Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Reaction To Kathy Sierra's Post

In the comments of Creating Passionate Users I find this bit of virtual violence:

Better watch your back on the streets wh[***]... Be a pity if you turned up in the gutter where you belong, with a machete shoved in that self righteous little c[word] of yours... Posted by: Hitler Mar 27, 2007 3:25:46 AM
Not a direct death threat, but this is still a threat and hate speech. "Hitler" if you don't like this particular tech writer you don't have to read her writing. Your words say nothing about her and everything about what is inside of you.

Some people have been dismissing the threats against Kathy Sierra because they are often indirect such as the one above. These threats are worded this way because those who write them know they are crossing the line and the indirect nature of the threats allows them to think of themselves as being within acceptable limits. That's nonsense. Anyone who can write the above comment has clearly crossed the line into dangerous territory and cannot be assumed to be no or low risk.

Kevin Johansen Mar 27, 2007 5:18:33 PM used more civilized words:
I'm sorry you're experiencing this kind of problem. Unfortunately, bullies and assholes are way too much a part of the human experience. But me thinks thou dost protest too much...about the wrong things. You had plenty of other good & worthy targets without bringing someone as high profile as 'Rageboy' into your sights. This makes your motivations suspect. As it is, my guess is that you'll get a nice spike in your traffic from this and that there will be some residual traffic carrying forward as you continue your blogging.

Ah, yes. First the obligitory disclaimer followed quickly by the "But..."

He might as well come right out and say that she must have loved receiving death threats. That puts him smack in the middle of the bullies and assholes. Just with a more advanced vocabulary and fewer direct slurs.

And what does this Rageboy (aka Chris Locke), who I had never read before, have to say about this? Here's a section from his blog (no I won't link to it, you can find it if you want):

First off, I need to preface this by emphasizing that if Kathy Sierra was receiving "death threats" in *anonymous* comments to her blog, they did not come from me or, to the best of my knowledge, from anyone I know. That she would make such an inference based on no evidence whatsoever is outrageous, no better than the comments she so forcefully objects to that were made about herself. And *none* of the statements or graphics she quotes were made by me, as I'm fairly certain she already knows. (emphasis mine)

Notice that he questions whether she in fact received death threats on her blog and then goes on to say that her mentioning his relationship to sites where she was threatened is no better than sending death threats. But that isn't all.

Anyway... some of us thought afterwards that it would be amusing to formalize (and goof on) the "mean kids" slur, so we set up a blog by that name. It was a lot of fun, and if anything, I again erred on the side of being far too mild mannered. Due to administrative considerations not under my control -- and yes, some tasteless posts (though they were not mine) -- the site was taken down. [...]

With Mean Kids gone, I thought I'd have another go at it. After all, we were mostly having fun posting totally surreal stuff about nothing particularly relevant to anything or anyone. But again, there were a couple posts -- the ones Kathy mentions in her post -- that were over the top. I didn't think for a minute that they were "threatening" -- and again, they were not my doing -- but when I saw mail from her objecting to them, I nuked the entire site rather than censor any individual.

It's noteable that he doesn't condemn the death threats no matter who sent them. He also doesn't say that he doesn't know who posted the "threatening" posts on his site. If the posts were so problematic that he had to nuke the entire site, they are in no way as innocent as he is insinuating here.

Because he didn't feel the impact of the threats directed at Kathy -- someone he doesn't like -- they couldn't have been real. That is a faulty conclusion. He can't begin to assess whether threatening words would lead to violent action unless he was making those threats.

Those making the threats, like the sexualized one above, could have been attending the ETech conference Kathy was scheduled to attend. Men do, on a regular basis, commit violent crimes against women for no reason at all. It follows then that it isn't absurd that men who felt they had a reason would actually commit a violent crime against her.

Surely I've seen hateful stuff about women online, and when it is directed at
women *because they are women,* I am disgusted by it. I have a 17-year-old
daughter whom I love very much and I would not ever want to see her subjected to
such Neanderthal views and behavior.

So, basically, he's not against this hateful stuff if the person being hateful has any excuse for the behavior besides gender. Please. Everybody who steps over the line has an excuse.

I do not like Kathy Sierra. I like her even less after her post of Monday. If she is waiting for me to apologize for something I did or said, she is going to have a very long wait.

The only opinion I had of him before reading his own words was that he didn't moderate the threats. While I thought that was bad policy, I didn't assume any approval of the threats or dismissal of them. Rageboy has clarified his role in this situation for me. And not in a way that makes me have any confidence in his ethics or his judgment.

If his status in the blogosphere goes down, he won't have anything but his own actions and his own words to blame. As he says, not being liked comes with the territory, but there is huge difference between not being liked and being on the receiving end of death and/or rape threats.

That he fails to get that is troubling. What's more troubling is that he is far from being alone.

Technorati tags:

Don't forget that April 5, 2007 is Blog Against Sexual Violence Day.


Bookmark and Share
posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:02 AM   0 comments links to this post


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home