Revenge porn usually means, in today’s vernacular, the vile and vindictive crime of using intimate images to harass and humiliate one’s ex. But that’s certainly not what The Forward had in mind with an article headlined “Jewish Revenge Porn.”

This 2009 piece by Karine Cohen-Dicker discusses Quentin Tarantino’s film Inglourious Basterds, in which a squad of Jewish-American soldiers roam late-World War II Europe doing “one thing, and one thing only: killing Nazis.” That includes scalping them and carving swastikas in their heads. This is not historical fact, nor even historical fiction, but historical fantasy, an orgy of Jewish revenge. The movie’s climax takes it further, as a young woman hiding her Jewish identity helps the Basterds burn down a movie theater filled with the Nazi elite — including the Führer himself. Spoilers for real life: the Holocaust is real, WWII is real, but none of this actually happened. However, this sort of revenge porn is about wish fulfillment; one of the few Jews in the cast, Eli Roth, called it “kosher porn,” and Roth is a man who knows about pornographic violence. For this film, Jeffrey Goldberg called Tarantino “Hollywood’s Jewish Avenger,” noting: “It is not an accident that it took a non-Jewish director to concoct this story of brutal Jewish revenge.”

Still, Tarantino did not invent the genre; we have a whole holiday modeled around the original epic of Jewish revenge porn, the Scroll of Esther. The historical record provides a setting and nothing more.

A copy of the text of the edict was to be issued as law in every province and made known to the people of every nationality so that the Jews would be ready on that day to avenge themselves on their enemies. (8:13)

And many people of other nationalities became Jews because fear of the Jews had seized them. (8:17)

No one could stand against them, because the people of all the other nationalities were afraid of them (9:2)

The climax, of course, is when Ahasuerus receives the casualty report on the 13th of Adar and asks Esther what else she could want. She replies (9:13): “Give the Jews in Susa permission to carry out this day’s edict tomorrow also, and let Haman’s ten sons be impaled on poles.” In other words, Jews will continue killing antisemites on the 14th — even though no one was ever allowed to attack Jews on that date!

As of a few years ago, I was still convinced that my fellow Jews, especially my fellow Orthodox Jews, understood that Esther was revenge porn. It wasn’t an ideal, but a twisted reflection of the exilic experience. After all, we were pretty ambivalent about Esther. The book’s proponents had to fight to get it into the canon, and the holiday emphasizes friendship, hospitality and charity. We spend the day of the war, 13 Adar, in fasting and repentance. We spend the day(s) of Purim obscuring and blurring the lines, whether its kids with their costumes or adults with their alcohol consumption.

This reflected our modern ethic, I thought. “Defense” was the IDF’s middle name, literally. In America and throughout the Diaspora, we championed inclusion, dialogue and opportunity. Now, I find my social media and my social interactions flooded with calls for violence, for glorifying the weapons of war, for hostility towards certain races, ethnicities and faiths. It’s profoundly disheartening.

You see, Esther may have written revenge porn, but even in its world, the Jews show restraint: the lives of women and children, of innocents on the other side are still sacrosanct and inviolable. Sadly, Esther’s lurid revenge fantasy may no longer be enough to satisfy us.