In what people are calling a landmark case, an Australian man pled guilty to making rape threats on a picture of a girl’s Tinder profile.
Back in 2015, someone screenshotted Olivia Melville’s Tinder profile and uploaded it to Facebook. The profile had a lyric from a Nicki Minaj song. It said “Type of girl that will suck you dry and then eat some lunch with you.”
Cool. Seems like two perfectly normal things for a person to be interested in. Pleasing your partner and consuming food. I like doing those things. You like doing those things.
Zach Alchin saw the picture on Facebook, though, and didn’t take it that way. Instead, he started saying shitty things on the Facebook post. Things like, according to Mic, “the best thing about a feminist, they don’t get any action, so when you rape them it feels 100 times tighter.”
He made 50 comments similar to that and was reported to police by a friend of Melville’s. Apparently, according to the BBC, when arrested, he told police “he was drunk and was unaware he was committing a crime.”
That always works. The question is, was he? Many of our (and Australia’s) current laws don’t really address online harassment, which puts it in a grey area that allows shitty fucks plausible deniability.
But the Aussies said fuck that and charged him with “using a carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence.” That law referred to making threats over the phone, and this was the first time it’s been applied to someone using social media. Which is what makes this such a big deal.
Alchin was slated to go to trial this week, but he changed his plea on the first day of the trial. His sentencing is now set for July, and he could wind up going to jail for three years.
Before you say that’s insane and free speech barf barf barf, remember he just as easily could not have left 50 threatening comments calling a girl a slut for putting a rap lyric in her Tinder bio.
After the incident, Melville and her friend started a group dedicated to fighting online harassment called Sexual Violence Won’t Be Silenced. They said they were pleased he changed his plea.
“Our victory today sends a message to all women that they don’t have to put up with harassment online.”