As the history of the world over the last year or two has shown, it is not easy to work in a bank. It places special, even unique, pressures on individuals, so that some make the occasional "split second of misjudgment."
Such a split second occurred for the clearly stressed British bank worker Mary Bale, who tried to bring a little levity to her day by putting a cat in a trash bin, where it remained unrescued for 15 hours.
There will be some who will say: "Well, at least it wasn't a baby." Yet the full weight of technological jurisprudence (and imprudence) has now descended upon Bale.
It all began last week when the video of a woman putting little Lola the cat into a bin was put on YouTube by her concerned owners. They had captured the dreadful moment on their closed-circuit TV security system.
When it comes to online detection, there is an organization that would put the more conventional security services to shame. That organization is 4chan. It reportedly took 4chan's resourceful members a mere few hours to identify Bale.
Having found her, they reportedly began to reveal details of her employment, her phone number, and--that most basic foundation of human existence--her Facebook page.
At first, she wondered publicly what all the fuss was about. "It's just a cat," she told a newspaper. This was, perhaps, a slightly injudicious response, one that marshaled the energies of the online collective.
As her infamy spread, increasing ingenuity was dedicated to her excoriation. A YouTube video (embedded below) dreamed of a cat putting her in a trash bin. It has already enjoyed more than 800,000 views at the time of this writing.
Then one deeply feeling human created Twitter.com/catbinlady. It began on Wednesday with this tweet: "Just passed a shoe shop. Threw one of the sample shoes outside on top of a bus. Why do I do these things?"
It then offered observations such as, "Just kicked the head off next door's gnome. For a joke. Who's laughing now though? Not me. Not me."
Facebook, too, features expressions of disgust. What is remarkable, given Facebook's avowed stance against hate speech, is that the "Mary Bale Hate Group" is alive and very much kicking at the time I write this.
All this Web and flow of invective made Bale go into hiding. This had not deterred those who viewed her behavior as ill-befitting the human race. The Sun newspaper has created the online game Whack-Cat-Woman. This affords you the pleasure of bashing Bale's head as it emerges from various green bins strewn about the street.
In the closed-circuit TV footage, Bale was remarkably blase in just grabbing Lola with one hand and disposing of her. Unfortunately, the Web now has both its hands shaking every last bit of dignity from the so-called Cat Bin Lady. And that's not counting the fact that she reportedly may face charges of animal cruelty.
Perhaps, though, she will come out and make online videos against animal cruelty. The Web might be judge and jury, but it also has the power to rehabilitate.