Friday, April 13, 2007

Idiots Be Forewarned:  I Am In The Mood To Do Some Major Ass-kicking

I'm not terribly certain that I have much say that hasn't already been said in response to Kos' most recent "insert foot in mouth" moment, but also figure that if there is ever any time that gratituitous piling on isn't really gratutitous at all, this is it.
I'm also pretty much incapable of writing a nice, neat, concise, coherent essay on this topic at the moment, so instead I'm just going to pick apart a bunch of the more idiotic and rage inducing comments from Markos and his defenders.

What surprised me was the obvious fear and surprise she showed despite being a public figure in a public arena, and that such things would stop her.  She let the bastards win.

I have a feeling I'm going to want to say that about a lot the people I will quote in this post.  So in the unlikely event that I don't work it in each time, just consider "Jackass" to be the unspoken tagline for just about every blockquote until I say otherwise.

Hmmm...I wonder if I could write some code that would do that, like have a special "Jackass" version of the blockquote tags.

You know, Jackass, when someone surprises you, it might do everyone some good if you spent a few minutes thinking about why that might be instead of immediately assumming that the other person is the one who made the mistake.
People who go to the same work related conferences as Kathy Sierra threatened her repeatedly, violently, sexually, publicly, and graphicly.  The fact that this scared her makes her anything but stupid, and while it's true that the bastards have won for now, it's not Ms. Sierra who has let them win.  It's people like those who defended or dismissed Harlan Ellison's public assault of Hugo winner Connie Willis last August.
Oh, have we forgetten that already?  I didn't.  Somehow I doubt Kathy Sierra has.
But you go right on ahead dismissing women's fears of sexual and sexualized violence despite the fact that it's so common that Ellison can do that to a fellow honoree at a national awards conference and get very little flack for it outside of certain very small circles.
If you run a blog of any kind, you bound to get this kind of attack. After awhile it's just silly to get outraged about it. Plenty of random crazy people out there.

Random crazies......In what way are collegues and fellow students random people?
In other news, I don't run a blog.
I must admit, though, that it's nice to now know that I shouldn't take threats of random violence seriously.  I was complaining quite recently about all the stupid advice I've been given about the various things that, as a woman, I shouldn't do - because doing them makes me more vulnerable to random violence.  Since worrying about such stuff tends to not only cut down on the amount of fun stuff I get to do, but make it hard or impossible to do some of the stuff I need to do, this is a huge relief.
Thanks, Jackass!  You're a peach!
everybody sets their own standard of behavior on their own blogs, as is their right in a free society.

Actually, Jackass, in a free society, society uses government to pass and enforce laws regarding certain activities, and then leaves the rest up to community standards.  Since Ms. Sierra has already said that the law considers at least some of the threats against her to be illegal and credible, I really don't know what the fuck you think you are talking about.  Whether or not Tim O'Reilly's specific proposal is good or workable or not is beside the larger point: bloggers should try to not let illegal threats remain on their site.
There will be people who violate this more general code of ethics, but before kos's diary, I wouldn't have thought that people would consider it controversial for anyone to ask that bloggers pledge to uphold the law so that visitors will feel - and be - safer on their sites.

am i missing something or are people out there believing that the type of person who would send a death threat would follow a code of conduct?

Yes, like Kos, you are missing the fact that the code of ethics isn't aimed at the people who make death threats, but rather the bloggers who let death threats against others stay up on their site.  In light of the fact that several Kos supporters have commented that DailyKos troll rates physical threats, and a few have even gone so far as to say this helps increase civility, I find the cries of "language police!" especially obnoxious.

Locks only keep out honest people...

No, they keep out thieves, too.  They just don't keep out all thieves.  The trick in risk-assmessment is to balance the cost of the lock with the risk of danger.  I.e. balancing getting to spend a decent amount of time in Glasgow with the possibility that I'll be raped while walking from the train station to the youth hostel alone and in the middle of the night.  Or, balancing curtailing public appearances with the possibility that people who have posted really nasty and violent threats about you on trade blogs will try to hurt you in some way if you go to work-related conferences.
I get the pile on for O'Reilly's specific proposal. However, I'm failing to see what Ms. Sierra's ordeal has to do with why it's bad. And I really don't get why simply admitting that this is serious a problem is so very controversial.  And arguments along the lines of
I run an educational website about a historical topic that 99.9% of people consider non-controversial, and I still get the occasional crazed, foul-mouthed, verbally abusive tirade similar in tone and coherency to the one Kos published above.  There are people out there who just like cursing at strangers on the Internet.

sound suspiciously like the usual, dismissive "boys will be boys" arguments - especially considering the type of threats that Ms. Sierra and others have received.
To spell it out more clearly for you all:

the online threats against Kathy : online cursing at strangers :: sexual harrassment in middle schools : use of foul language among middle schoolers
Oh! speaking of middle schoolers! Um, no, let's not at the moment.
Kos said that the worst we use against people is a cream pie.  His meaning is that we do not typically see people use violence or carry out death threats.

Oh, well, then.  If Kos says that it's true......
There's this thought on the tip of my tongue...something about media figures equating "liberal" with "traitor"....and the government itself spying on left wing peace groups...
Or maybe it was about radical right wing groups posting personal information about certain types of doctors....and those doctors ending up dead....
Or maybe it was about jackass lawyers in training threatening all sorts of things....and following through with several of them.....
Or maybe it was about media depictions of certain minorities....and their ability to get a job....the probability that they will do jailtime....the amount we are willing to spend to help people we keep crushing down.....

Or maybe it had to do with men who kill their significant others....and how often they threaten to do so beforehand.....

And something else...about all these being lie....lib...l.... ..... pro...pra...pre........ damn, I lost it.......
....there seems to be a hole in my head through which all logical thought is leaking out.  Must be going around.
LMAO i really enjoy those emails.  People need to develop a thicker skin and a sense of humor. Seriously, kos. Could you post more of those?

Nadai has suggested, in all seriousness, that bloggers do this.  I think it's an excellent idea.  I can definitely see a lot of men being unintentionally ignorant of the extent to which women are harrassed, online and in real life. Even I was unaware of how virulent Amanda's hate mail was until I read some of her comments about it. A hollaback style site may help.  (At the very least it will give women another space to help each other deal with it.)
That does not, of course, excuse idiotic comments like those above.  Especially in light of the fact that it's fairly easy to find out that the threats Ms. Sierra received were nothing like the e-mail Kos equated them to.
Quite frankly I have three words for the young women who find themselves being threatened online followed up by three more, self defense course and conceal carry permit.

(I'm sure Kathy is surprised to hear herself described as "young" seeing as how she turns 50 this year.)
Re: words 1-3:  Done.  Oddly enough, my little brother mocked me when I talked about taking it. Said it wouldn't do much good against a big, strong, man like him.  The fact that I think he was being an asshole, and that I still consider the class well worth the time, does nothing to negate the fact that he would be right in certain situations.
Re: words 4-6:   I work in a public library.  I don't think a conceal carry permit would extend to preschool story morning.  Besides, I don't want to have to carry a gun simply because I'm a woman any more than I want to not get to travel alone because I'm a woman.
Try another answer.
If you are that worried by threats you really have two options 1) give up blogging (which gives the nutballs what they want) or 2) ensure you can defend yourself if some psycho were to manage to track you down.

Those weren't them.
How about number 3) pressure people to take down personal information, number 4) expect the vast majority of people to react negatively to actual harassment, and number 5) expect support from those that consider themselves to be progressive and allies.
I AM a woman. As far as I can see there are only two options open to people who are being threatened or intimidated 1) back down or 2) learn to defend yourself. [Choosing] any other option simply isn't going to work and one need only look at domestic violence to recognize that.

Yeah, those silly laws about alimony and rape existing within marriage have nothing to do with it.  Neither does feminists asserting that "no means no" or helping to build safe houses for victims of domestic violence.   Women deciding to stick up for themselves just sorta...happens - if you tell them to do so often enough.
I've observed the opposite: excessive desire for protection. I've also seen flagrant disregard for safety, but that's a different thing.

Finally! Someone who gets it!  I mean, it's one thing to deride the boogyman in the dark as being statistically unlikely and a handy tool of the patriarchy, but to dismmiss the statistically supported idea that many of the average guys you know are capable of sexual assault - just because he seems like a "nice guy" and nice guys don't do that - well...
Er, wait...that isn't what the Jackass meant?

I want civility as much as you, but I just can't get on board with this "victim" shit.

I really hate the "victim" mentality. Why can we not empower those that suffer from others actions?

I will never get the "victim" mentality, I suppose. I guess that's because I refuse to see victims, and choose to see people empowered.


You know, I don't care so much about civility as I do being able to take a shower without having to worry that someone will be hiding outside my window.  I have, in fact, argued before that I think civility can be overated - owing to the fact that those in power usually get to decide what is polite and what isn't.  Such as whether or not it's appropriate for me reveal certain personal facts about my (anonymous) brother when arguing that the preponderence of guys like my brother working in mainstream politics, and the dearth of Amandas and Melissas, has a profound impact on the nature, tone, and subjects being debated.

More importantly though, I don't get what is empowering about having my fears dismissed and derided as paranoid rather than grounded in experience.  But then I'm just some crazy chick who still talks about stupid stuff that happened to her as a kid.

Does that make me a bad person too?

No, just'm having trouble coming up with the right words here? Anyone want to help me out?

And now, for a nice quote, because GreenSooner put it better than I could:
kos's failure to identify the ideology behind the Blogger Code of Ethics and his disparaging of Sierra are of a piece. Identifying all criticisms of online behavior as simply misplaced nanny-ism serves his purposes better than more careful analysis of either the Blogger Code of Ethics or the Sierra matter.

as did aimai
Kronos, its sweet of you to keep working at this from such an open minded perspective but I'd like to take a different step and ask you this--what makes you think the women who are posting here, and the many people who post anonymously/without gender who are women--*haven't toughened up?*...Every woman you interact with here and elsewhere has received some kind of anti-female attack at some point and yet she still posts, just as most of us have been sexually harrassed on the street and yet still go out, and sexually harrasse at work and yet still go out.

Frankly, I think its a bit odd to assume, given all you've been told, that the women around you haven't in fact gone the extra mile to laugh shit off and just shrug off a hostile work and play environment.*

aimai, I love you.

Update: forgot to add that MB is keeping track of the posts.