Superstar attorney Clarence Darrow, the "Old Lion," defended the two in their 1924 trial. He kept them from hanging on the gallows, but the judge sentenced each to life plus 99 years. A prisoner attacked and killed Loeb in 1936. Leopold was paroled in 1958 after 33 years in prison; in that year he published his self-serving autobiography, Life Plus 99 Years . He moved to Puerto Rico and worked as a hospital technician. He died in 1971, aged 66.
The Columbine of its time, the murder inspired novels, plays and movies, the best of which is probably Alfred Hitchcock's Rope. Wonder if some current griefer will attain so much notoriety he gets tipped for Hollywood?
Compared to couple-breakers, disease carriers, murderers and spies, the pencil-neck idiots who deface Wiki pages are as lightweight as you get. But there's a lot more of the Wiki vandals; nobody knows how many, but search on "Wiki vandal" to glimpse a widespread discussion. Some junior vandals try replacing pages with obscenities; after grownup users revert their edits, the kids get bored and leave. More pernicious sociopaths introduce subtle errors into benign articles, which can go for long stretches without correction.
The practical guard against this graffiti-spraying is sign-ins, e-mail validations, and a whole security apparatus. But diehard Wiki proponents, the net's version of utopian community zealots, say this undermines the Wiki ideal, the spirit of community.
Agents provocateur, mafiosi, mercenaries, serial killers, rapists, junkies, confidence artists, spammers spammers spammers, codependent spouses, man-eating tigers, kindergarteners and today's biggest griefer...
Osama bin Laden
Why We're Hosed and What to Do About It
Last month Robert Aumann shared with Thomas Schelling the 2005 Nobel Prize in Economics for their work in mathematical game theory. Aumann, 75, teaches at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His work concerns whether cooperation increases if games are continually repeated. Aumann proved mathematically that cooperation is less likely when there are many participants, when interactions are infrequent, when the time horizon is short or when others' actions cannot be clearly observed - in other words, when you're playing basically any major online roleplaying game. These environments are a sociopath's playgrounds.
So we're inherently, provably screwed. How, then, do we handle vandals online? The only workable solution to date has been a fearless no-tolerance policy of banning griefers from the game. This in itself shows the fragility of online society - the Ban Hammer is both the ultimate and only weapon. The trouble is, banning just drives the griefer to a different game, where he continues his dubious career. We should have a more nuanced solution.
One alternative that's fun to contemplate is vigilantism: Post griefers' credit card info and let aggrieved players take care of matters themselves. Their problem-solving abilities are rich and various.
George Hayduke ("The Master of Revenge") has made a whole career of telling victims how to get even - though, as Hayduke will be the first to tell you, he writes for entertainment purposes only! His dozens of books include, well, Get Even, as well as Revenge is Sweet, Righteous Revenge, Screw Unto Others, Up Yours and a couple of treatises on pistol silencers. (I once found a site that formerly offered Hayduke's books as pirated .PDFs, but had removed them after "a request" from Hayduke. Man, of all the people in the world to steal from...)