I'm specifically interested in the third or so people who expressed these sentiments. Why so much hostility?...snip...
If you're willing to agree that the [commenters'] sentiments are rage-- the irrational, out of proportion blinding hate that anyone else observing it thinks is pretty nutty-- then there's plenty to learn from it.
I'm not certain that the reaction has been irrational or out of proportion. The artist intended to push peoples' buttons, and he has done so. And in the relative anonymity of the interwebs, people have felt free to express the emotions his "art" engendered. That doesn't mean that anybody would actually DO anything about it. A lot of commenters have expressed a great deal of anger at the artist, but rage? I don't think so.
More importantly, why is this level of anger not directed at actual rapists? Years ago I lived near 180 and Broadway in NYC. That's a Rape Tunnel. If you go there there will be a guy waiting to rape you, sometimes they change shifts but there's always someone on duty. And they're hiring. Go there, get raped. EOM.
But no one is taking the A train north to kill that guy. In fact, you've basically accepted his existence, you've ceded that entire neighborhood to him. You don't like him, of course, but you don't hate him, you just put him out of your mind, you put that entire area out of your mind. Meanwhile, this artist, an ordinary man, who is only raping volunteers, who has not actually raped anyone-- that guy needs AIDS.
Who says that level of anger is not directed at actual rapists? (OK, maybe not in NYC, but Texas is a different story.) No actual rapist (to my knowledge) has publicly admitted/drawn attention to/bragged about his exploits on the interwebs, but if he did, I'd be willing to bet that a lot more than 1/3 of the comments would advocate removing said offender from society - immediately, permanently and with extreme prejudice. If no one is "taking the A train" to kill actual rapists, it's because that sort of action carries descriptors like "premeditated murder", for which there's a rather stiff penalty nowadays. It doesn't mean that we don't hate the rapist, just that the price of taking him out that way is too high. Nobody's taking the A train to kill the artist, either... it's just talk...er, typing.
The reason you do not fear this artist and the reason you hate him is because you about him. You know how he talks, thinks, that he's an artist, etc. You may make incorrect judgments based on this information (e.g all artists are wimps) but it is that you created a coherent picture of him that is relevant.
The man on 180/Broadway whom you don't know at all is "a rapist," he has a right to that identity and you're not messing with it.
This artist isn't a rapist, he has no right to self-identify. How is he allowed to give himself so much power?
So we hate the artist for pretending to be something he's not, but we don't hate the rapist because he "is what he is"? Yeah, right. NOT. Anger was vented at the artist because he's a douchebag and a waste of good oxygen. Because he chose to represent what we really hate: the predatory criminal.