Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I haven't been targeted by too many anonymous trolls, but there have been a few comments that have left me uncomfortable. I'd like to know the identity of the person wishing me a slow, painful death. Perhaps this court ruling will help move the discourse in a more civil direction?

Yes, my headline is wishful thinking. But this is definitely a step in the right direction. (Ignore the article's headline if you can, ugh.)
A Manhattan judge ruled yesterday that a blogger can't hide
behind a web of anonymity while flinging the ugly words "skank" and "ho" at
somebody online.
The sternly worded ruling orders Google to give up the identity of an anonymous blogger-assailant who inexplicably devoted an entire blog -- titled "Skanks in NYC" -- to maligning beautiful blond model Liskula Cohen.
Once Cohen knows the name of her harasser, she can serve them with a
defamation suit.

Now, how I feel about anonymous trolls - anonymous misogynists, specifically, is no
But Tracy Clark-Flory at Broadsheet has a point: "I am a true child of the Internet and a libertarian at heart, so I'm not all that enthused by the prospect,
repugnant as these characters may be." What could a case like this mean for
anonymous bloggers who aren't harassing creepsters? It's a tough one - I value
the anonymity the Internet gives to people who are using blogging and online
activism for progressive ends.

When it comes to the harassment and threats that so many people face online, the answer is clear - there should be some accountability. (And no, before anyone says it: Maligning people, calling women "whores," and issuing online rape and death threats aren't "free speech.") Sometimes that accountability comes in the form of a blogger outing a harasser. Sometimes it means that said harassers will face consequences they never expected.
Most of the time, however, there isn't any accountability - and the victims of online harassment and threats are left with no recourse except to live with it. I certainly know how that feels - having been the target of harassment ranging from
bloggers calling me a slut from the way I looked in an innocuous picture, to rape and death
threats in emails, to a website Photoshopping pictures of me to look pornographic. And let me tell you: that shit changes you. It changes your sense of safety, sense of self and any idealism you may have had about people being generally good.

1 comment:

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