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If you’re a very stupid libertarian strawman, you might ask whether that town had any anti-gay laws on the book – and, upon hearing they didn’t, say that town was “pro-gay”.If you’re not a very stupid libertarian strawman, you hopefully realize that being pro-gay isn’t about boasting how progressive your law code looks, it’s about having a society where it’s possible to be gay.Maybe you committed a crime someone can find on a public crime database, or maybe you said something perfectly innocent which can be twisted into a sinister “dog whistle” out of context.My own story – some antipsychiatry crackpot decided to target me, went through a couple of posts I’d written defending the practice of involuntary psych commitment in certain cases, and took a few statements out of context to make it look like I thought we should lock up all mentally ill people and throw away the key.They pore over your public statements – Twitter feed, Facebook timeline, any blogs you might have written, anything you’ve said in mixed company that you don’t know if somebody else wrote down waiting for the time they could use it against you.Imagine the most incriminating dossier of your statements, out of context, that they could put together. It’s bizarre that so many people trust to security by obscurity, when anybody with an axe to grind can destroy their obscurity and reveal them to the world.Have any of you ever said or done anything which, if signal-boosted, would be very embarassing and might prevent you from getting a job?Before you answer, consider this: the person signal-boosting you has much wider reach than you do.
Do you think your dream company is going to spend a long time sorting through each claim and counterclaim to determine that the highly-Google-ranked page about you claiming you’re unfit to work in your industry is mostly unfair? They’re just going to cut their risks and move on to the other 249 candidates. Suppose there’s a Reason columnist who wants to get you fired.All of your triumphs, all of your defeats, all your loves and fears and follies – none of these exist in the public mind. Maybe you’ve been a sex worker once – hope you didn’t put your picture up on the Internet, or else Reason columnists will say it’s not “doxxing” to merely “signal-boost” it so that everyone knows.If you cross a blogger, a columnist, or a Twitter celebrity, all that will exist is that you once retweeted a racist joke on the 26th of March, 2014. Heck, even watching porn is enough to get people fired some places.A recent spat on Twitter, which I won’t link: some guy using his real name tweeted an offensive joke about how women should make sandwiches at a group of women.
A feminist columnist with tens of thousands of followers retweeted with the comment “This is a young man who ostensibly wants a job someday, tweeting at professional women in his field under his own name…RT to help ensure [REAL NAME]’s prospective employers know this when they search for [REAL NAME]’s name”.[EDIT: See here for discussion of various complicating factors; my claim isn’t going to be that a completely innocent person was punished, so much as that this entire paradigm of punishment is dangerous] What particularly bothered me about this situation was that the columnist involved was a libertarian who writes for Reason, and her supporters were mostly other influential libertarians.