Death Threats in the Blogosphere

I don’t have all the facts straight yet (somebody ought to write a WikiNews or Now Public story about this), but marketing genius Kathy Sierra has apparently been receiving death threats from other bloggers.

As I type this, I am supposed to be in San Diego, delivering a workshop at the ETech conference. But I’m not. I’m at home, with the doors locked, terrified. For the last four weeks, I’ve been getting death threat comments on this blog. But that’s not what pushed me over the edge. What finally did it was some disturbing threats of violence and sex posted on two other blogs… blogs authored and/or owned by a group that includes prominent bloggers. People you’ve probably heard of. People like respected Cluetrain Manifesto co-author Chris Locke (aka Rageboy).

There’s plenty of evidence in her blog post and the comments to suggest that this isn’t an isolated incident or just a little flame war gone awry. It’s really awful, and just shameful that so-called professionals apparently are involved (I’m hesitant to name the alleged perpetrators until fact is sorted out from speculation).

I first read about this on Lauren’s blog, but have since seen it on Robert’s, Tim’s and a dozen others. Once the culprits are clearly identified, I imagine they can expect a visit from the local constabulary.

Aside from the occasional, random flammage, the only threats of abuse I’ve ever received are from Harley Davidson enthusiasts. They apparently didn’t like being called ‘asshats’.


  1. Ugh, I read this on CPU, and was horrified. What makes people think any of that is okay? I don’t care how much you disagree with someone… it’s just completely and utterly unacceptable, gross, underhanded, sexist and repellent.

    I had an obscene troll emailing me for a little while, but he went away when I ignored him. I was unsettled, but it was nothing to this level.

    It’s a common thing on the internet, this kind of “humour” and criticism, but that doesn’t make it okay. My thoughts go out to her and her family.

  2. From Sierra’s blog: “But I felt it was important to be specific about as much as the police investigation will allow.”

    This is disgusting. I know it’s not the only cause or enabler, but it’s the anonymity of the internet that allows this kind of crap to flourish. I know it allows other good things to happen, too, but I fear that anonymity is for the worst, not the best.

  3. This is a surprise? Consider the recent John Edwards campaign fracas.

    Edwards hired two bloggers, Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon and Shakespeare’s Sister authoress Misty McEwan. The two women are known quantities in the blogosphere, firm in their defence of women’s rights, gay rights, reproductive freedom etc.

    This has naturally caused them to make disparaging comments about the positions of the Catholic Church on some issues, including some profanity.

    Bill Donahue head of a self-described “Catholic” group, brought these people to the attention of good, god-fearing Christianists who posted comments and sent e-mails like those found here.

    The most striking thing to me is the association of sex with violence in this sort of hate speech. I think some of the contributors are using the anonymity of the net to flaunt their insecurities.

    Small dicks, teeny-tiny minds and violent sex-power fantasy; there’s a definite correlation.

    I hope the police will treat this as seriously as it deserves. It’s time people understood that a) The ‘net’s not 100% ‘nonymous and b) Death threats aren’t an acceptable way of expressing your disagreement.

    A couple of jail sentences would help emphasize the point.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: