Taking 'Flamewar' A Bit Too Seriously: Man Drives 1,300 Miles To Burn Down Home Of Online Critic

from the yeah,-maybe-let-that-one-go dept

Online flamewars certainly can get nasty at times, often boiling over into quite a bit of rage — but it’s still pretty rare (and amazing) to see that anger then boil over into the real world. Last year, we wrote about a case in the UK where someone drove 70 miles to attack the guy he was sparring with online. The press referred to it as “web rage,” though, rage doesn’t tend to last that long. Or, perhaps it does. Here in the US we do things in bigger ways, apparently. A guy in Virginia who got into a flamewar online decided to make it a bit more literal, and drove 1,300 miles to Waco, Texas to burn down the home of one of this online enemies from a (no, this isn’t a joke) picture sharing community. Not only that, but the attacker took photos of each “Welcome to State X” signs and shared them online as he made his way across the country — to let others in the community know he was serious about going after the other guy. What did the one guy do to piss the other guy off? Apparently he had different political views and posted a silly photo claiming the other guy was a nerd. Nerd or not, he’s now a convicted arsonist. He’s been sentenced to 7 years in prison for burning down the other guy’s home — but it doesn’t sound like the intervening time or pending jail time cooled this guy down. As the sentencing was happening, the arsonist used his cameraphone to take snapshots of the guy whose home he tried to burn down, apparently to post online as well (though, the court ordered the photos destroyed). So, while the typical admonition to those engaging in flame wars is to remember that it’s a real person on the other side, we’d also like to add “who may be so crazy that they’ll come burn down your house.”

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Comments on “Taking 'Flamewar' A Bit Too Seriously: Man Drives 1,300 Miles To Burn Down Home Of Online Critic”

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Old BZ says:

Re: Wacko Waco Nerd?

Do you think,maybe this guy is a huge MF biker,named Tank and this was the last straw,an attack on his intelligence.So,in true manly fashion its time to get even and then one.Don’t you just love how simple we really are,piss me off and i get even.And you get your 15 minutes of fame,but what a price.

Paquito (user link) says:

People have a lot of free time


I think the subject of this post clearly explain my position regarding the news…

People have a lot of free time and they’re quite bored actually…

And please, do not flight to Spain to hit me because of my opinion! πŸ™‚

Thanks for the info and kind regards from Spain πŸ™‚


Very Nice says:

Burning down the house

I find it sad, however funny as hell at the same time. As I tell my son: “You think you know the faceless people, but you really don’t. I ask questions such as; who is father, mother, what is the hair color hair of this person mother. All these people you convert with are preditors in way one or others. There is an old quote “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” – (revised) and keep you online associates as far away as possible and reviel nothing.

I been an IT professionly for 14 yrs and I can tell you don’t know these people, you may think you do, but you don’t.

One more piece of advise – Be careful who you F with, they may be smarter than you think. Example: A young boy decided exploit an hole in an application I was running on my Linux box web server. Not very smart. Had issue resolved in 15 to 20 min. Than I begin my trace on him. I found a lot if info within 3 hour. I knew where he lived, his home phone number and his email address and I even found the name of his girlfriend (haha). I had a converation with him on MSN Messager. For 15 min the boy had no idea who I was and then I let the bomb on him and informed him of the information I had on him and I was very aware of his action against me and I have a mass amount of data prove it.

Remember, any body can be who ever you want to be, behide a keybrd.

Peace all

And Brett is correct: they only have a few items when going into court: jump suit (no pockets), shoes, underwear and handcuffs. Makes one wonder where he hide the cellphone?

Anonymous Coward says:

While many people take the piss out of this situation or find it funny, which it is. It does raise a good point, just because YOU are a pussy and think no one will actually come after you it doesn’t mean that the person you’re sparring with is a pussy.

So don’t give out your real name and address unless you really are willing to have some psycho come to your house and murder you in the night.

Mike Masnick's biggest fan. says:

I'm on my way!!

Antagonist I’m looking for your house as I type on my Blackberry here! If you don’t believe me look at my Facebook, it has all the proof in pictures, even has the latest welcome to Indiana sign. Don’t suppose you could help me out a bit though? I can’t find ocean view drive anywhere. I keep circleing around the whole state looking for an ocean, where the hell is it!!?? I’d like to show you what I think of you but how can I do that if I can’t find your house, did you give me a fake address?? Loser

Commentator says:

Flamers and Trolls

It has to be said. There are a lot of juvenile sociopaths (of various chronological ages) on the Internet who enjoy flaming and attacking others for the pleasure of the others’ discomfort. They feel safe behind a firewall of bits and seeming anonymity.

This event, however illegal and to be condemned, should let the flamers and trolls know that they aren’t as safe as they think they are, and that a “firewall” (whether real or social) isn’t always fireproof (pun intended). This extends to anonymity–there are lots of ways of breaking through it by a skilled, determined, and offended netizen.

This observation also extends to the arrogant geniuses who consider those of lesser intelligence “lusers”. They, too, aren’t immune from the consequences of ticking off the wrong person.

Mutual respect is the hallmark of productive internet exchange.

Gizmondo says:


If you talk shit. You better be prepared for ANY consequences that may occur by you opening your trap. People don’t function on the same value system as you do. And you saying one thing and thinking its nothing, to another, will get your shit burned down.

As they say in “la familia” don’t carry a gun, if you aren’t prepared to use it.

Dude got what he deserved. And I mean both of em.

So be it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: 14

Open and shut case.
It’s like the end of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.
Or like Uwe Boll beating the snot out of his critics in the boxing ring.

Everyone thinks they’re faceless on the internet. But everyone wants to go out and kick someone’s faceless ass sometimes.

May this be a lesson for everyone. Flaming can get you messed up. There’s no doubt that if people automatically had their personal info displayed, they’d either stop talking shit, or a lot more asskicking would go down. You know you’ve wanted to.

The Marcness says:


Over being called a nerd and having a different political view? I am glad the fucktard is in prison. If someone else gets so bent out of shape over being called a nerd, it just goes to prove that maybe they are one, taking something as online chat/photo sharing as gold. I don’t see anything wrong with being called a nerd anyways. Nerds rule this world. Look at Bill Gates for example.

EP says:

How many gallons to Waco at $3.25 a gallon?

If I have been released on bail, I can come to court in a suit, etc., and could easily get in with something in my pocket (e.g. a cell phone with a camera function).

And if you disagree with me, well, not a good idea. I am an insane psycho, like you, and I have a full gas tank. I am not saying I am inclined to drive to Waco, though: I am only so insane.

Oh, please, people, there is plenty of real opportunity to be “committed” or “hardcore”, if one gets out into the world at large and has a look around. If you want to test your mettle, get out of the sandbox. Get out of your comfort zone.

And if that is not your choice, remember you chose to be in the sandbox and its company by choice.

But I assume this guy is a statistical outlier in human terms, an exception, an error. cheers

Jade says:

Re: Re:

The guy who had his trailer burned down WAS a complete asshole. He has a page on a site called orfay, and he did very nasty things to people on there. It was only a matter of time before he provoked the wrong person. This man would take pictures of peoples children and threaten to do inappropriate things with them.

Amazing says:

Strangers on a Train

Flaming’s comment reminded me of the movie “Strangers on a Train” with Robert Walker and Stewart Granger (?). Robert Walker murders Farley’s enemy or whatever and expects Granger to murder his parent or something (great movie, am fuzzy on the details decades later). Gosh, think about all the possibilities the internet provides! What a Pandora’s Box we have opened!

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