Home > Uncategorized > Is it OK to dox white supremacists?

Is it OK to dox white supremacists?

What do you all think about the ethics of doxing attendees at the white supremacist rally? Freedom of speech is not freedom from consequences. However, with the power of the crowd, the consequences are sometimes outpacing what a reasonable person would deem fair (example: puppy poo girl and Justine Sacco). And the consequences of the crowd making mistakes can be devastating to innocent people (like in the ‘find Boston Bombers‘ incident). So how do you evaluate the actions of the people doing the doxing in this case?

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. August 14, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    I would evaluate the actions of the people doing the doxing based on the results and the context of their intent to dox. If they accurately identify the white supremacist, they are reducing some of the harm that can occur from doxing. What exactly is the intent? If the intent is to expose and shame white supremacists to their communities, future white supremacists would have two options: stop being a white supremacist or further obscure their identity. If they’re deeply imbedded into this ideology, they’re probably going for option two. The threat of doxing could make it more difficult for these people to come out into the light.

    Even if we assume that intent and context meet the right criteria to dox someone, how can we ensure that this information, if made public, isn’t placed into the hands of someone homicidal? In Seattle yesterday, police blocked the Solidarity Against Hate protesters from converging on the Freedom Rally Seattle protesters at Westlake Park. Solidarity Against Hate protestors were enraged. Because a white supremacist murdered someone at the Unite the Rally in Virginia, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Seattle Police Department was concerned about a possible vengeance attack on the Freedom Rally Seattle people. Not only can the crowd make a mistake of doxing the wrong person, but crowds can be infiltrated by people with an ambiguous moral compass. And those people can be violent. Even though I despise the white supremacists who gathered at the Unite the Right in Virginia, I can’t assume everyone there was on board with someone from their group terrorizing and murdering the counter-protesters. In fact, I would be ignorant to make such a broad generalization. But people in crowds can lose their sense of individual self and responsibility, and, like in Seattle’s protests yesterday, they can generalize the “other” as an evil that maybe doesn’t deserve to breathe the same air as them, as a Nazi.

    Crowds are not democratic entities. They are prone to deindividuation and groupthink, and when they are motivated by ideology and emotion, crowds run the risk of becoming destructive. They run the risk of bulldozing into decisions without really considering all of the consequences. At the same time, we can’t ignore white supremacists and allow them to feel comfortable in their beliefs. White supremacy is a violent ideology, and violent people should not gain the privilege of fairness and safety. I guess my question to follow this up would be: “Should white supremacists feel safe?”

  2. August 14, 2017 at 1:13 pm

    There are two connected issues here; I’m not sure which one (or both) doxing covers. One is publicizing someone’s attendance at a public event, the other is publicizing details on how to (physically?) locate/contact someone. The former doesn’t seem objectionable since the event is public by definition (but what if everyone at the event is wearing hoods? is it ok then?). Revealing physical address is surely wrong since it implicitly encourages physical assault (but what about revealing employer which reveals place of work?). But what about revealing phone number (and are work and home different?).

    Then there’s the whole separate question of what is right when you learn that someone has been to such an event. E.g., was the Berkeley store right in what they did?

  3. August 14, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    For me, this brings up a host of related issues. In the America I grew up in, I would not personally consider “doxing” and would have tended to assume that the government would be on the lookout for and deal with people who were domestic terrorists regardless of their particular brand of terrorism. There were many Nazi sympathizers in the USA (and in the UK) before WWII. And, of course, during my life here (post-WWII), there have been other despicable acts of terror by KKK and others. In some cases, local governments have been complicit in these acts. However, I always had faith that the federal government had the power, the authority, the mandate to root these out. Under those circumstances, doxing seems too prone to error and too prone to unintended consequences. Publishing the name and address of a white supremacist, for example, might result in someone else killing that person or starting a fire that not only killed that particular white supremacist but innocent people as well. I am not a law enforcement official or particular skilled in the art. So, I could easily and accidentally make a mistake as well. It is not something I should get involved with because there are authorities who are experts and will enforce the rule of law. If someone performed an act of domestic terrorism, they still should be captured, put on trial and if convicted sentenced to prison, not the victims of vigilantes.
    Now, however, we have a POTUS who praises white racists by insipid rhetoric. One must remember this is the same #45 who rants and raves about the free press, our closest allies, his political opponents, Mexicans, Muslims, people in his own party and even people he himself has appointed. So, in that context, weak and ambiguous “all sides” condemnation is actually an implicit endorsement. The person he appointed as AG certainly has a racist record and several close WH advisors do as well. So, frankly, I no longer feel confident that the federal government will necessarily do what is needed to squelch domestic terrorism of all stripes. Those that seem aligned with #45’s message of hatred and bigotry may well get off scot free in the courts no matter what illegal activities they engage in. This might argue that anything not strictly illegal is fair game.
    On the other hand, violence begets more violence and nastiness begets more nastiness. Whether or not there turns out to be active collusion of #45 with Putin, dividing America by race, class, religion, region, party is precisely what I would do if I were a Putin who wanted to reconstitute the USSR: step one, weaken American by having us ditch our alliances and by enhancing internal divisiveness. Adding any degree of nastiness by “outing” someone — even a despicable someone — is throwing another log on the fire. This consideration tends to bring me down on the side of NOT doxing. I would rather spend time and energy trying to find ways to unite the country.

  4. August 14, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    If someone attends a rally, they are making a public statement of support for something, so I don’t think it is doxxing to reveal their identities. Nobody is forced to attend these events; what are they there for if not to be publicly identified with a cause? And given ubiquitous video and the power of automated and human facial recognition, how can anyone reasonably expect anonymity at a public event with media coverage? The old KKK at least had the sense to wear hoods.

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