Bert Bates, co-author of Kathy Sierra's Java book, has posted a comment in response to my previous posting that I would like to bring to everyone's attention, for it seems to depart from a concern for the facts in pursuit of revenge:
You said: "The gun shoved in Chris Locke, Jeneane Sessums, Frank Paynter and
Allen Herrell's hands is as likely to be illusory as not. We need proof, not
accusations, just like in the physical world.
Trolls created the impression of a crime and sat back to watch human nature show
its worst side"
A have a couple of issues with that:
1 - I'm no lawyer, but I think I'm quoting this accurately: ""Federal law 18 U.S.C.
Sec. 875 (c) states: "Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any
communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure
the person of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than
five years, or both."
As we've said all along, we don't know who actually made these posts, but the
posts themselves are no illusion or "impression".
2 - We're talking about seasoned internet veterans here. If Allen got spoofed here
then let's consider the context. He was involved in creating these sites, I don't
think it's too much of a stretch to call these sites loaded guns. Now let's say,
theoretically, that he was in fact spoofed. Was it responsible for these guys to
create such sites and then be lazy about their moderation? And then, when their
names are named, after creating a loaded gun and abandoning it, they cry "foul"?
If they don't think they were playing "sharks", are these seasoned veterans really
saying they didn't realize that in creating these sites they'd be swimming with
Posted by: Bert Bates Posted on: 03/28/07
Look, I don't find MeanKids or Bob'sYourUncle funny, never did. Neither me or any of the people discussing this believe the threats were illusory or a mere impression.
But if the postings were not the work of the individuals named by Kathy, they are being falsely accused. Yet, here you are trying to justify continuing to blame them for simply having decided to publish something that was not within the bounds of your taste. That's a more dangerous accusation than you apparently realize as you cite law rather selectively, forgetting that libel is falsely accusing someone of an act you cannot prove.
I have been on the receiving end of many death threats, most of them politically motivated rather than sexual in nature, as Kathy endured, but the same kind of objectification was involved. I was turned into a liberal object to threaten and plot against.
Recognizing that this is not just a problem of anti-woman hatefulness, though it is in specific, and that it represents a general feature of human character is important to actually dealing with the problem as a systemic thing.
In a recent situation, I found threads on a public forum discussing having me killed by someone in the network of people talking about my blog. I used that evidence to confront and stop the dangerous fools. In one case I traced the conversation to a specific lawyer, whom I threatened to report to his bar association if he did not publicly call for a halt to any discussion of causing harm to or ridiculing me. He did, to the dismay of his fellow wingnuts. He learned a lesson, because it scared him out of the forums where his worst qualities were encouraged.
I didn't have to ruin his life to remediate the problem.
I didn't publish their names or the text of the threats that I found, because as a "seasoned Internet veteran" I know that most of the identities I was looking at were difficult or impossible to link to specific people.
Yet you and Kathy persist in hurling accusations and metaphor (rape and guns) at specific people who you don't know to be directly linked to these threats. Moreover, when confonted with what appear to be honest statements of dismay and disgust about the things said in their names or in association with their names, you find it necessary to call them liars and justify doing so by citing their guilt by any association with "sharks."
I think you are doing far more harm with this behavior than can be justified by the good of crying foul about legitimately awful behavior. Meankids was vulgar and often tasteless, as I understand it (I looked at the site maybe twice, finding nothing I wanted to read), but if the postings were spoofed, then you are accusing someone of acts they didn't commit because they happened to be in proximity to those acts. It's like accusing someone of rape because they were sitting in a house down the street from where a rape was committed.
You're reasoning is that if someone lives in a bad neighborhood, they are bad people. It's faulty thinking and only useful for damning people, not making the kinds of distinctions that are much needed in this situation.
It is not against the law to publish material that is in poor taste, and I hope we keep it that way.