I’ve always been a staunch proponent of anonymity on the web. It seemed like the right to privacy and free speech needs to include the right to be able to say things free of the fear of repercussions. Sometimes, things happen that shatter this belief.
Kathy Sierra has recently been subjected to some hate speech of the ugliest sort. Why do people feel the need to resort to sexual references and death threats? Why do they feel the need to attack people who are nothing but genuinely nice? (Granted, I don’t know Kathy in person, but her writings are nothing if not full of respect and love for other people.)
I’m even more at a loss to understand how this can happen on websites that are associated with some major names in blogging. How can those people not stand up and protest this abuse of their sites?
Maybe we are indeed better off in a world where people are forced to take responsibility for their actions. I keep hearing the “fear of repercussions argument” – but in the long run, everybody who ever effected major change spoke publicly. Gandhi spoke out. Martin Luther King spoke out. Abraham Lincoln spoke out. Jefferson wasn’t exactly quiet.
I’d love to hear counter examples so I can go back to my more idealistic world view – but right now, I think anonymity serves no purpose except to shield perpetrators of crimes.
Addendum: Seth Godin just said it much better than I could