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The Case Against Outing Franc Hoggle

There’s a battle raging presently over at Ophelia’s and Stephanie’s over a guy by the ‘nym of Franc Hoggle. I say ‘nym, because a real-life friend of his learned of his online identity, evidently by him outing himself to this friend — leading to his friend discovering his blog, Grey Lining (no link, sorry). Said friend decided to tell Ophelia Franc’s real name so she could use it to defend herself and the rest of us by extension from his ongoing misogynist, anti-feminist, anti-FtB, anti-Ophelia and downright obsessive anti-PZ campaign.

To be clear, Franc Hoggle, despite making a great many oblique and yet threatening comments like “if I were a woman, I’d kick [Ophelia] in the cunt”, has never directly threatened anyone. In his nascent proto-Mabus state, he has compared PZ Myers, popular atheist blogger and small town professor of biology, of being like Idi Amin and Kim Jong-Il, the only admitted difference being that PZ was lacking only the opportunity to commit mass-murder.

The constant drumbeat of anti-feminist sentiment from his site and his commentariat (whom we would probably leave largely alone if they would only stop staging raiding parties!) is evidently intended to inculcate a hostile environment for our bloggers, shaming and othering and invoking fear to speak our minds lest we incur the wrath of some people who happen to think that including feminism in the skeptic and atheist blogosphere is the Wrong Direction For The Movement™. But he has made no direct threats to anyone, and short of the fact that he has visited the Melbourne-based Global Atheist Convention in 2010 under his real name, and PZ was planning on being at the 2012 GAC, he poses no physical threat to anyone in real life.

Yet.

Primarily because not many people in the real, non-blogospheric part of the world actually know that Franc Hoggle’s actions are being perpetrated by a person who goes by a different name altogether in meatspace. You know, because Franc Hoggle looks like a real name. The anonymity of the internet is being used presently to provide this person with a shield he can use to protect himself from all the attendant fallout that would inevitably result from waging a four-months-and-counting campaign of hatred against an entire gender. And anyone who supports them, especially our ostensible deity figurehead “PeeZus”.

On the internet, anonymity can allow a person to espouse a particularly unpopular or government-censored position. It can also allow you to, if you’re willing to cheat the system by developing multiple screen names or accounts on various networks, amplify your voice beyond other folks’. You can, as with the case of the You’re Not Helping guy, build “sock-puppet” accounts and pretend like you have a small chorus of like-minded individuals on your side.

Or you can slip from one identity to another after one’s utility is used up, like Franc Hoggle did with his previous identity, Felch Grogan. Over at Atheist Nexus, Felch evidently acted as unofficial vigilante, unilaterally deciding to “out” three people’s real life information for relatively minor offenses like spamming or not being an atheist. Franc has also explicitly declared that Stephanie should out him, over on the Elevatorgate Challenge #4 thread. I guess the suspense is killing him.

So the case for outing Franc is relatively solid — for one, we have a months-long internet demonization campaign completely divorced from reality which threatens to spill over into the real world; secondly, we have Hoggle using the exact same tactics rather liberally on “small-timers” who are definitively not out to cause as much emotional harm as Hoggle has managed thus far; third, people generally want Franc’s real-life acquaintances to have the opportunity to learn what he’s up to on the internet in case they need to decide to dissociate themselves with him (e.g., forcing him to “wear his colors off the field”, to steal Stephanie’s phrasing); and fourth and most relevant, Hoggle himself says we should. However, a large proportion of the bloggers at FtB know Franc’s real name, and yet none of us have yet outed him. Ophelia feels that by being told she can’t out him, the defenders of this pseudonymity are condoning further abuse, helping hold the shield that Hoggle uses to protect himself from the splash damage of his invective. And yet, she has still not outed him. She has in fact stated that she has no immediate plans to do so.

There have been a large variety of arguments made against revealing Hoggle’s real name to the internet, the primary being that we are not the adjudicators of who is abusing their pseudonymity on the internet — that we are not a Star Court, that we do not have any moral authority to make the decision with which we are presented. There is fear that if we out Hoggle for his contributions to inculcating a chilly climate for women, others’ pseudonymity will be targeted in cases where Hoggle’s supporters decide our pseudonymity is less important than the damage they feel we’re causing to the community.

Additionally, acting as a damping mechanism is the fear of escalation of the selfsame campaign of vitriol and smear, where people who are so obsessed as Hoggle has become might see any attempt to out him as a personal attack. He has already decried the “smear tactics” of forcing him to own his actions in real life as well as on the internet. Certainly his defenders consider us as engaging in a personal attack. Some have expressed fear that it is when an obsessed person loses everything — and pseudonymity is pretty easily construed as a valuable thing to lose, and could very well be the last thing Hoggle has, aside from his sycophants — that they will “go nuclear” and lash out in a potentially very violent manner. We of course cannot act as psychologists based only on the ASCII characters he’s spewed forth onto his screen at great volume, but when faced with a potentially very bad situation like that, it’s only natural to want to protect one’s self from the worst-case scenario. Delusional, perhaps, but self-defense is hard-wired, and nothing we should under any circumstances abrogate (especially if I wish to remain consistent with my opinions about Rebecca Watson and Elevator Guy).

It is my earnest opinion that the entire skeptical-atheist blogosphere (meaning, the section of the two communities where the Venn diagram overlaps) is fractious in another and rather novel way. There are schisms of which we are already keenly aware in this community, e.g. the “New Atheist” / “Accomodationist” sections of the movement. There is a similar schism in the process of forming, between those who want to encourage more female participation in the movement where it has largely been a chilly climate for women in the past; and those who feel the community is perfectly open as it stands, and any attempt to improve the climate for women would be an abrogation of men’s rights. This last group is, by all accounts, comprised of a rather significant proportion of Men’s Rights Advocates, anti-feminists, and outright misogynists.

Yes, it’s well possible to become an atheist and skeptic without critically examining the plenary role that the patriarchal establishment has had in creating the disadvantages that men face, blaming instead those women that are pushing to deconstruct the patriarchy that leads to the disadvantages that both genders face. Just because you’re appropriately skeptical on one topic doesn’t mean you’re appropriately skeptical on all topics — and in fact, you’ll often find that to justify their misogynist presuppositions, people will engage in hyper-skepticism with regard to every mundane detail of every story offered by a woman just because it was told by a woman. And I suspect that this movement we’re seeing in the skeptic-atheist blogosphere is an echo of a larger movement going on internet-wide presently, where simply blogging on the internet as a woman will earn you death and rape threats, sexist name-calling, or demands for sexual service (as though these women are simply being uppity because they are lacking in the “being stuffed” department). In fact, there is an anti-misogynist-bullying campaign hitting even the mainstream media lately, indicating that this pushback against the constant and pervasive sexism everywhere on the internet may have hit a tipping point.

I mean, hell, I’m a guy, and just blogging in support of women, I get called all manner of things by these same misogynist trolls — “mangina”, “pussy-whipped”, “puppy dog”, “parroter”, “misandrist”, “gender traitor”, and my new personal favorite, “Jason Bieber”. Among other such grade-school taunting. It’s kind of nice that I never got a chance to stand up to bullies as a kid, but I’m getting a second chance now.

But I digress.

The case against outing Franc Hoggle boils down to one of respecting the pseudonymous rights of those who wish to participate in this community without having to risk themselves in their real lives. The biggest problem with that stance is that it also entails protecting people who want to tear down this community, out of fear that they will retaliate against our community members. I strongly suspect that there will always be some faction on the internet who wants to destroy what progress we’ve made in including women in the dialog, and that faction will not always “play by the rules”. In fact, one of them has already posted some otherwise less-than-public information about Stephanie Zvan’s current employment as a bargaining chip against her outing Hoggle, though it apparently isn’t information you’d need a private investigator to obtain. I don’t see this fear of retaliation as something that should paralyze us into inaction in the face of rampant bullying. But I’m also not seeing very many cogent arguments offered with respect to Stephanie’s challenge.

Frankly, if there’s a good argument against outing Franc Hoggle that outweighs the very real trauma being done to the psychology of some of our members and to the inclusiveness we’ve hoped to foster with regard to women in the community, I haven’t seen it yet. And that’s despite 552 comments in the thread at Stephanie’s where people are explicitly asked to provide a good reason that overrides women’s right to feel safe and protected by this community’s members.

Comments

  1. says

    Yeah — we’ve been having some problems with revision control on the backend owing to some MySQL caching we’ve implemented to alleviate the server stress. We’ve outgrown our current server (no kidding, right?) and will be upgrading again shortly.

    I’ve restored the intended paragraph. And corrected an instance of “freind”, which is simply poor use of spell checking on my part.

  2. says

    Imma tell everyone your real name! Wait a minute… ;-)

    Since this Franc guy has already given his blessing, what more is there to discuss? It’s no longer a question of violating his wishes. I can’t imagine there is a valid reason not to do it.

  3. Faithless says

    I’m very much in support of a right to pseudonymity on the net. However, as far as I’m concerned, a right abused is a right forfeited.
    He outs others, he should get outed for that alone.

  4. says

    The one about kicking me in the cunt? I take it as a threat, I can tell you that much. Mind you, not of the kind that I think he’s about to put into effect, but that doesn’t zero it out.

  5. Pteryxx says

    Replying to Jason’s OP: that’s a great consolidation, and I concur with almost everything you say, but you’re still making a very fundamental assumption error throughout. You’re still talking as if outing Hoggle is going to stop him:

    The anonymity of the internet is being used presently to provide this person with a shield he can use to protect himself from all the attendant fallout that would inevitably result from waging a four-months-and-counting campaign of hatred against an entire gender. (emphasis mine)

    But there aren’t inevitable consequences for hating on women online. There aren’t even inevitable consequences for actually raping women in real life. As near as I can tell, anonymity may not have much to do with the majority of harassment:

    Maybe not every man who would send such swill under a cloak of anonymity would also do so under his real name, but the vast majority of men who send this shit to me do via easily traceable emails and/or IPs, and many more of them than you probably expect do it under their real names, even from work email addresses.

    That isn’t an indication of stupidity, by the way. It’s an indication that they’ve rightly assessed the law’s indifference to the behavior.

    from Melissa McEwan on Shakesville, source

    If outing him has little or nothing to do with stopping him, then there’s no reason to say that someone who declines to out him, or someone who objects to it (such as myself) is necessarily enabling his abuse thereby.

    There are other reasons for outing him that have nothing to do with stopping him, however, and they’re mostly emotional, as you listed above: Making a public statement against harassment, encouraging others to speak up, helping his targets here feel safer and better supported. Even being seen as not condoning his abuse is a possible emotional benefit, completely separate from actually doing anything that might stop him. Those are all valid and important reasons to take public action against a harasser.

    But I still say choosing to out Hoggle AS that public action has potential real-world risks that need to be considered against the obvious social and emotional benefits. For the purposes of public statement-making, it’s useful to consider him a symbolic representative of the hordes of hateful assholes who make women’s lives hell wherever they dare speak out. But he’s not just some random hater; most of them don’t dedicate four months of their lives to obsessively targeting a few individuals. The fact that this one DOES puts him in a special category of risk, as I said in Stephanie’s thread:

    Embarrassment can stop a trolling jackass who just wants attention, but it only makes a crusader more determined. Accountability can deter a reasonable person, but someone obsessive doesn’t care.

    Publicly outing this particular individual could very well help all of you feel safer, encourage less tolerance of harassment, make a powerful statement of solidarity, enable individuals in his real life to discover for themselves what he’s up to, and cause him to become more dangerous at the same time.

    IF Hoggle is this type of harasser (which none of us here can know) then we can’t assume he’ll respond like a reasonable person. His statements can’t be taken at face value. For instance, quoting you Jason:

    Franc has also explicitly declared that Stephanie should out him, over on the Elevatorgate Challenge #4 thread. I guess the suspense is killing him.

    A reasonable person would say they didn’t mind being outed because they actually didn’t mind. An obsessive type might say that because they WANT their target to put up a fight to justify their own abuse; or because the aggressor can’t tolerate any show of weakness or admit that his victim might conceivably have any power over him. Dangerously obsessive aggressors can’t tolerate any loss of face, and the more public the smackdown, the greater the insult and the more justification they feel in lashing out.

    Elsewhere I compared outing Hoggle to getting a restraining order against an abuser. Most people who know anything about domestic violence know that it’s dangerous to advise a woman in an abusive situation to get one. The victim FEELS like the system’s on her side now when she’s still at a disadvantage. She may feel more protected and safe than she really is. The aggressor may see the restraining order as an intolerable insult that must be avenged, while the piece of paper itself has no power to stop him. The only benefit to a restraining order, if the aggressor chooses to disregard it, is that there’s a paper trail for the NEXT time he abuses someone. Not necessarily the original target, either; smacking down an aggressor in the workplace can result in them taking it out on their family, for instance.

    That’s why I can’t in good conscience support outing Hoggle, even though I agree with everything you and Stephanie and Ophelia and PZ have said about the need to speak up against this plague of harassment of women and stop it however we can. I think this whole community believes Hoggle should be treated like any other random misogynist asshole. Every principle we hold dear supports taking public action. But there are times when standing on principle can get people hurt.

  6. says

    “SLIPPERY SLOPE!!!!”
    “ORWELLIAN INFORMATION CONTROL!!11!!”
    “FASCIST DICTATORSHIPS!!!!”
    Yeah, that’s all I got.
    I’ve been contemplating a blog post on this for a while. I conspicuously stayed out of Elevatorgate. I just wasn’t all that interested- I barely knew who Watson was before the shit hit the fan- I thought the whole argument was silly and I thought it would just go away. I’m no clairvoyant, obviously.

    I really do feel for some of their gender concerns. I just can’t stomach all the binary “If women aren’t evil cunts you’re a gender traitor”, “Outing Hoggle is misandry” bullshit. I don’t like that people can’t have a conversation about the very real threat of rape culture on women without some asshole interjecting that being engendered male is sooo much worse. I wouldn’t come into your blog and interrupt a discussion of male circumcision with chants to “buck-up” and be glad you’re not a woman.

  7. Parse says

    I think that the risk of retaliation is minimal, not because I believe that the Hogglites wouldn’t, but because I think that they’ll eventually reach that point without provokation.
    It’s obvious that there’s no depths the Hogglites won’t sink to; they’re already starting to try to unearth personal information about their targets. Nobody knows what minor offense will cause them to this – but at this point, it looks like they’re just looking for a half-baked excuse, and not a valid reason.

  8. says

    I think Parse makes a good point that obviates much of what Pteryxx says — in that escalation is pretty well inevitable at this point. They’re already trying to dig up dirt on Stephanie, wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to do the same with PZ or Ophelia (or that they have already done so numerous times in the past). They’re looking for ways to step up their two-minute hate to something a little longer-lasting than two minutes.

    I’m kind of getting the feeling that at this stage in the game, there’s no good course of action. It’s unpalatable all the way around. Stand up to their bullying, they continue. Ignore them, they continue. Out Hoggle, they continue. Don’t out Hoggle, they continue. The obsession has already reached a point where it’s self-feeding — no matter what anyone does, it’s grist for their hate mills. Only thing that would stop them is if we went silent and let them become the True Representatives of the One True Path of Skepticism — that is, a complete free-for-all where offending people is the highest virtue.

    If it was just me, I’d out Hoggle, be damned the consequences. But those consequences are, as Pteryxx points out, are potentially wider-scope than even limited to the FtB bloggers.

  9. says

    The case against outing Franc Hoggle boils down to one of respecting the pseudonymous rights of those who wish to participate in this community without having to risk themselves in their real lives.

    I disagree with this assessment. The case for many people boils down to their disbelief that misogynistic attacks constitute harassment and abuse.

    I think those people are idiots. We have laws against harassment and abuse. People shouldn’t get a free pass on that simply because ZOMG ITS TEH INTARWEBZ!!!1!

  10. Philip Legge says

    Jason, a correction: the next GAC in Melbourne is actually next year – 13 to 15 April 2012 if you want precision.

    On the hypothetical Venn diagram, if atheism, scepticism, and anti-feminism are shown as overlapping circles, then the slimepit crew occupy the several intersections in the anti–feminist circle.

    Rebecca Watson is an especially convenient target for these people, since she largely speaks and writes on the confluence of feminism, scepticism, and atheism. But anyone within the atheist and skeptic circles who is in opposition to the virulent anti-feminism of these people could easily become a target – and I also would be inclined to guess that the rampant irrationality of the anti-feminists may be driving some previously disinterested people towards the feminist circle, thanks to the process of consciousness raising that has been occurring.

  11. says

    Well, he’s in Australia. So, no. It would be nice to say there’s only one guy ranting about violent death on the internet, but there isn’t.

    Phillip — I’ll update the post shortly. And yes, I am glad that this wedge is being driven and people are tuning in to realize what kind of bullshit women have to put up with in general have to deal with.

  12. says

    Joshua Meggitt is in Coburg, which is a suburb of Melbourne, in Australia. The same city that hoggle lives in. I’m not making any claims that it is actually him, but your statement is irrelevant.

    But the comparable example is interesting anyway. Does anyone want to cry about poor Mr Meggitt now?

  13. says

    Jason: Did it occur to you that there is no such thing as bad PR? I recognized that PR plant as soon as I saw it at ERV. and if not a PR bitch move, then an infiltration by a cop-minded person.

    1) someone who never shows up there, before or since plants information
    2) you guys fall for it
    3) you guys protect that snippet as your own cherished piece of “victimhood”

    Jason–go take a look at how the cops fucked over protesters at the G20 using “blac bloc” gear. You can fiond it online fromn the G20 in Toronto.

    Then, compare that tactic to all the right wing “voices” at Greg’s or Stephs blog (Pterryx arguing FOR the security industry? At Greg’s, some federal agent arguing ‘for’ the need for the cops to have guns?? Are you guys f#$@#!ng nuts to entertain that dialogue??)

    Yeah–Pass The Popcorn, wasn’t it? You guys really should be ashamed of yourselves to be doing it, or condoning it, much less to believe that anyone but some right-winger WOULD do that.

    It’s the tactic of controlled dissent.

  14. says

    Csoar: By your definition,and the terms of your link, he is even less of a bully than others who are present in the discussion.

    And for the thick-skulled, just so you know, criticism of public figures is as necessary to democracy as the occasional spilling of blood–unless, of course, you are a right winger or a cop, in which case, all speech that you cannot understand, or that you can’t logically disagree with is bad.

  15. tolltide says

    19: “Franc is a cyber bully”

    How many LOLs are there in the world? Not enough to mock this idiocy. Check out the work of PZ Meyers and his crew they are all about the cyber bullying.

  16. says

    Please, provide links. Especially with timestamps that show that they’re not responses to responses to responses after long series of butthurts experienced by your dear and cherished Hoggle.

  17. 42 says

    Seems like he IS a bully:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber-bullying
    “Cyber-bullying can be as simple as continuing to send e-mail to someone who has said they want no further contact with the sender, but it may also include threats, sexual remarks, pejorative labels (i.e., hate speech), ganging up on victims by making them the subject of ridicule in forums, and posting false statements as fact aimed at humiliation.
    Cyber-bullies may disclose victims’ personal data (e.g. real name, address, or workplace/schools) at websites or forums or may pose as the identity of a victim for the purpose of publishing material in their name that defames or ridicules them. Some cyber-bullies may also send threatening and harassing emails and instant messages to the victims, while other post rumors or gossip and instigate others to dislike and gang up on the target.”

    He can’t make a reasoned argument without resorting to sexual slurs and hate speech. Any response from FTB bloggers makes him feel he’s in charge of the exchange, even when they run logical rings around him. He’s so desperate for any recognition that he is escalating and encouraging his followers to do the same. He’s a bully.

  18. says

    I’m not claiming he is Meggitt. I’m claiming there was a similar case in which someone has been outed.

    But people have previously described him as being from Melbourne. Do you know otherwise?

  19. TylerD says

    Hoggle may have stepped over the line with the cunt-punt comment directed at Benson. As for the rest, it’s borderline self-parodying hysteria, especially the comparisons to Marzuke. The latter regularly showed up in comments threatening to “crucify”, “pummel”, etc. bloggers and said things like “the police cannot protect you”. Hoggle is just ridiculing you guys, mostly deservedly so. This whole “out Hoggle” fiasco is just further proof that FtB is approaching an online Jonestown level of paranoia.

  20. julian says

    As for the rest, it’s borderline self-parodying hysteria, especially the comparisons to Marzuke.

    Prof Myers has stated more then once that Hoggle’s level of obsession and commenting style remind him very much of Mr. Mabus when he first started spamming him emails.

    Hence the whole Mabus in training thing.

    Hoggle is just ridiculing you guys, mostly deservedly so.

    No, he’s ridiculing himself. He just doesn’t realize it.

    This whole “out Hoggle” fiasco is just further proof that FtB is approaching an online Jonestown level of paranoia.

    ….
    ….
    ….

    So… you don’t see something strange about concluding your comment with that line?

  21. B-Lar says

    How much work would it be to compile a dossier of Hoggles works, and then give that and his real name to the psychiatric authorities. Perhaps if he was taken in for evaluation it might give him a wake up call.

    Not a good idea to allow him to escalate. These problems need nipping in the bud somehow. Tricky. Whatever you do is going to result in splash damage and the knack will be to minimise that.

  22. Randall Morrison says

    Abortion eliminates a lot more potential women than men.

    It also eliminates a lot more minorities that whites.

    As David Duke said, if not for Roe v Wade there would be 20 Million more blacks in this country than there are.

    Why do you think the old white men on the Supreme Account REALLY approved it?

  23. Bruce Gorton says

    The only thing that leaves me a bit hesitant on whether Hoggle should be outed is the recent example of DawahFilms vs Thunderf00t.

  24. TylerD says

    julian, the difference is that I’m being deliberately hyperbolic in that sentence, whereas comparisons to Marzuke appear to be entirely literal.

    And PZ may say that, yes, but considering that he’s a very frequent target of Hoggle’s ridicule, you’d have to be an idiot not to take with a grain of salt.

  25. julian says

    And PZ may say that, yes, but considering that he’s a very frequent target of Hoggle’s ridicule

    In much the same way he was targeted by Mr. Mabus. That’s the point. It isn’t meant to mean that Mr. Hoggle is as bad as Mr. Mabus or that he posses a similar threat to people’s well being. It’s meant to communicate his behavior reminds some very much of David Mabus in the early days and that this is worrying, not only for others but for Mr. Hoggle as well since that sort of obsessiveness is not healthy.

  26. TylerD says

    “It’s meant to communicate his behavior reminds some very much of David Mabus in the early days and that this is worrying, not only for others but for Mr. Hoggle as well since that sort of obsessiveness is not healthy.”

    This is a little disingenuous. If I recall correctly, Marzuke initially became notorious on Pharyngula for ranting about Nostradamus and claiming that Randi had cheated him out of the million dollar prize. I’ve been commenting on Pharyngula long enough to know that obsessive trolls (Robert O’Brien, “hoody”, usually creationists or Christianists of some sort) came and went, and didn’t phase PZ at all. The simple fact of the matter is that Franc Hoggle has gotten under the skin of a few bloggers here, and they’ve resorted to feigning fear for personal safety as a fig-leaf over their petty retaliatory measures.

  27. speedwell says

    In the atheist chat of which I am a member, we had a Christian gentleman (I use the term loosely) come in to complain bitterly about Hitchens, Dawkins, and Harris, and the way in which he felt Christians were being shut out of science jobs in academia. He claimed to be a Christian and scientist of a certain very specific type who had recently published an article on a very specific topic in his narrow field. His choice of username was evidently a common variation on his real name, and we identified his IP address (we check routinely to see if a new chatter is an old troll sockpuppeting). He also made some claims based on what he said was his personal experience. While doing so, he let drop a few other pieces of personal information.

    This individual was arguing that we should accept his arguments based on his credentials and experience, but he was shy about telling us anything about his identity. OK, now. We don’t simply accept “because I said so” arguments. (If we did that, we’d be religious.) So I checked his claims and other information out, and in less than fifteen minutes I was able to identify him, with a high degree of confidence, as a certain individual.

    I told the six or so chatters who I thought he was, and one of them thought I was way out of line in doing so. I agreed that I probably shouldn’t have done so in the main chat. I didn’t think I was in the wrong, though, because the man was using his identity and credentials to argue that we should give weight to his arguments. I thought that all I was doing was independently verifying his identity claims.

    When someone’s a public intellectual and insists that we should take his unvarnished word for it when he makes an argument, because he’s a Famous Scientist, don’t you think it’s legitimate to check his identity and qualifications, even when he isn’t as forthcoming as you’d like him to be?

  28. julian says

    @TylerD

    Those pharyngula trolls were pharyngula trolls. They hadn’t branched out like Mr. Mabus did or Franc Hoggle has. They were, mostly contained within the confines of pharyngula and there was no indication these were people he’d be at risk of dealing with out irl. The same cannot be said of Mr. Hoggle (as he seems to be an active member of the skeptic/atheist/thingie community) so it’s natural to be a litte more weary of him than you would someone else.

    And yes you are right, Franc Hoggle has likely gotten under Prof Myers skin in a way most trolls don’t. But that doesn’t dismiss the comparisons to Mr. Mabus. In fact it becomes a very decent explanation for why Mr. Hoggle has achieved what most people don’t; finding out there’s someone out there you may very well be meeting or have dealt with who harbors a resentment towards you and your friends that is eerily similar to that of another man who’s obsession and mental health have landed him in a psych ward.

    they’ve resorted to feigning fear for personal safety as a fig-leaf over their petty retaliatory measures.

    They’re feigning fear? Care to back that up some how? It sounds like something you couldn’t possibly know and it smacks of an incredibly dismissive and condescending attitude towards others.

  29. says

    Going back to Joshua Meggitt – definitely not hoggle.

    Don’t forget, everyone at FTB knows who hoggle is, and can tell anyone else who’s curious. Lots of people know who hoggle is at this point. It’s not going to stay sekrit for long.

    Oh and don’t take Tyler D for an impartial observer – his first entry into this dispute was to call me a cunt. Nothing else – that was the entirety of his comment: just: cunt.

    That’s Tyler D.

  30. says

    That’s Tyler D.

    Yep. And horror of horrors, you let his comment out into the sunshine for all to see, which you weren’t supposed to do according to the poor censored folk at ERV’s! I hope he’s really proud of it, because that is exactly the reason why I have zero respect for him.

  31. says

    I’m thinking my next post will have to be on the difference between moderation and censorship. You’d think it’s easy to tell the difference — censorship is when a person’s voice is systematically rubbed out of public sight wherever it happens to be. Since nobody at FtB has any ability to delete comments on other blogs, they’re not being censored.

  32. says

    “Someone posts info on Stephanie, and that’s simply got to be a false flag operation excusing escalation”

    Um…you can’t be serious? If you were, you would consider that as an option. But this post is part of that escalation, and there are others. She is posting a few herself. Rapeflation in cyberspace works that way.

    I can’t state with certainty that it is or isn’t just some PR B.S., but the fact that you would dismiss the option immediately reveals that you likely know I am right–because any actual ‘security’ anxiety or concern would have considered that possibility. It also sort of reveals a naivete on your part, or a willing complicity.

    What I can say, is that if anyone involved actually gave a shit, and wanted to be an adult, and also, to prove that it was a ‘real’ DOX,and not more Pheminist orchestrated PR, then, like adults everywhere, they would write Ms. Abbie Smith a nice letter, and request an IP–instead of slamming, bashing, abusing and harassing Ms. Smith all over the net for her choice to allow an open, uncensored debate–the kind adults have.

    Which team YOU GUYS might also consider if you were adults, and not merely plotting a ‘troll honeypot’. But who said adults were even IN this conversation?

    And, contrary to popular belief, it is counterproductive to reference or cite because it lends support and bloghits to misandrist, man-hating crypto fascists, supporters of male rape, and bloggers who generate revenue by labeling people with their dogmatic approach to conversation, and generating web traffick.

  33. says

    Yes, Porn, I am serious. While I’m willing to entertain the possibility that someone dredged up something about Stephanie that she herself would not be harmed by, building a false-flag op that would justify some amount of escalation, I’m not going to default to it as the most reasonable explanation. You also pointed ERV’s denizens to me explicitly, before I joined this particular permutation of the ongoing internet sexism fight, pointing out how utterly boring I am. I’m not going to say you were just trying to drum up hits for me out of some twisted sense that you’d be doing me a solid. While that’s also an explanation, it’s not the most parsimonious. It’s not one I’d accept without you at least suggesting it first. I don’t generally talk about all the unevidenced options that I dismiss when I make suggestions about what happened where and when, so I simply assume unless better evidence comes along that someone on the anti-FtB side of the fence is responsible. And since there are no real ill consequences of someone reporting on their Google-Fu, I’m not terribly worried about it.

    If you’d like to doublecheck with ERV, I’d also be interested to find out whether “Pass the Popcorn” was an actor in this play already. I would be surprised, however, if it turned out to be someone from FtB’s side. Surprised and irritated, because I fucking hate false flags.

    As for corollary evidence, there’s apparently the incoming Google searches including her name, and the top one was for “Stephanie Zvan analyst”. (Another was, she tells me, “stephanie zvan is awesome”, which was the oblique “that made me giggle” comment at her blog.) So someone’s actually researching her, who doesn’t have ready access to the information off the top of their heads.

    Another bit of evidence is that this particular bit of information isn’t as important as the fact that someone’s digging. Stephanie doesn’t have any secrets online, she’s said. So anything that’s actually on a Google search, even twenty pages deep, is probably not terribly incriminating unless they were looking for someone to go troll and get her in trouble with her job. I likewise don’t talk about where I work, not because I think they’d care about my opinions, but because they don’t involve my workplace in any way, shape or form. I’m pretty scrupulous about keeping my work and home lives separate. And where there are incursions, they’re in the direction of more work, less home.

    So yes — the event of “dropping docs” on Stephanie is actually not terribly damaging, and not terribly important, and Stephanie’s said so herself. It’s not there to excuse any escalation. And given that there isn’t an escalation — I don’t know if Ophelia’s planning on revealing Hoggle’s real name any time soon — I don’t see how you can default to the least skeptical position automatically. Perhaps, since you’re on better terms with ERV than anyone from FtB, you could ask for the IP and provide it to me? You know how to get a hold of me privately, you’ve done it before.

  34. Albright Dougma says

    What an interesting doscussion. You guys really know how to shit on your own toes don’t you? Go back there, re-read what you said, and then ask yourself what trust is; consider this below:

    Imagine–just imagine this once plausible scenario: there’s a real big story happening somewhere! And in journalism those who break big stories are called sources, not journalists- someone who has a story needs an outlet for a story!

    Go look up the video that pornanalyses suggested, and then we can talk. I think I know what he is saying.

    Have you seen this?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/5912936/CIA-following-Twitter-Facebook

    Your perspective, evidenced above for all times sake on the internet, puts in to the official record that you are not to be trusted in matters of–shall I say ‘activist’ matters? Really, ask yourself.

    Which reminds me of this presidential candidate whose cousin I was talking to the other day…oh, never mind: your whole crew just outed yourselves as potential allies in anything but immature name games and trolling.

    When real journalists get real stories, they get them from sources, not from blog flame wars and high school name games.

    Good luck with that freethought revolution you are starting though! Try not to burn yourselves too much with all that Machiavellian pettiness and name-fame whoring.

  35. julian says

    I think I know what he is saying.

    You speak MRA troll? I have a couple questions, do they use dwarven runes or do they not have any kind of written language. What porn posts often looks like a random collection of syllables and occasionally words he’s picked up and I imagine if I saw the real deal I may (finally) be able to communicate with the trolls.

  36. Aquaria says

    The case against outing Franc Hoggle boils down to one of respecting the pseudonymous rights of those who wish to participate in this community without having to risk themselves in their real lives.

    If you used the US Mail to harass and threaten people anonymously, you WOULD be in deep shit if your identity was learned.

    If you threatened people anonymously over a phone line using a pay phone but were caught at it, you would be in deep shit if your identity was learned.

    If you try to solicit children anonymously over the internet for sex and get caught at it, you’re in deep fucking shit when your identity is learned.

    So just why is it that threatening and harassing WOMEN anonymously over the Internet, gets anyone a free pass?

    I call bullshit.

    I call it a prime example of MISOGYNY.

  37. Aquaria says

    Your perspective, evidenced above for all times sake on the internet, puts in to the official record that you are not to be trusted in matters of–shall I say ‘activist’ matters? Really, ask yourself.

    Projection on a massive scale. Who the fuck are you, and why should anyone care what you think?

    Which reminds me of this presidential candidate whose cousin I was talking to the other day…

    Hello, John Scumbag Kwok. Hint: Name dropping won’t work here. People here known powerful people, too. You’d be surprised who some of us know.

    oh, never mind: your whole crew just outed yourselves as potential allies in anything but immature name games and trolling.

    More projection. By the way, do you have a point?

    When real journalists get real stories, they get them from sources, not from blog flame wars and high school name games.

    So you’re stupid about journalism, too?

    The best journalists get stories from EVIDENCE. Sources better have verifiable EVIDENCE, moron.

    This is not a blog flame war, cupcake. Numerous female bloggers–SOURCES, if you will–have reams of EVIDENCE about the scumbaggery of misogynistic pieces of shit.

    Deal with it, douchebag.

    Good luck with that freethought revolution you are starting though!

    Thanks! It’s going great, since you’re too fucking stupid to have noticed!

    <iTry not to burn yourselves too much with all that Machiavellian pettiness and name-fame whoring.

    Try to get over yourself, cupcake. Sexism is real and it has serious consequences.

    Deal with that, too, you passive-aggressive bigot.

  38. Pteryxx says

    How realistic does this version sound?

    If you used the US Mail to harass and threaten people anonymously WOMEN, you WOULD be in deep shit if your identity was learned.

    If you threatened people anonymously WOMEN over a phone line using a pay phone but were caught at it, you would be in deep shit if your identity was learned.

    If you try to solicit children anonymously WOMEN over the internet for sex and get caught at it, you’re in deep fucking shit when your identity is learned.

    I really think you’re blaming anonymity when it’s just a fig-leaf for the real problem of misogyny not being taken seriously.

  39. says

    Acquaria: Are you on your medications pie-face?

    If not, please, for all of our sake, get them NOW! Because, in your delusion of power up there, I realized that you were gnashing your teeth at balls–which won’t cure you, really. Meds, pieface, meds.

    Journalists get evidence–you’re hilarious, Mr. O’Reilly. Or is that Ms. Graham with the puppy of pictures?

    And in case you missed the memo? Being an angry, mentally unhinged sociopath who masquerades as a ‘woman on the internet’ doesn’t mean that some of you don’t deserve exactly what you get.

    Equality stops at YOU, Acquaria being a rude angry piece of shit–a nutcase with a vagina and an agenda, somehow asking a right to not be treated the way you treat others? Or treated as the nutcase you are?

    If you had a blog, I would make sure I avoided it–just look at yourself–your only issues–like so many sociopathic narcissitic ‘women on the internet’ –is your vagina, and your hatred for anyone who could give a shit that you have one.

    After that? short on substance, and not even funny as a pundit.

    Pteryxx: I can smell your bad aftershave/perfume from here, and those shoes have gum on them. And that haircut–dead giveaway.

    Jason–anything to say about her/their/its misandrist projections here?

  40. says

    What misandry is that, Dougma? Point it out explicitly. Blockquote it. Because I’m not seeing it, and maybe that just makes me particularly blind to it, but I’d think I’d recognize misandry when I saw it.

  41. illuminata says

    Jason–anything to say about her/their/its misandrist projections here?

    Translation: I just spent and entire post calling someone else names and using their gender as a the reason they’re CRAZY, so I’m going to pretend I’m the victim before someone notices.

  42. says

    Jason: You are apparently clueless about stereotypes of men, or you and Acquaria up there are conspiring by the minute to merge your IQ’s into one–so that you can hit the 130 mark.

    [pause...] but all the stereotypes, and presumptions about men are present in her/their/its raging, rambling discourse. But I am not here to crowd source lunacy.

    Here are a few tips on how to spot anti-male misandrist gender insults:
    1) do they attack your intelligence?
    2) do they ‘presume’ that you are talking a pro-male stance before you actually state your purpose, or even signify gender?
    ( this is important, in the case of franc hoggle–no one knows his/her gender, do they?)hmmm…
    3)do they presume that all critique of female opinion is ‘misogynist’ and then, blame men for that?
    4)do they presume an awareness of ones social, or financial status? ( think women and wallets–bunch of wallet heads)

    Jason, this last one is important, so I will segregate it, but misandry feeds on attacking male social conections…

    5) when men speak of connections, they are really speaking of ‘power’.

    Pie-face infers as much, and the inherent misandry seeks to get its teeth into those connections with .

    “Hello, John Scumbag Kwok. Hint: Name dropping won’t work here. People here known powerful people, too. You’d be surprised who some of us know.”

    She/it even gendered the insult”Kwok”. She/it must smell a wallet…( deliberate sexist stereotype)and in the misandry riddled mind, the misandrists want the right to play ‘dress-up, and dollies” with male wallets, by causing competitive strategies–which is also important: men are engendered to compete–not born that way.

    AS for block quotes, really, again, there’s that crowd-source issue–it would be endless.

    WE can start here:
    If you used the US Mail to harass and threaten people anonymously WOMEN, you WOULD be in deep shit if your identity was learned.

    If you threatened people anonymously WOMEN over a phone line using a pay phone but were caught at it, you would be in deep shit if your identity was learned.

    If you try to solicit children anonymously WOMEN over the internet for sex and get caught at it, you’re in deep fucking shit when your identity is learned.

    (oops–Pteryxx tags didn’t format on the cut and paste)

    Every one of those comments phrases criminality in ‘male as perpetrator’ terms. In fact, many, if not most of the most rabid dissent about RW and women in general comes from women!!

    Misandry wastes no time at all perpetuating images of men as creeps, pedophiles, and other scary predators. ( and quite oddly–yet accurately– the three most prominent cases of missing children in the US right now all have female suspects)

    Worse, yet again, you, and to others miss the opportunity to examine women’s culpability in this great “misogynist” thought crime.

    Misandry, and I might add misanthropy as well, have at their root the phrasing of ‘potential harm’ in male as perpetrator only terms.

    Now, for an object lesson, imagine if Aquaria, or Ptyerryx above were raising a young boy. Would you want that heap of angry, rageful, and oddly framed dialogue to infect his mind?
    ( I know your answer here, and I expect you have already rationalized away the harm that women can cause a boy, so bear with me…)

    Then: would it also be O.K. for other women to project that anger and rage on your son–and also perpetuate the image of men as ‘stupid’ and ‘selfish’ and competitive, etc. onto and into his mind?

    Now, lastly, notice who called names first. Really. take that moment.

    And then, notice how illuminata jumps into the fray–after the others have done as I mentioned above–and projects this:

    “I just spent and entire post calling someone else names and using their gender as a the reason they’re CRAZY,”

    I never said anything that others didn’t say FIRST. See how that works out?

    But in a truly equal world ( which starts with my own actions) I don’t respect, or uphold the “women get tothrow shit first” rule.

    My comments are not gendered–theirs are, clearly.

    My comment are egalitarian–there’s are not, to whit:

    “YOU, Acquaria being a rude angry piece of shit–a nutcase with a vagina and an agenda, somehow asking a right to not be treated the way you treat others? Or treated as the nutcase you are?”

    The rage these pie-faces have is that I could care less about their gender, and THEY WANT ME TOO–if you replaced any of their vaginas with an asshole, the results would be the same. They are all still assholes, but double. Jerks are jerks, and deserve what they get; it’s how jerks learn.

    But really, if you can’t see the object lesson of women’s gendered insult and projection, then what’s the point?

  43. says

    2) do they ‘presume’ that you are talking a pro-male stance before you actually state your purpose, or even signify gender?
    ( this is important, in the case of franc hoggle–no one knows his/her gender, do they?)hmmm…

    I’m going to take a wild guess and say that this Albright Dougma is Hoggle just like Eva Beige was Hoggle. The hate for women is apparent. And yes, we know you are male, Hoggle. FFS.

  44. says

    Just in case you folks weren’t aware, when you enter an email address in the comments field, it’s mostly there to associate a gravatar with your account. When there’s no configured gravatar image, it generates you a unique randomly generated one. If “two people” use the same email address, they’ll show the same generated image.

    Knowing that Albright Dougma is pornalysis should help explain why Albright Dougma thinks he knows what pornalysis is saying. And considering I know pornalysis well enough to know either he did it on purpose leaving a clue to see who was paying attention, or he did it to tip his hand to me so he could go on trolling my commenters under a different name.

    Additionally, I’m still not seeing anything misandrist in what Aquaria was saying. I see things that are explicitly anti-feminist coming from some people in this comment thread, but nothing explicitly misogynist yet. With the possible exception of the very gendered epithet “cupcake”. (Yes, I know it comes from Pharyngula, and people there think it’s not gendered, but it certainly is.)

  45. says

    Please note that Marieke Hardy has removed her post “outing” Joshua Meggitt, the hate blogger has denied he is Meggitt and the real Meggitt (who is friend of mine) is considering his legal options. Republishing her allegations could be considering defamatory. As a courtesy to a young family who have been hurt by this completely unfounded bullshit, please remove references to Joshua Meggitt from comments.
    And bloggers, if you’re going to name and shame, be sure you don’t drag an innocent name through the mud.

  46. says

    Lucybeaumont,
    How coincidental, then, that the hate blogger is now ending his hate blogging according to his most recent post.

    You’ve also provided no evidence of the reason Hardy removed the post; it could have been as simple as that post drawing in too much traffic.

    And don’t tell us not to drag innocent names through the mud. Tell that to the trolls.

  47. Fred Phillips says

    How coincidental, then, that the hate blogger is now ending his hate blogging according to his most recent post.

    Wow, that’s all the evidence you have that Josh Meggitt is the hate blogger? I guess that’s about as much as Marieke Hardy has, too, considering he isn’t the hate troll, or whatever term they’re using. Both you and Hardy (and everyone else here, including Alethea H Claw, among others) should stop making claims about people without evidence. There can be some serious legal consequences.

  48. says

    We don’t know what evidence Marieke Hardy had. We don’t know why she took down the page. We DO know that she named Meggitt, and we can report that she named Meggitt, not because we agree that he is definitively the hate blogger, but because it’s a matter of fact. That’s who she named. If she turns out to be wrong, you’re right, it’s horrible for Meggitt to have to endure being accused of doing something he didn’t do.

    But you know what? It was also horrible for Hardy to endure being the target of hate speech for four years. I will not contribute to the chilly climate where you are not allowed to name the people who are targeting you without ironclad evidence. And I don’t believe anyone here is in any legal trouble for reporting that Hardy named Meggitt, whether Meggitt is responsible or not.

    I would like a full and proper accounting of that evidence, though. Because as Aratina says, it’s more than a little convenient that several days after the post disappeared, suddenly two Australians are visiting blogs that were only tangentially related to the event (in that a commenter mentioned it in comments) to try to threaten legal action.

  49. says

    @Fred Phillips

    Wow, that’s all the evidence you have that Josh Meggitt is the hate blogger? I guess that’s about as much as Marieke Hardy has, too, considering he isn’t the hate troll, or whatever term they’re using.

    That is exactly what I’d expect the real anti-Hardy blogger to say. Sow doubt, try to cast Hardy as the one lying, etc. We’ve seen it all before. It’s all been done to Rebecca Watson already. Yawn yawn yadda yadda…

    Both you and Hardy (and everyone else here, including Alethea H Claw, among others) should stop making claims about people without evidence. There can be some serious legal consequences.

    People were bringing up the revelations about the Hardy troll and I mistakenly thought they were implying that he was this other troll (see thread title) who gets off on hating specific women. About four or five people here corrected me on that in other locations. Did you read that? They corrected me. Otherwise, no one has said jack squat about Joshua Meggitt. What serious legal consequences could there be for that? Oh, that’s right–none.

  50. says

    Um der, “that’s what I’d expect the real anti-Hardy blogger to say”. It’s also what you’d expect the person who’s been defamed to say. And as for evidence, the onus is on the person doing the accusing to prove their accusations, not the other way around.
    I can’t imagine that in any other arena, you’d say “well we don’t know if anyone had any evidence but we do know this person was accused and that says it all”. WTF?
    I am not a troll, I am (worse!) a journalist for a Melbourne broadsheet. And this is indulgent BS.

  51. says

    And if you think it’s a coincidence that I’m visiting this blog, you can blame google. I have googled my friend’s name and you site came up and I’m trying to help him out. Can the conspiracy theories.

  52. Fred Phillips says

    We don’t know why she took down the page.

    Maybe you don’t. Other people do.

    But you know what? It was also horrible for Hardy to endure being the target of hate speech for four years.

    I agree.

    I will not contribute to the chilly climate where you are not allowed to name the people who are targeting you without ironclad evidence.

    Really? You’re prepared to trash someone’s reputation with something less than proof? I don’t suppose it occurs to you thaat you might not be naming “the people who are targeting you” if you don’t have “ironclad evidence”?

    And I don’t believe anyone here is in any legal trouble for reporting that Hardy named Meggitt, whether Meggitt is responsible or not.

    Best get some legal advice about this, as I am quite sure you are mistaken.

  53. Fred Phillips says

    @Aratina Cage:

    That is exactly what I’d expect the real anti-Hardy blogger to say. Sow doubt, try to cast Hardy as the one lying, etc.

    Right, and if he WASN’T the blogger he would do what exactly? Sit back and let his name be trashed over something he didn’t do? Please tell me what you would do if she named you as her internet stalker. Be specific. Thanks.

  54. says

    Okay, here’s what I’m saying, because you, a journalist, and you, a litigious dummy resepctively, seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to sweep into another jurisdiction and threaten legal actions.

    I do not know what the evidence was that led Hardy to finger Meggitt. If it is less than a video of Meggitt laughing into a camcorder about his latest hate post (e.g. “ironclad evidence”), then maybe Hardy was premature in naming him. Then again, maybe not. Here on the internet, people say very mean things to other people all the damn time, and some of it is actionable slander, some of it is not. For instance, threatening to rape a person to death is probably actionable if the real identity is discovered. Saying that the person who threatened to rape you to death is someone who it turns out is not, is not actually actionable as “libel” in just about any jurisdiction I’m aware of, if the person making the accusation is doing so in good faith.

    And saying that the people here who have reported that Hardy named Meggitt are definitely not actionable. If you’re a journalist, lucybeaumont, and you were to report that someone famous was accused of murder, but then evidence turned up that proved he didn’t do it, you aren’t about to get asked to go and find all the places where newspapers happen to exist that reprinted the accusation, and burn them, then purge the memories of all the people who remember reading those papers, lest you get sued for libel. Reporting on the accusation is not the same thing as accepting it without seeing that evidence.

    I’m really very sorry that your friend is being accused. I’m very glad that this has stopped Hardy’s hate blogger, and while I find it curious that there’s now a concerted campaign of multiple people to take her down legally coinciding with the hate blogger’s disappearance, I don’t think it’s a conspiracy by any stretch of the imagination. Just a curious coincidence, is all.

    Now, if it turns out that you running around threatening legal action against people who merely reported events that have happened, and you never bring any actual charges against people, then you’re devaluing the institutions. Talk to a lawyer and see if you stand a chance of actually winning some sort of suit for slander/libel over people reporting what one person said about another. I know our countries are really very different, but our legal systems are not so different that you can bluster like this and expect everyone on every comment thread on every blog, most of whom have actually done pretty close to nothing at all, to fold.

  55. says

    These are new areas of media law where jurisdictions are increasingly meaningless. In Australia, we have very strong defamation laws where republishing can be defamatory. You would hope that the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” would hold worldwide but I guess not?

    No one should be hate blogged (it’s happened to me and I agree, it wasn’t nice) but here we are talking about a public figure with one vile hate blogger, who has dragged an innocent person’s name out for hundreds to vilify. They are seeking legal advice and we’ll see where that goes.

    I think out of courtesy — not legal obligation, if you don’t see that as an issue — this thread should consider removing a real person’s name who’s been accusing without proof. I’m talking human decency here and I thought that’s what the trolling discussion was meant to be about. Otherwise, who is trolling who here?

    Find it “curious” and “coincidental” that a decent person has defenders if you like. Wouldn’t it be a sad world if he didn’t? What would you or your friends do?

  56. says

    You’ll find that nothing has been republished here. Nobody’s quoted anything that she’s said. A commenter reported on the accusation. Complete unknowns came in both guns blazing, then when I put them in their place about the legalities, they resort to “human decency”. That would have more truck if you’d asked, instead of demanded, special dispensation.

    As it stands now, I would love to see the evidence available to Marieke before I’d allow anyone to say that Meggitt definitely did or did not do anything. Innocent until proven guilty goes both ways. Does Marieke Hardy get vilified for making an incorrect accusation if she did it in good faith? Do commenters on random blogs have to endure threats of legal action for mentioning something that’s already long since gone viral? Have you ever heard of the Streisand Effect?

  57. says

    No, not special dispensation, just fair dealing. And yes, Marieke or anyone making baseless accusations should be vilified. As far as “both guns blazing”? Give me a break. My words were:

    “As a courtesy to a young family who have been hurt by this completely unfounded bullshit, please remove references to Joshua Meggitt from comments.”

    Hardly threatening legal action. A simple request. I’m an unknown on this page but you’ve been discussing people unknown to you. I’ve used my real name in good faith.

    I’m going to stop here. I’m clearly wasting my time trying to encourage you to show some empathy for a crap situation someone has found themselves in through no fault of their own. I sincerely hope you don’t ever find yourself in a similar situation and have anyone trying to defend you face a response along the lines of “well you would say that wouldn’t you” and “aha! how convenient!”

    The irony that this is a discussion about the evils of trolling is laughable. Enjoy.

  58. says

    All I’ve said about Meggitt is:
    a) Marieke Hardy named him as her hate-blogger. (True.)
    b) He lives in Coburg. (A neutral statement of fact, which even if mistaken is not libellous.)
    c) A question as to whether he might be Hoggle. (Intended to be rhetorical and counterfactual, but even on face value it’s a question, not libellous.)
    d) I don’t think he’s Hoggle. (Opinion, also not libellous.)

    If it is a genuine mistaken identity, then that’s a real problem and I can quite understand that Meggitt might decide to sue Hardy over that. Or at very least seek some sort of public retraction and apology. Assuming that she acted in good faith, it could still turn out to be a mistake – such as a different person of the same name, or some third party using a hacked account of Meggitt’s.

    But unrelated people threatening other unrelated people is just plain silly. (That point is addressed to Fred, who has been blustering away about legal action, and not to Lucy who I think has been quite reasonable.)

    Of course, this does add another dimension to the question of outing a harasser. What if you get the wrong one? I gather with hoggle that the identification is firm, because it comes from someone who knows him personally. The Tom Johnson/Wally Smith affair went well, too. But you’d definitely want to have very good evidence.

  59. says

    @lucybeaumont

    Um der, “that’s what I’d expect the real anti-Hardy blogger to say”. It’s also what you’d expect the person who’s been defamed to say.

    Not really. I think if a wrongly named person had a heart, she or he might be a little more understanding of Hardy if Hardy had indeed named the wrong person. The least you could do instead of making a big scene here over how unfair it all is would be to direct us to evidence that Hardy has issued a retraction about the hate blogger’s identity.

    And as for evidence, the onus is on the person doing the accusing to prove their accusations, not the other way around.

    Has anyone said differently? Hardy did not disclose her evidence so we don’t know it. How do you know that her evidence isn’t solid?

    I can’t imagine that in any other arena, you’d say “well we don’t know if anyone had any evidence but we do know this person was accused and that says it all”. WTF?

    Hardy–hello?? Hardy obviously has some sort of evidence. You think she just made it up? Brilliant!

    I am not a troll, I am (worse!) a journalist for a Melbourne broadsheet. And this is indulgent BS.

    Some journalists are indeed worse than trolls. I have no idea who you are or what your beef is with Hardy, and, I am sorry to say, I really don’t care!

  60. says

    @Fred Phillips

    Right, and if he WASN’T the blogger he would do what exactly? Sit back and let his name be trashed over something he didn’t do? Please tell me what you would do if she named you as her internet stalker. Be specific. Thanks.

    I might work with Hardy to figure out what evidence she had that pinpointed me and then offer her help finding the real hate-blogger. I would rather work with Hardy and get her to issue a retraction and a sincere apology than go around to blogs across the planet trying to cover up the slightest mention of the allegations.

  61. Fred Phillips says

    I might work with Hardy to figure out what evidence she had that pinpointed me and then offer her help finding the real hate-blogger. I would rather work with Hardy and get her to issue a retraction and a sincere apology than go around to blogs across the planet trying to cover up the slightest mention of the allegations.

    Marieke Hardy has 50,000 twitter followers, who all got to hear about this. If she wrongly outed you as the hate blogger to that many people, I sincerely doubt you would be working with her to do anything. You’d go straight to a lawyer, more likely.

    And to Jason and Alethea, I haven’t threatened anyone with anything. Re-read the things I’ve said while applying some basic comprehension and this should be apparent.

  62. says

    Republishing her allegations could be considering defamatory. As a courtesy to a young family who have been hurt by this completely unfounded bullshit, please remove references to Joshua Meggitt from comments.

    Both you and Hardy (and everyone else here, including Alethea H Claw, among others) should stop making claims about people without evidence. There can be some serious legal consequences.

    Sounds a lot like “You’ve got a real nice shop here. Be a real shame if something were to happen to it.”

    It’s indirect speech, thinly veiled legal threats. I don’t care if you’re Meggitt’s friend and he’s actually innocent, or if you’re the hate blogger himself looking to shore up support and silence critics and otherwise hurt Hardy. You don’t get to come swaggering into a place that happens to have commenters talking about an event on the internet and say “remove all references to that event or there ‘may be legal consequences’” without being challenged.

    I will not assist you in your campaign to make the internet forget something. Until we see evidence one way or another, we will comment on and speculate on the events surrounding Marieke’s suffering through four years of hate blogging and the circumstances that made her hate blogger disappear suddenly and extremely conveniently when she made her accusation. The harder you push to scrub Meggitt’s name from people’s comment threads, the less good you’ll do on his behalf, because of the Streisand Effect I mentioned earlier.

    And if you sue commenters over mentioning his name, his name will be mentioned exponentially more.

    I recommend you simply desist in your campaign. You’re doing more harm than good if Meggitt’s innocent, and if he’s guilty, you’re just being a troll.

  63. says

    @Fred Phillips

    Marieke Hardy has 50,000 twitter followers, who all got to hear about this. If she wrongly outed you as the hate blogger to that many people, I sincerely doubt you would be working with her to do anything. You’d go straight to a lawyer, more likely.

    You know what, Fred, I just told you what I might do. If you didn’t want to accept that I might not be sue-happy and that I might be a little more understanding than you and capable of looking past the initial wave of vitriol that might occur, then why did you even bother to ask me what I would do if I were wrongly accused of hate blogging?

    Did you hear that, Fred? You asked me what I thought I would do, and I told you what I thought I would do. You don’t get to disregard that and tell me now what I would do. I think I know myself better than you.

  64. Yaris says

    I too was checking what had been written about my (very nice and very innocent) friend Mr Meggit

    Forgive me if I share the view that the tone seems all rather aggressive in defending freedom of speech, which surprised me given the spirit of this blog and the adage that with freedom comes responsibility.

    I’m not going to add much to it all – although from my skim read everyone’s intentions above seem honorable – but I’m with Lucy on this one – wishing it had never happened – and I didn’t read her entry as threatening legal action at all, though it seems to have been construed that way for whatever reasons.

    Perhaps we can (or I can at least) accept M Hardy seems to have been given very bad IT/journalism/legal advice before outing someone. There seems to be no conspiracy. Just cock-up. And put yourself in my friend’s shoes – what a horrible thing to experience from someone (Hardy)who ironically was intending to out and discuss internet related abuse. I hope there’s a happy ending to all this – as putting aside the details, the actual issues raised by M Hardy’s stance and then mistaken reaction are valid and interesting. I hope I don’t get abused or misconstrued for writing this! But a final reflection is bringing a family and kids into it, as M Hardy did in her blog, especially without proof, that was, let’s say risky and not the most responsible thing ever done in journalism. That’s what made the impact of her mistake twice as bad as it would have been anyway. Those kids had to go to school the next day….

  65. Frank M. Ulman says

    Lucy Beaumont: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=547462893

    “I’ve used my real name in good faith.”

    I hope you are smarter than that, and if you are not, start NOW!!!

    If your name is really Lucy Beaumont, I hope you are smart enough to change it to Lacy Beauregard next time you deal with these people–their entire goal is entrapment, and blackmail.

    You should know better than that! These are not writers, these are clueless wonder-breads–crusaders for middle class virtue! They will eat you, and your legitimate dissent as quick as they will hear you.

    Talk to the authorities in you country before you deal with these people–put them on a watch list before they do that to you!

    And this, coming from a random friend who knows them from the get-go.

    We call it a ‘honey-pot’ in the real world. It’s just there to capture you at a crucial moment of time, and bog you down.

  66. Fred Phillips says

    Did you hear that, Fred? You asked me what I thought I would do, and I told you what I thought I would do. You don’t get to disregard that and tell me now what I would do. I think I know myself better than you.

    Well, it’s not so much that I disregarded it, as I just didn’t believe it. Did you hear that, Aratina? I didn’t believe it. I am so sorry if that hurts your feelings, complete stranger on the other side of the world.

  67. says

    Fred@81: considering you’re here trying to bluster us into submission, protecting your friend from the hurt feelings he’s getting by being (ostensibly) falsely named as the hate blogger, from people you don’t know on the other side of the world, you get the Irony No-Prize.

    Yaris is the most reasonable of the trio defending Meggitt here. Nobody is going to abuse or misconstrue you, Yaris, assuming you are in fact three people and not sockpuppets of the same Mr. Meggitt.

    Which, you must grant, is well possible in this internet — that a hate blogger was caught out and went into damage control mode to keep his good name from being sullied by his horrible actions. If we were to name Franc Hoggle and lay out all the evidence presented to us by his acquaintance, he could very easily create numerous sockpuppets to testify as to his good nature and how he could never do what we have evidence of him doing. We could end up turning what should be an open-and-shut case into a he-said-she-said, even when “she said” has real evidence for it.

    That’s one of my primary fears about outing Hoggle — not that we turn out to be wrong, but that we turn out to be right and he manages somehow to turn the tables on us and convince everyone that he’s the victim of mistaken identity and is really the nicest, sweetest guy imaginable and we’re all just out to pillory him.

  68. says

    @Fred Phillips

    Well, it’s not so much that I disregarded it, as I just didn’t believe it. Did you hear that, Aratina? I didn’t believe it. I am so sorry if that hurts your feelings, complete stranger on the other side of the world.

    Since when did everyone have to act according to Fred Phillips’ whim and fancy?

    No, Fred. No. Fuck you. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, but it does show that you are a disingenuous asshole.

  69. ildi says

    Wait a minute, I’m confused. I thought those blogs were just “satire/troll – why u mad?” when they were posted under a pseudonym… What changes them into hate blogs when someone is outed for writing the content?

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