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May 05, 2007

Comments

1.

Each time someone diminishes the harm done to people by being virtually assaulted, raped, sexually harassed in cyberspace, they diminish the whole idea of sexual harassment, assault, and rape -- period. Because they are looking for a pass, a license, an out, and it's one that having tried in the virtual world, and getting the acceptance of dehumanization there, they are free then to try it in the real world. What is to stop them? Who do they imagine will keep the membrane between virtual and real intact, when they themselves refused to keep it intact for those who found a rape in cyberspace inside the magic circle *real*?

That's what's so troubling about the position Aimee Weber and the Second Life Insider, and all the goons at Second Citizens, have taken on this. They want to have a world in which it's ok to rape people, just because it's virtual -- it's fine to enact the most outrageous and bestial and cruel scenarios "just because" with no thought even for the mental and spiritual tool it might take on human being.

They want to accord virtuality the status of a realm where anything goes and anything is possible, including the fiercest sorts of thuggery and criminality. They then want everybody to preserve the membrance on *that* world of evil they've created and pretend it has no effect, yet they weren't willing to accord the same decency to that person who wished *their* virtual and immersible world to be like the real one, having a sense of boundaries and decency and right and wrong.

Then if you raise any objection, you are treated to abuse yourself for pages and pages in SC, where you are told that you are justifying the RL rape of somebody's RL sister merely because you just don't think it's "fine" for some W-hatter to come in and rape your tenant by forcing their way into a building and imposing themselves and clicking on them, and you just don't think it's right to keep horse-laughing and pointing in ridicule that some people find it upsetting to go through that experience. It's sick.

The gleeful malice with which some have *raced* to declare this subject risible is really distressing.
Sure, we all got it that they're *different*, the real and the virtual. But those intent on pounding in the difference are completely insensitive to hearing about *the similarity*. Why do they get to do that?

Game companies and virtual world companies pay people lots of money to program really realistic and immersible experiences, but when someone actually takes them up on it, and get upset when a few use it for coercion and violence and assault even of this virtual and spiritual kind, these world-builders and their tekkie friends sneer. It's an indicator like nothing else of the whole attitude of derision that game-gods and their demi-urges have to the mortals on their servers. It's like a badge of honour and political correctness in the game-god class to be able to jeer at people who take cyber offenses seriously.

Having had tenants who suffered harassment and rape in Second Life, I can only say that for *those people *it really is assault, it really does hurt, and it really is harm, and it really is damage. Whose to say that it isn't? And if the Belgian police do, what of it? Perhaps it works for that community. Let it. If it isn't appropriate, the executive that commands that police will be thrown out of office, and other leaders will can come in who can campaign, oh...on the platform of cynicism and hate and malice towards those who raise the issue of a rape in cyberspace.

2.

What happens in Las Vegas Second Life stays in Las Vegas Second Life.

One of the Big Lies. To your mind its all real. No one gets out for free.

3.

She's right: cyber-rape is not rape.

It's torture. Which, last I checked, is a crime.

4.

Every time we expand the definition of "rape", we come a step closer to trivializing the real thing. I've watched women deal with the aftermath of rapes. The crying, the panic attacks, the nightmares, the terrified sprints through dark parking lots. 6 months of wondering if their most recent AIDS test is going to come back positive. Losing boyfriends who couldn't handle it, or driving them away. Changing apartments, jobs, cities. Some of them never being able to have an un-tainted intimate relationship for the rest of their lives.

Somebody talked nasty to you on the internet, and you were too shocked/outraged to turn it off, and now you feel dirty? Okay, that sucks, and I'm sorry you had to deal with that, and if it happens in a game I run I'll take action against the person who did it because you shouldn't have to put up with that. But equal to the real thing? Come *on*.

You see that button on the front of your computer? You hit that, and it all stops. Take a deep breath. Look around, and realize that you're safe in your own home, nobody has touched you and nobody has any power over you. Stay calm and remember it's just electrons. *Do* accept that something really awful was being *simulated*, and that it's okay to be freaked out by it, just like it is okay to jump in your seat or cry at the movies. But it wasn't real. It was an imposition, but not a violation. If you've been a victim of the real thing, it's going to bring up any issues you still have with that and you should deal with them. If you haven't, you just got the slightest, most ephemereal hint of what it could be, and that probably scares you.

It's okay. It's not real. Don't give it more power over you than it deserves.

--Dave

5.

Part of the problem in terms of the implementation of justice is the longstanding societal conflation of mental/psychological, relational and physical selves-- so forgive me if I don't think we're going to solve this any time soon. Rape in the offline world is a crime against a physical body, a representation of self and a mental state. Online, its 2/3. But of the 1/3 missing piece, we're dealing with a physical compontent with exceptionally heavy weight in the physical world. In this way, online 'rape' (sorry to quote-- but we really need separate terms) will never receive the same treatment of offline rape judicially. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be equated with other crimes against identity and mental health.

I also have to note: rape is NOT a crime against women, but a crime against the concept of the female gender, and is extremely traumatic for men as well, despite its deep denial in male culture (sorry, just had to say).

6.

This does make me wonder something, though: Restraining orders and virtual environments. If someone in a virtual world has a restraining order against another member of that virtual world, what responsibility does the operator have in enforcing it? Does it only apply if it has a "No Communication" clause? How does it apply to virtual proximity? Is it like the phone company, we're not expected to prevent anything, but we may need to supply evidence?

Only a matter of time before a RL rape, stalking, harassment, domestic abuse or divorce case crosses this line. Or, for that matter, there are states with "Cyberstalking" statutes on the books, not to mention international issues like the one in question here (what jurisdiction does the Belgian police have if the perpetrator isn't in Belgium, or even the EU?).

--Dave

7.

Rape is not a physical crime, though; it's a crime that requires the medium of a physical body in order to be effected. We agree that assault and battery does not apply in the confines of a boxing ring, because the actual violation is not of the physical body, but of consent as displayed by entrance into the game.

If people consented to sexual violence inside a game world, then it is not rape. But they do not. The point that there is an off button does not mean that they consent by not pushing it. I would agree that it is not technically rape, because there is no sexual intercourse actually happening.

But the argument that it is not a crime merely because we don't have a word for it is batshit insane. MAKE a word! Call it sexual humiliation! It's still criminal; the word is not the thing.

8.

Simulated rape is apparently a fairly common practice in Second Life. There's an island where a form of rape-tag in a maze is the whole point. There are clubs where consent to "sexual humiliation" is assumed simply by entering them.

I'm aware that this is verging on "blaming the victim", but why the hell *wouldn't* you pull the plug, teleport away, eject the agressor, /ignore them, or any of the other ways in which you can render the whole process farcical in SL? Merely *existing* from one moment to the next in SL is a voluntary act.

If we define rape as a crime that occurs inside the victim's mind, we're crossing a very dangerous line.

--Dave

9.

If we define rape as a crime that occurs inside the victim's mind, we're crossing a very dangerous line.

But that's not what I did.

Compare it to a death threat. You receive a phone call. The person on the other end tells you they're going to kill you. They hang up. Was it a crime?

10.

I feel compassion for the victim's emotional distress, however I hope they get psychological help for their mental state that makes them feel like they were raped. Also, I think it does harm to the mentally ill people when we entertain their delusions. I think they should be confronted about their fantasy and encouraged to get professional help. Letting ourselves get caught up in their exaggerated emotional response may complicate their recovery.

There is no reasonable comparision between this "virual rape" to the real thing.


11.

Compare it to a death threat. You receive a phone call. The person on the other end tells you they're going to kill you. They hang up. Was it a crime?
Not in the US (well, unless I'm the president). Threatening to commit a crime is not, in and of itself, a crime (although it may be evidence of a dangerous mental disorder, commitment is a civil procedure).

Calling in a bomb threat falls under the "yelling fire in a crowded theatre" exception, the danger posed by the potential resulting panic is itself harmful and makes it a crime.

The actual lawyers may feel free to correct me.

--Dave

12.

Hm, according to Wikipedia,

In many states and jurisdictions, death threats are a criminal offense.
It provides no sources, and I'm not familiar enough with law to know where to look. I'm not even sure if that's the actual term.

A death threat would not be a crime because it threatens to commit a crime. It's not a crime to say to a store owner, "I'm going to steal from you!" It IS a crime to point a gun in his face and say, "Gimme all your money, or else!" though in that case the crime is armed robbery.

And where did you come up with a bomb threat?

13.

Now, IANAL, but I'm going to offer my two cents here. In the US, at least, a crime is anything published under civil or criminal law, specifically stated as such - primarily, causing harm to another through violent means. This can extend quite nicely to theft (coercive or otherwise), assault, battery, torture, and the like - as well as less obvious methods, such as frivolous lawsuits intending to bleed a person to death. Obviously, not everything is well or clearly defined, and it would be so much simpler if common sense were followed in every case...but, not likely. Nonetheless. Very few stipulations are made in civil or criminal law, at the present moment, for online interactions, due in part to the international nature of many of these, but it's a rapidly-expanding body of knowledge.

Threatening to commit a crime is not, in and of itself, a crime (although it may be evidence of a dangerous mental disorder, commitment is a civil procedure).

Again, I may be wrong here, but the threat of bodily harm in a conceivable manner is, in fact, a crime - it falls under assault laws, though it's a borderline case. This is opposed to battery, which is a direct harm rather than the threat of it. If public information is shared in such a manner that a person's address, phone number, or other identifying info is known...then I'd wager that yes, it is in fact a crime.

Well, all this is nicely tangential to the topic, but I'm going to have to be honest here - the debate strikes home with me on a number of different levels. I've had several friends who have undergone this sort of stressful situation online, particularly in the roleplaying and furry communities (and overlaps therein). Naturally, Second Life falls dead-center in the middle of this, which makes it particularly useful as a 'hypothetical' situation.

One of the common running themes for all methods of roleplay is the concept of transference between the player (the person sitting behind the computer/character sheet/backdrop) and the character they play. Actors, especially, run into this sort of issue - I believe those are called method actors. When you roleplay a character, you are essentially acting as that character would, and your mindset tends to fit that to a degree. Furthermore, on VWs such as Second Life, a person's avatar may not be completely separate from their own personality; in fact, very rarely is that the case. A couple of useful links for the concept of transference between character and player can generally be found on Google, but one in particular I've come across is an excellent article by John Hughes along the uses of roleplaying as it relates to therapy.

Obviously, this isn't a literal transference: the character doesn't 'really exist' except as an image in the player's mind. However, because of this, when a 'character' undergoes significant emotional or mental trauma, it might tend to bleed over, so to speak...I've happened across this on a personal level before, in fact. I'm sure many here have grown attached to a character they've had for years, and this is much the same way.

Now, beyond this transference, there's the question of why someone doesn't just turn off their computer, or disconnect, or use the good ol 'ignore' option available on every IM service known to man. By the time that becomes obvious, a great deal of damage has already been done, in the form of a betrayal: emotionally, at least, it's a shattering experience for someone you know and trust to hurt /you/ in that way - and in many ways, that is in fact a significant part of 'you'. Certainly, online, it's harder to distinguish between a character and the person sitting at the other end of the two-way link.

So, what's the upshot, at least in my opinion? Well, legally, it might not be a crime: anybody who claims they've been raped online is likely to be laughed out of court, and I agree with Prokofy for once in their statements about the sheer quantity of foolishness there. Emotionally, however, it's not a laughing matter in any sense of the word.

And because I'd like to get in one last word, might as well make this clear: rape is mutually exclusive with clear consent. Signing a contract is giving consent. Joining an area on SL after you read the rules (assuming it's stated in the rules) is giving consent. Other than that, might as well assume it's nonconsentual unless you have a damn good reason not to; it'll just make things simpler in the long run.

14.

Like so many areas that are psychologically and legally loaded... this is a tough one, obviously. And there are in RL, of course, levels of sexual battery and punishments that fit those crimes... so trying to say, "X = Y" exactly when going from RL to VWs is as absurd as saying that a long-term, consensual relationship between a barely underage person and his/her barely overage boy/girlfriend constitutes the exact "X = Y" level of crime as a brutal, forced, violent action committed by a stranger or group of strangers.

It is a fact that the mind is housed inside the body. The brain is part of the body. The chemicals that regulate all kinds of bodily reactions are controlled from the brain and, conversely, our brain, mind, psychology and spirit is affected by many bodily activities.

On the one hand, this means that things that happen "just in the brain" can have profound affects on the body itself. Yes... you can experience something in a virtual environment that triggers all kinds of true, physical effects. And it is possible to immerse yourself so fully in any number of types of relationships and media such that the misuse or abuse of them is incredibly traumatic. Lasting psychological (and in some cases legal) harm can certainly be done to people with no physical contact. To answer an earlier question, the threat of violence is often considered a crime, depending on context; it is assault.

But is a fictional representation of violence in a virtual setting "assault?" If someone calls me up and says, "Andy... I'm going to kill you," that can be a viable threat that the police and courts might take seriously. If they call me up and say, "Andy... I'm am setting you on fire right now, crushing your head, shooting you and piercing you with spears," that may be weird and scary, yes. Repeated incidents could be classified as harassment or stalking. But is it a threat? To me? My "self?"

I've said before that Prok and I need to have a debate on the "rights of avatars," and this subject falls into that realm. I believe that my characters and avatars and email addresses and phone numbers and IM accounts are ALL extensions of one legal, spiritual and psychological person: me. I want all the legal protection there is in my city, state and country to devolve to one person: me. I don't want any of it to accrue to an avatar, because there is a chance, then (however small), that my avatar will receive some right or privilege that I will not; and perhaps in one space but not in another. No dice. I, me, Andy want it all.

This case of virtual rape is a good one from that perspective. If my avatar is guilty of assault of some kind upon another avatar... OK. I'll cancel that account and make another one. Or maybe I have several to begin with. And if my victim has several avatars... could one of my alts be in contact (however sly and silly) with one of my victim's alts? If you want to go back and say, "Now, wait... ALL your alts will have to stay away from ALL your victim's alts," then... right. It's back to people. Not avatars. Not characters. Because one of my alts might be the one that maps to me, the real Andy, in RL. The one I use to run my biz. And the other might be a heavy RP, female raccoon who's into nocturnal-play (whatever that is... just made it up).

So if Ricky Raccoon goes to court (as either plaintiff or defendant)... what does that do for Island Operator Andy?

People, real people, are the ones that are made greater and/or hurt by what happens in these fantastic new places we are building. The avatars are our tools. You don't put tools in prison or give them Academy Awards.

As to what level of crime a virtual rape is... compare the experience to what can happen on the phone, by mail, in video, or in RL with no physical contact, etc. etc. Psychological abuse can be a real crime, yes. Hard to prove, but real. So, in that, I agree with Prok and disagree with Regina (whose work I love)... virtual rape *could* be a crime, depending on the circumstances.

Will it (should it) ever be a crime on par with physical rape? I don't think so. On this, I'm with Dave. I have some very dear people in my life who have experienced some of the most nightmarish, brutal and heinous acts of sexual violence you could possibly imagine. Stuff that, frankly, comes closer than anything else I know to making me question the inherent good of humanity.

The reason that virtual rape is in anyway traumatic is *because* it mimics and mirrors real life crimes that are so devastating. Just as good VW/MMO content creators (and partners in consensual acts) seek to use strong material from RL, so anyone seeking to do harm will latch onto those acts that are particularly likely to cause a strong and emotional reaction.

But the shadow of a thing is not the thing, and the story or a thing is not, and can not be, as real as the thing itself. In an RL rape, the victim has lost some level of control over her/his body -- that which is most elemental to all our rights. In many cases, all control is lost, as victims fear (justifiably) for their lives. Physical, mental, psychological, sexual, religious, emotional, familial (which in some cultures = economic) barriers come crashing down against the victim's will, with, in many cases, no hope of repair. There is physical pain, moral outrage, sexual shame, emotional retreat and numbing, psychological crippling.

Yes... having your freedom in any way violated is wrong, bad and can be devastating. In a VW, it could be a crime, I think, in some cases. But rape victims in RL have so many more issues, on so many more levels to deal with... and often had no way to do anything in any manner about changing or altering their circumstance. I find it hard to believe that our courts, or most users, will find sympathy for the argument that the two should be considered "the same." And making that argument, I think, is unwise, as it confuses the real and already complex issues at stake in our new worlds.

15.

Opinions on the idea of online "rape" aside, I find it very curious the contradictory position some outspoken folks (not so much here, but in the other more SL intense forums) profess. The same people who eloquently insist online sexual harassment is effectively the equivalent of rape also smugly say that anyone who is financially defrauded by dishonest online counterparties deserves what they get. So it's ok to blame the victim if we agree with the criminals, but not if we don't, apparently. Perhaps the problem with Second Life and so many other online communities is the tendency to try to hand pick which already established rules and norms should apply. "Age Play" is ok. Simulated rape is ok. Virtual "rape" is not. Financial fraud is ok. IP theft is not. No small wonder it all degrades into a playground for the lowest common denominator.

16.

At least under UK law, threatening someone with any use of force is a crime; it's assault. (Technically, assault is only threats - any actual force used would be battery. Even legal professionals conflate the two terms, however.)

Just to take this on a slight tangent - most people here seem to operating under the paradigm that rape is solely a crime committed by men against women.

Men rape other men, women rape other women, and woman rape men.
http://www.everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=864894

17.

Troubled. So glad i'm not an attorney. Obviously a virtual rape is different from a real rape. But isn't it, nevertheless, some other type of crime? I don't know. Wouldn't that question eventually have to be decided by a judge or jury? What would be the charge?

18.

Every time we expand the definition of "rape", we come a step closer to trivializing the real thing.

No expansion of the definition is in fact occuring. It's merely *applying* the existing definition to virtuality. And why not? Why does virtuality give you a pass? The presence of an opt-out button doesn't mean a thing. That's a forced-migration policy, not a world.

Saying that is an awful lot like telling women who are raped that they shouldn't wear short skirts or walk in certain neighbourhoods after dark. After all, they had the opt-out not to do those things, eh? And to that list we can now add "and don't go in virtual worlds". Terrible argument.

>Stay calm and remember it's just electrons. *Do* accept that something really awful was being *simulated*, and that it's okay to be freaked out by it, just like it is okay to jump in your seat or cry at the movies. But it wasn't real.

But it isn't just electrons, it's the manifestation of evil, the desire to cause pain and humiliation to another human being, and that's wrong, whether virtual or real, and should be dealt with as crime, even if virtual. I don't see why it gets to have a pass.

Yes, we realize, this is a sacred article of your religious faith, that anything goes in your hedonistic entitlement-happy freakish notion of what online life should be, which involves the usual tekkie nihilism, logical positivism, and code-as-lawism.

But people don't accept your religion, it's merely your religion. They have a separate set of beliefs, which they think are as deserving of respect as yours -- and they are right. They believe acts in the virtual world have real consequences, and there is no excusing of crime, even virtual crime.

>I hope they get psychological help for their mental state that makes them feel like they were raped

More blaming of the victim, and more indications that men in games and worlds are not willing to let women themselves determine what they find to be rape.


19.

From some of these comments, I would wager a bet that none of you have ever been raped or been close friends with a rape victim.

In a place like SecondLife, where Prokofy is suggesting her tenant was "raped" because the avatar was clicked while the player was AFK, it is really easy to avoid that sort of griefing - take your sex-related attachments off when you aren't using them. An annoyance, I'm sure, because you have to pause for your e-lover "Excuse me baby, I have to put my vagina/penis/both" on - but really, a simple, reasonable step to take in avoiding this HUGE tragedy of someone clicking your avatar and causing it to convulse like a puppet on a string.

I was assaulted by someone very dear to me when I was sixteen years old. It has taken years for me to understand healthy relationships because of this. I thought for very long that it was somehow my fault, or that simply because I'd been intimate with him before, it gave him free liscence to use me whenever he felt like he should. I don't -want- to be a victim. I don't -want- to feel like I was weak, or that I couldn't take care of myself, or any of the other myriad thoughts that have whipped through my mind over the years. The fact of the matter though, is that it happened and it profoundly changed my life. It has taken a very long time, but I have excommunicated my personal demons. Though I still bear the scars, both mental and physical - I have become a better, stronger person for the experience.

To even suggest something that is merely an annoyance in the virtual is on the same level as something that ruins lives, destroys the soul, alters the sense of self, and in some cases ultimately leads to suicide is an insult and diminishes the legitimacy of the pain of rape victims world wide.

It's just griefing. Nothing more. Get over it.

20.

"Virtual Rape", in my mind, ties in with the current debate over the way that many female bloggers are subjected to written abuse online. And there are a lot of parallels between the original "Rape in Cyberspace" case and a female blogger who finds someone has photo-shopped her publicity pics into vile scenes, or left comments that talk about doing violent things to her and her family.

The problem is, these things are done because they "get to" the victims. Post a nasty picture or sick story featuring me, and I might be pissed, but I won't feel like a rape victim. And some women online have the same attitude. Do the same thing about my family, and I'm going to be *really* pissed off.

So yes, I can agree that *some* kind of offense has been committed, but then you run into an issue of practicality: If you criminalize it, how do you enforce that? The poster may be unknown, they may be known but beyond the reach of any jurisdiction willing to prosecute. So you simply can't stamp it out, you can't make yourself or your loved ones safe from it. But I've been on the internet since 1993, and I've long since learned that letting it show that someone's outrageous words have pissed me off only encourages them, gives them a handle with which to control me.

It only has as much power as you give it. And since legal redress is effectively impossible, you have to deny the agressor of their power by simply not caring. The great part about virtuality is that whatever you ignore does not exist, as far as you are concerned. If you can't handle it, you've got to turn your back on it. The only gratification in any kind of internet assault is the effect on the victim. If the victim doesn't let themselves care, the agressor gains nothing.

Prokofy, you obviously enjoy being outraged, and I'm not going to deny you your entertainment. But what do you propose that we *do* about it? Or do you just want us to join you in some kind of "I'm more offended and outraged than *you*" drama-queen contest? Anonymous is right, it's griefing, and you're encouraging the perpetrators by your reactions to it.

--Dave

21.

As for the level of offense: It seems like it's somewhere in the same neighborhood as an obscene phone call, as Andy pointed out there's a lot of commonality, including the ability to just hang up the phone. In some cases arguably more severe, as in the photo-shopped photos and the more interactive cases possible in Second Life.

--Dave

22.

Hmmm. Obscene phone call. Not so controversial and provocative as 'online rape." But now sounding much more 'suitable to fit the crime.' :)

23.

"If the victim doesn't let themselves care, the agressor (sic) gains nothing."

Sorry, this is not true. If it was, the solution to any verbal or written assault would be to ignore it. It is not (outside of primary schooling perhaps). Abusive behaviour reinforces itself and becomes normalized. It further creates a hostile environment that excludes its victims.

24.

Dave Rickey wrote:

Not in the US (well, unless I'm the president). Threatening to commit a crime is not, in and of itself, a crime (although it may be evidence of a dangerous mental disorder, commitment is a civil procedure).

I know some others have already replied to this, but I can tell you first-hand that you're wrong. I've gotten death threats before from over-zealous players of our games. I've only gone to the police once, because the little worm really irritated me and I wanted to see him sweat. The police took it -way- more seriously than I did, and this was a few years ago as well (before they really understood what virtual worlds are most likely).

Is virtual "rape" the same as rape? Of course not, any more than PK is murder.

--matt

25.

The police took it -way- more seriously than I did, and this was a few years ago as well (before they really understood what virtual worlds are most likely).

They might take it less seriously today, depending upon where and how long ago that was. There has been a desensitization to "internet crimes", which a couple years ago were really hot news.

My own practical experience has been that the authorities take it seriously if the threats are credible and/or persistent over a period of time. I was told the following in my own run-in with overzealous denizens of a certain unnamed "virtual Mayberry":

* If someone emails you "I'm going to beat you senseless", or even a much more perverted and graphic version thereof, keep track of it and ignore them.

* If someone emails you a picture of your kid coming out of the schoolhouse, even without a single word attached, then we'll figure out who it was and haul them in for questioning.

26.

Dan, for such a serious topic, and considering how smarted and learned you folks at TN are supposed to be, it would have been nice if you had taken the effort to devote more than three grammatically-flawed sentences to it?

They're both heinous. X is definitely related to Y. X doesn't have to equal Y. X can be discussed in a less-than-trivial manner.

27.

Dan, for such a serious topic, and considering how smart and learned you folks at TN are supposed to be, it would have been nice if you had taken the effort to devote more than three grammatically-flawed sentences to it?

They're both heinous. X is definitely related to Y. X doesn't have to equal Y. X can be discussed in a less-than-trivial manner.

28.

http://secondtense.blogspot.com/2007/05/virtual-rape-seriously-seriously.html

29.

http://secondtense.blogspot.com/2007/05/virtual-rape-seriously-seriously.html

30.

If it's only in-world, it's harassment and griefing, maybe even stalking. These are social violations, just like going up to someone and screaming obscenities at them is in the real world, but that's all that's happening. You can always mute them and abuse-report them. You can always hit Quit. You can always turn the computer off. At no point here is it rape, because your real bodies are not involved. A dirty phone call is not "rape", and neither is anything that happens to your avatars.

Punching someone is a violent crime. Genocide is a violent crime. And yet, a fistfight is much, much less serious a crime than a genocide, and does not carry the death penalty.

If they make a threat to do harm against you for real, then you have an assault case, and you are morally obligated to report them to the police and prosecute them for it. Online death threats are serious felonies in almost every state of the U.S., and carry sentences of months or years.

There are cases where someone is "asking for it". If a white person goes into a mostly-black neighborhood and shouts the n-word, they're going to be beaten, and deserve it. If a homophobic redneck goes to San Francisco and says gay people are vermin, he's going to get his ass kicked, or just disappear; the reverse is true of a gay person going to Texas and hitting on a homophobic redneck. If someone, say, has spent years honing the ability to piss people off all the time online, tries to inflict her stone-age religion on people but then calls anyone who doesn't share her delusions "religious" (ironically, directly insulting and repelling the more tolerant people who would otherwise help her out), publicly attacks people, and is then so stupid that she seeks out publicity listing her real-world identity, she shouldn't be surprised when bad people she's pissed off use that real-world identity to hit back.

Being stupid has consequences. Think of it as evolution in action.

31.

I've tried hard to stay out ....but i'm with Kami,randolfe,Matt,Dave. Really, it's a game, i've agred to EULA/TOS also that's an adults playground . And my fantasy is to be raped in a cyber-space , this is what i paid my subscription to LL for , and this is why i went to that specific sim. In the real world i like to be agressed with paint-bullets , in Virtual Worlds i like to be PKed and raped. You dont like the Gay-pub ? Go elswhere . Should such spaces/places be allowed to exist in the first place ? That's another discussion. Should me & my husband keep our fantasies in our bedroom ? Probably yes, but it not become public when more 10 or 100 adults FREELY join us at a private party held at a private Island , an Island labeled as a place where " you can do this and that "; especially when it's not even real. We go there and we shout:
" Bush is a liar , a moron, a traitor, a terrorist , rape me ". Or we don't shout : it's implied.

32.

Why are they allowing the emotionally crippled the right to post on Terra Nova?

33.

Mikyo says: Hmmm. Obscene phone call. Not so controversial and provocative as 'online rape." But now sounding much more 'suitable to fit the crime.' :)

Obscene phone calls are much worse than your average obscene-play-rapist (it is only comparable if s/he lists your real name etc and are doing it OOC). Such calls are implying a very real possibility of you becoming a real rape victim.

Should spreading of real terror and fear be illegal. Yes. Should playing a terrorist be made illegal. No.

34.

Tell me if I'm way off base here, but it strikes me that a virtual offense calls for (at least primarily) virtual consequences. The nature of those consequences would of course need to be defined by the participants and/or makers of the space.

I should also clarify that there's a range here. When the virtual space is not an anonymous one (i.e. real names in myspace etc.), then you're touching on RL issues which I believe generally are (and should be) considered on par with things like threatening/obscene phone calls.

Just my 2 cents.

35.

I’m with Hiro that I find Dan’s dismissal of this topic rather strange for a place where people are theoretically discussing issues surrounding virtual worlds in an intelligent fashion. Clearly this is a highly charged issue that sometimes makes people act and sound like jerks. There are about 5 threats here that I think need to be untangled before this can be an interesting discussion.

1) Terminology – I think most of us can agree that virtual violent sexual violation is different than an actual, real life rape. Can we just stop calling this rape at all because it is harassment, assault, or stalking, but not rape.

2) Real versus Virtual: Is it just a game? – This is where more people seem to disagree. Can virtual worlds have actual real world impact on real live people? I think so. In this context, just as I found threatening phone calls very disconcerting when I was a single woman living alone, I find it stomach churning when male avatars sexually assault my female avatar in a game (humping my toon’s face when I’m sitting down, humping her dead body, groping her, etc).

I’ve experienced all those things and of course when it happened I simply left and put the moron on ignore. But I can definitely imagine a situation where a person or group of people set out to harass someone in this way and basically make it impossible for them to participate in a social world in which that person has real social ties, actual networks, and genuine emotional investment.

This gets more complex when you make the divide between threats against an avatar, and threats against a real person. Male avatars can simulate raping my female avatar, but that is different than someone saying, “Jen Dornan, I’m going to rape you.” This is a distinction that I think will be made increasingly clear as laws against virtual harassment are fleshed out. Dave Rickey had a fine point about this issue in relation to the horrible harassment many female bloggers suffer. Those women are being threatened directly as individuals – a much more legally actionable and fear inducing type of virtual harassment.

3) Ethics/Morality – I would have imagined that we could all agree that depictions or descriptions of graphic sexualized violence is patently “wrong” no matter what the context (excepting those that are entered into by mutually consenting adults which is a-ok by me Amarilla, we’re talking about cases where a person doesn’t want the assault). Sadly, a few comments here make me feel like some people are saying “heh, boys will be boys, get over it you silly woman.”

I will add that I do know that rape is not gender specific and I do NOT dismiss male rape victims, but I would argue that much of our rape culture is predicated on violence against or hatred for women. So when a man is raped, he is seen as being reduced to a woman (which is why men are much less reluctant to report rapes). Bringing me to my next issue….

4) Sexual Violence Against Women – Real life women are regularly sexually assaulted and raped. To trivialize it, joke about it, think light of it in any way in my mind is a horrible comment on the person joking about something that ruins millions of lives. When we call sexualized assault drivel, even when it is “joking” or “not real” to me is a reflection of a much larger social ambivalence toward violence against women.

5) Legality and Enforcement – So even if we were to all agree that this is abhorrent and immoral, what can and should we do about it? I’d imagine it will be a while before assault, harassment, and stalking laws are effectively enforced in virtual worlds but I am confident it will eventually happen. As I think it should, especially in ongoing, severe cases. Why should ass holes in the virtual world be excused from the same laws that apply to other non-physical forms of assault?

Until then, I think game companies will increasingly watch for this kind of thing, will improve tools for players to protect themselves against this, and will enforce rules against harassment, assault and stalking. I know many women who refuse to play multi-player video games of any kind because of the misogynist crap bandied about in so many of these places. It hurts their bottom line and I think that will motivate them to increasingly pay attention and police this kind of crap.

36.

I was puzzled by the trivialization of the issue by this thread's author as well. Actually, I wasn't in light of his past contributions. Was this thread intended to bait flames and trolls, to attack someone for misspelling Julian's last name, or just because Mr. Hunter was in another deeply shitty mood.

37.

Rape is never funny. Unless you're raping a clown.

38.

>to attack someone for misspelling Julian's last name

Mostly comical because Mr. Dibbell is a contributing editor to the periodical in which his name was misspelled (Along with the likes of Steven Johnston, Larry Lesseg, and Bruce Stearling).

Now back to your regularly scheduled thread, already in progress.

(Secretly hoping I've said something to piss off Prokovy Neva . . . .)

39.

@ Jen : "...3) Ethics/Morality – I would have imagined that we could all agree that depictions or descriptions of graphic sexualized violence is patently “wrong” no matter what the .."

" we " 'll never agree that depictions or descriptions of graphic murders , animals abuses , exploding a whole bunch of planets and especially dressing in a red skirt , are patently wrong , no matter what. Who is gonna to decide what is worse : to rape or to kill ?

40.

>To even suggest something that is merely an annoyance in the virtual is on the same level as something that ruins lives, destroys the soul, alters the sense of self, and in some cases ultimately leads to suicide is an insult and diminishes the legitimacy of the pain of rape victims world wide.

>It's just griefing. Nothing more. Get over it.

No.

Sorry, Anonymous, but with all due respect to your own personal experience and your trauma, I refuse to be emotionally manipulated or emotionally blackmailed into silence by it. Everybody has a story. Many of us can tell awful stories of all kinds. That cannot be allowed to distract from what is happening in a virtual world, on its terms.

My tenant, and the others who have experienced intrusion and rape in Second Life or other worlds have something similar to your experience. No, that doesn't trivialize your experience. No, it doesn't mean it's identical to your experience. But it is similar. It doesn't undo the validity of your experience to say that. It merely validates theirs. I refuse to invalidate *their experience* just because you feel their claim invalidates yours. It does not.

They experience something upsetting, negative, scarring, hurtful, tearful. It's not like the awfulness of real rape, but then, that isn't the claim about it. The claim about it is that it is wrong, is a crime, and matters, *too*. That's all, and you need to hear that. Those who are trying to diminish *those realities* always try to bring up real-life rape and try to browbeat you and guilt-trip you into accepting their licentiousness in a virtual world for doing wrong.

I refuse.

It *is* wrong and it has to be called as such.

One person's trauma doesn't trump another's. People have all their own experiences and each is valid. One right doesn't make another wrong.

The idea that you can "just take off your attachments" or "just log off" doesn't fly for me, because people who are new often don't have all those skills together, and the shock of the experience means they cannot manage everything. I know the times I've experienced awful assualts in SL with things ilke the World Trade Center clubbed over my avatar's head, or the tub-girl particles flying all over my land, I haven't been able always to get at the switches and controls and even logging off doesn't work sometimes as the screen is frozen. Do I equate those assaults with RL experiences I've had like once being assaulted and robbed? No, of course not. But they are in the same spirtual spectrum, and the springs that made them occur spring from the same wrongful places. They are different in scale and magnitude and remedy. But they both matter because they are about how the world will be.

I always tell all my tenants that the best defense against griefing is to log off and deprive the griefer of attention. And that is the hardest thing for people to do. Because they are immersed. And because they want to fight the fight on the world's terms. They don't want to admit defeat in the virtual world and retire to real life. They wish to punish -- shoot -- ban -- stop -- the person who harmed them in simulated life and they also wish to be able to live unmolested in virtual life without being dictated to log off all the time because some people wish to aggressively harass them.

The solution to the problem of rape in cyberspace isn't to keep asserting the realness of real-life rape, in the hope that "all those deluded people who can't get over a game will shut up". They won't. More and more people spend their time in games and worlds and don't want to shut up over something they see as deeply wrong. They want action taken in that world, of a protective and a punitive nature -- and they are right to do so. They don't want something unpleasant happening in their virtual world to prevail unchallenged, and they are right to do so, they are people, in a human situation, and they have the right to act humanly.

41.

Can we put Jen in charge please? She's at least twice as sensible as I am and only 1/4 as long-winded.

42.

I'm starting to see why everyone else ignores you, Prokofy. But, here goes: Yes, online sexual attacks are awful. But they're not rape, they're "Obscene Communications". And although they might be prosecutable under some existing statutes, enforcement is going to be difficult and put a heavy onus on the victim to establish the location of the perpetrator, because their local police department isn't likely to consider it worth the work.

Now, if what you're really pissed off over is that we're just not taking this seriously enough, not treating it as "rape", you know it's a loaded word and that's why you insist on using it. And as long as you do, you're going to keep having the same pointless argument.

What pisses me off is that what *might* have been a productive conversation about what this really is, and what can really be done about it, has been hijacked by your hysterics. Lots of people I would have expected to have useful information to share aren't participating, and I suspect it's because they're sick of you.

So, congratulations, you "win" another thread.

--Dave

43.

I see a victim of rude behavior at most, yet due to some extreme exaggeration in their mind, they feel it was like rape. For purposes of law, you have to consider what really happened, not the perception of the victim.

Here's an example: I buy a $5 radio for $5000 and then it gets stolen. Was that a $5 crime or a $5000 crime? You sentence the criminal for the actual crime (stealing a $5 radio), regardless of my distored perception of value that causes me to scream, "they stole my $5000 radio!"

What happened in the "virtual rape" event was that someone saw an image of cartoonish sex on their screen. Simple as that. Things start getting crazy when the alleged victim and their distorted perceptions equate one cartoon character to themselves, then equate the other character as an attacker, decided that it was unconsentual sex, felt shock and probably fear/anguish, and the crazy train rolls onward from there.

Is the law supposed to accomodate someone not living in the same reality with the rest of us? Or can we expect a reasonable level of maturity in each citizen before we legislate around their imaginary monsters in the closet? Should we legislate around their inability to distinguish between something that happened on a screen versus something that happened *to them*?

44.

To my mind, the fundamental thing that is happening here is that Player A deliberately set out to cause pain and suffering to Player B. That is bad. No amount of “Player B is a wimp to be hurt by action C” excuses that. Player A knows action C will cause pain to Player B. If it didn’t, they would choose action D instead. Rape-like actions are just one vehicle for this dynamic, but only one of many. Focussing on the “rape” action seems to me to more obscure than illuminate the problem.

The question is, do you want Player A in your world at all? If you don’t, how do you get rid of them? One solution would be analogous to the real world one of flight to the suburbs. The people who want to quiet life move to an area which is too "expensive" for the anti-social types to follow. That does impoverish the world in some way though.

45.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but if a cruel neighbor decides to come into my back yard and beat my dog to death, (s)he'll be charged with animal cruelty and trespassing. Not murder. This is true regardless of whether I leave my dog in a doghouse on a chain 24/7, or if I let her sleep in my bed nightly, feed her gourmet dinners, take her on my vacations, and regularly hold conversations with her -- even if I think she can understand me and communicate back.

People have vastly differing relationships with their pets. To many, their reality is honestly that pets are full fledged family members. To some, the loss of a pet is as traumatic as losing a human family member. Everyone who isn't deranged agrees that beating a dog to death is cruel and apprehensible.

But that still doesn't make animal cruelty the same thing as murder. Neither is online sexual harassment rape. They are categorically different things. In my opinion, all the intentional overloading of terms is cynical, selfish, and ultimately does even more damage.

46.

lol @ Andy. In charge of...the universe? I'll take it!....what....that's what you meant right....

Seriously, I do think this topic is only going to become more complex and much more common as VWs expand. I’m glad there will be people like you, Andy, and all the others here who are engaging in (mostly) intelligent discussion helping to shape the way we deal with these kinds of topics.

47.

Hellinar says: To my mind, the fundamental thing that is happening here is that Player A deliberately set out to cause pain and suffering to Player B. That is bad. No amount of “Player B is a wimp to be hurt by action C” excuses that. Player A knows action C will cause pain to Player B. If it didn’t, they would choose action D instead.

I hope I don't get anyone too ticked off with this, but Hellinar, your post raised in my mind the parallel of grave camping in games. Arguably, a PvP world is not designed for camping, it tends to be more of an unfortunate outcome that certain types of players engage in. Equally, other persistent virtual spaces are not designed for the sort of harassment we've been discussing here.

Nonetheless, in the context of camping, player A (the camper) is setting out to deliberately cause some distinct manner of harm to player B. Now I know that the emotional stakes generally aren't as high (after all camping takes place in a world where dying is a recurrent and inevitable experience), and yes by choosing PvP you have on some level consented to the possibility of this type of event, and of course there is sometimes/for some people a recourse (i.e. put it out on the defense channel, and/or call friends/guildees to come to your aid), but this isn't always the case. In fact, arguably these sorts of events over time can be the stimulus that causes an entire guild to transfer servers thereby incurring RL monetary costs for every member/player.

Tabling that last point (which may well qualify as a significant exageration), let me try a slightly different tack. I've been camped for upwards of 1/2 an hour before. That's a lot of my actual time lost, and some pretty intense angst as well. It was crazy making, I had no one on to get help from (I was in a small guild at the time and the other players in the area were being totally unresponsive). I could have stepped away from the computer at any point, but I was more than reluctant to do so. Whether it's sexual harassment or camping, you really can't expect the victim to "be the bigger person" in the situation, for as many of you have pointed out here, that is totally unreasonable and immoral to boot. Of course, it was ultimately the only option I had available to me, because there was no game mechanic to rely on, just the willingness of other players which in that scenario was non-existent.

So this is a bit of all over the place, but what I'm trying to come back to here is that virtual worlds should have virtual tools to deal with virtual problems, especially when the default setting for participants is an anonymous one (as I saoid before, once you introduce real identity, you have real legal issues). Given the persistence of these issues, I think it is the responsibility of the creators of these worlds to provide the solutions. And yes, the creation of such tools (imagine a virtual restraining order disallowing a harasser inside of interactive or even visual range of the victim), would alter any world irrevocably, and so we have to make choices over how we build our systems and what consequences we're willing to live with.

48.

@Andy: I'd say Jen's post was about the same length as your usual. I wouldn't say 1/4 as long-winded at all. More structured, though. =P

49.

"I always tell all my tenants that the best defense against griefing is to log off and deprive the griefer of attention. And that is the hardest thing for people to do."

If you can't be bothered to type /ignore, then I don't have much sympathy for you. The notion of having to take precautions or, failing that, action, shouldn't be alien to anyone. We lock our doors at night, put our money in banks, and hang up when we receive crank calls. These are not "hard" things to do, and most people feel insulted by the very thought of having to do them to protect themselves.

"They don't want to admit defeat in the virtual world and retire to real life."

And this is where real rape and virtual "rape" diverge so far as to make the entire comparison moot. Victims of real, actual rape cannot log off, /ignore, or otherwise render their assailant ineffective, at least not without severe risk of making the situation considerably worse. And afterwards, they cannot retire to something beyond real life, where they know they're safe from the people who assaulted them.

50.

That was supposed to be "and most DON'T people feel insulted..." *sigh*

51.

@randolfe

Your logic is deeply flawed. You're saying that "killing a dog and killing a person are different" in the same way as "sexual assault/harassment on a human and out-and-out rape on a human are different".

In your example, the difference is clearly the difference in value we place on the victim. In the example of this discussion about rape vs. virtual assualt/harassment, there is no difference between the victims, because they are both human.

No, the difference is clear - damage donene. It's a matter of mental vs. both mental and physical, as well as the degree of mental damage. While virtual "rape" doesn't carry the physical damage, it certainly can carry the mental. It may not be the degree of physical rape, but it still can be devastating.

So the bottom line is that we have an illicit act that is sexual in nature and is mentally damaging in the same way, albeit not necessarily the same degree, as real-world rape.

I also refuse the argument that "phone calls are worse than online harassment, because there is a real fear that someone might get them in real life." A person can be equally close or distant on the Internet as on the phone, so that is not a factor.

52.

Dave Rickey said: "I'm starting to see why everyone else ignores you, Prokofy."

I say: "That's just the tip of the iceberg, Dave. Mind your Titanic."

53.

And Hiro said: "So the bottom line is that we have an illicit act that is sexual in nature and is mentally damaging in the same way, albeit not necessarily the same degree, as real-world rape."

"... not necessarily the same degree," he said, as if he were being generous.

Hiro, Prok, let me ask you something. Maybe especially you, Hiro, since you're all "Your logic is deeply flawed" and focusing on the abstractions of reality as opposed to what those abstractions are based on.

Let me ask you both ...

Say you have a choice, okay? Say some horrific jigsaw nightmare scenario occurs --- and I hope it never does --- but say that it does and so, suddenly, you have to make a choice: Either you will be raped IRL ... or your avatar will be raped in SL.

Seriously, now: which would you choose?

And for the love of Darwin, please don't tell me you have to *think* about it.

kthxbye

54.

I'm suprised, Prokofy can make an effort at showing a shred of compassion and then at the same time do the complete opposite. Sharing what I did of my experience is not an attempt to emotionally blackmail or manipulate - it is a simple statement of my background so that one might better understand my perspective.

>It's not like the awfulness of real rape, but then, that isn't the claim about it. The claim about it is that it is wrong, is a crime, and matters, *too*.

I think the problem a lot of us are having is that by calling this particular brand of griefing "rape", it automatically assigns it a certain gravity. You have stated that it is similar in vein, also wrong, but not the same thing. Hence, if the action is similar but not the same it should get its own name. The safest way to do that is to call it what it actually is, not rape, not virtual rape, but sexually-oriented-griefing or if that doesn't suit you, unwelcome-obscene-communications.

Describing sexually oriented griefing as "rape" is equivocation - a formal fallacy.

Look, like a lot of people, (Prokofy, I'm looking at you) I like using words that are packed full of meaning - the right ones to get my point across - but in this instance, 'rape' is absolutely, without a doubt the wrong one to describe what happened to your tenant and even the worst of what happens in the virtual world. If you want something recognized for what it is, you simply cannot leap off of the deep end and go for the emotionally-loaded words. It's the same thing that I'm sure everyone's parents told them (or perhaps told your own children)when we all discovered how truly POWERFUL we percieved the peppering of cursewords into our arguments made them. (Trying my best to avoid a tangent here - but ever hear grandma curse and be REALLY blown away by it? Same thing.)

Memory Harker's point about "which would you rather" is relevant here - I would wager that the majority of the population, unless seriously unstable, would gladly go with the avatar option.

55.

All this springs from silly people assuming that SL is somehow "real" and that the oerators are not gods who can switch it off at any time.

You are not your avatar. None of it is real. As long as you or somebody else can switch it off, it's not real.

If i log into WoW and kill every centaur i find for three days straight, am i guilty of genocide? How about if i kill every Dwarf?

The answer, in both cases is "no".

Please, try to grow up.

56.

- "My doll beat-up your doll while you were out of the room."
- "I drew a picture of you having sex with a dog, see?"

I'm reminded of the stories from Seoul, about LineageII players who lose a seige battle, step away from their workstations en masse, find the other team's net cafe and start a street fight. The local cops (mis-)use the term "PK" for these gang rumbles.

Does anyone else think calling a lawyer or the cops is a form of metagaming?

57.

Memory: "Seriously, now: which would you choose?"

What part of "not the same degree" didn't you get? I'd also rather have my leg amputated than get gangrene and die, if I had an infected leg. Does that mean I think losing a leg is trivial? No.

Rich, Moses: Did either of you bother to read all of the posts? PKing is a voluntary thing you risk when you enter a PVP game; it's part of a game. Sexual harassment is not.

58.

PKing is a voluntary thing you risk when you enter a PVP game; it's part of a game. Sexual harassment is not.

But yes it is .
The code is the law. The game is designed, ruled and enforced to be right that : a PK zone and a sexual harassment zone. Above all the mumbo-jumbo lawyer-talk of EULA/TOS, LL has created - and manages - a space where the sexual harassment is an intrinsec part of the game , is a feature , and is a major point of the market - sale of the game. LL has created a place where the bad guys , the jerks , have a field of expression and a field of presence ; dont blame it on players , blame it on LL : LL makes money from " renting " such spaces. While the bad/evil nature exist in any human, the point should be : what is it best to do : 1-kill that evil inside you ? 2-let it express itself in a safe ( virtual ) space , so that you make it " stisfied " and " sleepy " ? A Virtual World is what YOU make of it .

59.

Hmmmm. Illicit, sexual, emotionally damaging? Yes. But is it a head shot, or just a poke in the ribs?

What can we do about it? Probably not much. The world is full of things i don't like. But my garden isn't big enough to hide so many bodies.

Just log off? Not the best solution, but one that works. The world is full of both worms and steaks. Which one you eat is at least partly up to you.

60.

Its not rape and has nothing to do with rape, which is a very strictly defined illegal act that takes place IRL.

But it very well may be a crime. There are many states that have harassment crimes, to cover things like annoying telephone calls. Simulated, online, uninvited, and "offensive" sexual chat could very well qualify as a crime much in the same way that repeated telephone calls of heavy breathing followed by a click can as well.

And yes, I'm a lawyer.

61.

Yo, lawyer, the VWs are research fields , so you cannot sue the labs for " wrongdoings " to mice , you know, it's done in the name /behalf of science.And you cannot sue Rambo. And it's virtual, afterall. Ask Bragg about it. That's mumbo-jumbo bs, " might ", "may ", " could "...lawyers talk. Yeah we know, a lawyer can put one in jail for telling " ur nice " and the same lawyer gets you free from doing a rape , just because you had a " temporary mental disorder ". No wonder why ppls loves you so much.

62.

It's trespass.

It's bullying.

It's harassment.

If we have laws against those things, then they should apply, at least morally, in virtual spaces also.

63.

Hmmm. Trespass, bullying and harassment. Some calls it war on terror and some calls it emergent game-play. As long as it brings money , forget about laws and morality.

64.

I'm suprised, Prokofy can make an effort at showing a shred of compassion and then at the same time do the complete opposite. Sharing what I did of my experience is not an attempt to emotionally blackmail or manipulate - it is a simple statement of my background so that one might better understand my perspective.

No, I have no sympathy for people trying to trump and argument with heavily-laden emotional "sharing" of their RL experience. They take the RL experience as the coin of the realm in a realm which does not have that coin. I'm sorry for your RL experience, and trust me, I surely DO know the difference between RL and SL assault, having experienced both, but I will indeed insist on using the word "assault" or "rape" for what happens in cyberspace.

Seriously, I don't get why I can use the words "meet" and "sex" and "sell" and "enjoy" and "explore" in cyberspace, even though you could say it is merely electrons providing the illusion of mingling, but when it comes to crimes, I have to shut my lexicon and I can't use words like "assault" or "rape" to describe what is definitely assault and rape in that world, which is immersive and evoking emotions in people and creating real relationships.

>I think the problem a lot of us are having is that by calling this particular brand of griefing "rape", it automatically assigns it a certain gravity. You have stated that it is similar in vein, also wrong, but not the same thing. Hence, if the action is similar but not the same it should get its own name.

Why? I don't insist that I have to take the word "friend" or "sex" or "table" or "explore" and always add to it "e-friend" "cybersex" "pixeltable" or "pretend-explore" so I refuse to do this for crimes. Crimes are crimes. Yes, they are virtual. But, yes, the virtual matters.

>The safest way to do that is to call it what it actually is, not rape, not virtual rape, but sexually-oriented-griefing or if that doesn't suit you, unwelcome-obscene-communications.

Well, that's YOUR lexicon and your definition and your usage. For you, it seems very important to make these very harsh and delineated lines between RL and SL, and to be very clear on your moral attitudes toward one and the other. I don't accept your imposition of that world-view, nor do others. The RL and SL is on a continuum and "as above, so below". The one has its analogies in the other. They matter, they have effects, they have influence.

>Describing sexually oriented griefing as "rape" is equivocation - a formal fallacy.

It's only equivocation and fallacy *for you* because you have some kind of pride of real experience you wish to keep sacred; you have some point in an argument you wish to trump all -- but so do I. that's the problem, that you cannot concede it and keep trying to impose your narrative. It's a rape. It feels like rape. Rape is the word my tenant used. Deal with hit. Don't undermine someone's experience, just like you wouldn't want your own to be undermined.

The validity of your experience doesn't grow and become more sacred by your ability to undermine and discount somebody's "e-experience".

Are you really afraid that it might turn out that all experience is virtual? Could that be what it is about?

>Look, like a lot of people, (Prokofy, I'm looking at you) I like using words that are packed full of meaning - the right ones to get my point across - but in this instance, 'rape' is absolutely, without a doubt the wrong one to describe what happened to your tenant and even the worst of what happens in the virtual world. If you want something recognized for what it is, you simply cannot leap off of the deep end and go for the emotionally-loaded words.

I disagree. I use the word my tenant used. She's not someone having a scholarly debate on Terra Nova. She's someone having an experience to her that felt like rape and she used the word "rape". I'm not going to tell her to subsitute her natural expression with a lexicon of politically-correct words.

>It's the same thing that I'm sure everyone's parents told them (or perhaps told your own children)when we all discovered how truly POWERFUL we percieved the peppering of cursewords into our arguments made them. (Trying my best to avoid a tangent here - but ever hear grandma curse and be REALLY blown away by it? Same thing.)

Then except that my tenant using the word "rape" is grandma cursing. That's hard for you to accept. But that's what it is.

>Memory Harker's point about "which would you rather" is relevant here - I would wager that the majority of the population, unless seriously unstable, would gladly go with the avatar option.

And why are we being forced to make this wierd and creepy false choice? TO satisfy your yen for validity? Why?

There is no reason on earth for you to de-legitimize someone else's experience just because of your own need to keep yours sacrosanct.

65.

Prokofy Neva, you're as sick as ever. Equating your experiences in Second Life to the real-world crime of rape is an outrage to every person who has ever been raped. You've lost all touch with reality. Your replies are a babbling wall of words without meaning. Please unplug your computer and enroll yourself in the closest mental health institution, you need professional help.

66.

@fester : yeah , i'm a sick person too , you know, when you scam my items in game i call it " theft ", when you " virtually sexually assault " i call you a jerk. A virtual one, ofcourse , but there behind your keyboard it's a lil rapist masturbating and awaiting to grow and to do it for real. Maybe in a momment when your computer is unplugged or when LL's servers are down for maintenence. Then after a while ppls start asking , how was it possible that " normal " brave kids like you raped and murdered 12 yo girls in Iraq / elsewhere. The answer could be : because you did it many times before ....ops, but that was not you , right ? It was your alt and you never confuse it with yourself. You are in touch with the reality : you pay the subscription then you have a lot of fun doing it in SL.
But if it makes you feel better, i admitt : it is not rape, because is virtual; it is not theft, because none of us have the real ownership. But you are still a jerk, because you make me suffer and you have fun doing it.

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This reads: "Bread K Thanks" or something about wow gold and azerothian supervillians. But my sources aren't very reliable.

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