Is Trump Mania Responsible for the Online Harassment Campaign Against Three University of Washington Teachers?

Comments

1
Can these UW professors grow a spine and learn to distinguish between actual threats and "online harassment" i.e. comments and messages anyone with half a brain can ignore or block?

They don't have to pay attention to these messages, much less mewl and cry to the press about it. Be an adult.
2
@1: Ok, but how exactly can one really ever tell the difference in some cases? I think it is summed up pretty well in the closing paragraph, if nothing becomes a credible threat until it is carried out, how is that protecting people?

I mean, I saw a comment from someone on here a couple weeks ago calling for the widespread and organized murder of white people. Sure, it seems like cowardly bullshit, but how can one really tell?

For all I know, that person is going out to buy a gun to murder people. Or they are just napping right now. Who knows?

Maybe only .1% of internet threats are serious, but that is cold comfort to the person on the wrong end of the .1%.
3
It would be easier to take this article from this paper seriously if there weren't writers and editors here at the Stranger who didn't engage in deliberate misrepresentation of the very professors they claim to support.

I still take these threats seriously and understand there is a huge gulf between threats of rape and repeatedly misrepresenting the professional views of others, but this paper doesn't have a great record. Change starts at home and all that.
4
Of course the first comment on this thread was a troll, attempting to minimize harrassment.

When protester on the campus has already been shot by a neo nazi fascist, it becomes apparent their "free.speech" is harassment that can directly lead to violence.

But no amount of rational evidence can dissuade a troll on the side of neo nazis and facists who also harasses with his attempts to blame the victims.
5
I noticed that the college RepubliKKKans who sponsor these white supremacist events are no longer even attempting to deny or hide the fact that they are neo-Nazis. This is the RepubliKKKan party's true face and has been all along.
6
@2 Well put.
@1 Are you saying that the angry people doing the harassing are always unwilling or unable to follow through on their violent threats? Sure, most of it is "cowardly bullshit," but anonymous trolls do occasionally commit violence (openly or anonymously) against their target's person or property. You sound pretty cavalier (and naive) about other peoples' safety.
7
@1 What's the trick for telling them apart?

George Tiller ignored years of idle threats from kooks and eventually a kook came along to kooky enough shoot him dead at church.
8
And then another troll in the guise of false equivalence
9
Another incredibly powerful perspective on our fascist Twitler future:

Putin's Horror Moves West, Thanks to His…

Demagogues such as Donald Trump benefit from the assault on civility, in which norms of common decency and respect for others are dismissed as "political correctness." They assert that offensive behavior toward racial, religious, and sexual minorities, as well as women, is just a form of self-defense against the true threats to the white man.

Opponents of so-called political correctness have been exceptionally successful in flipping the First Amendment on its head by using it as a justification for expressive violence which silences and erases the very minority voices that free speech protections were meant to defend. This in turn opens the door for socially sanctioned — even encouraged — brutalization and oppression of other vulnerable groups and keeps them in a state of fear. Marginal groups provide authoritarian regimes with readily available scapegoats whenever needed to distract the public from their incompetence and misdeeds.

Putin’s protégé Donald Trump has been immensely effective in obliterating the importance of ethics, facts, and truth. In doing so, he's well-poised to wreak havoc on laws and codes of conduct and demolish the institutions in free societies that essentially rely on public trust and confidence. Truth for a frighteningly large number of Americans is coming to mean whatever Trump tweets, regardless of verifiable and copious evidence to the contrary. No one should underestimate the violence American journalists, academics, and civil society will face under his control. Trump has shown complete disregard for the rule of law and every norm of liberal democracy, and the media have been his willing enablers. The future offers little reassurance of our institutions and public opinion holding him accountable when they have not done so to this day. It is delusional to suppose that we will be better equipped to push back now that Trump is in office, because history has shown us that is usually not the course despotic regimes follow.
10
@4 I'm not a troll, I'm someone who understands that most "harassment" online are people talking shit behind a keyboard who aren't going to lift a finger beyond that. This isn't worth a feature-length article.
11
Go ahead and point out the direct connection between online harassment and the shooting at the Milo speech, go right ahead. Show me. It doesn't exist.
12
@10 Thanks for including the "most" in your statement regarding online harassment. I think you're absolutely correct. Although that kinda undermines your statements in @1. And I don't think it's possible to make a convincing argument in response to your challenge @11 -- "direct connection" is an impossible standard for such a thing. But please reread @9.
13
@10
So you work a public job and receive death and rape threats?

14
https://vid.me/E9F6/shooting-at-uw-milo-…

Footage of violent leftist at Milo event charging the shooter.
15
https://tinyurl.com/heknod8

Short version of link that won't get cut off.
16
@1 @10 @11 Try showing some fucking compassion. At least two of the people mentioned in this article are members of often marginalized groups and they have literally been physically assaulted because of who they are/where they're from. Are you surprised that they take online harassment seriously and as a potential serious threat to their lives? They should be free to feel safe at their place of work and the UW administration is doing fuck all. Who the fuck are you?
20
Nothing about this case is a "stand your ground" case. The shooter has not and will not be charged.
21
@1, 10, 11:

The internet IS part of the REAL WORLD. In the real world, if a bunch of strangers walk up to someone on the sidewalk and one says to the others, "This [insert slur] needs his head bashed in!" Well, then, regardless of whether any of them act on the statement (maybe the lone guy manages to run off before anyone can or can't take action, leaving it in the same kind of Schroedinger's Cat situation as with a similar statement made on an Internet forum), the threatened guy I believe would have a solid case of "incitement of violence" against the speaker -- and it should be the same with a such a statement made on the internet. The internet is not a "freebie zone," as much as many discourteous and worse people would like it to be.

And the description of attempted filming of possible undocumented people and their allies, followed by online intimidation, follows an uncanny parallel to the scapegoating of the Jews in Nazi Germany, and those who refused to toe that line. A group that has been both within and integral to a nation for centuries, yet never fully accepted as a natural part of it, is stigmatized by national politicians, and then, increasingly, ragtag groups of private citizens take it upon themselves to roust this "threat" from all the nooks and crannies of society.
22
Don't want to get harassed? Don't put personal information on the F!!!!!! Internet.
23
@21, no, there's no parallel to the Jews in Nazi Germany. The latter situation wasn't online intimidation.

Why does it seem to be necessary now for everyone to attempt to add supposed gravitas to their comments by Godwinning them.

24
@23,

The description I read in the article above was not just online intimidation. As to Godwin: Even a broken clock is right twice a day.
25
@23 I beg your pardon, are you saying that it's inappropriate to draw parallels between Nazi intimidation events? Nice work trying to sound clever, verb-ing nouns and all, but you are way off base suggesting that Nazi activity should not be called what it is for fear of tripping some nerdy internet taboo.
26
@ 23,

I respectfully suggest that you read up on the history of 1930s Germany and modern Russia 1998 to present. The article I linked above is a good start, along with anything written by Masha Gessen. The mode of the threats isn't critical, it's the intent.
27
Yes, criticize the administration for not doing enough to ensure a safe campus. But also organize self-defense groups on campus YOURSELVES. Establishment power structures have time and time again proven themselves incapable of stopping fascism. To ignore this history and act like things will be different this time is the pinnacle of foolishness.
28
Whoa!
We should all be concerned about intimidation and maybe it starts with trying to prevent people from attending an event where speaker is going to act like an asshole.
I am talking about Milo of course.
People should have the right to listen to stupid people. After all I read a lot of the posts/comments here and nobody tries to prevent me from reading them
29
The whole US political environment has been leading up to this... The 'balkanization' of news-information has lead people to believe completely separate versions of reality, and ignore anything that contradicts their own... and this has been happening for awhile. I personally think it's largely a result of the weakening and official disparagement of our public schools... more and more people aren't being taught how to read properly, let alone think critically. Politicians have clearly not been interested in fixing it, quite the opposite. But also the Great Recession & the Internet have weakened --if not destroyed-- many newspaper outlets, so traditionally trusted sources no longer exist. And now our populace is sufficiently under-educated and economically desperate... and boom: a strongman with simplistic solutions.

I worry that the road out of this predicament is long.

On the point about Milo Y... this is a worthy read: I Helped Create the Milo Trolling Playbook. Effectively: They have weak ideas, but the more attention we give them, the more legitimate they seem... When in fact they are a collection of fools, who can easily be shown as such with actual dialogue.

Milo's a small minded man, with boring ideas, ignorant that his very own "movement" of spotty dorks would sooner gay bash him than form a coherent ideology. It's easy to be the outrageous, hand-grenade-throwing "underdog"... but once you have any power, things start to fray pretty rapidly.

As for online harassment, there's two parts to it: (1) some percentage of the threats might be real, and thus all of them have to be seen has holding some potential of danger, and (2) their greater point is mental & emotional destabilization of the object of harassment. See point 1.

Are fringe personas and groups --coming from a place of political and personal weakness-- now emboldened to act violently? (( I consider online harassment a form of mental & emotional violence )). Clearly they are. What to do about it? I'm not quite sure.
30
@29, thanks for the link. I also liked that guy's earlier column on encroaching F451 censorship.

He's right: The answer isn't playing into their hands with messy confrontations in the streets and plazas, but to express our own free speech separately but with a stronger voice (and, as David Frum advises this week in "The Atlantic" wave around more American flags, etc) and take the piss out of them from safe positions of power, like that awesome Pennsylvania congressman who excoriated Trump:

http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news…
31
“Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.”
32
Do Me a favor and write about Internet sites that tell the truth about Killary being hacked non-stop. Even post-Election Day . . . .