September 30, 2022

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The Dangers of Rushing to Judgment

The Dangers of Rushing to Judgment

As I would expect (hope?) the VAST majority of you all reading this would be, I was thoroughly appalled when I learned by way of the Bryant Park Project about the horrid “Puppy Toss” video. In this 17-second video, a solider appears to be throwing a puppy off a cliff. The soldier is referred to as “Motari” which has led to the subsequent potential identification of this soldier as a David Motari of Monroe, Washington.

This appalling video has of course spawned a feeding frenzy in the blogosphere and a strong stream of stories in the mainstream media. News reports indicate that Motari’s family has been threatened and has had to disconnect their phone while local authorities in Monroe, WA, attempt to deal with the attention. Motari’s page on social networking sites has apparently been filled with hateful messages (one assumes on “wall” types of message boards). The US Marine Corps has meanwhile condemned the behavior and indicated that they are investigating the issue.

But with the thousands of hate messages flying around the Internet, the techie in me who knows how easy it is to create this type of thing can’t help but wonder:

Is the video real? And is the perpetrator really David Motari of Monroe, WA?

Right now the conclusion of the blogosphere seems to be that it is real and that it is this particular guy. But I would suggest there are at least four potential possibilities:

1. IT IS REAL AND IT IS MOTARI – If it is, in fact, real, than Mr. Motari and his colleagues certainly deserve some form of punishment. Motari also needs to do some serious groveling and apologizing to his family for all the stress he’s putting them through!

2. IT IS REAL BUT IT IS *NOT* MOTARI – What if this is a setup? All that people are going on to identify the soldier as David Motari is a brief mention of “That was mean, Motari” by an off-screen voice (possibly the cameraman). What if it was someone else? What if it is a malicious setup? What if someone wanted to get back at this David Motari and set it up
so that his name was mentioned? What if someone staged this to tarnish the reputation of the Marines?

3. IT IS A HOAX BUT STILL MOTARI – It could be fake. It could be not a real puppy. There are some analyzing the video saying that it’s not real or was exchanged before the throw. If it was, though, David Motari, he certainly has some explaining to do to the USMC and also his own family.

4. IT IS A HOAX BY SOMEONE ELSE – It obviously could be a hoax by someone else. But why the hoax? Is someone trying to hype something? Again, is someone trying to damage the military’s reputation?

My point again is this:

In an era of near instantaneous access to some information, are we rushing to judgment?

The “cybervigilantism” of posting the guy’s address and phone number… of harassing his parents and family… of barraging his social networking pages… are they deserved?

What if it turns out to NOT be him but rather some other Motari?

Can the phone calls, hateful emails and hateful posts be taken back?

What happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?

Should we not all just step away from the keyboards for a little
bit and wait to see if in fact the authorities determine it was him?

What if it were YOU who were mistakenly identified as being in a video like this?

Reprinted with permission from Dan York’s blog.

Dan York has been blogging for almost eight years and a correspondent for the “For Immediate Release” podcast for two years. He currently works for Voxeo Corporation, analyzing and exploring emerging technology and how it impacts the ways in which we communicate. His writing can be found online at various places, including

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    Except we can rule out at least possibilities #2 and #4 – his sister already went on radio last week, March 5 or 6, to confirm that it was her brother.

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