Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet The Media

Death Threats In the Blogosphere 487

Posted by kdawson
from the way-over-the-line dept.
Several readers have written in about the death threats and threats of sexual harm that have been directed at tech blogger Kathy Sierra. She is the author of a number of books about Java and a popular speaker at conferences. She has now stopped blogging and cancelled her appearance at eTech. She names the names of four prominent bloggers who are backers of two sites on which the threats were posted. Others in the blogosphere like Robert Scoble and Tim Bray have posted publicly in support of Sierra. Scoble in particular emphasizes the streak of misogyny that is still all too evident in the tech world. The Washington Post is also grappling with the issue of vile comment posts that flirt with illegality. One commenter on Bray's post summed it up: "The Internet used to be a university. Then it became a shopping mall. But now, it's a war zone."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Death Threats In the Blogosphere

Comments Filter:
  • Blogosphere = ??? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WED Fan (911325) <akahige&trashmail,net> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:35PM (#18503639) Homepage Journal

    The blogosphere has turned into spam, flamewars, threats, and general kookery. Welcome to the new Usenet.

  • People are people. People have the right to express their opinions about someone else.

    So where, as far as the law is concerned, is "too much"? If it is one person's opinion that another person should be shot and raped, does that person have the right to express that opinion?

    My personal opinion is that death threats and rape threats are far beyond the free speech line, simply because they infringe and threaten another person's right to life. Which, in my opinion, is a rather important right. I support her fully, and personally think that the posters of said comments need to have charges brought against them.

    But to what degree do the law books say too much is too much? Where is the line as far as the books are concerned?

    Just honest curiosity.
  • Close (Score:5, Insightful)

    by toddhisattva (127032) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:36PM (#18503655) Homepage

    "The Internet used to be a university. Then it became a shopping mall. But now, it's a war zone."
    The universities became shopping malls and war zones. The Internet merely reflects the decay.
  • by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:36PM (#18503665)
    I've had members of my site become brutal and rather scary after I've had to ban them for fraudulent and other unacceptable behavior against other users. On more than a couple occasions, they have done things like dig up my phone number and make threatening phone calls. Call police in my state and make various absurd false reports. Spread insanely ridiculous things about me on the internet, email me and post to my website the most vile, disgusting, threatening things you can imagine.

    But what can you do? Are you going to lock yourself in a bunker the rest of your life to keep yourself safe from mentally imbalanced teenagers and idiot, vindictive, insane adults?

    I've had people flat out threaten to hunt me down and cut my head off if I didn't restore their banned accounts and I've had one post things across the web that are among the most vile and disgusting and insulting things you can claim about a person. But I'm not out there asking everyone to stick up for me or... well.. even wasting two seconds on it. People are dicks. Life is hard. A lot of people say a lot of shit and don't follow through. Either grow a spine or go away. There's no sense being a big baby about it because someone hates you. And if someone really has you fearing for your life, then do something about it besides blogging about it and trying to manipulate other people into sticking up for you.
  • by Skyshadow (508) * on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:39PM (#18503709) Homepage
    Yeah, back in the day you never would have seen this sort of thing on the web, assuming that by "back in the day" you mean "the time between when Tim Berners-Lee came up with the web but before he told anyone about it".

    Not to say this sort of thing is all right, of course, but while this is almost certainly a sad byproduct of the culture of the internet, there's nothing in the post she pointed to that I find disturbing or even all that unusual. As she noted, you get everybody online and give them anonymity, this sort of thing happens.

    This doesn't mean, however, that it's happening *more* than it would have back before the internet, just that now it tends to be visible. Public figures, even minor ones, have always run the risk of attracting sickos, especially when they're decent looking women. Going so far as to suggest this is something new that's being caused by the internet just seems ridiculous, and trying to paint it as a byproduct of the culture of men in software development is even moreso.

    I know it must be disturbing to realize you're the focus of this kind of thing, but let's try not to make more of it than it is.
  • by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:42PM (#18503757)
    Regardless of how vile people can be (as I mentioned my own experiences in another post here), it's still the internet. I'm sorry, but I'm not going to take a threat on the internet serious. My information is completely publicly available and I've had people who I've banned for their behavior on my site spread offensive rumors about me on the web and even threaten to cut my head off. But what are you gonna do? It's the internet. Going to spend a few months of your life with the police and a lawyer hunting down some skinflint who's all bark and no bite?

    When these things have happened to me, I didn't even bother to post about it on my site or elsewhere. Why would I? Who cares about it? So while I have sympathy for this person's situation, I also think there is a bit of attention-getting going on here. Look at me getting' threats and mean comments from nutcases! Poor me! Give me some attention intarweb!

    Now, I'm sure this person in question is a talented, kind, decent person. I'm not saying they deserve any of the comments or threats they've been getting whatsoever. But really... dude... it's the fucking internet.
  • Green Blackboards (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:44PM (#18503793)
    Just another example of John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory. [penny-arcade.com]
  • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:44PM (#18503801) Homepage Journal
    Very few death threats get carried out.
    Less so on the internet.

    "For those in the slashdot community with some sniffing/hacking skills (mine are rusty), have at it deducing who the asswipes are, find them, and report them."

    yes, vigilantes are well known for making things better.

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:46PM (#18503835)
    Before there were blogs there was usenet, that pristine unadulterated source of helpful ideas and good manners.

    Some people just have no idea...

     
  • Thoughts (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LarsWestergren (9033) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:46PM (#18503839) Homepage Journal
    I've been following this today, on and off. I feel really sorry for Kathy Sierra. What is scary is the number of bloggers (mostly female) who describe being subjected to similar things, some even worse. Most of the bloggers mentioned by her have apologized for participating in such a site though, even if, as they claim, they did not do any of the objectionable content.

    I think Don Parks [docuverse.com] summed up how I feel about this best. With reality TV the tolerance of bullying has unfortunately been increased. If something good can be said to come of this, it is that a few online bullies are getting their well deserved come-uppance. I think it was Chad Fowler who wrote [pragmaticprogrammer.com] that the net never forgets, and building a reputation becomes ever more important. The stuff you write may come back to haunt you for a long time, and never forget that there are real people with feelings on the other side. Even if you disagree with them they deserve to be treated as human beings.
  • I don't get it (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:48PM (#18503881)
    Why are these morons threatening this young woman? As to the death threats and such, yeah I've been a recipient as lately as last week, just for posting an honest opinion. The opinion was in a Chicago Tribune "Julie's Health Club" article; blog, I guess, since there is a moderated comments section. The topic was child care, I opined that one parent should stay home while one won bread. I didn't say mom should stay home, mind you, but ONE PARENT.

    Of course, some crazed misandrist feminazi (I never used that word before now, but thanks to the strange woman from the internet it will become a beloved part of my vocabulary now) emailed me to say that I was a ceve man who should have his "balls cut off" before I bred.

    Threatening to cut a man's balls off is worse than a death threat, as the 95% of you who are men well know.

    I had death threats back when I got too popular at K5, too (yes, it's the "Paxil Diary" guy mcgrew here). That, ironically, was over a joke that some gays didn't get; one of them was an admin, Pete Jongular, who made the site so annoying for me that I left. Is the asshole still there? If not I may go back...

    But anyway, my empathy goes out to this poor woman. I know how she feels, even though I'm too damned stubborn and ornery to let a few death threats and threats of castration keep me off the net.

    -mcgrew (sm62704 at /., now at work and w/o my /.pw)
  • Re:hmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:48PM (#18503891) Homepage Journal
    haha...

    You mean the people who wrap themselves up in things soley to look important?

    Look at any flameware. What are programmers really fighting for? to hold onto some stupid opinion, or that there product is better for them, therefore it's better for everybody?

    Programmers are no different then anyone else.
  • by djan (121552) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:49PM (#18503897)

    People have the right to express their opinions about someone else.


    This is true, but a lot of people don't realize that you need to bear the consequences of expressing your opinions.

    If you are in the record business and spout off a la Dixie Chicks about GW Bush, expect to suffer backlash in the form of fewer record sales from people that disagree with you. If you threaten to kill someone, expect to have law enforcement to become very interested in having a talk with you.

    Free speech is great, but prices are paid for the execution of it.
  • by dedazo (737510) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:50PM (#18503905) Journal
    Yes, this is unacceptable. However, it does happen, and it will continue to happen as long as people can continue to be essentially anonymous. It's that anonymity that changes a probably normal person into a blathering, vile fucktard.

    But I think this woman is overreacting a tad. Maybe this is the first time something like this has happened to her. The chances of one of these assholes hunting her down and doing that stuff they so eloquently described in their posts to her is probably about as high as her chances of being hit by a meteor. I'd hate to think she's somehow milking this for the PR value, but her "OMG I have to sequester myself at home with my dog and a shotgun" is a bit too much. Not that the behavior that led to this is acceptable at all, but still.

    I do find it ironic though that the very community that considers online anonymity to be so sacred can turn around so quickly and demand that these people - again, vile fucktards - be "brought to justice". But then I guess we all have our double standards.

  • by Skyshadow (508) * on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:52PM (#18503937) Homepage
    I'm a schoolteacher. I *KNOW* because I'm a teacher who connects with kids, and has a knack for reaching troubled kids that my odds of being the target of an angry, weapon-holding students are *GOOD*... someday, I'm going to stare at that terrifying situation. I still teach - I know that I do good things, and I will not live in fear of evil ones.

    Interestingly, I think you're encountering another aspect of our new-ish non-local culture.

    Consider: Kathy's problem is one of communication. Those sickos who have developed an interest in her due to her degree of public figure status would be out there regardless (stalkers being nothing new), but the internet allows her to see them which, quite naturally, terrifies her.

    You, likewise, are being made fearful by our non-local culture. You see a couple of school shootings a year spread out nationally, but since each gets attention and, as an attention-getting item, is reported nationally in the same way that you might expect a local incident to be covered. As such, you've come to the expectation that school shootings are in fact commonplace enough that you're expressing the absolute certainty that you will, someday, "stare at that terrifying situation".

    Both of your fears seem to have the common root, and it's something I find interesting. I wonder if that's a problem that has a solution -- after all, reasonable people look for things that threaten them, and mass communication's only going to get easier... Maybe eventually we'll all life either in fear or blissful intentional ignorance.
  • True (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HangingChad (677530) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:52PM (#18503947) Homepage

    "The Internet used to be a university. Then it became a shopping mall. But now, it's a war zone."

    That's the truth and one of the first casualties of that war was Civility. Free speech ends at the door of death threats and threats of physical violence. That is not unique to the internet and perhaps a new and open media requires a new type of law enforcement. It doesn't have to be invasive or Constitutionally questionable. A few of the worst offenders making headlines going to trial, and a couple of the worst overseas offenders extradited here for trial, would likely be all it would take to end most of the silliness. There will always be those few, desperately in need of therapy, who push the bounds. But we do have to respond. Just like real serial killers usually start out torturing animals, real acts of violence start by giving voice to the desire.

    Funny, but I see more of what I could classify as hate speech on right wing web sites. Death threats, suggestions for snipers to take out some imagined offender and many along the lines of, "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" And this from people counting themselves among the religious right. Shame. Tactless comment coupled with faithless religion.

    Besides, why would anyone want to threaten a JAVA programmer? .NET or C++, that's understandable. But JAVA? The humanity!

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:53PM (#18503963) Homepage
    I hate that by Kathy's own words, she isn't the same person, she'll never be the same person. It's a crime this happens to the good guys.

    That's why "retreating" is the absolute last thing she should be doing. It will do her more emotional harm in the long run; its more than likely that no threat is actually intended, it's just meant to terrorize her and make her submit, anyway (why issue a death threat if you're planning to carry it out?).
  • by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:54PM (#18503977)
    I know I'm going to get modded to hell for my posts in this thread, but whatever. I think there is more than enough navel-gazing going on in this and other threads on this topic, so we can afford to consider other opinions.

    Yes, she needs to regain some semblance of self. Based on the couple of comments I saw which were incredibly disgusting and uncalled for, I can see that she would be offended. But really. She needs to get a hold of herself. She calls it mysogyny because someone posts "fuck off you boring slut... i hope someone slits your throat and cums down your gob" on a couple of blogs? Is she new to the internet or something? Name a blog out there that hasn't had even worse repeatedly posted on them. Even directed toward specific individuals? Liberals, conservatives, religious people, atheists, people of different ethnicities and sizes and colors and shapes and views and backgrounds and opinions have things like that said to them online all the time. They don't immediately cancel all events and lock themselves in their home for fear of their life like this person claims she is doing.

    I've had people completely lose it on my site. Seriously, I have witnessed people have flat out breakdowns over the last nine years when I've banned them. They'll return with dozens of accounts and post the most shocking and creepy things. They've made vile and repulsive threats. One of them has been doing this for FOUR YEARS across the internet and via email and myspace and various false accounts AND THEY ARE STILL DOING IT! All over having their account banned!

    But still.. it's the internet. If this stuff were being sent via the USPS or voicemails or phone calls or something, I'd say it should be taken more seriously. As it is, ban the account and the IP and move on. If you waste your life on every skinflint like that, you'll never have time for anything else.

    And by the way - what the hell is with labeling the entire tech industry as a bunch of misogynists because of this guy? The internet is anonymous. How do we know this guy isn't a burger flipper somewhere or a school teacher or a lawyer? Just because he's posting on a tech related blog doesn't mean he's some industry insider somewhere venting his sickening Freudian rage toward women or something.

    Seriously, does nobody think guys like Dvorak and Malda and many others haven't had to put up with this stuff? I'm sure it happens all the time. They just don't have a nervous breakdown over it.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:55PM (#18503993)
    So what happens when some nutjob that just so happens to live within 100 miles of you decides to cyber-stalk you?

    You know there's a line. Are death threats, made from letters cut + glued from magazines and left in your mailbox just as acceptable as annonymized email death threats?
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:57PM (#18504047) Homepage Journal

    The blogs and comments posted threatening Kathy are unacceptable, and look to be very illegal. [...] I hate that by Kathy's own words, she isn't the same person, she'll never be the same person. It's a crime this happens to the good guys.

    I agree wholeheartedly with both points, but I agree with the second statement ("I hate that by Kathy's own words, she isn't the same person, she'll never be the same person.") for reasons which probably differ substantially from yours.

    The reason I hate that is because no one should be such a coward that some death threats that almost certainly mean absolutely nothing should cause them to withdraw into themselves so completely.

    People have made all kinds of threats against me, but none of them have been carried out since high school. If I took them seriously then I would never do anything but hide in my house and check up on the status of various police reports I'd made.

    I hope Kathy sees and realizes enough support from the community and can regain some semblance of self.

    I hope that Kathy sees how ridiculous she is being, what an overreaction she is making, and gets on with her life. Again, I agree that it is wrong, and pathetic, and inexcusable for people to do such a thing. But I think it's also pathetic that she is now afraid to go out in public because of something someone said on the internet. People make bullshit death threats every day on the internet, probably moreso than through any other medium of communication! I think that John Gabriel's Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory [penny-arcade.com] is the gospel truth. For those who don't want to clicky, the upshot is that normal person + anonymity + audience = total fuckwad. It's not true of everyone but it is true in a disturbing number of situations. The result is that you must consider that people will say things they would never say elsewhere and in most cases don't even believe simply because they feel they can get away with it, and in many cases they can.

    One more time: I THINK WHAT THE PEOPLE DID IS WRONG. But I think that this woman is quite frankly unequipped to deal with the real world. An internet death threat generally means jack shit. If she's that upset by THAT non-event, what does she do when someone flips her off in traffic? Pull over to the side of the road and have a good cry?

  • Re:PC Backlash (Score:3, Insightful)

    by apathy maybe (922212) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:58PM (#18504057) Homepage Journal
    I assume you use "PC" as short hand for "politically correct". In which case you obviously don't know what being politically correct is all about. It has nothing to do with saying intellectually controversial things, unless you think something like "Jews rule the world and control the government" is somehow intellectually controversial.

    Political correctness is about not making stupid comments that hurt minority groups or other groups in society when there is no

    So, in summing up, I think you are wrong, and also possibly stupid. Politically correct is only ever used as an insult by right-wing conservatives who want to be able to insult "niggers", women (who should be staying at home bare foot and pregnant anyway, not actually being real people), and similar groups in society who have little power anyway.

    Care to apologize?

    (The Wikipedia article seems vaguely alright just now. At least the introduction does. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_correctness [wikipedia.org] )
  • Cut the hype.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wes Janson (606363) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:58PM (#18504059) Journal
    Calling the internet a "war zone" is idiotic hype. If you want to see what one actually looks like, go to Iraq, or Somalia, or any number of other low intensity conflicts around the globe. A far better metaphor would be calling the internet a playground filled with shouting, arguing children who sometimes say threatening or stupid things.
  • by Otter (3800) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @01:58PM (#18504063) Journal
    Very few death threats get carried out.
    Less so on the internet.

    Yeah, I stopped displaying my email address here after a certain quantity of threats from morons; on sites where I still provide it the morons continue to threaten. That's just how the Internet is. I'm a lot more concerned about being hit by a car than I am that some over-invested loser means his threats seriously.

    Which isn't to say that I blame Kathy Sierra for being freaked out, but Scoble's comment that "We're putting ourselves out there in ways very few people do. We should be safe from death threats and other sexual attacks and stuff, especially from other bloggers." seems like classic blogonarcissism. That's just how the Internet is, even for low-low-level blogocelebrati.

  • Re:Whingebag.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cbradshaw (1061110) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:01PM (#18504103)
    This is the internet. I've had nasty things said to me too.

    Right, but are you a public figure? Speak at Conferences? Author books? You seem to have spent enough time trivializing her situation, without giving a thought to what it might be like to receive a death threat - knowing all well that the world has easy PHYSICAL access to you.

    Think about what you are saying... what good will reporting these threats to the police do? Are they going to be able to track down the bad-guys? It's doubtful.

    The way I see it, you are either; a.) A Karma Whore looking for that "+1 insightful", or b.) Have way too much time on your hands, and not a whole lot of common sense. Either way, perhaps you should hang out at "Digg" where you peers are...

  • by crabpeople (720852) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:02PM (#18504123) Journal
    I guess she never heard the expression "don't feed the trolls". This is exactly the crazy overblown reaction that I am sure makes this particular troll giddy with attention happiness. He even made slashdot now.

    By trolling standards, this is a complete and utter success. Trolls only want attention people, and shes played right into its hand.

  • by Irvu (248207) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:02PM (#18504125)

    or those in the slashdot community with any knowledge of who might be making these posts, it is incumbent upon you to bring forward that information. For those in the slashdot community with some sniffing/hacking skills (mine are rusty), have at it deducing who the asswipes are, find them, and report them.


    Definitely a bad idea. Vigilantism, as cathartic as it may be is never never a long-term solution. It's often disasterously bad in the short term as well.

    In the short term any information collected by such means would be inadmissible in court and probably lead to violations of other laws. Secondly said information may not be that meaningful in the court of public opinion. Coming down like a ton of bricks on abusive people often tends to a) increase their own hatred and willingness to make and carry out threats, and b) drum up some twisted support/sympathy for them.

    In the long term it creates a show that adds fuel to the Great Firewall argument of mandatory online id's and
    registration of posts both to prevent such threats, or at least identify the guilty, and to stop the vigilantes who either break things in the process of their attack or can be painted as being just as destructive as the original threats. At the end of the day all it would be is a turf war between would be online police and the vigilates and the original threats would be ignored.

    This is not to say that they shouldn't be vilified. I think that the process of condemning the attackers should also involve condemning the bloggers who started said site and who, by omission or commission, allow the posts to stand and attack. Christ Locke and others must deal with this or they should be sidelined from all future public involvement. It isn't as cathartic in the short term but it is effective.
  • by anomaly (15035) <tom.cooper3@g m a i l . com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:03PM (#18504145)
    Neither am I, but I know that I can't understand what it's like to maintain constant vigilence - because women can and are abused by men. They are statistically smaller and weaker than men, and easily victimized.

    Ever walk to your car in a dark parking lot? When you do, do you give thought to being attacked? I don't, but almost every woman I've asked says she does. I recently heard that 10% of high school senior girls report having been raped. These are girls under 18.

    I have an acquaintance who was in her work parking lot and rolled down her window to chat with a coworker who smiled pleasantly as he reached in the window to fondle her breast. This was most certainly unwelcome and abusive! Has that ever happened to you? Do you think she will *ever* consider rolling down her car window on a warm day without thinking of that event? Do you ever think "Will my coworker sexually harass me?" I doubt it.

    You mock the blogger's fear as overreaction. Try thinking like a more vulnerable person, and then perhaps you'll respond more charitably.
  • there's nothing in the post she pointed to that I find disturbing

    Maybe, but you are not her. Different people have different comfort levels with threats of bodily harm. I am not sure that your post reflects an appropriate standard for all victims, and I suspect that you would change your tune fairly rapidly if you, yourself, (or, worse, someone you loved) were the target.

    Going so far as to suggest this is something new that's being caused by the internet just seems ridiculous

    I don't think anyone familiar with Usenet thinks this is anything new, but it must be acknowledged that the Internet has greatly facilitated this sort of anonymous abuse. What's different from Usenet in this situation is that it is entirely within the ability of individual bloggers to stop this sort of abuse by their participants.

    trying to paint it as a byproduct of the culture of men in software development is even moreso.

    I wish I could say that I agree with you, but I work in information security and have responded to a number of internal online sexual abuse cases over the years. Your assertion does not completely correlate with my personal experiences with software developers. As with any male-dominated culture, there's a certain percentage of men who think that behaving rudely, crudely, and threateningly towards women is just fine. This is true in any culture; what's important is the group's tolerance for repellent, abusive behavior towards a female minority, and a principal sign of a lack of cultural maturity in this regard is for those not directly involved to sit back, as you just did, and say, "oh come on, it's not so bad, she just needs to get a grip", which is really just a backhanded way of condoning such behavior.

  • by Medievalist (16032) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:05PM (#18504165)
    Pampered western journalists whinging and grizzling about other people's use of free speech is not a "war". People being so cowardly that they can't function if someone threatens them is not comparable to being carpet bombed because you happened to be born in the wrong place or have the wrong religion.

    Win the "war on terrorism"; stop being afraid!

    People are such cowards these days. It's NAUSEATING.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:08PM (#18504235)
    "mob justice" seems appropriate for anonymous little slime molds who get off scaring girls.

    You want to help these sick puppies? The best way is out them. They'll behave better after they learn actions can have consequences.
  • by dedazo (737510) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:12PM (#18504319) Journal

    You mock the blogger's fear as overreaction. Try thinking like a more vulnerable person, and then perhaps you'll respond more charitably.

    I am not mocking her. And this has nothing to do with whether or not women are more likely to be victimized by men. What I'm essentially saying is that her chances of being raped in a parking lot by a stranger are probably higher than one of these people actually tracking her down and inflicting harm on her. For them, the threat is the thrill. It's an infantile power play aided by the veil of anonymity, and while I don't blame her in any way - she is the victim here after all - she did fell for it. I've been online for almost 20 years and I've seen these things often enough to know how they work and why they happen.

    I understand your points, and they're valid, but I stand by mine as well. FWIW, if I were married and this was my wife that's probably what I'd tell her. It's scary and annoying and whatnot, but she doesn't need to cloister herself up in a room and shiver in fear, because that's exactly what the fucktards that did this wanted to begin with.

  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:13PM (#18504349) Homepage Journal
    She calls it mysogyny because someone posts "fuck off you boring slut... i hope someone slits your throat and cums down your gob" on a couple of blogs? Is she new to the internet or something? Name a blog out there that hasn't had even worse repeatedly posted on them. Even directed toward specific individuals? Liberals, conservatives, religious people, atheists, people of different ethnicities and sizes and colors and shapes and views and backgrounds and opinions have things like that said to them online all the time. [snip] Seriously, does nobody think guys like Dvorak and Malda and many others haven't had to put up with this stuff? I'm sure it happens all the time.

    If someone told a black writer, "fuck off you boring nigger... i hope someone lynches you," would you say that wasn't racist? If someone told a Jewish writer, "fuck off you boring kike... i hope someone throws you in an oven," would you say that wasn't anti-Semitic?

    Personal threats directed solely at the individual happen all the time, yes. But threats directed both at the individual and at an entire group (sex, race, religion, whatever) to which the individual belongs are something that most people regard as Crossing The Line, and with good reason; historically, it's been easier to deal with the one-offs. Does Dvorak get called a "Russki?" Does Malda get called a "Wop?" (Just guessing on that last one.) The fact that clearly misogynist threats like the ones aimed at Sierra get a "no big deal" response from so many people says to me that there are a lot of guys out there on the net -- now, in 2007 -- who have an attitude toward women that's about on the level of the KKK's attitude toward black people.

    Also, starting your post with a line like "I know I'm going to get modded to hell for my posts in this thread ..." is a stupid rhetorical trick. If you've got something to say, just say it; don't try to impress us with how tough and brave and anti-establishment you are.
  • Re:hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hey! (33014) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:15PM (#18504397) Homepage Journal
    You know, some of the smartest people I know have done some of the stupidest things.

    For the average person, it is enough that everyone else things that something is wrong. Smart people are used to being right when everyone around them is wrong. And they're often good at coming up with reasons why something that might be a bad for other people is something that they could handle.

    A good friend of mine is just about the smartest people I know. She's also incredibly impulsive. Over the years I have watched her make a range of incredibly bad decisions, and there is no point in talking her out of them because trying to win an argument with her is like trying to pin a world class wrestler to the mat. She knows more ways to wriggle out of a logical stranglehold than I know how to twist somebody into one, and "this is an obviously crazy idea that will leave you and the people you care about miserable," just doesn't work.

    The difference between intelligence and wisdom is this: wise people are people who know how to let go. They can let go of plans or ideas and see things in a fresh and objective light. Intelligence is a double edge sword. Sometimes it helps people see new possibilities, other times it helps them hold on to what they want to believe is true.
  • by Seumas (6865) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:16PM (#18504423)
    Cyber-stalk me all you like. What are they going to do, spam me to death? Pingflood my head off?

    Can we please be rational about this for a minute? Seriously, making some gross sexual comments and saying that someone is a waste of flesh or whatever via the internet is not even remotely the same thing as having a death threat mailed to you at home or left via the telephone.

    Further, the couple of comments I read that were left by this person were horrible, but are they really the quality of comments that should be taken seriously? Have any of us not had something along the lines of "fuck off you boring slut... i hope someone slits your throat and cums down your gob" said to us or to someone else that we've read on the internet a thousand times over? People say some very disturbing shit on the internet, but that doesn't mean that they're all out to stalk and murder and rape us. They're just creeps with big mouths.

    Now, if this person were making comments about knowing where the "victim" lives or other personality identifying information to give weight to the idea that they are seriously capable of and willing to make some physical effort in the real world, then that is a different story. But Calling someone a boring slut and saying you hope someone cuts their throat - while fucking disturbing as hell - is not the same as sending them an email saying that you know where they live and they better watch themselves next time they go grocery shopping.

    By the way, back in the BBS days I actually did have some creep find out where I lived and at about midnight, drove down our street, found our house, knocked on the door and asked my parents to speak to me (this was in about 1993 and I was sixteen). That was fucking creepy. I don't know who the guy was or what his deal was. Only that he was from the same MajorBBS/WorldBBS server that my friends and I hung out on. And THAT guy didn't just say some random absurd shit like the guy posting on this person's blog. THAT guy actually said "I know where you live and i'm going to come kick your fucking ass".

    If you involve the authorities every time some lunatic online says you should die or something, the authorities are going to stop giving a damn and won't give credence to real people who are truly being "stalked" and intimidated instead of just chronically verbally attacked by some bored douchebag with nothing better to do than try to make you quit your blogging.
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrotherNO@SPAMoptonline.net> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:19PM (#18504473) Journal

    Which isn't to say that I blame Kathy Sierra for being freaked out, but Scoble's comment that "We're putting ourselves out there in ways very few people do. We should be safe from death threats and other sexual attacks and stuff, especially from other bloggers." seems like classic blogonarcissism. That's just how the Internet is, even for low-low-level blogocelebrati.

    Exactly. Sorry to say, but once you are live on the Internet, you cease being a private figure. If you're smart, you protect yourself and don't give out all your personal info (ala MySpace) to make it easier for the nut-jobs to find you. If you're looking for perfect safety, get rid of your high-speed access, frag your hard drive, and dump your computer in the crusher, followed by a trip to the witness protection program.

    I'm sure there are people out there who dislike me or are unstable enough to believe I'm some threat to the universe. If I gave a squat about them, I'd be validating their world view; best to ignore them, until such a time as one gets too close for comfort -- then you sic the dogs on them.

  • by sharp-bang (311928) <sharp.bang.slashdot@nospAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:19PM (#18504481) Homepage
    ... of course, are the bloggers who let themselves be conduits for abusive speech. This thread is now over 100 posts and I've seen almost nothing on this. C'mon, all you messaging admins, everyone who has to answer abuse@domain mail... what is their culpability?
  • by networkBoy (774728) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:22PM (#18504537) Homepage Journal
    He is the exception rather than the norm.
    In this case I believe the sexual content was what did her in. It is violating in i's own right without the need to commit a physical harm. My wife's masters (sociology) was going to be in on-line communities, status, social rank (low UID on /. anyone?) etc. It turned out to be such a mess of a minefield that her chair strongly advised her to save that for doctoral level work.
    she did.

    I don't blame Kathy at all for her feelings and FWIW I throw my support to her without even knowing who she is (and WTF is this coffee programming language anyway ;)
    -nB
  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:28PM (#18504701) Homepage Journal

    Nice way to belittle her fears. It wasn't just ONE comment. This is something that has been going on for a long time it seems, and we saw only a fraction of all the stuff that have been posted against her, stuff that others have described as being completely vile. If you haven't been exposed to bullying or stalking, you don't really know how bad it makes you feel, how it wears you down over time.

    I have been exposed to bullying and stalking, so maybe you should just shut your piehole before you make any other ignorant, arrogant statements about "if you haven't". I grew up as a mama's boy and I was picked on and physically, mentally, and emotionally assaulted by my "fellow" students from basically sixth grade on. The difference between Kathy and myself, aside from plumbing issues, is that I got over it. I got better. I eventually grew up and decided not to let the world drag me down into hell any more.

    Now, this woman is starting at a disadvantage because society, including her parents, taught her to be a victim - what we think of in most of the world as a woman. In general, societies all over the planet are based in part on making women into a second, subservient class. Men want women to believe that they need men for purposes other than procreation because it is convenient. They can thus be trapped into unrewarding lives from which they feel they have no escape so that certain men can have the privileges to which they have become accustomed, like having their dinner ready for them when they get home and all that shit. Women are of course part of the problem, in that they tend to grow up believing this shit, and they pass it on to their children (and all other females whom they are in a position to influence) instead of taking a long look at their convictions.

    Not all women are this helpless. For instance the Take Back the Night [wikipedia.org] rally sends a clear message of female empowerment.

    So, is it her fault she feels this way? Only partly. But is it her responsibility to grow up and join the party with the rest of us? Absolutely. Hiding in your house is a common response but it is not a rational one. In fact I think you can draw a direct parallel between this woman's experience and the situation with terrorism in America today. What do people want when they make bullshit threats? They want you to cower in fear. What do terrorists want when they attack? Same thing. What do both groups, those who threatened this woman, and the terrorists have in common?

    They have both won due to the responses which their actions have produced. This woman is afraid to leave her yard, and our government is systematically dismantling our freedoms without functional response from the citizenry.

    If she wants to allow them to win, by all means, she should continue hiding in fear.

    If that's not what she wants, she has an obligation to get on with her life, just as we have an obligation to at the very least stand up and be counted as being incensed when our freedoms are denied us.

  • by Kingrames (858416) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:29PM (#18504705)
    I know I'll get modded down for this, but
    Everyone who begins their post with "I know I'll get modded down for this" or somesuch is guaranteed to get at least +3 added to their post because the moderators are predictable morons. Saying that you acknowledge how inflammatory and moronic your post is doesn't make it any less inflammatory or moronic.
  • by BenEnglishAtHome (449670) * on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:39PM (#18504893)

    In response to vile, arguably illegal threats in cyberspace, the object of those threats has written:

    I have cancelled all speaking engagements.

    I am afraid to leave my yard.

    I will never feel the same. I will never be the same.

    Yes, the threats were vile and intended to cause emotional distress. The seriousness of them and the capacity of the posters to act in accordance with their stated intentions is very much in question. But EVEN IF THE THREATS ARE REAL, meaning, even if the posters really would kill her given the chance, her reaction is excessive. Way excessive.

    You must live your life. Despite the wackos, you must live your life. Sticking your head in the sand solves nothing.

    I've had jobs that put me in conflict with people rather severely. On two occasions, I've been assigned a personal bodyguard for a period of weeks until the person trying to kill me was caught and jailed. I've been chased on foot by a drug-addled cowboy who continually screamed that he was going to kill me. I've been chased in my vehicle twice, once by someone who tried to run me off the road and once by someone who was trying to follow me to my destination to do me violence. Hell, I've had a shotgun unloaded at me (from an excessive distance by a drunk with lousy aim, thank God).

    I didn't stop living my life. After each of those events (and sometimes during) I walked out my front door and went to work just like normal. I can't imagine someone being so weak of spirit that they would do otherwise.

    OK, go ahead and scream at me that I'm blaming the victim. I'm not. For the short term, recoiling in horror from a threat is reasonable. For the short term, only until the threat can be assessed fully, it's a reasonable reaction. But if this lady remains afraid to leave her yard next week, she's got far bigger problems than a few weirdos who might or might not pose a threat to her.

  • by TrentC (11023) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:42PM (#18504955) Homepage
    People are such cowards these days. It's NAUSEATING.

    Out of curiosity, are you including or excluding yourself from that generalization? I find that lots of people on /. like to deride others for cowardice or other moral failings when, truth be told, they wouldn't act any better in similar circumstances.

    This woman was not the subject of a harshly-worded argument or even a juvenile personal attack; people were posting Photoshopped images of her in sexually degrading situations, and posting graphic descriptions of violence, mutilation and rape. Maybe that's something you can just laugh off and ignore, but it's getting to the point where women can't even do that any more [wftv.com].

    And if she does get assaulted or killed, the same type of people who are condemning her for being too weak to simply put up with it will be condemning her for not taking the threats seriously enough. It's a no-win situation for women and victim-blaming is an easy way to avoid having any empathy for the victim, or feel the need to press for change.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:42PM (#18504961)

    her chances of being raped in a parking lot by a stranger are probably higher than one of these people actually tracking her
    So fucking what? The probability is non-zero, the thread provably exists.
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:46PM (#18505047) Homepage

    You mock the blogger's fear as overreaction. Try thinking like a more vulnerable person, and then perhaps you'll respond more charitably.

    You don't have to be a vulnerable person to be a victim of crime. Anybody who receives death threats or threats of bodily harm has a right to take them seriously. I myself have received threats over the Internet that included very specific information about what I looked like and mentioned real-world places I was likely to frequent. I was within inches of notifying the authorities before a friend finally owned up that it was a practical joke. It wasn't a funny joke.

    Awful things do happen in this world. A lot of them seem inexplicable to normal, rational people. Why would an audience member at a concert by the heavy metal band Damageplan choose to get up on stage and murder the guitar player of the band? It makes no sense. But when people are dealing with "celebrities," they sometimes get funny ideas in their heads about what is acceptable behavior and what is not. Some people think it's acceptable to post threatening, misogynist messages to forums. Others feel justified in crossing the line even further. Who are you or I to say someone is "vulnerable" just because they don't take their personal safety for granted?

  • by TrentC (11023) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:47PM (#18505081) Homepage
    We all have the capacity for malicious action, but nearly none of us ever act on it.

    All it takes is one person. And with the person who created such sickening stuff being (semi-)anonymous, she doesn't know who to watch out for.

    I think she is giving the trollers what they want -- they don't like what she writes (or whatever), so they want to make her stop or go away -- but I understand her reasons for doing so.
  • by Otter (3800) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @02:59PM (#18505379) Journal
    The situation is different how?

    Because nobody is interested in you enough to bother stalking you, where it's plausible (albeit unlikely) that some nut might genuinely go after her.

  • by dont_run (1050730) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:00PM (#18505405)
    Some psychiatrists estimate that 5-10% of the male population are sociopaths (about 2% for females). The Internet puts a lower bar for comments in general. That factor combined with the perception of anonymity makes those sociopaths more willing to come out of the closet, so to speak.

    It's a real problem, but you can't really just arrest 5% of the male population, right? Suppressing comments or removing anonymity is like throwing the baby away with the bath water. I don't think we should give up anonymity, and I don't agree we should stop blogging.

    I think we just need to speak out when it happens, and call the police whenever the bad behavior escalates to death threats. If IP addresses are enough for the RIAA to use against file sharers, it should be enough to go after the sociopaths.

    I'm sorry for what happened to this particular blogger, but I wish she wouldn't just retract from public life. Be brave, Kathy. Don't give in to fear.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:04PM (#18505477)
    Your logic is ridiculous. What about his comment is mysogynistic? That he said something mean to a female? Or because he said the word "slut" about a female? If so, then I know a hell of a lot of women who are misogynists too. And how is this person commenting about a single individual actually attacking an entire group? He was attacking her as an individual. It's weak to try and build sympathy for yourself by claiming someone's personal dislike of YOU is actually somehow connected to the commenter's dislike for an entire group of people. It's a pathetic try to get everyone to support you because you don't think you'd get as much support if it was just someone who hated YOU as an individual.

    Hate crimes are different because when you beat someone up while making racial slurs, you are sending a threat to an entire group of people. An entire ethnicity. That compounds the impact of the crime beyond just the individual who is the direct victim of it. I fail to see how you can extrapolate that to calling some woman a slut and wishing her ill will is a threat to all women everywhere in the same manner as attacking someone for race or for being gay.

    Because one person said something about her PERSONALLY, she says the tech industry is misogynistic. It sounds to me like someone has a chip on their shoulder and is just looking for a chance to vent it. She doesn't know that this guy has anything to do with the tech industry but she labels the industry because of it.
     
  • by Fizzl (209397) <fizzl AT fizzl DOT net> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:07PM (#18505579) Homepage Journal
    Ah, it is nice to live in secluded place where no insane troll would dare to come. It calms my nerves to be able to operate chain saw in single hand. It's also nice to own a character of mean fucking lunatic when need be.
    I laugh at kids who threaten me online, taunting with my home address and inviting them for a visit.

    I guess the situation would be entirely different if I was living in a city condo with no implementations of destruction and sense of personal space. Every day, all day, surrounded by people unknown.
  • by kimanaw (795600) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:09PM (#18505595)

    "The Internet used to be a university."
    For about 15 minutes.

    "Then it became a shopping mall."
    Specializing in penis enhancement products and pornography.

    "But now, it's a war zone."
    Not a war zone. More like a public restroom in the seedier part of town.
  • by PPH (736903) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:11PM (#18505627)

    I think the current lines are pretty well drawn in the US: if people defame you, you can sue and have them correct it. If people make clear, specific, immediate threats, you can get protection. If people make non-specific threats, however, there is little that you can do, and that's because restraining those people wouldn't help much, but putting restraints on that kind of speech might be abused by people who want to silence legitimate speech. In different words, much as I sympathize, "I felt threatened" shouldn't be sufficient to restrain speech.

    IANAL, but defamation (and libel) require evidence that the guilty party have some knowledge that their statements are not factual. That leaves the field prety wide open as far as free speech goes. On the other hand, the threat of harm is legally assault. It is not actually necessary to harm someone for it to meet that legal test (actual harm is called battery, as in assault and battery). The legal test of a threat is whether a "reasonable person" would be threatened, ruling out paranoid personalities from taking over the legal system.

    I think the world (real as well as on line) would be far better off if free speech stopped just beyond my right to call somebody a moron and prevent me from doing anything or offering to do anything about it.

  • by Gerzel (240421) * <brollyferret&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:20PM (#18505789) Journal
    Just remain anonymous?!

    This is a fellow human being who is being harassed. Death threats and the like are harassment or worse weather they come from real mail or email. Insults and Flames people should have a thick skin about but there is a line.

    As for her remaining Anonymous. She is an author, a technical author at that. Her blog probably helps spur sales of her books if it is popular, and she may be out financially for this.

    Now while I don't see the Internet as a "Right" because it is something that you do have to pay for. However I do think it is something that one should have the freedom to obtain for legal use, a freedom stemming out of the right to free speech, the right for freedom of the press, and the right for freedom of assembly among others.

    It boils down to the line between free speech that we must endure, insulting opinions, unwanted interest, and speech that is harassment threats which may be non-idle, slander, spam (in the online world).
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:20PM (#18505799)
    Amen, glad someone said it. You'll probably get modded down for it, but let's face it, there is more than a little drama queen to this woman's blog post.

    I have been on the internet for 13 years now. I started out on Usenet--where threats, personal insults, etc. were the rule of thumb. Anyone who has been on the internet (the REAL internet, not the filtered, moderated, homogenized world of web bulletin boards) of any length of time learns to take things like "I'm gonna rip your head off and shit down your neck" with a grain of salt.

    It's telling that this woman refers to the "Blogosphere" as if it's some singular entity, or takes such ridiculous threats with enough seriousness to go to a psychiatrist and start taking anti-depressants (does she REALLY think some lame-ass flame artist living in his parents' basement in another part of the country has the courage to even TALK to her, much less assault her?)

    She strikes me as someone who desperately wants attention. But attention has its downsides too. Anyone not mature enough to realize that probably would be better off remaining anonymous on the internet.

    Yes, it sucks that notable people, especially women, have to deal with flame artists and nutballs. But to be shocked about that as if it's something new suggests she hasn't been paying attention. Ask any Hollywood celebrity if stalkers and nutballs are something new. Ask any major political figure. Notoriety has its downside. When you put yourself out there, you can't have everyone's love and no one's contempt.

  • by dedazo (737510) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:39PM (#18506123) Journal

    And in your 20 years, how many of these threats were directed at you?

    Enough of them.

    I pity the the woman who would be married to you

    And what would you do, exactly, over vague threats by unknown people? I never said I wouldn't take action, I said I would explain it to her that way to prevent her from seizing up with fear.

    put yourself in a situation where you have a good chance of being victimized and see how brave you feel then.

    About as brave as I'd feel when I have been victimized, I suppose. Oh, I'm sorry. Maybe you thought I've never been in that sort of situation?

    Please don't do me any favours by reading between the lines here. What I said is plain enough: There is no need to interrupt your life and huddle in a room because some social misfit posted some unsavory comments about you on teh interwebs. That's exactly what they want.

  • Re:Close (Score:4, Insightful)

    by servognome (738846) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:50PM (#18506315)

    It used to be you had to be at least somewhat smart to get on the internet, mainly because it had little to offer the common twit, as it was composed mainly of technical and scientific documents, combined with the fact that you needed either a Unix system or 3rd party software to even get connected.
    The problem with your arguement is these threats were posted on a techblog that has little to offer the "common twit." Intelligent people can be as cruel and closed-minded as anybody else.

    It certainly doesn't help that modern parents have become pussies, kids are out of control and grow up confused, aimless and irreverent.
    "Children today are tyrants. They contradict their parents, gobble their food, and tyrannize their teachers." - Socrates
  • by maxume (22995) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:51PM (#18506333)
    Simple, unless your county gun board doesn't like you. And for the most part, if you aren't serious about using it, a gun is generally going to give you larger problems. Lots of people aren't prepared to use one...
  • by urbanradar (1001140) <timothyfielding@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @03:59PM (#18506487) Homepage

    This is not to say that violence against females is acceptable. It is obviously not. But any time I hear anyone decrying "violence against women" as being particularly bad I have to wonder if they think violence against men is OK? Or at least not so particularly bad?
    Well, you mentioned one potential reason higher up in your posting -- males are less likely to report sexual violence commited against them than females, so we hear about it less and don't assign as much significance to it.

    Another reason why we hear (and thus think) about violence against women more is because women -- or, the emancipation movement -- needed to do a *lot* of talking for the injustices carried out against them even to be acknowledged.

    If they are even remotely decent and humane it certainly cannot be the fact that most violence is committed by men, because it is also the case that, for example, in the United States most violence is committed by black people, and there is a word for people who think that that fact makes violence against black people OK.
    Completely ignoring whether it is that fact or not, there's something in your statement that I have to disagree with. There is no inherent difference between black and white other than a superficial one (skin colour) and in some cases also an artificial one (culture). But there is a fundamental and important difference between men and women: Men impregnate, women get pregnant. Since reproduction is one of the most basic instincts a human being has, this does have an effect on thought and behaviour.
    Hormonal differences also need to be considered. Men have more testosterone and are thus generally more prone to aggressive behaviour. And men are generally raised to be more aggressive than women (although less so then they used to be).
    It could also be said that since men are generally stronger and larger than women, they have more opportunity to be aggressively dominant over the other gender. And finally, it's also a primarily male instinct to impregnate as many women as possible, in order to ensure diverse genes in offspring. Females also have this instinct, but it's less distinct with them, and manifests itself in a different way.

    Racism is idiotic because it's not based on fact, whereas there are real reasons to perceive the actions of men and women differently. I don't think you can compare the two.

    I very strongly believe that men and women should be equal in rights, respect, opportunities, payment and social status. I don't think that one gender is somehow worth more than the other. But anyone who suggests that men and women are generally equal is, in my eyes, overlooking some important facts.
  • by pNutz (45478) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @04:14PM (#18506781)
    Or you could just, you know, calm down. They're not really all out to get you. You don't constantly need the capacity to instantly kill someone, even in a city, to not die everyday. It's going to be OK.

    And if it's not? If you succumb to the astronomically slim chance of dying by the hand of The Criminals? At least you didn't live your life in fear--a paranoid always clutching your gun in a hostile, terrifying world. Just calm the hell down.
  • Re:Uncalled For (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chromatic (9471) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @04:25PM (#18506943) Homepage

    It's her problem entirely.

    First, if this situation causes her to lessen or cease her contribution to the public good, it's a loss.

    Second, I consider both her and Bert friends.

    Third, allowing abuse and harassment in one case can lead to a general acceptance of such behavior. I'd like it to stop against everyone.

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @04:31PM (#18507013) Homepage Journal

    Amen, glad someone said it. You'll probably get modded down for it

    Currently: 60% Insightful 20% Flamebait 20% Overrated

    I love how the slashbots with modpoints can't tell the difference between "flamebait" or "troll" and "something I don't agree with". I made my comment in all honesty, and I am gratified that someone gets the point.

    I have been on the internet for 13 years now. I started out on Usenet--where threats, personal insults, etc. were the rule of thumb. Anyone who has been on the internet (the REAL internet, not the filtered, moderated, homogenized world of web bulletin boards) of any length of time learns to take things like "I'm gonna rip your head off and shit down your neck" with a grain of salt.

    I too have been on the internet for quite a while (since 1992 or so in my case - I think I discovered Unix in 1991, or actually Xenix in that case - gorn on echo street) and you're quite right about the consistency of the internet. But I disagree with your point about the "filtered, moderated, homogenized world of web bulletin boards" because let's face it, there are plenty that are not filtered, moderated, or homogenized. The only way you could truly believe that the "blogosphere" (as if that actually meant anything) was a kinder, gentler place is if you had never seen an unmoderated forum. Basically this woman is utterly ignorant of the realities of life, not just the internet!

    In fact, there are plenty of blogs that are about hate. Hell, Maddox would qualify (and I love that site with all my crotch.) I wonder what her reaction would be if she visited the best page in the universe, or strongbad (HER HEAD ASPLODE, I am sure.)

    She strikes me as someone who desperately wants attention. But attention has its downsides too. Anyone not mature enough to realize that probably would be better off remaining anonymous on the internet.

    Well, and that's the rub. What did she think would happen when she started a blog? That people would line up en masse to shower her with roses and bon-bons?

  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @04:56PM (#18507447)

    The fact that clearly misogynist threats like the ones aimed at Sierra get a "no big deal" response from so many people says to me that there are a lot of guys out there on the net -- now, in 2007 -- who have an attitude toward women that's about on the level of the KKK's attitude toward black people.

    No, it says we're grown-ups who've been on the net long enough to realize that there are plenty of nutballs and jerks out there and there always will be. Making a big deal out of this as if it's something shocking and new to the net is laughable in 2007. Hell, it would have been laughable in 1997.

  • by gorbachev (512743) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @05:16PM (#18507741) Homepage
    Oh, fuck you.

    Whenever did death threats become "trolling", you idiot!

    The stupid morons so clearly crossed the line and should be held criminally responsible for the fullest extend of the law.
  • by daigu (111684) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @05:27PM (#18507885) Journal

    Chicago History [chicagohistory.org] has a few lessons about another equalizer: dynamite.

    Many anarchists were obsessively enthralled with the possibilities of dynamite as an instant equalizer, since it was inexpensive, accessible, portable, and terrifyingly effective. This explosive allowed a single anarchist to carry fearsome destructive power in the pocket of his coat. The threat created by the mere existence of dynamite was in itself a wonderful weapon. "Dynamite is a peace-maker," read an article in the Alarm in April of 1885, "because it makes it unsafe to wrong our fellows."

    I find it interesting that these days tough guys dial 1911. If you are going to be violent, why half-step about it? Further, you should realize that no matter where you draw the line, someone else is going to draw it a little further than you would like. If you take this approach, where do you stop - and will you still stop there when someone else doesn't? Pistols, dynamite, nuclear weapons - none of these brings peace. None of it makes you safe.

  • by CDarklock (869868) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @05:31PM (#18507945) Homepage Journal
    No, I don't ever wonder if my coworkers will sexually harass me.

    But I wonder if asking my coworker out for dinner will get me fired.

    After all, it might make her uncomfortable, and then she might be completely unable to focus on her work because she's constantly wondering whether I agreed with her idea because it was a good idea or because I want to bone her. If she says no, maybe I won't pull my weight on the team anymore, and it will make her look bad. If she says yes, exactly how much do I expect of her to contiue treating her fairly? Does she have to sleep with me? What if she doesn't? What if she does once, and it's bad, and then she won't do it anymore? Will I tell everyone in the office? Will other guys think they can proposition her, too?

    And if she turns into a complete wreck trying to figure out how to do her job when I think she's desirable, somehow this is *my* fault, and *I* don't get to work there anymore.

    In fact, if she just decides she wants to break up, she can avoid the discomfort of working with me by lodging a complaint and getting me fired. Nobody will believe me if I say it's a lie.

    So pardon me if I don't have a whole hell of a lot of sympathy for someone who got a few threatening comments and photoshopped pictures from some random loser on the internet.
  • I write to my local paper a lot, and periodically I get a phone call supporting something I've written. My wife has made it quite clear that the first time I get a nasty and/or threatening call, my days as a writer are over. Being married twenty years has given me the opportunity to see that women, by and large, do not grow up with the same sense of control over their person and surroundings that you or I do.

    So, while I cringe at Ms. Sierra's language of defeat and withdrawal, I have come to understand that for a good many (wo)men, flight overcomes fight when reacting to threats. You can objectify the odds, but it doesn't always overcome the subjective fear.
  • by FurryFeet (562847) <joudanx@@@yahoo...com> on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @06:07PM (#18508437)
    Oh, fuck you.

    Whenever did death threats become "trolling", you idiot!

    The stupid morons so clearly crossed the line and should be held criminally responsible for the fullest extend of the law.


    Yes! How dare they insult and demean someone simply for expressing an opinion!

    (But, hey, at least they are not hypocrites).
  • by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @06:46PM (#18508911) Journal
    Concealed carry isn't about living in fear and clutching a gun. There are very few times you can legally use it and this is explained in the courses when you apply. It is the safe knowledge that you could take care of business if you need to and only when the situation dictates it.

    If someone is going to attack you and kill you, your gun that is put away is probably going to be little help. But the training that comes with getting the license goes a lot further then "this is a gun, this is how you load it, shoot it, and this is how you clean it." You have review of laws, tips on avoiding situation that could be dangerous. Instructions on how to determine if someone is a threat or not. All these kinds of things.

    In fact, A good self-defense course could provide most of if not all this. The problem with them are that some people will never be strong enough or quick enough to defend against most attackers if something does happen. They will end up infuriating them even more. With a firearm, you don't have that disadvantage. When shit hits the fan, it is do or die and too often it is dead.

    So yea, Going though the training for concealed carry, even if they don't get the permit, it would product a more confident person who is the exact opposite of clutching their gun in fear. You should take a course some day.
  • by amohat (88362) on Tuesday March 27, 2007 @07:34PM (#18509387)
    I think it could go either way, depending on who is in the minority, who has the guns, who controls the police, the government, the media, etc...and who has a very long track record of systematic abuse and oppression.
  • Re:hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dragonturtle69 (1002892) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @02:21AM (#18512067)

    A more simple comparison of intelligence and wisdom is found in crossing a street.

    Intelligence is knowing how to cross the street, wisdom is knowing when to cross it, or if it should be crossed.

  • by asninn (1071320) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @05:31AM (#18512953)

    It's a no-win situation for women and victim-blaming is an easy way to avoid having any empathy for the victim, or feel the need to press for change.

    You're creating a false dichotomy here when you say that any poster who's not entirely on her side like a yesman is automatically engaging in "victim-blaming". What's happening to her is horrible, and I know from experience that this kind of crap can REALLY make you sick, but ultimately, she's an adult - she's responsible for herself. And if she acts in a counterproductive, childish, irrational manner, a manner that won't actually solve her problems but instead only make them worse, then I don't think it's unfair to point that out. Certainly the way she's acting is *understandable*, but she should have the brainpower to reflect on her actions and evaluate them - and she should be able to overcome the cognitive dissonance caused by others telling her that the way she's reacting is not going to help in any way and that it is, in fact, just going to harm her even further instead.

  • by Rachel Lucid (964267) on Wednesday March 28, 2007 @03:21PM (#18519125) Homepage Journal
    All it takes is ONE idiot to try and ruin you.

    Hell, my ex made it IMPOSSIBLE for me to post on Livejournal for about a year after we'd split, because every time I posted there (no matter how short or what), he claimed it was "free time" I spent online avoiding him, as though now that I no longer spoke to him I somehow had a responsibility to be elbow-deep in work 24/7, and so every time I made even a *TINY* post, for the the next three weeks I'd be receiving emails and anyone who had the misfortune to know me online would receive pornographic spam from his account impersonating me.

    To make matters worse, he somehow managed to know exactly when I logged onto certain forums, impersonated friends (to know when I'd made FO posts), and eventually I was stuck playing children's websites just to avoid one single asshole, albeit a persistent one. Technically I still pretty much am, except now I'm actually - guess what? - too busy to put up with him, because I eventually got off most of the internet just to be sane again and got into other things.

    Unless you want to call me and every other person who's used the privacy filters on sites like this Drama Whores, you need to get your head out of the sand.

"Be *excellent* to each other." -- Bill, or Ted, in Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure

Working...