“Kathy Sierra” is currently the top search term at Technorati.com. Sierra is a tech blogger here. Yesterday, she announced she would not appear at a public convention because anonymous death threats and nasty comments had left her terrified and house-bound:
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.
In a rather strange act of solidarity, Robert Scoble has decided to take the week off and go on a blogging hiatus to heal, I guess:
I’m physically ill after reading what happened to Kathy Sierra. Maryam and several others here at PodTech asked me about it and are concerned since the same sites that are attacking Kathy also mentioned me and Maryam. Maryam is really freaked out about it. So am I.She doesn’t feel safe. I don’t either after reading Kathy’s post. I, like Mike Arrington and other bloggers, have gotten threatened and I’ve just ignored it. It comes with the territory, or so they say. But what Kathy is going through is just totally disgusting. I note that only one of the four that Kathy specifically mention has apologized. That itself is disgusting. Those people are NOT my friends and I don’t support that kind of blogging or commenting and remove such attacks if left here against other people (I leave attacks against me up, but that’s cause generally most people here are pretty cool, even if they think I’m a jerk).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.So, since she doesn’t feel safe. I’m going to stop blogging in support of Kathy, who I consider a friend and someone who’s voice would be dearly missed here. I’ll be back Monday.
Andy Carvin at PBS is coping a different way: By organizing a Stop Cyberbullies Day this Friday.
I sympathize and empathize greatly with Sierra. Death threats and misogynistic epithets and comments suck. But I find the response of the tech blogging elite rather underwhelming and unbecoming.
First, where have y’all been? For several years, the unhinged Internet underworld has been documented here. And here and here and here and here. The death threats Sierra received are no worse than I’ve received since starting this blog. Here’s a sample of the threats that have prompted her to barricade herself in her house (language warning):
Here’s a comment about my family still up on one of the top liberal blogs, posted last year:
Here are some nicer, garden-variety hope-you-die greetings:
From: NorthCentralGuy@aol.com NorthCentralGuy@aol.comMailed-By: aol.comDate: Apr 17, 2006 7:47 PMSubject: TIPSomeone ought to sew your cunt up with barbed wire. Not that it gets any use, you facist, hate spewing, disgraceful piece of shit.
There’s a whole chapter in my last book filled with this stuff.
Published two years ago.
And there were these from last year during the Danish Cartoon Rage:
From: naser jianpour (firstname.lastname@example.org)To: email@example.comMailed-By: yahoo.comDate: Feb 10, 2006 12:04 PMSubject: we will kill youI am Iranian I am a mosleme .We will kill you( every )down with you( Crectian & jowe.)world is mine.***From: monalisa monalisa (firstname.lastname@example.org)To: email@example.comMailed-By: hotmail.comDate: Feb 4, 2006 5:55 PMSubject: you are filththe dishonourable the mean the prostitute I’am a müslim and turkish I killyou devil you are goto the hell shit the whore
My response to this and other endless slurs and threats–most empty, some serious–has been two-fold:
1) Report the serious threats to law enforcement.
As I have said before: “There is a time to be tolerant and there is a time to draw lines. If you don’t draw those lines, bullies will be emboldened.”
That is my unsolicited advice to those now cowering in the face of anonymous commenters and assorted nutballs who will never go away.
Keep blogging. Don’t cut and run.
Sierra’s decision to withdraw from blogging has now captured the attention of the BBC:
One of the issues raised is the question of how women bloggers are treated online.Ms Sierra, author of popular blog Creating Passionate Users, began receiving death threats four weeks ago.Since going public on the issue, she has been overwhelmed by the support she has received.”I agonised about making this post but I hoped it would start a dialogue,” she told the BBC News website.”I never thought it would become so big or be this positive,” she said.While blogging feuds are common, she believes the campaign against her is more likely to be because she is a woman in the male-dominated technology world.
But my unsolicited questions for all of you high-falutin’ tech bloggers now taking a stand against such hate-mongers and purging your blogrolls in solidarity with women bloggers who have been abused by the male-dominated tech world, though, are these:
Do you condone the Gawker empire’s racist Filipina ping-pong ball jokes?
What about Gawker’s fraudulent use and adulteration of personal spring break photos from college girls who have yet to receive an apology? Do you plan on objecting now?
Or is it just harmless fun when tech elite in-crowd bloggers smear and target other bloggers and innocent bystanders whose politics you oppose?
Just how much of the bullying you now loudly condemn–bullying glamorized by your own blog friends, peers, and business partners–have you been blindly and silently condoning all these years?
Oh, and while we’re all paying fresh attention to bloggers who have endured unacceptable abuse, where is the techblogging elite’s support for Jeff Goldstein at Protein Wisdom? For the last eight months, he has battled the blogosphere’s looniest left-wing stalker. The ordeal has cost him time and money. It has affected his family. And his work. And his blog.
I called the apathy toward his personal and legal nightmare Kitty Genovese Syndrome, blog-style. It continues today.
Will there be a “Stop Cyberbullies Day” held in solidarity with Jeff?
Amen, Dr. Helen: “I will not give into anyone who tries to intimidate me from doing my job or from blogging for that matter.”
Last related point: The left-wing tech kings and the MSM are in denial about how unhinged their fellow travelers are. They don’t want to “politicize” the problem by acknowledging an ideological imbalance. But owning up to the moral equivalence would be healthy thing.
Admission is the first step toward recovery.
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