Netizens support ‘cyber violence’ against ‘ruthless’ woman
More than 80 percent of Chinese netizens polled say “cyber violence should be used to punish people” in reference to a woman abused for her “ruthless and heartless” behavior toward her friend, who allegedly died because of her.
Liu Xin, a twenty-something woman, is at the center of a web attack after she allegedly refused to open the door when her roommate Jiang Ge was stabbed to death by Liu’s ex-boyfriend outside the door of her rented house in 2016.
The reason for the stabbing remains unknown, but a majority of online posts suspect that Jiang was stabbed when she tried to protect Liu, and that Liu did not show any gratitude and refused to cooperate with police on the case. Liu denied the allegations, adding she was not aware of the stabbing.
The incident came into public attention recently when Jiang’s mother started an online petition to give the suspected murderer the death penalty a month ahead of the trial. More than 160 million netizens have joined the online discussion on sina.com, with most of them expressing their contempt or anger toward Liu.
A sina.com poll shows 81 percent of nearly 17,000 Net users say “cyber violence should be used to punish people” in this case as of press time.
“Violence might not the best approach, but sometimes it is the only way,” wrote a popular comment that received over 500 likes.
“Though Liu was not punished by law, she has been punished by the court of public opinion for a long time, and her tainted reputation will last the rest of her life,” said Zhang Yiwu, a Peking University professor.
Zhang said moral condemnation of Liu is more of a “warning” instead of cyber violence, adding that Liu’s behavior is unacceptable among many Chinese. However, public opinion should not replace the role of law in any case, he noted.
The scathing online denunciation of Liu for her refusal to save her friend and severing ties with the victim’s mother has tainted the girl’s reputation and will affect her future. It is not known what Liu is like, but what she did during the incident is indeed immoral and has harmed Jiang’s mother a second time. Liu should be grateful to Jiang, and netizens believe that she has broken the bottom line of not repaying good with evil.
Apparently, Liu didn’t violate the law and shouldn’t be held responsible for Jiang’s death. But is she morally unpardonable for breaking connections with and verbally attacking Jiang’s mother?
In fact, moral standards in today’s Chinese society are far from perfect. Immoral behaviors are not something new in this country that is in transformation. The punishment given to a person should not be heavier than what the law imposes on criminals, as long as one hasn’t broken the law.
However, the Internet has turned the whole country into a “community,” which abhors evil, draws a clear line between what to love or hate, and is sometimes idealistic.
Liu seems to have met all conditions to be labeled “a model of evil.” She reportedly refused to safeguard the reputation of Jiang who died for her. As a result, she was denounced by the public.
This is perhaps the first collective condemnation on the Chinese Internet of a girl who did not break the law but was morally culpable.
The Internet warns that morality cannot be violated. While the law regulates people’s behavior, morality sets the bottom line.
Although a person may escape punishment from the law, it is no escaping society’s ethical standards set on the Internet.
There is no Internet standard to measure the price that Liu should pay for what she did. Making an example to deter others is the online norm. Be it “Internet violence” or “calls for justice,” the overwhelming condemnation of Liu reflects the true face of today’s Internet.
Some argue that those criticizing Liu should also respect the law. This is encouraging. After all, living in an Internet age should make us respect its rules, be law-abiding and show more respect to moral standards.