Assignment 5.5: Dibbell, J. (1994). A Rape in Cyberspace. The Village Voice, 39-41. (CAUTION! This article is widely read and discussed because the incident it describes has important implications for the process of organizing in cyberspace. However, it contains graphic language. If you have any concerns about reading it, please notify me.) NOTES: LambdaMoo- MUDs- MOO,which is short for “MUD, Object-Oriented.” All of which means that it was a kind of databaseespecially designed to give users the vivid impression of moving through a physical space that in reality exists only as words filed away on a hard drive.
My Comments: This Mr. Bungle character is something else. He is sick to be exact. A fat Bisquick-faced clown dressed in cum-stained harlequin garb and girdled with a mistletoe-and-hemlock belt whose buckle bore the quaint inscription KISS ME UNDER THIS, BITCH! Woah?! The rape he committed in the living room on LambdaMoo was certainly crazy, but what is one to do when a user has the ability/capability coupled with a cruel mind to do what he did? I agree with Dibbell that Mr.Bungle’s sick actions asks us to behold the new bodies awaiting us in virtual space undazzled by their phantom powers, and analyze it to get to the crucial work of sorting out the socially meaningful differences between those bodies and our physical ones. That was one statement/question that caught my attention and got me thinking. Whether he did it to prove a point or did it just because he is a sick perve, Im not sure. But what matters is that it did happen and it has been traumatizing for the users behind these avatars such as exu and moondreamer that were violated, even though it is just a virtual world. To witness something like this happen was an eye-opening event for LambdaMoo and the MUD world. Something needed to be done. Furthermore, Dibbell stated that “to participate in this disembodied enactment of life’s most body-centered activity is to risk the realization that when it comes to sex, perhaps the body in question is not the physical one at all, but its psychic double, the bodylike self-representation we carry around in our heads — and that whether we present that body to another as a meat puppet or a word puppet is not nearly as significant a distinction as one might have thought.” It sounds like a confusing statement at first but I agree with him and it strikes deep at our psychological roots of our “psychic double.” Additionally, I like that Dibbell included the discussion of technolibertarians. “For them, MUD rapists were of course assholes, but the presence of assholes on the system was a technical inevitability, like noise on a phone line, and best dealt with not through repressive social
disciplinary mechanisms but through the timely deployment of defensive software tools. Some asshole blasting violent, graphic language at you? Don’t whine to the authorities about it — hit the @gag command and said asshole’s statements will be blocked from your screen (and only yours). It’s simple, it’s effective, and it censors no one.” It’s true. A user could have just blocked Mr. Bungle, however, it was also good of him to address that although a user may block another such as Mr. Bungle, it did not stop other users from seeing what he was doing to that user that blocked him. That is why I am happy that this has brought about “wizardly” and what not features to block and rid such users from the server.