Between a Rock and a Hard Place
I’ve had a lot of interesting conversations about the mysterious package I received. I’ve learned a lot, become aware of a lot of things I didn’t know about and thought deeply about my reactions and how I will deal with this kind of thing in the future. I’ve made mistakes in the last few weeks that resulted in a situation I didn’t know how to deal with, and so I made a few mistakes in dealing with the situation.
I wasn’t prepared for this kind of thing and I didn’t even know I needed to be. My first mistake was moving into a house with strangers. My second mistake was not telling these people to not tell others that I lived here (who cares, right?). My third was to live in a house with lots of unknown transients coming in and out of it. My fourth mistake was having a house party in which lots of strangers (roommates friends) came over. I didn’t realize that people might recognize me, nor did I realize that someone would go through the trouble of sending me some bullshit in the mail. My fifth mistake was thinking my roommates would help me figure out who did it. My sixth mistake was assuming that people would back me up on why this person should be outed. My seventh mistake was thinking that FedEx, The Gap, or the police would help me figure out who it was.
I want to address this kind of action as a serious one, not some silly prank. Likening this to pranks played by neighboring hunter-gatherers is a joke. We don’t have intact neighboring cultures with healthy pranks or warfare going on. We have slaves fighting each other in a prison. If the person who sent it had left an identifying marker, as a tribal group would, it may have been different because then I could have pranked them back. The central point of this was their anonymity and the breach of privacy which lead to paranoia and mistrust among me and my roommates. Partly my fault for the mistakes I made as a response, partly the fault of the sender, partly the fault of the lack of system for dealing with this kind of thing. Regardless, it rests with the person who did this, and as far as I am concerned, they work for those in power or probably more likely are just some stupid kid who is absent-mindedly doing their work for them. Either way, I believe they need to be stopped.
Unfortunately, there is not a system in place to stop this kind of bullshit.Â There is no community accountability. Who will hold this person responsible for this? What punishment will be implemented so they get why it was fucked up or they get outed? What should have happened was that everyone in the house sat down and made a list of all the people who came through the house in the last three weeks who fit the description of clues we found of the sender. Then people should have made phone calls and found out the identity of the person and they should have been reprimanded by the community in a way the community sees fit. That would have been great, but it also violates security culture in itself because making lists of names of people in that scene is just not a great idea (which is why I generally avoid that subculture). So we couldn’t really do that could we? Perhaps if people had done it on their own, not as a group it could have worked out. Some people in my house thought I was over-reacting and didn’t want to help me. This only helped fuel my paranoia that they were the ones who leaked my new address.
So without their help, I could not figure out who did it. I wanted to find out, for reasons stated above. I felt I had to turn to the broken systems of civilization to find out who did it. I generally see the police as predators, not protectors. As more or less like another kind of animal. A sick and fucked up animal, (making it all the more dangerous to interact with) but an animal nonetheless. Ravens use wolves to hunt deer. Why couldn’t I use the police to hunt someone who is intimidating me? To me, it’s simply sicking civilized people onto civilized people.Â I don’t have moral objections to going to the police when someone is intimidating you, because I’m not a puritan fundamentalist. Just because I don’t like a system doesn’t mean I can’t use it when it is appropriate. I don’t like buying food from the grocery store, but I still have to. I don’t like using a car but I still have to. Our whole system is set up this way. Pretending they are not there will not make them go away. Saying that I “become” a cop for filing a police report is total bullshit. Calling the cops is just a silly thing to do. Plain and simple. Nothing will come of it but grief. I wasn’t thinking about that at the time because I was scared and didn’t see a different option, and my best friend who I run these kinds of things by was out of town.
So without trustworthy support from long-time friends and without support from roommates, I took what I thought was my last resort; I did not immediately go to the cops. It felt like a last resort and I certainly didn’t run to them, I made a 3 minute phone call to the non-emergency line where they wrote down what happened, told me they couldn’t do anything and hung up (much like going to the emergency room where they take your heart rate, tell you you’re fine and give you a $2000 bill). It was my last resort, and one that I will try to never do again. People who say they would never call the cops (which I said until last week) don’t know how deep the mythology runs (I didn’t), and people who have never had this happen, have no idea what kind of actions they would take. It’s just like herbalists who hate on hospitals, but as soon as shit gets real they run to the ER. We don’t have a system to deal with things and so we turn to the ones available.
What some people don’t understand is that this isn’t the first time I have been harassed or felt threatened by the green anarchists or people claiming to be. I don’t want to assume they are, since we all know that certain governmental groups go out of their way to create feuds between subcultures. For the record, I am not a green anarchist and have no problem with them in spite of many fucked up e-mails and comments on my blog from people claiming to be green anarchists. Once a guy told me to come to some gathering so he could fight me, presumably to kick my ass. While I love a good, fair fight, it was clear this anonymous person thought they could beat me up. There is a history here of intimidation from these people.
What made this threatening was the whole context, not just the rock, but they childish comment on my domestication (which made it obviously eluded to green anarchist thought, although I don’t want to totally pin it on them since I still don’t know), the rock (a symbol of violence i.e.; rock through the window, stoning to death), and the anonymity of the whole thing and not to mention the breach of security culture and privacy; who the fuck gave out my address to someone? (that address was not online somewhere, I only lived there for 3 weeks) Someone is giving out information about me to anarchists, a scene supposedly riddled with feds, and no one flinches at this? And no one cares to find out who is doing this? WOW.
I thought it would be important to have a record made about this in case it continues to escalate (this is one step up from a hateful e-mail telling me they want to fight me, will it continue to step up?). But apparently, after talking with my friend who had a crazy stalker, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. The police don’t help people. Duh. I forgot. What can I say? I’m an idiot. I made a mistake. That doesn’t make me a snitch, especially since I don’t consider whoever did this to be on my side.
I also called the Gap and Fedex to try and get surveillance tapes or a description of the person. The person who sent the package made a lot of assumptions in sending it. Perhaps they assumed I wouldn’t go to the police. That was stupid of them. Perhaps they assumed I wouldn’t contact The Gap or whatever corporation it was. That was stupid too. Some people are mad at me because I contacted the Gap and they think that the Gap will change their shipping number and ruin the free shipping for all the anarchists. Of course, all they could do is change their number. And they probably do this regularly anyway.
So me going to the Gap to try and find this agent of paranoia and mistrust might simply take down free shipping for anarchists for a little while (until they find out the new number and spread it around), and potentially out some mother fucker who is harassing me (and presumably others… am I the only one? Really? Am I THAT important?). People who are angry that their free shipping may temporarily go down should be angry with the idiot who sent me the package for being such an idiot and making assumptions about my reaction. If you like sending shit for free, don’t use it to fuck with people. Plain and simple.Â If you are mad at me for contacting them, you’re siding with agents of mistrust. Do you care more about free shipping than outing agents of paranoia and mistrust?
Those who think that the GAP or Old Navy or whatever the fuck are hurt financially by this shipping scam don’t understand that these corporations get huge discounts from companies like FedEx for the number of packages shipped. Guess what? They responded saying there was nothing they could do about it. You know what that means? They don’t care. You know why? Because they take this kind of “loss” into account and find ways for it to benefit them. The more they ship, the larger the discount. While it may take some of their money, it certainly isn’t hurting them. So in the end it’s not a stab at capitalism, its simply a way of sending your shit for free.
Someone commented saying to me, “I don’t trust you anymore”. To that I would respond; good. There is no reason to “trust” me to secrecy because I’m not an anarchist. I’m politically boring. I don’t take part in illegal actions. No one has spoken to me about illegal actions, which makes me believe that if anyone is committing them, they are not stupid. Anyone stupid enough to talk about actions or activities with a stranger like me is certainly going to fuck themselves over. Even though I don’t engage in political activities or illegal ones I generally assume that I have mild surveillance just for being weird. I mean, I post most of my life on the internet anyway… So yeah, in case you didn’t realize you shouldn’t talk to me about shit, for both of our security, don’t talk to me!
I’ve intentionally kept people aware of my actions in response to this incident, particularly to stay transparent. I have integrity. I’m not doing shit invisibly or anonymously. As well as to hear from others what I can do to prepare for this kind of thing, what I could have done better. While many people have called me a snitch for contacting the police, no one has come up with any way of dealing with this kind of shit than just “getting over it”. Gosh. For some reason that just doesn’t feel like a satisfying response to intimidation. I’m not a victim. I practice martial arts, own fire arms and have a community of support. In instances like this, I hold my own. For the most part this whole thing is just annoying and sad and these actions (both the sender and my response) need to be examined.
Some people have said that blogging about this will only hurt me more, that it will encourage more people to fuck with me. That might happen, but I would rather leverage this instance to show what this kind of thing does to people, and why it is fucked up. People have scolded me saying “never let your enemy see you sweat”. I’m sorry, I’m just not that guy. I sweat and I show it here. I’m not some robot warrior type. My skin grows thicker every time this type of thing happens, but I’m not bulletproof. But also, I’m someone who isn’t afraid to make mistakes and to let the world know when I have. That’s what separates me from them.
In the end, this package was a wake up call for me. I needed to realize that I should protect myself more, have better security culture and privacy practices, and have a plan in place for this kind of thing. In the future, I will simply not open suspicious packages. I will throw them away and go about my business. Thank you to all the people who have shown your support.
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