Ne­ti­zens sup­port ‘cy­ber vi­o­lence’ against ‘ruth­less’ woman

Global Times - - Nation - By Li Ruo­han

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, with most of them ex­press­ing their con­tempt or anger to­ward Liu.

A 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.

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