Friday, March 16, 2007

Boy Next Door

The social networking site MySpace has yet another role in the public imagination. It has already been associated with practices of criminality and deviancy, which is capitalized upon by anti-MySpace sites, such as My Crime Space. Now news organizations also point to the MySpace pages of criminal defendants as well. Yet sometimes broadcasters or print reporters add explicit references to the ironies of a given page's sentimental or mundane contents. Commentary on such pages seems to serve the rhetorical purpose of asking a neighbor to testify about the previous banality of behavior of the accused. Of course, no one says that a person who advertises his identity formation on in the public sphere of MySpace "keeps to himself mostly."

A case in point is the MySpace page of Sgt. Raymond Girouard, to which mainstream media coverage has provided multiple pointers. Girouard is accused of ordering the shooting unarmed prisoners of war. The log of Girouard's largely unsourced Wikipedia page indicates indicates that attempts to defend him in the court of public opinion are ongoing during his trial, despite what appears to be his reprehensible conduct. Rather than explain the charges against Girouard, this group of Wikipedians focuses on allegations against his accusers, including incendiary charges that the accusations against Girouard were largely motivated by attempts by witnesses for the prosecution to avoid prosecution for unrelated computer file-sharing of images of child pornography.

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