On Friday afternoon, Arlington's Michael Brutsch was catapulted squarely into his 15 minutes of fame, after a Gawker article outed him as Violentacrez, a well-known moderator and commenter on a slew of racist, misogynistic and sexually exploitative threads on the internet community Reddit. Just before Chen's story ran, we put up our own post, observing that Violentacrez appeared to be from the Dallas area.
Dallas Redditors who found their way to our post after the fact opined that it was "inflammatory ignorant garbage," a "parrot of what has already been written," "yellow journalism" and "nerd/reddit-baiting." You sweethearts, you.
The real-world consequences of Brutsch's unmasking have been swift. Posting under his "clean" Reddit name, mbrutsch, he revealed in a thread yesterday that he was fired from his job at a payday loan company by phone Saturday morning.
His employer found out about the article, he said, due to "hundreds of angry emails to [the company's] investor relations address." He and his wife, who is chronically ill with fibromyalgia and diabetes, are now without health insurance. Brutsch estimated they could survive about three weeks, and began soliciting donations via PayPal.
Brutsch remains adamant that the images of underage girls he posted or commented on don't constitute child pornography, and that his participation in r/Jailbait, the thread where they appeared, was only a small part of what he did on Reddit. "I posted a shit ton on reddit, across hundreds of reddits, only one of which was jailbait," he writes. "My Imgur account has over 28,000 images. Jailbait was only a tiny fraction of that. It's just the one everyone likes to complain about."
Although he's been a little vague about just how Chen discovered his identity, Brutsch says he was sold out by someone he met at a Dallas Reddit meetup: "The unedited picture from the Dallas meetup in Chen's article could only have come from one person." Comments from other Redditors indicate that Brutsch often revealed his username at in-person meetups, and often shared personal details about his life offline on the site.
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Brutsch also revealed that he has a CNN interview scheduled for tonight, the only one he's planning on conducting.
Comments from other Redditors have ranged from supportive to downright hostile.
"My advice to you would be to take a long hard look at yourself and ask yourself who you really are, violentacrez or Mr. Brutsch," one wrote to Brutsch. "My personal view is just about anyone can redeem themselves if they truly put the effort into it. I hope you think about that option."
"Believe it or not," Brutsch replied, "It is at the top of my list."