After all these somber and/or infuriating items, a funny one. Justin Vacula on Facebook.
A lengthy post I authored months ago concerning what certain Freethought Bloggers are calling ‘stalking’ and ‘cyberstalking’ is below. This is especially relevant considering Ophelia Benson’s recent post “It’s all trolling, when you come right down to it” in which she claims that the “pro-misogyny crowd” stalks bloggers “day in and day out.”
TL;DR – criticism, even when it is excessive, isn’t stalking or cyberstalking. Public figures who make their controversial opinions known to the world will get responses. Reductio ad absurdum: Major cable news networks must be stalkers for their coverage of Obama and Romney.
Well thank you! That is very flattering. I’m as important as Obama. Who knew?!
But let’s be real. I’m not a “public figure.” That phrase doesn’t mean people like me. It means truly public; famous. I’m not famous by any stretch of the imagination.
And then, saying that people “will get responses” doesn’t mean that all responses are fine, or that there is no reason to say some responses are more reasonable or acceptable than others. It’s just a factual statement, so obvious that it’s almost empty. It amounts to “if you say something, you might get replies.” It says nothing about whether some kinds of reply are intrusive or aggressive or stalker-like.
What about this claim that excessive criticism isn’t cyberstalking? I think it’s dead wrong. I think highly excessive – indeed, obsessive – criticism is indeed cyberstalking. It’s cyber because it’s not literally someone following you down the street, so it is less scary than literal stalking. It’s mostly a lot less scary than that. But it is stalkerish in being obsessive out of all proportion to anything actually done or said or otherwise perpetrated. Having people posting and tweeting about you every day, repeating the same meagre list of offenses over and over again, monitoring every word you say – yes, that is stalkerish.
Another thing. What we get isn’t “coverage.” It isn’t journalism, it isn’t reporting, it isn’t news. It’s a campaign of vilification. That’s all it’s about; that’s its only purpose. It never stops. I posted a lot about Chris Mooney during the summer of 2009 – but that was because he kept writing articles for major media outlets, attacking “new” atheists. I posted about those articles. He stopped writing them, and I stopped writing about them and about him. I didn’t latch onto him like a lamprey and never let go.
So, no. None of what he said is right. I’m not talking about disagreement and discussion. I’m talking about non-stop monitoring and lying and smearing. I’m not a public figure, much less Obama or Romney, so no, the same rules don’t apply.