“A Rape in Cyberspace” by Julian Dibbell…where to begin, oh, where to begin. Well, first I must say that I had a lot of trouble reading this—not because it was written at a really high level, but for the fact that we’re talking about a virtual rape. A virtual rape?!?!?!?!?!
I don’t even know what to blog about because this is more of a story than an argument like Keen, for example. Ok, how about this: We talked about the horrible actions made by “Mr. Bungle” and the ensuing happenings. It’s kind of sick that anyone would do this online, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was someone who is too much of a coward to confront anyone in real life (not to the extent of a rape, but I’m talking about some twerp who was bullied as a kid and wanted to extract revenge on someone for having a rough childhood or something and thought this was the best way to do it).
The question in class was whether or not a virtual rape is as bad as a real rape. I say no, but like we discussed in class, had that happened in 2008 instead of 1993, it could be much more serious. What makes it bad, nonetheless, is the emotional damage a virtual rape might cause someone. I wouldn’t be surprised if something like that today went down as the tort (civil wrong) called Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, which I’ve learned about in L201: Business Law and J300: Communication Law this semester.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress says that the conduct of the defendant (this is assuming the plaintiff (the victim) has taken the “raper” to court) is intentional and reckless and so outrageous as to offend a reasonable person, causing the plaintiff to suffer a serious mental injury.
Now this could go down as sexual harassment for sure too (or instead), and I hope nothing like that has come about, but people on MOOs, MUDs, or anywhere else on the Internet should be more careful if they are not already. Online law is a rising field (? - not sure if this is the word I am looking for), so people must realize that even in a virtual sense, they could still be held liable for illegal actions committed online (aside from hacking or piracy).