You have probably read about how well known blogger and author Kathy Sierra canceled speaking engagements because of death threats posted to some blogs. That's right - death threats. And not just death threats but some very demeaning comments and pictures of a sexual nature as well. Robert Scoble has chosen to support Kathy by taking some time off from blogging. While I support Kathy's decision and also Scoble's, I don't agree with them.
While I am not discounting the fact that death threats should be taken seriously, I feel that the end goal of the ugly posts was to disrupt and damage the ability of a person to interact in the blogosphere. By canceling engagements and not blogging, this allows the perpetrator to achieve their goal. Disruption achieved.
The obvious analogy here is the state of world terrorism. Terrorists wish to instill fear as a means of controlling the actions of others. Personally, I am not going to allow terrorists to change my plans. Example....
My wife and I were supposed to travel to Florida on September 15, 2001 to visit my wife's mother. The September 11th attacks grounded flights. Our flight had to be rescheduled and we made the flight exactly one month later. There was also the anthrax scare going on in Florida at about the same time. My wife and I discussed this and we decided that staying home and canceling the trip meant the terrorists achieved their goal. We were not going to be a part of that.
Fast-forward to July 2005.
On July 7th, 2005, terrorists bombed the London tubes. My wife and I, were supposed to fly to Ireland and make our way down to London over the next two weeks. We discussed canceling plans and again felt that doing so allowed the terrorists to achieve their goal. So we made the trip. On July 21st, our tour bus was making the drive from Edinburgh to London. This is just 16 days after the bombings in the London tubes and the same day as the failed bombing attempts in London. We had already decided we were going to ride the tubes, get on a double-decker bus, and do what we wanted to do. We were not going to let terrorists deter us from making plans, following through on them and living our lives.
Now I do realize it isn't a direct analogy. In the cases of the the September 11th and London bombings, the terrorists were making indiscriminate attacks. They didn't care who died as a result. In the case of those blog posts, they are directed attacks at an individual. But the end goal is still the same - instill fear, disrupt life.
What happened to Kathy sucks. The person(s) responsible for the postings should be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law. I respect Kathy's decision to cancel appearances. I respect Scoble's decision to stop stop blogging for a week in support. However, by doing so, the "bad guys" have gotten what they want. Fear. Disruption.
I will not live in fear. I will not be disrupted.
Chris - 1.
Terrorists - 0.