Smart marketing, good business

Dave Futrelle is getting death threats for blogging about the death threats sent to Anita Sarkeesian. Meta-death threats. Second order death threats. Death threats to punish exposure of death threats.

And if this is what my inbox looks like for merely writing about Sarkeesian, I can only imagine what her inbox looks like. I suspect she gets threats like these all the time; the reason she called the police about several of the threats she got this week is that the threateners posted her personal information as well.

But, according to some observers, it’s your own fault, and her own fault. You should both shut up about them, because.


thunderf00t ‏@thunderf00t Aug 29
the first advice the FBI gave me (which I knew already) is never respond to real death threats. @femfreq goes straight to twitter and blogs!

D.J. Grothe ‏@DJGrothe Aug 29
@thunderf00t Just like Watson. I certainly have never publicized death threats I’ve received over the years, tho it may have gotten me PR.

@thunderf00t A “Page-o-Hate” is smart marketing, good business. But bad if you want less hate (“don’t feed the trolls,” etc.).

That’s impressive, isn’t it? Phil Mason thinks Sarkeesian should keep her threats a secret – and he insinuates that they’re not “real.”

That’s an interesting idea, isn’t it. No threats are “real” until they’re carried out. But guess what – nobody knows ahead of time which ones are going to be carried out and which ones aren’t. It’s really not up to random onlookers to say “oh that’s not a real threat” about threats that are sent to other people.

But Grothe’s contribution is even more disgusting, if only because Phil Mason, fortunately, is not the head of a big skeptics’ organization, while Grothe is. It’s not becoming for Grothe to belittle threats sent to Rebecca Watson. It’s even less becoming for him to say she does it as a marketing ploy.

But hey, maybe the threats are real. Or maybe not. Who knows, who knows.


thunderf00t ‏@thunderf00t Aug 29
@DJGrothe IF they were credible threats I would have told no one but FBI. Else u just undermine any possible investigation. I think its PR!

D.J. Grothe ‏@DJGrothe Aug 29
@thunderf00t Maybe so, who knows. With things like that, I say just err on the side of caution: report to authorities, full stop.

“Maybe so, who knows.”



  1. Stacy says

    They were public threats. Made on Twitter and Tumblr.

    But of course their little safety tips are not the point. The point is to diminish or if possible dismiss the threats, and diminish the seriousness of the constant barrage of hate feminists receive, and Mason’s and Grothe’s own roles in supporting and enabling it

  2. kellym says

    I will never stop being grateful to DJ Grothe for revealing the character of James Randi. For over three decades I admired and supported the man for his purported honesty and integrity. Given the dishonesty and vindictive pettiness of DJ Grothe, not to mention the threats to ruin the career of a scientist unless she lied to protect a wealthy powerful serial sexual harasser, my former opinion of Randi has been proven beyond all reasonable doubt, to have been mistaken. If Phil Plait had remained president of the JREF, I might never have discovered the truth.

  3. smichovske says

    Phil Mason aka Thunderf00t never made PR with the threats from DawahFilms? He played the clip where Dawah makes the threat over and over again, it was included in god knows how many videos he made, so that the clip went viral in youtube atheist circles. And he also responded to him in a video about the threats. Thunderf00t’s fanboys than reported Dawah to the FBI. And now that same Thunderf00t talks about PR? Really? That man has nerves! Note*, in no way do I think that Anita’s threats are PR. From the amount of hate she gets, from rape games with her image to hateful comments, she should take all steps of caution to be and (feel) safe. My dislike for Thunderf00t grows stronger every time I read something new that comes from his “camp”. Yuk!

  4. Jackie says

    So when women receive threats from men, it is the women who are being devious and whose behavior deserves criticism?

  5. Jackie says

    At first, I hated to see James Randi’s legacy marred by Grothe. Now, I agree with Kellym. I’m glad the truth of the matter is out in the open.

    Then again, I once had a soft spot for Dawkins and wished he’d stop embarrassing himself. Now, I hope the stink he’s put on his own name never washes off.

  6. weatherwax says

    So remember, if you don’t publish the death/ rape threats, it’s just because you’re only making them up and they don’t really exist.

    And if you do publish them, it’s just for PR.

  7. says

    You know, projection. DJ Grothe seems to see everything as a marketing ploy. You’re doing it for the clicks. The only reason you’d stir up drama is for the big money. You only post those threats to draw attention to yourself.

    The man hasn’t got an ounce of sincerity in him.

    I get threats all the time, too. But years ago, when they were at their worst, I started my “I get email” posts specifically to highlight the stupidity of the things they were saying, and I also added a threat of my own to the front page: “I reserve the right to publicly post, with full identifying information about the source, any email sent to me that contains threats of violence.” One fellow got his wife fired at a florist’s company for doing that.

    And it works. Right after that, the threats dried up significantly, from a couple every day to maybe one a week…and that one is usually so pathetic and stupid, that the guy (it’s always a guy) was unaware of my policy.

    What DJ Grothe and Thunderf00t are doing is pushing the dogma of “don’t feed the trolls”. THAT DOESN’T WORK. We’ve known it doesn’t work for many years. It’s really just a ploy selectively applied (they obviously don’t practice it themselves) to convince people they don’t like to gag themselves. Don’t fall for it. When a wrong is done, slap it on a banner and raise it above the parapet and make sure everyone knows about it — don’t let the cowards fester in the dark as they like it, expose them.

  8. karmacat says

    I suspect DJ and thunderfoot don’t want trolls exposed because their behavior tends to be trollish. DJ has certainly shown that he wants to hide the bad behavior of others. Maybe thunderfoot can be renamed trollfoot

  9. Brony says

    Nothing throws a temper tantrum quite like a bully that has been caught and is in trouble. There is a group of people that have no problem acting as emotional terrorists in order to get people to do what they want. They are becoming more and more obvious to everyone using the internet and they don’t like that one bit.

    I wish we had some sort of social platform that we could use to organize people that are willing and able to do the dirty work of targeting individual comment sections of websites and other places where the more public parts of this sort of harassment occur. A functional opposition to social harassment would be very useful and would even draw more attention to the problem. Society loves watching a fight.

    As for the tweets,

    the first advice the FBI gave me (which I knew already) is never respond to real death threats.

    Yes let’s just let the people making threats stand unopposed and keep the terror they inflict nice and quiet. Because the FBI is just all sorts of effective at chasing down anonymous harassers and making sure that people don’t use death threats to manipulate others into silence. History sure teaches us that the best way to counter behavior like this is to shut up about it while the situation is ongoing and relavent.

    I certainly have never publicized death threats I’ve received over the years, tho it may have gotten me PR.

    Yep! What works for you with your position and power in society works for everyone! The identity and nature of persons who want to kill you for what you are saying are completely useless to anyone outside of cheap advertisement.

    A “Page-o-Hate” is smart marketing, good business. But bad if you want less hate (“don’t feed the trolls,” etc.).

    Yeah. Collecting data on the substance of hateful communication is not valuable at all outside of a childish “look at me!” It’s not going to do anything to strategically identify and categorize the nature of a threat for individual and collective action. I’m just not interested in what I might potentially encounter if I choose to get more visible politically speaking and I don’t care at all about knowing what people I consider allies are dealing with.

    Fuck that noise. This is social warfare. FootGrothe there does not get take weapons and strategic awareness away for me or my allies. This is transparent and self-serving and deserves to be commented on as such.

  10. latsot says

    Rebecca’s publishing of some of the nastier comments clearly was PR. What’s wrong with PR? Especially when it’s aimed at raising awareness of an important issue that was previously hugely under-reported.

    It’s not PR that Grothe and Mason are objecting to. But we knew that.

  11. Brony says

    Good point latsot. The core here is an attempt to get attention. The attempt is characterized by people with a personal beef with Sarkeesian and feminism as “PR”, and by people concerned with abuse and harassment as a reasonable means of drawing attention to a social problem.

  12. screechymonkey says

    latsot @12:

    It’s not PR that Grothe and Mason are objecting to. But we knew that.

    The guy who until recently ran an organization best known for publicizing a million-dollar challenge?

    And the guy who brags about “winning” an argument because of the number of YouTube views or thumbs-ups he gets?

    Nah, they’re shy, retiring types, content to just publish their intellectual treatises quietly and let them find their own audience.

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