Recovered from the Wayback Machine.
I think AKMA did a better job of taking a closer, calmer, more reasoned look at the situation than I did.
I also wanted to point out Baldur’s post, which leads one to careful thought.
Ronnie Bennett also has an excellent post on the subject.
Kathy Sierra just just posted a note about getting death threats and canceling out of ETech. In the post, she specifically mentioned Jeneane Sessum, Alan Herrel, Frank Paytner, and Chris Locke. I know everyone involved–I’ve known Jeneane, Frank, Chris, and Alan for close to six years, and Kathy for a good couple of years.
I’ve not seen the Meankids blog or the other one mentioned, but I also don’t follow most of the emails and stuff associated with the old Cluetrain group. Not because I think the old gang is ‘bad’; just not somewhere I’m at now. I don’t talk much with Jeneane or Chris, but I do chat with Frank and Alan. Any time I’m down, Alan always sends me links to squid stuff or other things I’d like. Alan has also been one of the strongest proponents for increasing the number of women at conferences and calling out on sexist behavior. What I’m hearing and what I know, conflict.
I know these folks and I’m concerned about the implications of what Kathy’s post can mean to each of them. Would they do a death threat? No. Not a bit of it. Absolutely, completely, not possible. The one email that Kathy mentions in her post was from Spain from the IP address given, and is completely unassociated with the people she’s named, or the weblogs she specified. But did the noose post constitute a death threat? You know, the sites are down (ed. Did find a cached version of post) and without having an idea of context, we don’t exactly know what the implications are. At a minimum, it was abysmally stupid. Was it criminal? As my roommate said, if you had done that with Bush, the Secret Service would probably visit.
Kathy has said she’s contacted the police. She didn’t say if it was local or federal.
I have been critical of Kathy in the past, and most likely will be again. We’re two very different people. Same as I have been and will be critical of others that Kathy mentions, such as Tara Hunt and Hugh MacLeod. I might even use satire in my criticism, though I tend to be pretty direct when it comes to people.
At the same time, Kathy and I have made peace from past angers; she even reviewed the first chapter of my last book–had good advice, too. I think she knows that most of my criticism has been based on acts, not the person as a whole. I hope that’s the type of criticism I do, though I know I fail sometimes.
The only time I’ll use any biting humor or sarcasm is when I know the person can take it and dish it back. Kathy doesn’t deal well with this type of humor–yes, mean, nasty, snarky humor–but at the same time, she’s not very good at ignoring it, either. She and her partner Bert do respond in comments, and sometimes this can exacerbate an already volatile situation, and can increase the level of meanness. Does that excuse the meanness and hate? No, but it may provide some balancing context. Or it may not–but we don’t have other people’s stories, and we can’t know the ‘truth’, whatever that is, until we have all the facts. Continuing to focus their shots at Kathy was foolish, thoughtless, and served no useful purpose.
Do I think the photoshopping and the meankids.org is a ‘cool’ thing? No. Such encourages aggression and leads people to do and say things they wouldn’t normally do and say. But I’m not overfond of hiding ‘meanness’ in sweet words and ‘clever’ drawings, either. The cruder might be more obvious, but the subtle is, by far, the more harmful.
Do I think Kathy’s life is in danger? From what she wrote? No. But it’s not up to me to decide, I’m not her and I deal with things differently than she does. Doesn’t mean I’m better or she’s better–just different. As for fully interpreting this as a criminal act, it’s up to the police since she’s called them. But by calling the police, and writing her post, she’s raised some very high stakes, which could end up causing a great deal of harm to some folks. She’s created a posse, and from what I can see, not a lot of people have asked for context. Or care.
The email that Kathy received is separate from the posts. It was unfortunate that she combined these into a post. I’m concerned now that a lot of people are going to react and some folks, including Kathy, are going to get hurt–and no, I don’t mean physically.
Frankly, calmer heads are needed when responding to this event. Webloggers are not very good at maintaining perspective. I know, I’ve been one for too long.
As for the comments derogatory to women, they do disappoint me, profoundly–more so if they’re from people I have called friend. Frankly, this whole incident has taken the heart out of me.
For all the people calling for the police and demanding jail time, I would counsel calm, because we don’t know the full story. The web sites have been taken down, we don’t know the posts that have gone before or the ones after. I’m not disparaging Kathy’s emotions or reactions, but these are serious matters, and I think we need to be very careful in how we respond.
Frank Paynter has responded. I’ve been talking with Jeneane, and she’s not long out of the hospital. I recommended that she not overstress herself right now, but if Kathy would like, or needs a response from Jeneane, I’m sure she will provide one.
Alan Herrell, the Head Lemur, has evidentally quit his weblog. He’s been weblogging for 7, 8 years or so. Long as I can remember. He wrote:
character assassination by image and psedonym
believe what you will
get some help
What is the true measure of meanness? Words or deeds? When the weblogging world figures this out, you all let me know. OK?
In the meantime, from discussions here and about, I gather that the police called on the threats were federal, which would probably be the FBI. I would keep unenlightened conjecture and inflated discussion to a minimum before more harm is done.
Chris Locke has responded.
Lisa Stone at Blogher provided a response related to Jeneane that should be sufficient for those demanding response.