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Friday, June 02, 2006

Mopping on the Internet - now it is China's turn

The accessibility of the web to millions and millions of people can quickly create smart mops or tides of people turning onto each other.

I once mentioned the Korean doggie woman chased by the crowd after she didn't clean up the subway after her dog, well, pooed on the floor.

Now there is the case in China where morality takes a beating.

"It began with an impassioned, 5,000-word letter on one of China's most popular Internet bulletin boards, from a husband denouncing a student he suspected of carrying on an affair with his wife.Immediately, hundreds joined in the attack. "Let's use our keyboard and mouse in our hands as weapons," as one person wrote, "to chop out the heads of these adulterers, to pay for the sacrifice of the husband." Within days, the hundreds had grown to thousands, and then tens of thousands, with total strangers forming teams to hunt down the student's identity and address, hounding him out of his university and causing his family to barricade themselves inside their home."


The case exploded on April 20, when a bulletin board manifesto against Bronze Mustache was published by someone under the name Spring Azalea. "We call on every company, every establishment, every office, school, hospital, shopping mall and public street to reject him," it said. "Don't accept him, don't admit him, don't identify with him until he makes a satisfying and convincing repentance. Impassioned people teamed up to uncover the student's address and telephone number, both of which were then posted online. Soon, people eager to denounce him showed up at his university and at his parents' house, forcing him to drop out of school and barricade himself with his family in their home.

Others denounced the university for not expelling him, with one poster saying it should be "bombed by Iranian missiles." Many others, meanwhile, said the student should be beaten or beheaded, or that he and the married woman should be put in a "pig cage" and drowned."

Thinking of those "proposed actions", I wonder about the maturity of Internet users. It is easy to blame, and easy to write "poisoneous stuff" on the Internet. It is easy to blame in the disguise of anonymity - not that I am for a real name system.

But then, how different is this from the "I hate ..." websites that are all around us as well. Freedom of expression is a great, but how can it be that under the banner of freedom, people get hurt?

Let me just wonder and ponder a bit more.

(By Asia Business Consulting)