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Mar

29

2007

Warmth and Logic in the Face of Something Disgusting...

I'm nowhere near the first person to weigh in on the harassment flung at prominent technologist Kathy Sierra (read the whole disgusting mess if you must) so let me point you to a few places of thoughtful discussion so you can educate yourself and make up your own mind.

I don't need to repeat what everyone is saying: That this is a repulsive display of inhumanity and precisely what happens when we believe we can excuse anything in the name of snarking, humor, or the imaginary promise of total freedom the Internet promised so long ago. It isn't funny, it isn't performance art, it isn't even protected speech. It's bile. And our bodies know what to do with bile.

*The always thoughtful George Kelly created this video salon on the incident.

* Blogher co-founder Lisa Stone had this to say about protecting the safety of women, neigh all of us, online.

*The excellent tech journalist Dan Fost wrote up this account in the San Francisco Chronicle.

On a less calm note, would someone kindly tell Chris Pirillo that this isn't helping?

This isn’t new, folks - far from it. Kathy is just one out of (certainly) millions of people who suffer at the minds of psychotics. And without trying to minimize this particular situation, I’ve gotta tell you - this sounds like high school to me. Literally. Granted, I’ve had just as many death threats ONLINE - but they didn’t just start last week.

I received death threats in high school all the time - ALL THE TIME. Only, I didn’t have to deal with anonymous Internet cowards [back then] - I had to deal with real-world bullies who weren’t happy unless they struck fear into me. Death threats are just as serious in high school as they are in the world beyond.

Mr. Pirillo is correct but misguided. When a colleague is attacked and fears for her safety, the humane reaction is to show your solidarity first and question the level of his or her reaction later. While there's no harm in logic, logic in the face of another's needless misfortune is misplaced and cold. "People suck, waddya gonna do?" and Me-too-ism do not show warmth. And what people in pain and fear need is warmth.

To be clear, I am an admirer of both Mr. Pirillo's work and his enthusiasm for this community. It is based on his accomplishments and the deserved position he has attained that I feel he could have done better. A situation like this asks a lot of us. But first it asks us to be good, instead of simply right. And I know all of us are capable of both.

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