The prominent blogger and author Kathy Sierra has recently cancelled a tutorial at a conference after receiving death threats.
Obviously this is a matter for the police to investigate – and the matter has been reported to them.
It’s also an issue that is causing a lot of discussion on the net. The strange thing is that a large portion of the discussion seems based on the idea that what happened to Kathy is somehow unusual. The sexual aspect of the attacks on Kathy is bizarre but campaigns of death threats are far from unusual in our society. The first post I saw to nail this is the I had death threats in high school blog entry. Death threats and campaigns of intimidation are standard practice in most high schools. After children are taught that such things are OK for six years straight it’s hardly a surprise that some of them act in the same manner outside school!
But I don’t expect anything to change. Columbine apparently didn’t convince anyone who matters that there is a serious problem in high-schools, I don’t expect anything else to.
I can clearly remember when I first heard about the Columbine massacre, a colleague told me about it and explained that he barracked for the killers due to his own experiences at high-school. While my former colleague probably had not given his statements much consideration, any level of support for serial-killers is something to be concerned about.
This is not to trivialise Kathy’s experience. But I think that discussion should be directed at more fundamental problems in society instead of one of the symptoms. If the causes are not addressed then such things will keep happening.