Suddenly, we had become judge, jury and executioner and we cheered each other on. His name, his picture, his occupation—it was all fair game. Call him a woman’s private parts—score 4 points. Encourage others to stalk him online—score 5 points. Question his upbringing—score 11 points. Encourage people to print out his details and paste them at his void deck to shame him—score 12 points. Goad his boss into firing him—score 18 points. Be the first to post his home address—hit the jackpot. Ding, ding, ding. Congrats.

Who cares if people might abuse this information, we have the power to make him pay a hundred times over and pay he shall. The power is intoxicating. With a few keystrokes, we can ruin a person’s life. We can make him live constantly in fear for his own safety and privacy. Make him change his address. Make his current employer fire him. Make it such that no employer will ever want to hire him. That’ll teach him. It serves him right. He deserves it. People like him don’t deserve second chances.

The logic is sound, the outrage justified. You be an asshole, you get it. End of story.

But this isn’t a fairy tale. You can’t throw the bad guys into the fiery pit and live happily ever after. The world’s a complex place and we’re an immensely flawed species.

Have no doubt about this—PoliteMan will be very sorry before the day is over, but so will we if we engage in the same contemptuous behaviour that we lambast him for. If Dad is willing to forgive PoliteMan, and I believe he is, so should we. We don’t have to excuse him for what he did, but we must restrain the inner beast within us—the one baying for blood whenever we see injustice—lest it tramples upon both our cherished ideals, of justice and grace.

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