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March 13, 2013 6:58 AM   Subscribe


 
Woodhouse is a dick.

Responding to words with stalking and heavily implied violence is out of order.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 7:00 AM on March 13, 2013 [19 favorites]


British people talking trash is adorable.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:01 AM on March 13, 2013 [14 favorites]


Thin skin for someone who gets knocked around for a living.
posted by Think_Long at 7:05 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


'Quite' is the new 'loose'.
posted by Sing Or Swim at 7:07 AM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


i cant wait!! im give him a right pasting!!


Sounds dirty.
posted by R. Mutt at 7:10 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I read the story yesterday and laughed. But then I thought it about more and now think Woodhouse just sounds like a bully. Maybe if he was in a more mild mannered profession and not a professional boxer I'd still think it was funny. I'll bet if it was current world chess champion Viswanathan Anand I'd still be laughing.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:13 AM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I try to live by a simple mantra: Don't be a dick.

Both of these guys should try it.
posted by IvoShandor at 7:14 AM on March 13, 2013 [7 favorites]


Stalking? *Woodhouse* is the bully? I don't follow you folks at all. This guy's been harassing Woodhouse for months on twitter.
posted by inigo2 at 7:15 AM on March 13, 2013 [26 favorites]


Muppets, the both of them.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:17 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Thin skin for someone who gets knocked around for a living.

A lot of people find verbal abuse as or more affecting as physical abuse. People treat trolling as though it's something people should just learn to ignore, however I suspect most of those people haven't been followed by a troll for months on end.

The worst bullies in my high school intimidated people with words more than they beat people up, in part because they knew that authorities treated it as less harmful and thus less likely for punishment. I can remember being told on numerous occasions that "walking away and ignoring a bully is the best thing that you can do, and that eventually they'll give up." Guess what? After months, this guy didn't give up. Neither did our bullies in high school.

It shocks me to this day how casually we collectively write off trolling as some harmless act that people need to learn how to better deal with. Classic blame the victim stuff there.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 7:20 AM on March 13, 2013 [54 favorites]


Maybe post this in the open thread about British fighters dealing with internet trolls? (Honestly, what are the odds?)
posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:24 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rodrigo needs to be published. (I am serious.)
posted by TinWhistle at 7:28 AM on March 13, 2013


You can't ignore people on Twitter?
posted by Brocktoon at 7:33 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm reminded of the end of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back when they track down people who've insulted them on the Internet and show up at people's homes and beat up teenagers.
posted by Zed at 7:35 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


It would have been a million times better if the troll never backed down but then turned out to be a 12 year old girl.
posted by orme at 7:39 AM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


So, they allow children to have twitter accounts, AND they allow children to read twitter accounts. Seems fair.
posted by HuronBob at 7:41 AM on March 13, 2013


Stalking? *Woodhouse* is the bully?

He's a professional fighter who publicly threatened to give his troll a good pasting, and who actually took a trip to do so. That crosses so many lines.

Being an internet troll can make you an asshole, or even a harmful or dangerous asshole. Being a professional purveyor of violence who threatens violence on those who disrespect him, and takes actual steps towards inflicting that violence, makes you something worse than that.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:42 AM on March 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


MetaFilter: Silly boy has played with feathers now to get his arse tickled!
posted by Splunge at 7:44 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


orme: It would have been a million times better if the troll never backed down but then turned out to be a 12 year old girl.

Or it would have been better if the troll turned out to be Shane Singleton and he knocked Woodhouse out this time.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 7:45 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Missing phrase: putting the frighteners on.

Neither party appears particularly sympathetic though.
posted by jaduncan at 7:45 AM on March 13, 2013


Assholes gonna asshole.
posted by jaduncan at 7:48 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


You were taking his tweets way too seriously. I think he achieved exactly what he wished, no violence necessary. It was hilarious.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:48 AM on March 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


Think of the sophisticated technology and unparalleled access to the stored knowledge and diverse cultures of humanity that enabled this grunting dominance display.

You taught me language; and my profit on't is, I know how to curse.
posted by Segundus at 7:49 AM on March 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


This guy's been harassing Woodhouse for months on twitter.

Well, "reportedly." The Guardian doesn't cite any evidence, and the troll deleted a bunch, so we can't know for sure. FWIW, a Bleacher Report story Woodhouse tweeted heavily implies it was only the series of tweets just after the fight that sent Woodhouse over the edge. If that was the case (and yeah, Bleacher Report), I wonder if folks who don't think Woodhouse overreacted would change their minds.

You can't ignore people on Twitter?

Woodhouse claims at the end of the Storifycation that he just learned how to block someone. Seems a bit strange for someone who's made almost 10,000 tweets, but ok.
posted by mediareport at 7:49 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


British people talking trash is adorable.

I'll punch your bottom, mummy-kisser !
posted by devious truculent and unreliable at 7:54 AM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think he achieved exactly what he wished, no violence necessary.

I'd say that making a credible threat of violence is itself a violent act.
posted by Zed at 7:56 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Six or seven up from the bottom of the Storify is an approving tweet from a 'John Prescott'. Americans may not recognise the name and picture of the UK's former deputy prime minister (1997-2007).
posted by Hogshead at 7:59 AM on March 13, 2013


I don't care for this "someone harasses me on Twitter and the crowd cheers as I go off to [implicitly] beat him up" business - and I was bullied quite severely in school, have various issues about feeling safe around strangers, etc.

I don't like it because it's not rational - it's just the feeling that "someone who deserves it" is going to get theirs. "Someone who deserves it" can be anyone the crowd doesn't like - it isn't always some awful troll. Crowds are not subtle - one day the person who "deserves it" is a bully or a rapist or a racist; the next day it's a "paediatrician" because that starts with the same letters as "paedophile", or it's the trans woman everyone thinks is dodgy because she doesn't pass perfectly, or it's the weird kid that people decide is a satanist.

One thing that scared the hell out of me when I was being bullied was the sure and certain knowledge that the "crowd" in my school considered that I did deserve it - I was always afraid that things would get out of hand, my tormentors would be too stupid and crowd-maddened to stop, and I'd get seriously hurt.

The enjoyment of vengeance by spectators is a huge problem. Someone who has been injured - if they're hitting back and they're enjoying it, that's fine, but it's not a show.

And in this instance, social power is actually pretty equal, if not tilted in Woodhouse's favor. The troll may be an asshole with some social power through nastiness, but he's not famous or strong and he doesn't have the same relationship with his followers or a spare 1000 pounds to throw away on getting someone's address.

Being a decent human is really hard, horribly hard. But one of the things it entails is not enjoying crowd-sourced violence, not hitting people [or threatening to] unless you really have no alternative [especially when you're an adult who has many options], not getting revenge just because you can and it feels good.
posted by Frowner at 7:59 AM on March 13, 2013 [20 favorites]


I really hope that Woodhouse gets a visit from Plod.

This guy didn't just "hunt down his troll", he got his followers to identify the guy, publicly republished the address and announced his intention to inflict physical harm on the guy.

How does that not get a visit from the police, regardless of the events that lead up to it?

OK yeah... he's a "celebrity"...

Strange seeing as how we've only just had a raft of politicians and policemen telling the world that Saville got away with his actions because he was in the public eye and no policeman wanted to be the one to get involved in such a public case.
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 8:06 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I was severely bulllied as a child, and I thought this was funny. In an American context I might have been horrified, but I highly suspect in a British context it was MUCH different.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:16 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


i'm usually against violence and threats of violence, but this doesn't bother me at all. the troll got his bluff called, too bad for him. would have been a different story if this guy had actually kicked his ass. but he didn't.
posted by facetious at 8:17 AM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was severely bulllied as a child, and I thought this was funny. In an American context I might have been horrified, but I highly suspect in a British context it was MUCH different.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 4:16 PM on March 13 [+] [!]


I'm British and the thought of a trained boxer on his way to my house making threats doesn't bring on a fit of the giggles.

Even less so knowing that someone else somewhere who had my address was prepared to give it to him and with however many people on twitter encouraging him and laughing along with it.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:22 AM on March 13, 2013


^this^

It's not so much Woodhouse actually called out his Twitter troll as he asked his followers to find his address and they did.
posted by Kitteh at 8:25 AM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


I too am uncomfortable with every aspect of this, much as there is a certain amount of satisfaction to be derived from the fear of a keyboard warrior.
posted by dickasso at 8:33 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hogshead: "Six or seven up from the bottom of the Storify is an approving tweet from a 'John Prescott'. Americans may not recognise the name and picture of the UK's former deputy prime minister (1997-2007)."

John "Two Jabs" Prescott, for the record.
posted by chavenet at 8:35 AM on March 13, 2013


orme: "It would have been a million times better if the troll never backed down but then turned out to be a 12 year old girl."

A-and then she kicked his cloud.
posted by chavenet at 8:35 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


In an American context I might have been horrified

in an american context, one could never be sure that the troll wouldn't answer the door with a shotgun
posted by pyramid termite at 8:40 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're a bully for standing up to a bully? Really now.
posted by Jehan at 8:42 AM on March 13, 2013 [9 favorites]


Silly boy has played with feathers now to get his arse tickled!

This whole thing has been worth it just to read that. I can't stop reading it in SuperNanny's voice.

I'll be in my bunk
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:47 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


You're a bully for standing up to a bully only when you're physically capable of fighting back. Or that's how I'm reading it.
posted by loriginedumonde at 8:49 AM on March 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


You're a bully for standing up to a bully when you're a public entertainer standing up to someone who poses no threat to you, and you are virtually certain to be capable of quickly hospitalizing or killing someone, and you are specifically trained in the application of violence, and you stand up to the bully by threatening to beat him and taking a trip to do just that.

This is not particularly different from a baseball player tweeting that he's tired of that guy who always wears the green polo shirt and who's been shouting trash-talk at him all season so he's going to follow him home and beat the shit out of him. And then livetweeting when he really is following the guy home.

Much like falling through an open manhole into a sewer, hilarious when it happens to fictional characters but just tawdry, scary, and depressing in real life.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:17 AM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


You are a bully when you are both physically capable of fighting (not exactly fighting back as he was in no physical danger from the troll) and you are stood outside the house of a person you have made a credible threat of violence against.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 9:21 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Reminds me of that Richard Marx brou-ha-ha from this past January. As people said in that thread, you don't punch down. And that advice has both a figurative and a literal application.
posted by orange swan at 9:26 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


It would have been a million times better if the troll never backed down but then turned out to be a 12 year old girl.

@petulawilcox: I'm a southpaw and I think this will confuse @kencleanairsystems, particularly with his brain problem.

@kencleanairsystems: i cant wait!! im give @petulawilcox a right pasting!!
posted by rory at 9:34 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


You can tease someone into an eating disorder or suicide, etc.
But the threat of physical violence is perhaps not the best answer.

I don't think though the line there is as clear cut as it's being made. It's certainly not "harmless fun" to relentlessly abuse someone.
When precisely was it going to stop? And what, if not confrontation of some kind, would have stopped it?
So, perhaps confronting him personally without the threat of violence? Is there less of an implication that a pro-boxer can do you some harm if he says specifically he intends none?

The threat of violence is bad, but words can and do hurt, humiliation is one of the most powerful human emotions, there's a reason more people fear public speaking than death, and I very much dislike the pretense that verbal harm, wishing someone's family die of cancer, calling someone "nigger" or "gay" or "jew" relentlessly as I have seen is not a harmless act.

I don't think the other side is commendable at all. Understandable perhaps. Verbally abuse someone enough, throw down a challenge, don't be surprised if it gets answered (we've got the "fighting words" law in Illinois).

But "jimmyob88" and many others seem to be under the assumption that simply because of the technology to be able to reach more people with words and some bit of anonymity there's no accountability and the emotional harm that can be done by words should just be universally shrugged off.

I disagree. A person's reputation is a part of them. Their social self-image is a real, albeit abstract, thing. Damage to that can be genuinely harmful.

Again, the big question here is - when would it have stopped otherwise?
Indeed, what if "jimmyob88" was harassing someone who couldn't threaten him or reach him?
One big aspect of power is the power to do harm. We have to recognize our responsibility for that.
On the third hand, you bear some responsibility for being in the environment you're in and knowing how to deal with things without recourse to physical threat.
So, yeah maybe he should have learned to block people from his twitter account.
posted by Smedleyman at 9:37 AM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Isn't this the modern equivalent of CB users threatening to 'go mobile' and find out where you live for blocking their channel?
posted by mippy at 9:45 AM on March 13, 2013


Much like falling through an open manhole into a sewer, hilarious when it happens to fictional characters but just tawdry, scary, and depressing in real life.


A friend of mine once fell through an open manhole. His rescuer took one look at him down in that hole and loudly shouted, "Somebody threw away a perfectly good white boy!" before helping him out.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:46 AM on March 13, 2013 [20 favorites]


I was a bit uncomfortable with the idea, but this from the last storified tweet kind of put it in perspective for me:

its shocking that people think they can just say anything they like, ive had people mock my dead dad, enoughs enough

I'm not getting a sense of menacing or actual intent to pummel the guy from Woodhouse, more of a "hello, I'm a human being, let's shock you out of your trollish complacency". But maybe I'm a sap.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:48 AM on March 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


I'm with Rodrigo Lamaitre on this one. The troll did what he could for months on end (allegedly) because he believed that the chances of ever having to meet Woodhouse face-to-face and deal with the consequences of his tweets in any fashion were miniscule. Hopefully, this incident will make him think twice about abusing people online.


What was the story posted on here some months back about the Jewish man who'd been trolled for months by someone that turned out to be his friend's 17-year-old son? Said really hateful stuff about him and his wife (who, IIRC, was really ill at the time). The man eventually tracked the kid down and confronted him; the kid's parents were horrified and actually supported the man calling in the law (the guy declined). ON PREVIEW: Ah, found it (source).

I don't see that much difference between Leo Traynor hunting down his troll and what Woodhouse did. If the allegations are true, the troll repeatedly and consistently harassed Woodhouse just like that kid. Like Traynor, Woodhouse got fed up and tracked him down.


I think the only reason people here are talking about violence is because Woodhouse is a professional boxer, so they're just assuming he'd get violent with this guy (because pro boxers are incapable of handling difficult or distressing situations without getting violent, I guess?). If Woodhouse was an accountant or somesuch, folks here would probably be cheering him.

Incidentally, the troll was apparently in the habit of making physical threats. Someone posted an example in the Guardian comments section (presumably before the troll cleaned up his feed):

@jimmyob88
@DeejayLankey ur a nobody but ur not just any nobody ur an ugly nobody i myt cum down there n give u a fist sadwich #betterwatchout


Other commentors are reporting that the troll's pre-cleaned up timeline showed he also abused Woodhouse about the death of his father, has a fondness for telling women they're ugly and fat, and loves rape jokes and racism. Given what people are alleging about the troll's feed, it was only a matter of time before someone tracked this guy down and confronted him.


This guy didn't just "hunt down his troll", he got his followers to identify the guy, publicly republished the address and announced his intention to inflict physical harm on the guy...How does that not get a visit from the police, regardless of the events that lead up to it?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 11:06 AM on March 13


I'm not in the U.K., so I have no idea about your privacy laws, but here in the US it wouldn't be a police-worthy matter because the troll's address would likely be pubicly available via an online phone book or somesuch. As for announcing his intentions: Woodhouse also announced his intention to have a "brew" and to have tea with his troll, so I'm not entirely sure that "im give him a right pasting!!" is a credible threat in that context. Regardless of what he may or may not have announced, in the end Woodhouse made those intentions known only after sustained online (alleged) harassment from the troll, ultimately didn't get physical with the troll, and left after the troll apologized. So I'm not sure what's actionable under U. K. law, here.


I think this is just a very simple story about a troll who gambled and lost. He didn't count on other Twitter people knowing how to find out his info, and being willing to give it to Woodhouse. He never thought Woodhouse would finally get fed up enough to show up on his doorstep (you can tell because he fell back on the classic bully's excuse of "It was only a joke!"). Woodhouse could have certainly handled this whole thing better, but I don't blame him for taking a more direct approach.


Woodhouse claims at the end of the Storifycation that he just learned how to block someone. Seems a bit strange for someone who's made almost 10,000 tweets, but ok.
posted by mediareport at 10:49 AM on March 13


I've been on Twitter since the year it launched, and I still don't know how to block someone.
posted by magstheaxe at 9:52 AM on March 13, 2013 [15 favorites]


This is wonderful. Words have consequences.
posted by StephenF at 10:14 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Back in the good ol' BBS days, a guy who was an expert martial artist blew his cool over a flame war and did just this - tracked down the jerk who ticked him off online, to challenge him to a fight.

The nerd he found in his parent's basement was 6'6" and just over a quarter ton, and Not In The Mood For This Bullshit.

Our hero used all of his martial arts skills to leap back into his car without opening the door, and sped off into the night. We think he changed his handle, because he wasn't heard from again.

Woodhouse was lucky - if the kid he was stalking had three or four flatmates with cricket bats, his training and experience in the ring would mean jack diddly squat. Worse, if the nerd realized he was a law-abiding citizen entitled to the protection of the law, a quick ring to the constabulary would result in a nice little ASBO.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:23 AM on March 13, 2013


Maybe it's because I spend a lot of time on MMA boards where there are countless keyboard warriors dismissing professional fighters as punks and wimps, but I find this wholly satisfying.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:29 AM on March 13, 2013




At first I thought it was just some idiot razzing a pro athlete with pedestrian fan taunts like "You suck," but it's different hearing that the guy was also making jokes about his race and his father. Because then it goes beyond just Woodhouse.

Apparently, Woodhouse has had a history of brushes with the law, including assault of a cop, so I don't know if him having a peaceful resolution was a guarantee. On the other hand, he's had to deal with racial bullying his whole life. So... maybe not quite as simple as the story seemed to be at first.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:36 AM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


British people talking trash is adorable.

I invite you to come out to the streets of any city at closing time and then proclaim about how adorable we are.

(How many votes do we need to declare a moratorium on a stupid meme? I think I can round up 63 million or so)
posted by forgetful snow at 10:39 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


THAT DOES IT 'forgetful snow'!!1! I'm CALLING YOU OUT

You show up at my house and get what's coming to ya, if yer man enough! Here's my address, to save you the TROUBLE!

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
posted by facetious at 10:50 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, I'm sure there are some good memes about how Americans talk trash...
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 10:50 AM on March 13, 2013


The CPS recently opened a public consultation for guidelines on the legal standing of social media comments, which coincidentally closes for public comment today.

From the press release first announcing the consultation:
"These interim guidelines are intended to strike the right balance between freedom of expression and the need to uphold the criminal law.
"They make a clear distinction between communications which amount to credible threats of violence, a targeted campaign of harassment against an individual or which breach court orders on the one hand, and other communications sent by social media, e.g. those that are grossly offensive, on the other.
"The first group will be prosecuted robustly whereas the second group will only be prosecuted if they cross a high threshold; a prosecution is unlikely to be in the public interest if the communication is swiftly removed, blocked, not intended for a wide audience or not obviously beyond what could conceivably be tolerable or acceptable in a diverse society which upholds and respects freedom of expression.
"The interim guidelines thus protect the individual from threats or targeted harassment while protecting the expression of unpopular or unfashionable opinion about serious or trivial matters, or banter or humour, even if distasteful to some and painful to those subjected to it."

It seems to me that the actions of both Woodhouse and the original troll would fall within the scope of these guidelines, leaving both liable for prosecution. No-one is saying that the troll's actions are justified, acceptable or anything of the sort, even vile people have the right to be protected from violent threats.
posted by talitha_kumi at 10:55 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Good for Woodhouse.

I'm certainly not in favor of gratuitous violence--but, then, Woodhouse didn't threaten the troll with violence, and it wouldn't have been gratuitous. His point was pretty clearly to demonstrate to the troll that the troll is a coward. If someone taunts you, and walk over next to him to demonstrate to him that he will shut up when you are in his proximity, this is more like making a point than it is like threatening.

Be that as it may, I'm concerned that modern America is slipping into some insane view according to which personal violence is never justified. Which is weird given the militarism of the U.S. and the violence in the media. But almost every time someone uses violence in self defense, or in defense of other innocents, or any time there is even a hint that someone might use violence, we are treated to scoldings about it.

I almost never agree with Richard Rorty, but somewhere he says that humiliation is the worst thing you can do do someone (actually he says: a liberal is someone who thinks that humiliation is the worst thing you can do to someone... But he also considered himself a liberal, so he was endorsing the claim.) If A is attempting to gratuitously humiliate B, and B punches A in the nose, this is a good thing, not a bad thing. Even Kant says something like: the whole village cheers when someone gives the village bully a "right good beating."

I tend to suspect that people who don't realize that this is so have led very happy, sheltered, fortunate lives...

I fear that the intertubes are making such repulsive and disrespectful speech possible that things will become truly deranged if something isn't done to force people to throttle back on such insanity. If someone is standing right next to you and heaping horrific abuse on you or your wife or family, you have every moral right to punch him in the nose. I don't see why this would change if the guy were in the next state.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 10:58 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Being a decent human is really hard, horribly hard. But one of the things it entails is not enjoying crowd-sourced violence

This isn't crowd-sourced violence. (Or rather, it wouldn't have been if there had been violence.) It would have been crowd-sourced violence if Woodhouse had tweeted something like, "Front-row tickets to the first fan to mail me one of this guy's teeth." This wasn't that. Woodhouse went to do it himself.

What happened here also isn't "bullying," and it isn't remotely "stalking."

I'll bet if it was current world chess champion Viswanathan Anand I'd still be laughing.

Yeah, I am 100 percent certain that if this were a story about some nearsighted video-game designer doing exactly the same thing, MetaFilter would cheer roundly. It's only because Woodhouse is a boxer that people feel differently, and most are explicit about it.

If you feel that a professional boxer has a higher responsibility not to use his fists, that's a valid opinion. I don't disagree. But I'm not willing to impose that higher standard until the two people are actually face-to-face and you can make a credible case for assault. "He's on my street" doesn't meet that standard. Until things escalate to that point, I'm going to hold Woodhouse to exactly the same standard as every other adult. And I'm fine with what he did.
posted by cribcage at 11:00 AM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


This moral right to punch people in the nose -- it applies equally to a 90-pound person being harassed by a 225-pound person as to a 225-pound person being harassed by a 90-pound person, yes?

Possessing this right must be a great comfort to the 90-pound person.
posted by Zed at 11:02 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm having an idea for a feature film: The Meathead vs. The Troll. Woodhouse will be played by The Rock and the Troll will be, oh, let's say Danny DeVito. The tagline:

Might makes right! It's the American British way!
posted by item at 11:04 AM on March 13, 2013


Woodhouse could have certainly handled this whole thing better, but I don't blame him for taking a more direct approach.

I kinda do.

If you're a professional entertainer, you're going to have fans, in the broader sense, who think you suck. And who will tell you so, and do so pretty crudely. As a professional entertainer, you have a few legitimate options to deal with someone like jimmyob88.

First, you could just put up with that shit.

Second, you cold respond with your own putdowns in return, though best practices here would be to respond in relatively un-crude ways, or at least less crude than your abuser.

Third, you could complain to twitter about an abusive tweeter, though twitter seems to permit a wide array of garden-variety harassment.

Fourth, block the doofus.

And of course, fifth, announce your intent to give him a right pasting, ask people to find him for you, and go to his house when they locate his address.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:07 AM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Possessing this right must be a great comfort to the 90-pound person.

It probably doesn't. But even if it isn't prudent to exercise a right, that doesn't mean you don't have it. All you're pointing out is that the right doesn't guarantee a happy outcome in ever case. If that counted against a right, then it would count against all of them.

Compare:

Having the moral right to live freely must be a great comfort to the just man imprisoned by a totalitarian state.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 11:07 AM on March 13, 2013


I'm going to hold Woodhouse to exactly the same standard as every other adult.

He isn't every other adult. He's a professional entertainer, a professional public figure, and part of holding that job is dealing reasonably with hecklers, cat-callers, trash-talkers, and assorted other assholes and vermin. Or, at the very least, doing so as long as your assholes and vermin are only going after you in areas that you've chosen to open to the public.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:13 AM on March 13, 2013


No, I'm pointing out that calling this a right constitutes unequal protection under the law.
posted by Zed at 11:14 AM on March 13, 2013


Possessing this right must be a great comfort to the 90-pound person.

Just for argument's sake? If we assume the first part of the statement ("moral right to punch people in the nose") only applies under certain circumstances (eg, "If someone is standing right next to you and heaping horrific abuse on you or your wife or family"), then it's sort of working like a self-defense doctrine. And in self-defense doctrine, there is also a third-party right. If you have the right to defend yourself from someone, then I also have the right to defend you from that person.

So if the 90-pound person is standing alone in an alley with the 225-pound person, okay. But if they're at a sports stadium and the exchange is being witnessed by a 250-pound person with a good right hook...well.

He's a professional entertainer

What he did was pretty entertaining.
posted by cribcage at 11:14 AM on March 13, 2013


Once more, a bunch of folks on Metafilter (not all, just a number) are more upset by the reaction to someone being offensive rather than the offense they originally show.
I am reminded of the response to the Jezebel article pursuing a bunch of teenagers who had posted racist tweets after Obama was re-elected. It's a valuable lesson, to learn that you can't just follow the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory and expect to get away with it forever, and yet it's not a lesson that many people on MetaFilter seem willing to let be taught.

To me, it's an acceptable response for a troll to be scared off by, not even violence (note that in this case no violence was actually perpetrated), just the suggestion of some form of real-life repercussion. To ignore the offenses is to paint Woodhouse as completely malignant. To be clear, I don't 100% support the idea of tracking down one's internet trolls, but I don't find it particularly problematic that someone who has been shooting their mouth off while continually insulting someone over the internet has discovered that there can be repercussions for acting like an arsehole on the internet.

Would that more people would learn that lesson.
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:15 AM on March 13, 2013 [12 favorites]


Why is everyone focusing on the fact that a professional boxer should be responsible with his fists (that he didn't use here), but no one is saying that maybe, JUST maybe, arrogant and threatening boasting is not the best course of action regarding someone who beats people up for a living, especially if you're counting on internet anonymity to do so?
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 11:17 AM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Probably because no-one thinks that what the troll did was acceptable in the slightest, wheras the public reaction to what Woodhouse did has been lauded by pretty much everyone - media, internet commenters, other celebrities, politicians.
posted by talitha_kumi at 11:21 AM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I am 100 percent certain that if this were a story about some nearsighted video-game designer doing exactly the same thing, MetaFilter would cheer roundly. It's only because Woodhouse is a boxer that people feel differently, and most are explicit about it.

Yeah, actually - or let's assume that this is a socially marginalized video game designer, not some kind of vaguely Mark Zuckerberg-esque successful and important tech guy. And the reason is that, as Eve Sedgewick so trenchantly put it, people are different from one another. They have different degrees of social power, and a socially powerful person threatening and stalking a dramatically less powerful person - no matter how much of an asshole they are - is pretty unpleasant.

I mean, I could be a huge asshole to the incompetent clerk at the coffee shop who ignored me - possibly for queerphobic reasons, possibly for some random confluence of bad circumstances - and literally served three other people who walked up as I was standing there waiting. I could do that. I could ask to see her manager, I could file a complaint, I could kick it upstairs - but the fact is that doing that to a kid who makes perhaps half of what I do (and I don't make a ton, either) and who gets no benefits and has almost no job security - that would not be the triumphant gesture of a wounded consumer, it would be the petty bullying of an asshole.

And as far as this "not being crowd-sourced violence" - well, do you think this would have happened if the boxer didn't have an adoring Twitter audience to perform for? Obviously we can't see into an alternate twitter-less universe to compare, but I surmise that a lot of this macho "savage violence" (a la Richard Slotkin) is really about performing masculinity for an audience.
posted by Frowner at 11:22 AM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, let's add homophobia and gender normativity to this conversation. That's sure to be useful.
posted by gadge emeritus at 11:29 AM on March 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


Indeed, let's. Because revenge violence is very much about gender and the performance of it, and I would argue also about race and the intersections thereof. The people who feel free to dish out stalking and violence tend not to be socially marginalized, for example. (I do recommend Richard Slotkin's Gunfighter Nation on some of this - it's about the US, true, but it lays out quite a lot about wounded masculinity.)

I add that there's an arms-race aspect to this: the more "normal" it becomes to dish out someone's address so that an angry Twitterer can show up on their doorstep, the easier it will be to use this against people who are already socially marginalized - ie, if you're an average white dudebro, you might hesitate before stalking and threatening to beat another white dude of approximately your own status, age and physical condition, but turning up on the doorstep of some woman, queer dude, person-of-color-less-likely-to-be-believed-by-the-cops...that's apt to look like good sport, and the more we participate in an online society where people "getting what they deserve" in real life is lauded, the more likely that is to happen.

I mean, I've been part of communities where people have tried to turn this kind of "justice" into a force for good (I personally have not participated in any of the activities I describe! Nor do I have lots of personal info on the people who have!) - hassling and beating up dudes who harass or rape women, for example. And I have never seen it fail to spin out into disaster. It sounds so good - surely it's clear just who the assholes who deserve the beat-down/stalking/hassling really are, and surely the good people involved won't let anything get out of hand, and surely once the good people have made a show of strength then the bad behavior will stop because bullies are cowards, etc. This has not been my experience, not least because there's a lot of churn among rapists, racists and other assholes and there are large numbers of them - focusing on vengeance against one doesn't do much to deter the others.

Honestly, as an anarchist I kind of wish that vigilante violence by "the good guys" actually was uncomplicated and generally successful. That has not been my observation, however, and I don't have quite enough faith in myself to be sure that I can decide effectively on my own and in the heat of the moment just who deserves what.
posted by Frowner at 11:38 AM on March 13, 2013 [13 favorites]


The wounded masculinity point is interesting seeing as this episode came on the heels of a defeat in the ring.

Would Woodhouse have been so eager to seek out the troll if he had won?

Were his actions motivated less by the desire to teach the dastardly troll a lesson than out of a desire to bolster his wounded pride and feel powerful by scaring someone he knew wouldn't fight back having been beaten by a capable opponent.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 11:49 AM on March 13, 2013


If you're a professional entertainer, you're going to have fans, in the broader sense, who think you suck. And who will tell you so, and do so pretty crudely. As a professional entertainer, you have a few legitimate options to deal with someone like jimmyob88....
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:07 PM on March 13


All but #4 or #5 would not have guaranteed stopping jimmyob88. And Woodhouse said he didn't know how to block people on Twitter.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:05 PM on March 13, 2013


Frowner, you realize that Woodhouse isn't white, right? I mean, since you're dragging race into it.
posted by magstheaxe at 12:07 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think the only reason people here are talking about violence is because Woodhouse is a professional boxer, so they're just assuming he'd get violent with this guy

I'm certainly not in favor of gratuitous violence--but, then, Woodhouse didn't threaten the troll with violence,

In case you didn't actually understand the mild slang woodhouse used, here you go:

"im give him a right pasting!" == "I'm going to beat him up!". No assumptions necessary.
posted by jacalata at 12:08 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


magstheaxe : " I'm not in the U.K., so I have no idea about your privacy laws, but here in the US it wouldn't be a police-worthy matter because the troll's address would likely be pubicly available via an online phone book or somesuch."

This isn't the same. We're not taking about the fact Berton Ernie lives on Sesame Street - we're talking about a man with a significant following announcing that the pseudo-anonymous MrMuppet27 is Berton Ernie of Sesame Street and that you, a person known for hitting people, are going to go and 'have a word'.

That's telling everyone who knows you, wants to know you, or wants to impress you, exactly where to go to scare some stupid twitter troll. Right about then the troll has two things to worry about - you and any of your followers who wants to do your dirty work.

Compare it to the mega-twunt Nick Griffin publishing the address of a gay couple and promising them "a bit of drama".
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 12:28 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure, my tablet may suck at pasting valid URLs, and I may be too slow for the edit window, but at least it gave me another opportunity to call Nick Griffin a mega-twunt...
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 12:38 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's telling everyone who knows you...exactly where to go to scare some stupid twitter troll.

This is an interesting point. What if Woodhouse had just published that first tweet: "MrMuppet27 is Berton Ernie of Sesame Street." (I'd rather use your example than repost the actual tweet. The guy's a schmuck but he didn't do anything to me and he's already gotten his.)

People on the Internet, and MetaFilter in particular, often believe that anonymous speech is a sacred concept that shouldn't be limited to political dissidents, whistleblowers, etc.—or at least that failing to protect anonymity in other circumstances can create a "slippery slope" that risks the anonymity of dissidents and whistleblowers. Personally I think that's hogwash, but many people don't.

I wonder how many people here would have objected to just that scenario: Celebrity is harassed on Twitter, celebrity reveals harasser's identity, period. No talk of pastings, no (explicit?) inducements to violence.
posted by cribcage at 12:51 PM on March 13, 2013


You're a bully for standing up to a bully when you're a public entertainer standing up to someone who poses no threat to you, and you are virtually certain to be capable of quickly hospitalizing or killing someone, and you are specifically trained in the application of violence, and you stand up to the bully by threatening to beat him and taking a trip to do just that.

I fail to see why the boxer's skill matters in the slightest. People talk a lot about "a fair fight" but who wants that? When I fight, I want the odds to be so much in my favor that defeat is unthinkable. This approach is what I call "rational". This approach is also why I do not walk up to the burliest thug I see in a bar and insult his mother.

Try the fun experiment of walking up to the burliest thug in a bar and insulting his mother. If he decides to respond with something stronger than insulting your mother in turn, you and the bystanders can righteously shame him as being a "bully".
posted by Tanizaki at 12:54 PM on March 13, 2013


The boxer's skillset matters because since he's capable of doing much more damage, then a threat from him is much more credible and frightening than a threat from someone who couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag.
posted by talitha_kumi at 1:05 PM on March 13, 2013


...That's telling everyone who knows you, wants to know you, or wants to impress you, exactly where to go to scare some stupid twitter troll. Right about then the troll has two things to worry about - you and any of your followers who wants to do your dirty work.

Compare it to the mega-twunt Nick Griffin publishing the address of a gay couple and promising them "a bit of drama".
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 3:28 PM on March 13



Your Nick Griffin link doesn't work? Regardless, Googling gives me this. Woodhouse posted the troll's location and then announced that he was going to the troll's house. He didn't exhort anyone else to show up there. Griffin put out a call for folks to show up. That difference strikes me as important. The whole reason the event's considered humorous is because of the image of the lone Woodhouse tearing up the highway to confront his troll. If he showed up with--or worse, sent--legions of fans with pitchforks and torches (like Griffin apparently wanted to), it would be very different.


I'm not trying to make Woodhouse out to be a saint, here. The article I linked also points out that what Griffin did may have violated the "Communications Act 2003, under which it is an offence to post menacing messages on the internet". If that's the case, I would then assume (not knowing Thing One about that bit of British legislation) that Woodhouse would be in trouble under the law. But I would also assume that the troll could possibly be in even more trouble, because he's apparently waged a pretty sustained campaign of "menacing messages" against Woodhouse.


They're both nitwits, in the end. I just think the troll is the bigger and ultimately meaner nitwit because he started this shit with Woodhouse for no reason, and pushed and pushed and wouldn't let it go. For that reason, I think people are giving the troll way too much credit in this thread.
posted by magstheaxe at 1:25 PM on March 13, 2013


talitha_kumi: "The boxer's skillset matters because since he's capable of doing much more damage, then a threat from him is much more credible and frightening than a threat from someone who couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag."

Look, you said you weren't going to tell anyone...

And here you are posting it here.
posted by Samizdata at 2:23 PM on March 13, 2013


As people said in that thread, you don't punch down.

People? THIS PERSON.

Sorry, but to get into the quote book, you gotta make sure you get your proper credit. Otherwise your quote shows up in a mass email and is attributed to Bill O'Reilley or Mark Twain.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:32 PM on March 13, 2013


The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the strong and the weak alike from attributing quotes, from adding homophobia and gender normativity to this conversation, from mailing in each other's teeth.
posted by forgetful snow at 2:36 PM on March 13, 2013


The boxer's skillset matters because since he's capable of doing much more damage, then a threat from him is much more credible and frightening than a threat from someone who couldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag.

I do not recommend that those who cannot fight their way out of a wet paper bag taunt skilled fighters. Other things not recommended by me:

* cleaning the inside of an electrical socket with a steel paper clip
* shouting "you are all under citizen's arrest!" at a gathering of the local street gang
* tickling bear cubs in front of mama bear
posted by Tanizaki at 3:09 PM on March 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


I'm thinking the natural assumption is that it's like some guy walks into a bar, sees a boxer, and notes that his skills are overwhelmingly subpar. He has a drink, says it again, and leaves. If the boxer flips out, most patrons assume he's too sensitive and should brush it off.

The reality seems to be more like the guy is not only insulting the boxer, but his dead father, people of his race, women, etc etc. And he keeps leaving and coming back. Eventually the patrons stop worrying much about the guy's safety. And there's also the potential of someone else deciding instead to shut the guy up. Maybe they don't want the guy beaten to a pulp, but a little scare would be nice.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 3:10 PM on March 13, 2013


* tickling bear cubs in front of mama bear

It's health and safety gone mad... *sighs nostalgically*
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 3:18 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would have had a problem if Woodhouse had actually fought the harasser.

As it is, it was a simple reminder that people are real, and that every so often, someone will stand up to your abuse. If more people were aware of this, there would be less harassing. As a person that could benefit from that deterrent value, I'm theoretically thankful to Woodhouse, although far more people would have to do this in order for it to matter.

So, unless he starts a movement, it's not going to make a lasting impact.

A more interesting outcome would have been the harasser coming out to meet Woodhouse. Possible results of that situation:

- They actually start talking face-to-face and work it out as a result of being forced to recognize each others' humanity.
- The harasser is insane or has balls of steel and is a dedicated asshole and abuses Woodhouse to his face.

Woodhouse is then forced to either:

- Attack the guy, thereby getting locked up and ruining his career and damaging his life.
- Accept that some people are beyond your influence.

Woodhouse is eventually going to have to accept that anyway, as we all will have to, as vexing as it is. I think that possibly could have been the most useful ending to him personally, as weird as that is.
posted by ignignokt at 4:01 PM on March 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Other commentors are reporting that the troll's pre-cleaned up timeline showed he also abused Woodhouse about the death of his father, has a fondness for telling women they're ugly and fat, and loves rape jokes and racism.

But this is immaterial, as it legitimises threats of violence at some point along the "continuum"- it's essentially part of the same discourse of might=right/justified violence that makes public harrassment acceptable in the first place.

There's some real "Destroy the village in order to save it" mentalities going on here. You don't conquer violent discourse through violence, even implied violence. You cannot break a cycle through that.

Everyone's all like, "Ooo you're just upset cause he's a boxer!", well what if the harrasser was the boxer? And someone rocked up to confront them, the potential for violence is virtually assured. This is why legitimising this kind of dialogue - just desserts or whatever - is not an acceptable action for people who wish to live in a more respectful, less violent world.

Frowner is wholly correct to bring gender into it, as these responses - the modalities of abuse and harrassment, and the mores of responding to them - are heavily gendered, and I believe much of the humour from this incident in particular is premised around notions of debased masculinity, and as a corollary, what it means to be a "real" man.

I think it's important to acknowledge and analyse the role of masculinity as it pertains to both giving and responding to harrassment, as I believe it's largely a destructive and negative one, namely it both encourages harrassment and encourages an unhealthy response to it - take it "like a man", or deck someone, basically.

The address should have gone to the police with a formal complaint. The beauty of not being in school anymore is that you don't have to act like you're in school anymore.
posted by smoke at 4:04 PM on March 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


Maybe relatedly, Michael Vick has canceled book tour events because of violent threats. Can't bring myself to feel bad for him, really
posted by angrycat at 4:07 PM on March 13, 2013


As it is, it was a simple reminder that people are real, and that every so often, someone will stand up to your abuse. If more people were aware of this, there would be less harassing. of powerful people.

I think that's an important caveat that you missed there.
posted by jacalata at 5:08 PM on March 13, 2013


Nope. Thanks for the FTFY, but I meant what I wrote.
posted by ignignokt at 5:17 PM on March 13, 2013


I know you meant it. I'm saying you're wrong.
posted by jacalata at 5:27 PM on March 13, 2013


Everyone's all like, "Ooo you're just upset cause he's a boxer!"

There's no need to be condescending. Multiple people in this thread have in fact said, "I am just upset because he's a boxer."
posted by cribcage at 5:59 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]




I do not recommend that those who cannot fight their way out of a wet paper bag taunt skilled fighters.

I do not recommend that those who cannot program their way out of a wet paper bag taunt nearsighted programmers.

It's one thing to get an ass kicking. It's another to find your life savings drained.

I think the threat of violence is implicit in his being a boxer. Harassing a 5'7, 100 lb salaryman and having him show up on your door is a different thing than a professional fighter showing up at your door.

No question, it was a good outcome. Nothing happened. The harassment stopped- all good.

Plenty of other things could have happened. Although I suspect his reaction was based on reading the troll's character, and so, again, well spotted. But had it been wrong, if the guy was a gangster or thought he was, or had friends with bats as mentioned above, it could have gone awry and Woodhouse would have had no out.

That said, yeah, something needed to happen to this troll in light of what he was saying. Some people are lucky to get off with a beating.

But as a f'rinstance. I think the perfect response to the Westboro asshats are the patriot riders. In part because the hateful rhetoric gets drowned out. In part because you know there's no way the Westboro idiots can push past them. But mostly because it really was a matter of time before someone in a distraught state of mind went and killed all of them.

Not that I have a big problem with them not being on the planet. But it would not only compound a tragedy for the perpetrator(s) but do harm to our society.

In Woodhouse's case, the debate on the righteousness of the response to the provocation aside, you can't have a civilization that condones vigilantism.

Viscerally, yeah. I mean, I say that as a guy who is very physical and empathetic with confrontation. I see where Woodhouse is coming from.

But the mistake the assheads like this troll make, and the people who joyfully egged Woodhouse on made, is that they're actually involved in some way and are emotionally attached.
They're not. We have laws and cold blooded realism gleaned from thousands of years of making mistakes to support us. There are better ways. Because we're not part of the fight, we can avail ourselves of enforcing them instead of choosing sides.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:09 PM on March 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Woodhouse didn't win this competition by violence, he won it by publicly humiliating his opponent more. And who picked the weapons for this duel? Hint: it wasn't Woodhouse.

The odds of him publicly assaulting a guy as the twittersphere watched were nil. Zero, Zip. The guy is a professional boxer engaged in a public likeability war. He wanted to beat this guy but not with his fists. If the troll was smart he would have called his bluff, if he was really smart, he'd have had him in for a cup of tea, posted a photo on Twitter and claimed they were now mates. But Woodhouse correctly predicted that he wouldn't have the social smarts to be able to tell when someone was just messing with him and he'd overreact and make himself look foolish. And then rage in humiliation when everyone laughed at him, exactly the emotion he's being trying to induce in other people online.

There was no real threat of violence and I find it kind of amusing and telling that the people who don't understand that are the ones who don't understand why everyone is laughing and clapping for Woodhouse. It's funny because he beat the troll at his own game.
posted by fshgrl at 10:23 PM on March 13, 2013 [6 favorites]


The odds of him publicly assaulting a guy as the twittersphere watched were nil. Zero, Zip

Yea? Well, fuck the kind of person who believes that it's my responsibility to be able to 'tell' when someone doesn't mean their threats, and fuck their smug entourages as well. It was just a joke, right? Lighten up, jeez! Can't you take a joke?
posted by jacalata at 10:34 PM on March 13, 2013


There was no real threat of violence and I find it kind of amusing and telling that the people who don't understand that are the ones who don't understand why everyone is laughing and clapping for Woodhouse. It's funny because he beat the troll at his own game.
posted by fshgrl at 6:23 AM on March 14 [1 favorite +] [!]


There was an unambiguous threat of violence made by a trained professional boxer with a previous conviction for affray following a brawl in a restaurant and who "liked fighting" even before he did it for a living.

And I understand how "He beat the troll at his own game" is an attractive idea but he really didn't. The trolls "game" didn't involve physical proximity and threats. Woodhouse may have beaten the troll but it was at a different game entirely.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 2:37 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


well what if the harrasser was the boxer? And someone rocked up to confront them, the potential for violence is virtually assured.

You know, because a boxer can't control himself. "Meatheads", as someone else said upthread.
posted by inigo2 at 4:58 AM on March 14, 2013 [2 favorites]


Meeting someone face-to-face has a lot of value in terms of making communication more civil and empathy-inducing that has nothing to do with ass kickings.

People don't call off a date by text instead of on the phone because they are afraid of an ass kicking. (Usually.) People don't avoid opening their doors to tie-wearing missionaries because they fear the Mormon martial arts. People that will call a woman a slut on a message board will often not do so in person because they are forced to recognize her humanity and their inability to escape instantly by closing the browser window, not because they think they'll catch a beatdown.
posted by ignignokt at 7:05 AM on March 14, 2013 [3 favorites]


But this is immaterial, as it legitimises threats of violence at some point along the "continuum"- it's essentially part of the same discourse of might=right/justified violence that makes public harrassment acceptable in the first place.

Woodhouse has said in past interviews that he was bullied for his race growing up. I guaran-damn-TEE you that any racial tweets by O'Brian aren't immaterial to him.


There's some real "Destroy the village in order to save it" mentalities going on here. You don't conquer violent discourse through violence, even implied violence. You cannot break a cycle through that.

Looks to me like Woodhouse just did, at least in the case of Jimmy O'Brian.


Everyone's all like, "Ooo you're just upset cause he's a boxer!", well what if the harrasser was the boxer?

Honestly? As a boxing fan, that would've been awesome. Because then Woodhouse would've probably been like, "Oh, hey, you're a fighter, too? Say, why don't we see what kind of money you and me can make from this? We promote it as the Twitter Grudge Fight, set up a pay-per-view deal, you go into training for three months to get into fighting trim, we do a bunch of interviews smack-talking each other while our publicists do their things, and then we go three rounds in the ring. Loser resigns from Twitter forever and we split the purse 60-40. Whatta ya say?"

It wouldn't exactly be Hagler versus Hearns, but I certainly would've paid to see it.

Regardless, asking "what if the harrasser was a boxer" is in the end just a thought experiment. In real life, the harraser was not a boxer. The harassee was. And I really think a lot of people are assuming that being a professional fighter guarantees that Woodhouse would've gotten violent if O'Brian had faced him. That's not a justified assumption.

Frowner is wholly correct to bring gender into it, as these responses - the modalities of abuse and harrassment, and the mores of responding to them - are heavily gendered, and I believe much of the humour from this incident in particular is premised around notions of debased masculinity, and as a corollary, what it means to be a "real" man. I think it's important to acknowledge and analyse the role of masculinity as it pertains to both giving and responding to harrassment, as I believe it's largely a destructive and negative one, namely it both encourages harrassment and encourages an unhealthy response to it - take it "like a man", or deck someone, basically.

I think that sort of analysis would be great in an academic setting, but here it's just beanplating. This was nothing more than one person calling out another, saying "Come out and say those ugly things to my face." I've seen women do similar call-outs (albeit not due to Twitter). I've never seen it as any sort of "real man" stuff; it's more like "Either present yourself to the world as someone willing to deal with the potential consequences of your hateful speech, or let the world know you're a coward who refuses to stand behind what s/he says."


The address should have gone to the police with a formal complaint. The beauty of not being in school anymore is that you don't have to act like you're in school anymore.


On this, we agree. But I still would have loved to see Twitter Grudge Fight 2013.
posted by magstheaxe at 8:33 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I really think a lot of people are assuming that being a professional fighter guarantees that Woodhouse would've gotten violent if O'Brian had faced him. That's not a justified assumption.

If we look at the facts we have

1) Woodhouse making an unambiguous threat of violence
2) Irrational behaviour of offering a bounty for the trolls address and making a 100 mile round trip to get to the trolls house
3) Previous conviction for brawling in public and statements about how he enjoyed street fighting

I think the assumption that he meant what he said isn't too much of a reach.
posted by Reggie Knoble at 8:45 AM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


But this is immaterial, as it legitimises threats of violence at some point along the "continuum"

Of course the use of violence is legitimized at some point on the continuum. Rely on the law as a peaceful pacifist would would never swat a fly? Ok, why do you think it is called "law enFORCEment"?

The address should have gone to the police with a formal complaint.

The police use violence all the time. That's part of their job description.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:23 AM on March 14, 2013


I do not recommend that those who cannot program their way out of a wet paper bag taunt nearsighted programmers.

I recommend that such people hire an H1-B.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:25 AM on March 14, 2013


And I really think a lot of people are assuming that being a professional fighter guarantees that Woodhouse would've gotten violent if O'Brian had faced him. That's not a justified assumption.

No, but a boxer threatening fisticuffs is like a programmer threatening to DoS you or hack your box. It's a threat that's instantly more credible because of the training and skills of the person making the threat.

And, again, Woodhouse did clearly and distinctly state his intent to paste O'Brien. Obviously it's possible he didn't mean it, but step one of "How Not To Be Treated Like Someone Threatening Violence" is to avoid making threats of violence.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:34 AM on March 14, 2013


I disagree that Woodhouse being a boxer makes the threat more credible. Somebody earlier said "more credible and frightening," and I think the latter is fair: Being punched by a professional boxer does seem more frightening than being punched by almost anybody else. But that's not the same as believing that it's more likely to happen.

If anything, I think his being a boxer would make the threat less credible. If a retail clerk punches me, he'll probably get a year's probation and some community-service hours. If a boxer punches me, the legal penalties will probably be greater, plus he risks his livelihood.
posted by cribcage at 11:21 AM on March 14, 2013 [4 favorites]


He wanted to beat this guy but not with his fists. If the troll was smart he would have called his bluff, if he was really smart, he'd have had him in for a cup of tea, posted a photo on Twitter and claimed they were now mates. But Woodhouse correctly predicted that he wouldn't have the social smarts to be able to tell when someone was just messing with him and he'd overreact and make himself look foolish.

I'm not even sure that that's what Woodhouse was betting on, though, and that's what makes this story so compelling to me. I think Woodhouse was just sort of seeing what happened, as it was happening; I imagine that if Jimmyob88 had indeed invited him in for tea, Woodhouse would've been just as pleased. The way I read the story, it seems like Woodhouse was less excited about inflicting violence than he was about getting Jimmyob88 to realize that there are real humans on the other end of his trolling.
posted by Greg Nog at 12:03 PM on March 14, 2013 [5 favorites]


Irrational behaviour of offering a bounty for the trolls address and making a 100 mile round trip to get to the trolls house

Money and time don't seem to be a concern for Woodhouse. The only questionable part there is digging for a stranger's address online, but that train sailed when the Gawker reporter crushed the Reddit troll by digging out the troll's personal info, publishing it, and ruining the troll's life to the cheers of the entire web (including me, and I have no love for Gawker). "What happens online stays online" is no longer a relevant principle now that the Internet is an integral part of people's lives.

I would like to see the police lay charges on both O'Brien and Woodhouse. No chance in hell for that, unfortunately.
posted by fatehunter at 12:56 PM on March 14, 2013


The way I read the story, it seems like Woodhouse was less excited about inflicting violence than he was about getting Jimmyob88 to realize that there are real humans on the other end of his trolling.

I think so as well. But I don't see how there's no possible way violence could have ever ensued.
Nor do I think O'Brien was not intimidated.

That said, the possibility of it doesn't belay the reality of what actually happened.

It's funny because he beat the troll at his own game.

I don't know that anyone's contesting the funny. :-)
posted by Smedleyman at 3:46 PM on March 14, 2013


I disagree that Woodhouse being a boxer makes the threat more credible. Somebody earlier said "more credible and frightening," and I think the latter is fair: Being punched by a professional boxer does seem more frightening than being punched by almost anybody else. But that's not the same as believing that it's more likely to happen.
posted by cribcage at 2:21 PM


That's a really good point. I heard a saying on an episode of the show Burn Notice some years back that stuck with me: "Violence perceived is violence achieved". I think that's a big part of how some people are looking at this story. They see a boxer going after a troll, they know he's good enough to make a living hitting people, so as far as they're concerned, the violence has all but happened.
posted by magstheaxe at 4:05 PM on March 14, 2013


Wow, you guys are really stretching it. Someone who is good at punching people is usually more likely to actually punch someone, because someone who is really useless at punching people would have to be a fucking idiot to try.

You may, if you like, make the argument that he is less likely than the average good puncher to punch someone because of his specific boxing license issues, but then people can respond that he seems more likely to punch someone than the average boxer because he's already got a conviction of assaulting a police officer, I think, so we're probably back at approximately 'more likely than the average person to actually punch someone'.
posted by jacalata at 4:14 PM on March 14, 2013


Don't think it's been mentioned here that the two (Woodhouse and O'Brien) met together later on ITV?
posted by torticat at 7:00 PM on March 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


You may, if you like, make the argument that he is less likely than the average good puncher to punch someone because of his specific boxing license issues, but then people can respond that he seems more likely to punch someone than the average boxer because he's already got a conviction of assaulting a police officer, I think, so we're probably back at approximately 'more likely than the average person to actually punch someone'.
posted by jacalata at 7:14 PM on March 14



That conviction was back in 2006, wasn't it? Nearly seven years ago? Has he had any incidents since then? Or did Woodhouse learn his lesson when he lost his boxing license for five months due to that conviction?


Woodhouse has already got at least one prior conviction, and any judge worth his gavel would look at that. If Woodhouse had actually punched the troll, he could kiss his pro career good-bye, expect another conviction at the very least, and probably get sued to high heaven by the man he assaulted. Woodhouse would have to be dumber than a day-old pig not be aware of that. Either that, or not have any sense of self-preservation at all, in which case he'd probably already be doing time for some other assault conviction.


I just don't see all of that adding up to him being 'more likely than the average person to actually punch someone'. I can see it adding up to other people (such as his troll) assuming he would blindly haul off and punch someone, but I think they would be the ones not so much stretching as jumping to conclusions.


cribcage nailed it. The idea of Woodhouse showing up on this guy's doorstep is more frightening because he's a boxer, but his being a pro-boxer--even one with a conviction for assault from seven years ago--doesn't mean he's actually more likely to haul off and hit him.
posted by magstheaxe at 10:31 AM on March 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


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