Yesterday, I chose not to write about the Kathy Sierra atrocity, partly because many other people had written thought-provoking insights into the incident, but mainly because the Blog Herald is a professional outlet (even though they took me on!) and I wasn’t convinced – even with the luxury of an edit button – that I would stay professional.
I was going to let things pass by. I’ve spoken out before on my personal blog on various issues without necessarily thinking everything through – not that I regret doing so, but I felt that the Blog Herald probably needed a measure more decorum, even on a subject that has rightly piqued people’s emotions.
The reason I’m revisiting it is NOT to gain Technorati rank for the Blog Herald, nor to somehow make myself look good – I know that I care about this issue – but because a trackback on yesterday’s post implied that – basically – I couldn’t give a sh*t.
Elaine Vigneault wrote about the issue and referenced my post.
Where I had said:
The blogosphere is rightly filled with discussion about the whole issue surrounding death threats on Kathy Sierra, and there are far bigger names than I reacting to it, so instead I’ve decided to air one of my current rants,” says iGizmado.
(By the way, Elaine, we are NOT iGizmodo – that was what the rant was about, ironically)
she interpreted that:
Translation: If the popular kids talk about it, it’s worth talking about. Otherwise, harassment stays in the closet. We don’t discuss it. In fact, I’m not even going to discuss it; I’m just going to mention it so Technorati will pick it up and I’ll get traffic from tagging my post “Kathy Sierra.”
Now, I can stick up for myself, and so can the Blog Herald. There’s no way we’d say that everyone on a corporate site thinks this, or that, or the other. However, this piece of poor research (she couldn’t even get the name of the blog right) effectively tells people that Andy Merrett cares more about his Technorati rank than he does about the issue.
Whilst I can’t find the posts on my blog anymore (some of the archives got chewed up in a server move), long time readers might remember that I detest the concept of the “A list” and the “elite”, so to suggest that I only write about what the ‘popular kids’ do is a gross misunderstanding of my character.
I’ve stuck up for a number of different people on my blog (both individuals and groups) because that’s who I am. I’ve been accused by people of not sticking up for X or Y, but maybe that’s because I was sticking up for Z.
I’m not the sort of person who can sit by and do nothing when I see people being abused or dehumanised.
Don’t see this post as me trying to puff myself up and say “aren’t I good, I care about people”. I actually prefer not to talk about all of these issues because it makes me very angry and my tongue-taming exercises don’t always work.
In the particular case of Kathy Sierra, I’ll be totally honest and say that I haven’t read every angle to this story. That’s not because I don’t care, but because after I read and saw the horrific images posted on Kathy’s site – and stopped feeling physically ill that anyone could even dream this sick, disgusting crap up even as a ‘joke’ or as ‘social comment’ or whatever other pathetic reason they’ve used – I didn’t much feel like listening to the side of the perpetrators. Sure, they have excuses – the occasional one has apologised – but the fact is they allowed it happen in the first place, and didn’t act – or acted slowly and cold-heartedly.
I care very much about the situation, even though I don’t know anyone involved personally. I’m saddened on a professional level that the issue has forced Kathy to give up (temporarily, hopefully?) blogging, but I fully understand and embrace it at a personal level – if my family were potentially at risk I’d probably do the same.
I don’t know if temporary blogging boycotts by the likes of Robert Scoble will have any effect or not. Speaking out against the issues instead of remaining silent is important, and I do understand how yesterday’s article may have been perceived as a brushoff – it wasn’t meant to be.
Having said that, I don’t condone the vigilante attitude. Two (many) wrongs don’t make a right. The evil has been done, and Kathy has been terrorised because of some Neanderthal idiots who don’t understand etiquette, or civility, or respect for others’ views, and whose sad lives only find a smidgeon of fulfilment when they’re tearing others down, using Photoshop to create disgustingly violent pornographic images (there’s an hour or two that could have been used for something productive and to the benefit of humankind, rather than to the detriment of one), and writing puerile filth. Turning on the mob attitude against them ultimately doesn’t help Kathy or the situation. Far better to speak our disgust in public, and then to disengage from the idiots who think this behaviour is acceptable.
I was bullied a little at school. My wife was bullied a LOT at school, and 15 years on, sometimes, still feels the pain of it. I understand the narrow-minded bully to some extent, and it’s no less important, or impacting, because it’s online. And we never suffered death threats.
If anyone still thinks that I don’t care about this, or any other incident of bullying, online or off, feel free to comment.
Two rants in as many days. I think I’ll do a nice quiet news piece tomorrow.