knew about, but appears to have participated in some of his son’s scorched earth campaign of defamation against other scholars, perhaps this disgraced legacy is not wholly unwarranted. This is perhaps the worst sentence of all.

I am satisfied with the outcome. I have moved on. However, because Dr. Golb has vowed to appeal, and thereby prolong this case, I unfortunately believe this is not the end, but rather only the latest, never-ending chapter in the continued legacy of the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

Robert R. Cargill, Ph.D.

 


 

Raphael Golb "apologizing" from a prepared statement, which included the recitation of several definitions of 'sarcasm,' 'satire,' and 'irony.' Photo by Hermann for News.

Raphael Golb "apologizing" from a prepared statement, which included the recitation of several definitions of "sarcasm," "satire," and "irony," for the judge. Photo: Hermann for News.

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