Scaring esteemed blogger, Kathy Sierra, into canceling a speaking appearance, staying locked in fear in her home, then finally stopping her blog. The dregs of the online "community" who attacked her get to hear other views today.
We can't stop sick images, profanity and death threats but we can speak out against them.
Irony. Scoble's protest against what happened to Kathy and to him and his wife was a "fast" against blogging. That blog stoppage stimulated a flood of blogging.
Several self-described “mean” bloggers, some well-known and others cowardly anonymous, turned their right to free speech into hateful, then obscene and finally deadly language and images. Kathy chronicled what happened to her. The danger spread.
As a woman, I am sad that at least one prominent woman, a member of BlogHer, was involved in this hate and attack campaign. But that turned up the heat even further on this front burner issue today with Lisa Stone’s unequivocal response.
Sierra didn’t mean to become a central character for the evolving issue of rights, community and etiquette. But the horrible story of what’s happened to her has become an instant primer for lively discussion today. We don’t want Big Brother intervention.
Yet it could happen to any one of us. And it will. Research on human behavior shows that copycatting incidents will happen.
Free speech was one of the two of the most compelling topics in journalism school that tempted me to consider law school.
We all know that, in this rapidly evolving Age of Engagement we are experiencing steep upside and downside benefits. The upside are the friends and colleagues with whom we can collaborate and forge deep friendships, sometimes without meeting face-to-face. The downside has reared its ugly head again and has sucked our attention towards it. Our stand today against such depravity is not a one-time action.
But it is visible action.
Today, when I speak at a conference – and at the five others in April, I will be weaving into my speech this central issue to our quality of life, our culture – our symbol of what we must stand for. I hope other speakers join us in raising this issue.
I also hope you take some time to consider how you will act in support of others who will face these attacks in the future – and if it happens to you.