Members of the so-called "hacktivist" group Anonymous are right to be outraged about the rape of a 2-year-old child in Hancock County. But they are wrong - absolutely wrong - if they think their activities are needed to focus attention on the crime.
Anonymous amounts in some ways to a digitalante group - a digital-age group of vigilantes who claim law enforcement agencies and prosecutors don't take sexual assault cases seriously enough. The loosely organized group, with many of its members disguising themselves with Guy Fawkes masks during public appearances, first gained local attention during the investigation and trial of two Steubenville High School students who raped a Weirton girl.
About 20 members of the group visited the Hancock County courthouse Saturday, protesting the way a man accused of raping the 2-year-old is being treated. After a time freed on $50,000 bond, he now is under house arrest, awaiting trial.
The defendant, 19-year-old Tyler M. Graham, should be in jail, protesters contended on Saturday.
Many local residents might agree.
But on Saturday, at least some of the Anonymous members at the courthouse in New Cumberland insisted part of what they were doing was "bringing awareness to the case," in the words of one.
"You have to stand up. You have to say something. America itself has an attraction to violence. It's really not good at all."
Wait just a moment. The statement seems to imply that Hancock County residents need to be reminded about justice, because modern culture may not be adequately outraged about it.
That is nonsense. As Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher put it, "the whole area was sickened by this crime. That's the reaction of all good people."
That most certainly is the case virtually anywhere in the Ohio Valley. Good, compassionate residents of our area - and they are the majority, by a large margin - are sickened and angered by crimes such as the rape of a child. They need no one in a mask or behind a computer monitor to lecture them on that.
If Graham is guilty, he ought to be punished as severely as the law allows. The very fact the crime occurred is a reminder that vicious predators, even if there are just a few of them, are a threat to our children.