Frankenstein and the Angry Mob of People on the Net

Back when I was a young boy a thief jumped into a pond across the street to escape. Unfortunately for the thief a crowd had encircled the pond. This was the scenet that greeted the thief as he surface for air. Nearly covered from head to foot with aquatic vegetation, making him look more like a minion of the Swamp Thing than a-soon-to-be-very-sorry thief. Once, the thief was caught a number of persons were able to gang up on him and beat him-up. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and he was saved from the beating and taken to prison, much bloodied but safe from further bodily harm.

In James Whale’s film Frankenstein, the Monster, actor Boris Karloff, at the end was chased by an angry mob of villagers armed with torches and pitchforks to the windmill, where the Monster trapped seemed to have perished as the windmill was burned to the ground.

I remember these stories while looking back at what has, has been and probably will be done to people viewed as thieves and monsters.

Times might have changed but times are the same. Things might be faster, smaller and more expensive but the dynamics between its users are still the same. Whether viewed as thief or monster mobs form and lynch thieves and monsters.

Precisely because they are seen as thieves and monsters. It is much easier. In Charles Laughton’s film the Night of the Hunter, the mob that almost lynched the villain had among its members people who believed him to be a good man until much later ,and after people were killed, it was revealed that he was not. He was seen as good and then bad, like the two words tattooed on his left and right hands.

It is easy to hate the guilty. But what if the person was not guilty? What if the mob, we got it wrong? What then?

And even if the person was guilty? Do we exact our pound of flesh? In cyberspace can this be done without shedding a drop of blood?

Tarry a little. There is something else.
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood.
The words expressly are “a pound of flesh.”
Take then thy bond, take thou thy pound of flesh,
But in the cutting it if thou dost shed
One drop of Christian blood, thy lands and goods
Are by the laws of Venice confiscate
Unto the state of Venice.

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

I guess we can. Perhaps it would help if accept that the person we see as a villain is a human being – just like us.

Ironically the villain in that Shakespeare play has for creative license been demonized – the other that comes to mind is Richard III – although Shylock thus provide argument against demonization I think when Shakespeare made him these famous lines.

I am a Jew. Hath
not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs,
dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with
the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject
to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as
a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed?
if you tickle us, do we not laugh? if you poison
us, do we not die? and if you wrong us, shall we not
revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will
resemble you in that.

William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

If we think that the villain in front of us as a human and not a monster then perhaps we can exact our pound of flesh without shedding blood.

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