Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Dark Corner of the Blogosphere ...

Have you ever thought to yourself, 'gee, I wonder what it would be like if (insert name here) had a blog?' Or, maybe you're one of those established residents of the blogosphere that keeps an eye out for new, especially interesting arrivals ... someone who brings a unique perspective, or a wealth of knowledge and experience to their posts.

Be careful what you ask for ...

One can't help but be attracted to the unblinking honesty that crops up from time to time in someone's weblog. True, some bloggers imagine themselves to be a notch above the rest, as close to perfection - in every way - that a person can get. But then there are those that concede their shortcomings, their anxieties, their disappointments, their hopes unrealized, their goals unaccomplished.

Some posts you come across are very, very angry .... some are very, very funny ... and some are very, very sad. Then there are those that, when read in the light of current events, are very, very frightening.

Blogging the Fifth Nail, for example ...

"... My blog entries lately are erratic and full of a lot of B.S., for that I apologize. I am just trying to put down what is in my head, regardless. As far as 'taking people with me' well, I don't know if that is right or wrong. In fact, I don't know much any more what right and wrong even is. My view is either everything is right (in some regard) or everything is wrong (in some other regard). The question (one I am struggling with at this point) is, 'Does it matter?' ..."

Dated Friday, May 13, 2005, this was the last entry posted to "Fifth Nail." Two days later, Dylan and Shasta Groene were taken from their Idaho home and their family members killed. Police now believe that their suspect in the murder/abduction, and the author of "Fifth Nail," are one and the same ... convicted sex offender Joseph Edward Duncan III.

The Associated Press reports, "police concluded that Duncan was the author of the journal based on interviews of people who knew him and on the Internet Protocol address - an identifying number specific to a computer - that was used to establish the blog."
(Read the Complete Story)

Letters and journals are nothing new in providing a record of a criminal's actions and state of mind. But I think this may represent something of a first, that such an account is left open on the internet forum, placed there by someone accused of a string of horrific acts. For now, "Fifth Nail" is still up-and-running ... BUT I HAVE TO WARN YOU ... the language, the profanity is very, very strong in the comments that people are now posting by the hundreds, even thousands.

4 comments:

Eric said...

Jeff, I read this story in today's MRT and, like you, was simultaneously creeped out and fascinated by Duncan's postings. I haven't visited the blog and don't intend to, but it seems to be a fine example of the complexities that the "self-publishing" era is continuing to visit upon our culture.

Just two of the questions something like this raises are how do we know when such postings are legitimate, and are they sufficient for law enforcement to take action? (I'd say that the answer to the second is "no," but, then, I've seen "Minority Report.")

Jeff said...

Eric, your question of legitimacy is a valid one. It's a question that has been raised over more conventional documents ... remember the uproar over "Hitler's Diary" a few years back? ... or the ongoing debate over de la Pe┼ła's account of the Battle of the Alamo? Obviously, some of the stategies used to authenticate those documents in the past (dating paper, ink, etc.) can't apply to virtual documents.

As for your second question ... what can police do, really, until something - admittedly, something terrible, irrevocable - is actually DONE? Until something is done, it seems to me, those posts are just speech ... angry, frightening, but still free.

Cowtown Pattie said...

Ugh, Jeff. I am guilty of the worst American trait, insatiable curiosity. I read the Fifth Nail blog. Ugh, and double ugh.

I know what kind of monster the author is, but still I can't help but shake my head in pity at how horrible his own life must have been to produce such a warped human.

I could never ever be a psychoanalyst.

Jeff said...

Pattie, my response to his posts is much the same as your. And I, too, find myself shaking my head ...

I don't think I could make much progress in the pychiatric professions. But I have a lot of respect for those who do, and I continue to be fascinated by the insight they are able to provide in that most fascinating of fields-for study - the human mind ... Tom Cruise's opinions, notwithstanding.