Ew. Michael Nugent tweeted a link to an article about how to deal with online harassment a few hours ago.
Michael Nugent @micknugent
How the Irish police helped a victim of online harassment and abuse http://bit.ly/1v81OqE
I am the only person who writes for this website regularly who uses a pseudonym. I do so for reasons that are my own, but there are many valid reasons why someone would want to do this.
They may express opinions that would be unpopular at their workplace. They may be well known by an alternative name, professionally or personally. They may have had something happen to them that legally they can’t appear to talk about. In the case of one person I know, they may be a potential new public figure, and their online output might be tightly controlled by their management.
Some people might say – and this is the argument that Ophelia Benson seems to be making in a discussion with Michael Nugent online – that all of the above is irrelevant. People who are nasty online should be exposed. Abusers should be dragged into the harsh light of day. Perhaps other people’s civil liberties are less important than that?
No, I don’t say, and no, the argument I’m making is not, that all of the above is irrelevant. I understand that people have reasons for remaining anonymous online. What I say, and the argument I make, is that people shouldn’t use anonymity as a tool with which to harass and threaten other, non-anonymous people in complete freedom from any kind of consequences. That’s what I say, that’s the argument that I make. And no, I don’t say that “people who are nasty online should be exposed.” But people who carry on sustained campaigns of abuse, under the shelter of anonymity? Yes: they should not be able to do that. That’s what I say.
Doctor DooM has received a lot of harassment.
So when we see people like Rebecca Watson railing against the unstoppable tides of sexism and hatred being shunted their way and playing the victim, I have to ask a question.
What are you doing about it?
When it happened to me, of course, there was initial upset. It’s not easy to deal with the fact that people can have that much hate in their hearts. It’s even harder to deal with the fact that it is aimed at you. What have I done to deserve this? Is it my fault? I have untempered sympathy for people in this situation.
After I passed this initial shock though, I went to the Gardaí.
After all, if there are threats of violence and death being made in comments, these are actual crimes. It should be reported. All of it.
And you know what? According to Doctor DooM, the Gardaí dealt with it. Problem solved!
That’s very nice, but Rebecca doesn’t live in Ireland, and neither do I. What happens when you go to the Gardaí to report online harassment has no bearing on what happens when you go to the US police to report online harassment. Also, threats of violence and death are not all there is to online harassment, and that should not be the standard. We should not be expected to put up with harassment that’s not threats of violence and death.
I actually think this is important: why are people writing blogs about this, going on and on about the abuse they receive? The first rule of the internet is don’t feed the trolls. The endless articles discussing and highlighting that vitriol and now even a Senator bringing it up- it’s all fuel. It is, at this point, jaw dropping that people don’t know how to deal with this. Ignore them. It starves them of oxygen. All they want- their entire goal- is a reaction.
Perhaps, publicity trumps the desire to actually help yourself and others.
There you go. We do this for “publicity.”
That’s what Michael “civility” Nugent saw fit to flag up on Twitter.