That’s the only word for some of the recent spats in what were previously some of my favourite corners of cyberspace. First there were the feminister-than-thou wars about lipstick and marriage (see Pandagon and Feministe), then there were the pseudonymity wars about accountability, stalking and outing (complete with accusations of defamation) (see Feministe for why zuzu’s taken a hiatus), and now there’s people threatening to kill a blogger’s dog.
This sucks. Really sucks.
I wish I had something clever and powerful and memorable to say that would just make people stop getting revoltingly horrible over what other people write. Of course we’re going to disagree, and rightly so (a world of uniformity is an horrific idea). The arena of ideas ought to be vigorous and opinionated. Rhetoric and polemic are not only worthwhile disciplines in the art of persuasion, they are art forms sometimes worth pursuing for their own sake. Some people play flame wars just for fun.
Even creepy cyberstalking, while disturbing, is fairly harmless. Moving on into threats against the wellbeing of people and their families and pets crosses a far starker line.