Saturday, July 7, 2012

Google Stain



Lately I've been getting a slew of hits from a site called "something awful" (about one quarter way down page 7). Yeah, the name--with a hand grenade for an avatar--definitely got my attention.

Fortunately my sitemeters act like informative high-tech sensors on the Starship Enterprise, letting me know how readers come to me, what search terms they use, and where they are from.  When someone posts a link to me on another website, like a message board or Facebook, it is especially noticeable.  

Apparently a Cowardly Anon Nitwit who can't spell my name correctly tried to link me with an amoral idiot who founded "Blabermouth," a for-profit website that posts mug shots and arrest records--all public documents of course--but then goes a tad beyond the pale by blackmailing those individuals posted with threats of added exposure if they do not pay $100- $200 to have their names and photos removed from his website.

As usual the law has a hard time keeping up with new technology, so it may actually be legal...at the moment.  Either way, peer pressure and public shaming seems to have torpedoed the nefarious enterprise.  Fortunate for the founder because--considering the demographic he was hustling--a safe bet termination of the physical kind was just around the corner.

Since starting my "Party House of the Weekend" series almost two years ago, I've had numerous requests (by email, Facebook messages, phone calls and in one case a knock at the door) to delete published names and in a (very) few cases have actually complied:  When offenders verify they have paid the fines and actually seem remorseful about their irresponsible, obnoxious, illegal activities. 

Growing up in Amherst fifty years ago I vividly recall my mother, a public school teacher, worrying about anything negative that could forever stain your "permanent record."  I was never quite sure if she was talking about school files, which only cover K-12 activity, or police logs...or both.

These days, with the mighty all-powerful Google, it really doesn't matter--especially when you join forces with the First Amendment and Massachusetts Division of Open Government.

For better or worse, public exposure is only a click away.



4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think that the Town of Amherst's "permanent record" is becoming quite stained -- and as there is a shortage of paying college students over the next 15 years, Amherst is going to wither on the vine.

Larry should be credited for publicizing just how anti-student Amherst has become -- to parents who still remember the happy college town of the 1980's.

LarryK said...

Yeah, you mean that "happy" era when UMass was called ZooMass?

Anonymous said...

We are not anti-student here.

We simply expect students to exhibit some simple human decency.

And the record that Larry is making here repeatedly is that apparently some people, including Anon 5:12 p.m, think that simple human decency is too much. AND somehow the stain is on us.

Try to figure that one out.

Anonymous said...

Yep, you aren't anti-student as long as they stay in the back of the bus and in their place.

You apparently don't remember those warm May evenings, after the bars closed (in what Larry legitimately refers to as the "ZooMass" days of the 1970s) when you and a thousand or more of your peers would wander (drunkenly) home chanting/singing "Power to the People" and the rest.

The "ZooMass" days officially ended on April 16, 1979 when MA raised the drinking age from 18 to 20, thus ending the freshman bar crawl. The Fall of 1980 was also when Gen X -- the post-Baby-Boom generation -- first started coming to college.

The Baby Boomers all had their kids in the '80s and they are all beyond the traditional college age now. The alumni with kids out here are the alumni of the 1980s -- not the "ZooMass" era but a far different one than today.

And unlike the African-Americans who had roots and family histories in the segregated cities of the Jim Crow South, the college kids are simply going to start choosing to not come here. I say choosing wisely....

Been up to Wichendon lately?