March 27, 2007

Noticing some things.

I didn't know Roger von Oech had a blog. He's the author of "A Whack on the Side of the Head" and "Creative Whack Pack" -- which I like a lot. Why aren't I better at noticing blogs?

Anyway, I noticed this because Glenn Reynolds linked to a post of his about Kathy Sierra, a blogger who's been receiving death threats. Here's Sierra's post about her experience.

I've been saying women need to be tough
and have a sense of humor about the nasty talk about them on the internet. That in no way means that the people who say bad things shouldn't be criticized harshly. I certainly think you're free to lambaste and belittle your opponents whenever you want, though it's usually best to ignore attacks and not give them a higher profile. I've been taking a strong free speech position and criticizing people who have been warming up to repression and censorship lately.

Nevertheless, threats of violence aimed at an individual are different, and people need to learn that lesson very clearly.


Brian Doyle said...

I've been taking a strong free speech position

I thought you were into banishing people and telling Google on them these days?

Hoosier Daddy said...

That's some pretty disgusting stuff. I breifly perused her blog and failed to see anything that would raise that kind of hatred. Then again, I guess it doesn't take much these days for some people.

Ann Althouse said...

Doyle: As I've explained before, this is my place and it represents my speech and is a forum that facilitates the speech of many others. I exclude a few people whose presence is a detriment to that. Those people are perfectly free to have their own blogs. This is a place I have created and maintain, and no one has the right to appropriate what is mine.

David said...

Professor Althouse and Ms. Sierra own their blogs and have every right and responsibility to monitor the postings in line with their values and responsibilities.

That said, it is the sad fact that the internet is an electronic version of the FOX Network series "Deadwood." We are subjected to people and opinions we would normally avoid in public. That is the strength and the curse of this medium.

These intellectual anarchists and psychos walk among us here. They push their agenda of questioning authority by exercising a resistance to the rules of civilized behavior.

The question begged is their reluctance to start their own blogsite. They fear rejection and seek approval for their own shallow beliefs that would otherwise be ignored. Which is precisely why most of us wouldn't give them the time of day if spent more than 10 seconds with them in public or private.

quimby10 said...

Reading this post, I think part of the disagreement with the AutoAdmit thing was over the fact that some (myself included) perceived a threat of violence in some of the uglier threads - the ones that talked about rape and encouraged camera-phone stalking.

Bruce Hayden said...

Why aren't I better at noticing blogs?

The flippant answer is that life is short, and we are all so busy. Well, maybe not von Oech. But the rest of us.

On the one hand, it would be nice if we had tools available that would perfectly tailor our blog reading to our interests. But on the other hand, it is so much fun to stumble into a gem. I do so every month or so, and that really makes it worthwhile.

Realistically, if I read the blogs of every author whose books I have enjoyed reading, I wouldn't have time to read anything else, and probably not to make a living.

Fatmouse said...

>Hoosier Daddy

No kidding! That has to be one of the most non-offensive blogs I've seen. Is this all some internal backstabbing by some group she knows in real life?

Freder Frederson said...

That is some serious psycho-sexual sick stalking behavior. What she writes on her blog obviously has nothing to do with it. She writes about programming and web development for god's sake (unless of course the guy is some hyper-sexualized Ted Kazinski)!

Anonymous said...

Further comment:

Zeb Quinn said...

One aspect of this is that attractive women commonly attract sick men who make threats. They just do.

Peter Hoh said...

I hope that whoever made those disgusting threats is prosecuted to the full extent of the law. And I hope that the law allows for more than a slap on the wrist.

Sometimes I think the web would be a better place without anonymity.

In the meantime, I wonder if there is a way that site owners/blog owners could be able to set up some sort of auto screening so that they would not have to view threatening comments.

I also think that there are some whackos who get off on making the threat, and that they pose no further risk. Unfortunately, there are a few whack jobs who make threats and do pose a further risk. My wife and I recieved a very sick call after our duaghter's birth announcement ran in our local paper. Haven't thought about that in years -- wish that memory had been suppressed a little deeper.

Dawn Braun said...

I don't say much on this blog, but it's pretty obvious that due to the faceless nature of blogging,that people will deliberately cross lines they normally would avoid in person.

This is an unintended consequence of having faceless communication. Just like in many letters sent, the reader often misses the meaning intended.

Roger von Oech said...

Hi Ann,

Thanks for "discovering" my blog, although I wish you had done it under other circumstances. Kathy Sierra has great content about ideas and the experience of technology. Nothing to set someone off like LGF or DailyKos — or so I thought until yesterday.

I enjoyed your columns in the NY Times earlier this month. Very classy stuff.

Best wishes to you and your readers!

Ann Althouse said...

Thanks, Roger. It's an honor to have you stop by!

Daryl Herbert said...

1: Leading with something ridiculous hurts your credibility. Claiming to have been denied a job was ridiculous. Trying to turn their web abuse into a ticket to a big firm job was crass. If they weren't so obviously out to profit off of their story they would have more credibility.

2: Reasonable people can disagree about what exactly constitutes a threat. Intrusive stalking, by its nature, suggests something threatening. But instead of arguing it that way (Althouse is wrong) her leftist antagonists tried to claim that it proved Althouse was demonic. Again, they were pushing it, and it hurts their credibility.

3: Althouse has her own problem with trolls, and she bans them. There's nothing hypocritical about telling other people to suck it up while she bans her trolls. She's in a position to do something about it (something other than whining and trying to get some big firm to notice you so you can get a job). Not taking action when one is in a position to do so is stupid. I feel bad for the women who can't just snap their fingers and fix things, but that doesn't mean that fixing things is ever hypocritical.

Unknown said...

One of Ann's trolls gave me just a touch of trouble at one point a year ago, referencing kids and sending friends over, or something like that. In that case, I knew it wasn't "real"--but you know what? It really is unsettling, and it's also the principle of the thing.

I deleted that person and closed comments for a while at the old place, and instantly banned the offender's IP at the new one (Haloscan permits that), where I had just started. This is the one and only time I've done that (my blog partner did it one other time, previous to my joining).

Don't want to imagine what it would be like to actually have some prominence in the blogosphere and get the stuff that Sierra and other bloggers have had to put up with, stuff that is a "real" threat.

Big downside.

Eli Blake said...

Free speech is great, and we all (I would assume) support it. But making terroristic threats is still a felony, and it should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

I had a very brief episode in late February 2004 when a poster on the DNC sponsored blog (Kicking Ass) made a post that appeared to be a threat against the President. Though I don't like this President, I am an American citizen so I notified the FBI of the threat. They apparently notified the Secret Service and someone visited the guy at his office. The poster then started posting threats against one of the other bloggers (thinking that he had been the one to notify the FBI-- I had done it quietly) so I told him to 'lay off Rob' because I had reported it, after which he threatened me. Nothing ever became of it, but I still keep the emails I got during that time in my mailbox just in case they ever become relevant again.

Daryl Herbert: Don't think that for a moment that this kind of stuff is limited to leftists. For example, there is another blog that I frequent which is presently having a problem with an anti-immigration extreme right zealot (the guy who in his spare time likes to burn Mexican flags in front of the Mexican consulate or anyplace else where there are people, legal or otherwise, from Mexico). For example, read the comments under

this post (a post about this guy, in fact).

He's also gotten quite a bit more graphic on occasion, with his descriptions of blowing people's brains out if they 'threaten' him (which to my knowledge nobody actually has, despite his numerous attempts to provoke people into it.)

Fitz said...

Really heinous stuff, Why such invective? furry ? rage? and open misogyny?

Obviously there is NEVER an acceptable excuse for this behavior.

I am curious however, as to what about this women’s statements would set off lunatics like this.

HaloJonesFan said...

But hey, at least these people can make their death threats and astoundingly misogynistic "humor" anonymously, right? I mean, if the government had their way, they'd be able to find out who these people were. That would be bad.

...wouldn't it?

amba said...

I just don't comprehend this. What on earth motivates people to make comments like that? Envy?

Daryl Herbert said...

What on earth motivates people to make comments like that?

Nope. A small subset of guys basically freak out when presented with a good-looking lady. These guys are straight, have trouble with relationships (if they can get into them, they drive the women out), and are generally all-around creepy losers.

YAMB said...

Fitz--why, oh why, does there have to be something about the victim's statements that would set off the perpetrators? ("She must have provoked them somehow . . . ")