Threats: Any Nutjob Can Buy A Keyboard

After writing about Nancy Leong’s post on inappropriate exercise of editorial discretion, I stumbled on a retwit by Nino Pribetic that struck a familiar note.

rape threat

It led to a post that seemed to confirm that this was the person Nancy was writing about.  Some may find this odd, but I had no interest in figuring out the mystery earlier. It didn’t matter to me who the target had been before, as it wasn’t about the individual but the issue.  Yet here I was, face to face, so to speak, with the target of threats.

I know nothing about Sarah Kendzior.  I don’t know her politics or ideology. I’ve never read anything else she’s written.  I know nothing about her personally. She is nothing more than a disconnected name in the universe, and the only bit of information I have is that she told the twittersphere that she received rape threats.

The nature, number and details of those threats remain unknown.  For my purposes, it’s more than sufficient that Kendzior says so.

When I responded to Nancy’s post, I did so with my usual sensitivity:

There are times that editorial discretion is used for exactly that purpose.  That’s the risk one takes when engaging in public speech.  And there are times when we have neither need nor intent to do a person harm, and can exercise the discretion to shut up, even if the person whose speech is at issue didn’t.

But editorial discretion is exercised by the republisher and is not subject to the approval of the original speaker, and if others think it was exercised poorly, then they, like Nancy, can write more words to castigate the decision.  That’s how speech works.

There is an ugly dark side to the fabulousness of expressing thoughts publicly. It attracts the crazies, the angry and the disinhibited.  I’ve been told that this happens far more to women than men. The lack of any reliable data for this leaves me unclear about this, but it’s also not relevant for this post. It happens. It happens to men. It happens to women.

They sell keyboards to anybody. There’s no sanity test. I see the craziness that comes my way, and I’ve read some of the craziness that comes to women.  I’ve seen threats of rape made to women online that follow a track that gives rise to a fair belief that it’s a serious threat.  That it may not ultimately happen doesn’t change the reasonable fear that it could be real.

Why?  What causes a person to engage in threats of rape, or harm, or anything of the sort, to anyone?  Do you think it’s funny?  Do you think you win the argument by threatening to rape someone?  Are you just insane?

These are discussions of issues and concerns on the internet. Chances are very good that you will disagree, sometimes vehemently, with another person’s opinion. That’s the nature of discussion.  That’s the nature of the internet.  Someone says something with which you completely disagree, that really pisses you off.  Fine. Tell them they’re a blithering idiot and are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!!!

But threaten to rape them?  That’s nuts.

It’s the underbelly thing, isn’t it?  Women expose their soft underbelly when it comes to rape, and while you may not be able to affect them on an intellectual level, whether because you don’t have the chops or you don’t have the goods, you can always attack the soft underbelly.  Guys can shrug it off better, as we’ve grown up with other guys threatening to kick our butts and it’s nothing new. But rape strikes at a place where women can’t shrug it off, so that’s where you strike?

This is sick.  To threaten a guy with a beating is infantile and warped, but it’s nowhere as sick as threatening a woman with rape.

It doesn’t matter what a woman says, or how strongly you disagree with her. It doesn’t matter how dangerous you think her ideas are, or how brilliant you think yours are. You don’t do this. Ever. Under any circumstances.

Anyone who threatens to rape a woman is a seriously disturbed, horrible human being. Anyone who bolsters someone who threatens to rape a woman is just as sick.  As readers know, I am hardly inclined to embrace the notion that rape and sexual assault are whatever a woman decides they are, and feminists have done themselves and their gender no favor by disconnecting words used to describe horrible crimes from their definitions. They’ve watered down the words, and they’ve undermined the experience of other women who have suffered actual rape and sexual assault, forcing the rest of us to wonder whether they’re talking about the real things or their fantasy world when they utter rape or sexual assault.

But to attack an idea by threatening rape doesn’t implicate these collateral issues. If you hate an idea, attack it all you want, but the idea, not threaten to harm the person who expresses it.

I won’t tolerate comments from people who want to do harm here (and there are a few who constantly write comments about harming others).  If you think it’s cool, smart, funny or effective to attack someone by threats of harm, especially threats of rape, I think you are sick.  If you support others who do this, I think you are sick.  If you see someone doing this, tell them they are sick.

As much as you may not share the feminist or neo-feminist agenda, then conduct yourself with some small measure of chivalry.  So you’re a man, and proud to be one?  That’s fine, but being a man doesn’t mean acting like a jerk. Anyone who threatens rape is not a man. He’s just a sick asshole. He’s not a member of my gender.  We hold doors for women. We don’t threaten women.

It’s hard enough to tolerate the heat in this kitchen when there are millions of people with keyboards out there, each of whom believes they are entitled to express their deepest thought in the middle of the night with only the glow of a screen warming their face.  But threats of rape are intolerable, no matter what.

8 comments on “Threats: Any Nutjob Can Buy A Keyboard

  1. WT

    I absolutely agree with everything you say.

    That said, Kendzior has lied so blatantly and indisputably about several issues here that it’s not clear whether anyone should believe she received rape threats either. See Matt Bruenig’s blog or Fredrik DeBoer’s blog for several examples.

    1. SHG Post author

      Don’t care either way. Don’t know Kendzior from a hole in the wall. This isn’t about her, even if her situation was the genesis for the post. This is a post about making rape threats to anyone, regardless of what happened to Kendzior, so save whatever dispute there is about Kendzior’s veracity for somewhere else.

  2. John Barleycorn

    Outstanding esteemed one.

    When you get around to putting on your pastor-imam-rabbi-priest hat while wearing your ironed secular socks you really can put the neo in chivalry.

    I am impressed.

    You strolls beyond the reservation boundary bonfires are refreshing.

  3. John Barleycorn

    BTW…In case it slipped right on past you.

    The matrix of advertising algorithms is a mystery so close to the poignant tip of dry humor that I am starting to get nervous. Artificial intelligence is here perhaps.

    Not at all to distract from the serious nature of her “easy” or your sincere remarks esteemed one.
    But did you know that link to Sarah Kendzior’s site of her writing a “personal” essay which she insists she does not do, included an advertisement cleverly disguised at the bottom of her post as to nearly seem a part of it, for Kleenex Cottonelle entitled “Steering the Conversation”?

    The British spokeswoman is very interested to learn how to drive on the “right” (left) side of the road in America. But she is very insistent to discuss with her driving instructors (whom happen to be all male) how they wipe their bum. She has very specific rules, just like the rules of the road, for how she wipes her bum.

    I should have gone into advertising long before I created my first line of action figure heroes.
    Chivalry is dead. We are all fucked! The baby butt wipe is a convenience that will destroy the world and gender relations as we know them. I can’t wait!

    I wonder if, someone with the skills and resources reversed the gender relations in this Kleenex Cottonelle “Steering the Conversation” ad, if at long last all of Western Civilization would not land on the orbiting asteroid Perspective and its sister tail Folly.

    Meanwhile there are laws being drawn up at this very moment about purchasing a keyboard without identification to once and for all deal with all the bad people in the world. What could possibly be wrong with that? (Zappa link omitted only to preserve order and avoid confusion).

    Again not to distract from the tone or message of this post but everyone should give the moist baby butt wipe in conjunction with a dry finishing wipe a try.

    How you wipe your figurative or literal bum or conscience is a decisive mater paramount to the advancement and consciousness of humanity.

    And I fully agree, don’t be an asshole behind the keyboard.

    Besides the threat of rape and rape itself is not only medieval, the last I heard, it was only acceptably practiced amongst polite society when carried out by the CIA with the intelligent assistance of the NSA under the watchful guard of the DOD.

    Good luck and don’t forget what Bob said…

  4. Anon

    Regarding your statement “’I’ve been told that this happens far more to women than men. The lack of any reliable data for this leaves me unclear about this”. Here is an academic paper providing what appears to be (one) example of “reliable data” for the claim that women receive more verbal attacks online than men. Specifically, they found that female-sounding usernames in IRC channels received many more private messages with “sexual explicit or threatening language” than male or ambiguous usernames.

    The paper is: Robert Meyer & Michel Cukier “Assessing the Attack Threat due to IRC Channels” DOI: 10.1109/DSN.2006.12 . A relevant quote is: “Users with female names are, however, far more likely to receive malicious private messages” (page 5).

    I found that paper via a footnote in a paper by Danielle Keats Citron, “Cyber Civil Rights”, which in turn I was referred to from Nancy Leong’s recent post titled “A Cyberharassment Bibliography”.

    Hopefully this is useful and or informative.

    (also posted to pastebin with ID wU6nPXsU )

      1. Jane Barleycoen

        Well, “go fuck yourself” esteemed one for not reading the entire footnotes of the paper.

        You rotten bastard, flippant flyer, flock of feces shilling, flagrant proposition player you. How fucking dare you bet the river, then raise, the raise then raise and cap with the bottom end of a full house?

        I am not on this but not, not on this, I will go, 😉 but beware the width of the roll of a planers width of thirty grit sandpaper to sexually torture you exist now by design and if you are glossing over potential empirical science and theory AND stuff….

        I could care less as the empirical formula is the holly grail.


        The weight, purpose, and width of the sandpaper is not relative and the planers wide belt does do the its job when the glued up doors and countertops submit to perfection before being suffocated, stained, and finished with impervious finishes that seal the moment until the next generation comes along.

        Reading and writing are the notches on the surface.

        1. Jane Barleycoen

          Let it rain, this document lovingly huge, almost a stake document but not for dinner?… I like it that way!

          This excerpt will not be helpful. Figured I should share…

          “Recent research has shown that even modern hard disks have complex failure modes that do not conform to “failstop” operation. Disks exhibit partial failures like block access errors and block corruption. Commodity operating systems are required to deal with such failures as commodity hard disks are known to be failure-prone. An important operating system component that is exposed to disk failures is the virtual memory system. In this paper, we examine the failure handling policies of different virtualmemory systems for different classes of partial disk errors. We use type and context aware fault injection to explore as many of the internal code paths as possible. From experiments, we find that failure handling policies in current virtual memory systems are at best simplistic, and often inconsistent or even absent. Our fault injection technique also identifies bugs in the failure handling code in these systems. The study identifies possible reasons for poor failure handling, which can help in the design of a failure-aware virtual memory system”

          Hope you are all paying attention to the wheels and the track. I love it so that the train has left the station.

          Well, it is summertime and all. And I don’t often read without tea of some varieity during summer.

          Not “fucking with you” or the reference to the paper Anon. I really, really don’t want to read it. Give me some more juice and I will and go stoic with any further comments.

          Please, pretty please, I really, really, really don’t want to read this thing but I will if you bring me the perfect 120 degree juice!

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