In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.
It feels grandiose to use the words of Martin Luther King on the subject of blogging, but I can’t think of anything more appropriate to describe my recent experience with hate mail.
Remember when I was suddenly bombarded with comments from angry lunatics? I think it went on for three days. I recall sitting at my computer late at night when I literally couldn’t keep up with the volume of nasty personal attacks. I typed as fast as I could but the unmoderated comments appeared every few seconds. The tone became more and more psychotic. It was an epic feeding frenzy that I allowed to happen because I felt to strongly about free speech.
I’ve thought a lot about mob behavior. What is it about violence (in this case, verbal abuse) that is so contagious? Why do people observe abuse and then feel empowered to join in, rather than denounce it? I’ve read that if you’re being raped. you’re more likely to get help if only one other man is at the scene. If it’s a group of men, they are more likely to join in.
The hate mail stopped just as suddenly as it started. One determined troll keeps reminding me how awful I am, but everyone else has slunk back into the woodwork or where ever they came from. I guess it’s only fun for them to attack if they feel protected by a crowd.
It’s so discouraging to see human nature at its very worst. It’s also disappointing that only one blogger was willing to speak out about this abuse – Kate of Make Do Style was outraged and said so. She is one in a million. No one else had the courage or empathy to take on the situation, or maybe no one else cared. But it could happen to anybody. If I saw it happen on another blog, you can bet that I’d condemn it here, as forcefully as I could.
Free expression is genuinely important to me! I’m not sure what crosses the line from free speech to hate speech but I know a gang rape when I see one. I’m going to stop moderating comments and I’m hoping we can all have fun being bitches, without degenerating into a massive clusterfuck.