Rascals and Cowards
A direct approach to the cruelty of crimes against honor and their consequences for those who suffer, those who commit them, and the authorities who must deal with this crime, which is growing at alarming proportions.
Once upon a time…
I love beginning my crhronicles with “once upon a time”…
Ever since, many years ago, a Portuguese teacher told me I had the potential to tell stories, but that I should avoid the expression “once upon a time…”, an intense desire was born in me to keep this expression alive, which has been with me since I learned to read.
Once upon a time, in a distant time and place, a young woman falsely accused a priest, spreading a swamp of entirely unfounded rumors, with no evidence of truth.
With no commitment to the truth, rumors spread irresponsibly and quickly destroyed the reputation of the victim, a young man who had just begun his priesthood in that small community.
His reputation and his life had been destroyed. Nothing held him in that place anymore, so he set out to walk the road, with an uncertain destination, only knowing that he had to move on with his life, having even been expelled from the Church.
Months later, the innocence of the young religious man was proven, but he had already left, to an uncertain location.
The woman, consumed by guilt, searched every corner for the priest, eventually finding him teaching illiterate people, volunteering on the other side of the country.
She told him the outcome of the case, that he had been cleared of false accusations, and how remorseful she was for the damage caused.
After listening attentively to the woman’s narrative, visibly consumed by sincere remorse, standing before him, begging for forgiveness, the ex-priest, with absolute serenity, said:
– Are you truly sorry for what you did?
– Yes, with all the strength of my soul! My life has become a living hell since I discovered that I was responsible for so much harm to another, especially someone with a good heart and innocent.
The young man then replied:
– So, to show that you can learn from what you did, and cleanse yourself through learning, take a feather pillow, climb to the highest part of a hill and release the feathers into the wind.
The woman was amazed, surprised by the strange mission, but she was willing to do anything to obtain the forgiveness that meant so much to her. So, she set out to accomplish what seemed to her a very simple way to correct her serious mistake.
She found the nearest mountain from where she was. She climbed to its summit, carrying a feather pillow and her hope of obtaining the much-desired forgiveness.
After six long days of walking under the scorching sun, she reached the highest part of the great elevation, a small mountain formed by rocks and low vegetation, a very difficult place to reach.
As soon as she completed her ascent, at the mountain’s summit, she felt the contrast of the strong wind blowing against her sunburned face. It was a good feeling, of peace, of doing something right.
With a small knife, the woman tore open the pillow and tossed up the feathers that filled it.
She watched, moved, as those small white pieces flew away, so light and seemingly fragile.
After a brief rest, she returned to the small village, where she would surely obtain the much-desired (and now, in her view, deserved) forgiveness from the person she had harmed so much with her recklessness.
Arriving at the former priest’s humble home, the woman, completely exhausted from the harsh journey she had made to the mountain’s summit, told him that she had completed the mission and that she was ready to move on with her life.
The wise young man then, with the simplicity and humility that were characteristic of him, said, to the woman’s total perplexity:
– Now, you are prepared to fulfill the other part: go back to the plain and gather all the feathers back into the pillow and come show me.
– But that’s impossible – the woman replied, desperate.
– Yes! Just as it’s impossible to repair gossip, lies, false testimony, and slander.
This is a new perspective on an old fable, whose author is unknown to me. Nevertheless, the wisdom contained in its teachings is immense.
I understand that, thanks to God’s infinite mercy, the woman, or anyone who does something similar, may receive forgiveness.
But the harm that is caused will always linger, like feathers in the wind. Therefore, think carefully before speaking against someone, whether out of irresponsibility or simply out of sheer malice.
The fable above told the story of a woman who, one way or another, had not acted out of malice but out of grave irresponsibility. Regardless of her motives, her actions destroyed the reputation of a priest, changing his life irreversibly.
Even if they were accidental, the frivolous actions caused terrible consequences, not only for the priest but also for her, who would have to live with her guilt for the rest of her days, only finding peace if she could truly commune with God, the only one with the power to forgive.
The woman in the story did not act out of malice, but nevertheless, caused enormous destruction, changing the life of a person and her own life.
But what about the people who are cruel enough to commit such acts knowingly and criminally? These are indeed RASCALS and COWARDS, as they often hide behind the shadows of anonymity.
As a lawyer, we have been receiving a small flood of cases of slander, defamation, and libel every week at our office. Social media has made these offenses even more dangerous and damaging, blowing even stronger winds that carry the feathers of the pillow to even more distant places.
Recently, a case came to our office and caught my particular attention.
For confidentiality purposes, we will call this case “X Case”, aiming to protect the privacy of those involved, especially the victims.
About a week ago, around 8 p.m., the daughter of a client, who lives in a quiet town in the interior of Minas Gerais, called my personal phone several times.
I was driving, near the highway entry of Belo Horizonte, and sensing the girl’s desperation due to her many calls, I pulled over at a gas station and returned the call.
The young girl, barely over 15 years old, was very worried, anxious and, above all, very sad because she was being the victim of a virtual massacre. Coward people created a supposedly anonymous group and several teenagers from the town and, even worse, from the school she attended, started a barrage of insults, referring to her morals and those of her family.
Although it is one of the kinds of actions that most lead people to seek our help, I had rarely seen such aggressive and cruel virtual bullying.
We acted quickly, which is essential in such cases, and in less than 24 hours, we contained the tsunami of insults and slander used to attack the girl, and we had already notified the police (both Military and Civil Police, through their specialized station), which are already well advanced in the investigations to identify and punish the aggressors and their accomplices.
WE CAN’T CATCH THEM ALL!
One thing that left us all in the office indignant (and even more motivated to bring the transgressors to justice) were two phrases uttered by one of the masterminds of this cowardly crime.
When a member of our team alerted him to the seriousness of what they were doing, trying to dissuade him from deactivating the Instagram profile created for the commission of the crime, he (or was it she?) said he would take it down because he didn’t want trouble for his neighbor from whom he had stolen the Wi-Fi signal.
To explain further, this person, surely not very bright, thought he wouldn’t be identified for using the internet signal from a neighbor, supposedly elderly. Such a person must not be very intelligent because he was startled when our team informed him that this would not prevent the police from tracing the origin of the criminal messages.
Before deactivating the profile, the person even said:
– You can come after me. It wasn’t just one person. There are many of us, and you won’t be able to catch us all.
The member of our team, with great wisdom, replied:
– We don’t need to locate all of you. Just a few! And we can guarantee that among those few we find, you will be of them, or you will easily be betrayed by one of your accomplices.
And we ended the conversation.
PROUD OF OUR TEAM!
The quick, precise, and technically perfect way we handled the case was something that produced a tremendous feeling of joy and pride in our team.
Keeping that harmful and criminal profile online could have caused incalculable harm to the honor of a girl who had barely begun her life.
There are not few cases in which the victims end their own lives, unable to cope with the hostile environment created by the lies used to attack their honor.
Thanks to the quick confrontation and the strong stance to find the guilty parties, the consequences of the harassment will no longer come against her, as it was the group’s objective.
The cowardly tormentors, who are already being located, will be punished with all the strictness of the law.
Instagram, the social network so useful, yet so dangerous, will be equally held responsible financially, of course, which is one of the points that mostly bothers companies.
Therefore, the most important thing to do when this type of violence occurs is to act quickly and, above all, not treat these crimes as minor offenses to be forgotten.
Bullying, in all its forms, is one of the biggest problems in our current society. The increasing violence at schools is the most visible proof of this fact, but it is far from being the only one.
When bullying “grows,” it turns into other types of crimes, such as all forms of harassment. And also into other crimes, related to the fact that those who practice bullying gradually lose empathy for their fellow human beings.
Over time, human life, honor and freedom lose their meaning for these people, who enter society with the feeling that others are nothing more than steps on a ladder that will take them to the top.
Without thinking they will be stepping on human beings with dreams and feelings.
Massive virtual persecutions must be treated with all severity and attention, and justice must punish the offenders as severely as possible.
The words of the coward who spoke with our team are, regrettably, real. We cannot locate and punish all the involved ones. But some, yes, will be found, no matter how much they hide. And they will pay for their own crimes, and also for the crimes of all.
Until criminals understand that the police and other authorities are much closer to them than they think!
The fools and criminals who dedicate themselves to the cowardice of false anonymity haven’t understood yet that crimes committed on the internet are increasingly easier to locate.
And at that moment, those convicted of virtual crimes may experience, in the real world, the violence of Brazilian prisons. Far from agreeing with the violence and abuses known to occur in the prison system, there seems to be a strange logic in all of this.
Because within the cells, what predominates is the suppression of will by force, just as in the world of virtual cowards, who hide under the dirty rocks of anonymity.
Only pain felt on one’s own skin can show a bit of the pain caused to their victims!
André Mansur Brandão