Game developer and tech diversity advocate Brianna Wu has been complaining about the lack of action by a prosecuting attorney in response to a death threat voicemail she said she received. On Tuesday, she posted a copy of the voicemail.
Wu’s op-ed article at feminist pop-culture site The Mary Sue raised new questions about whether local or national law enforcement agencies were adequately responding to a wave of anonymous threats she and other women in the game industry have recently faced. The article included a recording of a voicemail left on Wu’s personal phone that called her a “little fucking whore” and threatened to “slit [her] throat.”
Ars was sent a copy of the voicemail with its originating Columbus, Ohio phone number attached, along with call records indicating that the threat was left on Wu’s voicemail on May 12. Wu said that she received more threatening calls from the same number on Wednesday. She has not called the offending number back as per advice from her legal counsel.
In the article, Wu called upon Columbus, Ohio prosecuting attorney Ron O’Brien to issue a subpoena for the name attached to phone records. “If [O’Brien] wished, he could bring criminal charges against this man by the end of the day,” she wrote. (We have contacted O’Brien’s office with a request for comment, and we will update this report with any response.) Wu also hinted to a lack of criminal action taken on behalf of other threats she has received—or on behalf of similar threats sent to developer Zoe Quinn and media critic Anita Sarkeesian.
Let me get the obvious out of the way first. Yes, I know I could use Twitter if I really wanted to. I realize nothing is physically preventing me from logging on. My refusal to use the service is on ethical and moral grounds.
I’m a writer by nature. I want to write. I LOVE to write. I want to get my messages out there. I want to engage with the written word. So it stands to reason I would find Twitter very appealing.
But I don’t.
On the surface Twitter seems cool. And don’t get me wrong there’s a lot of good things that happen there but below the surface, at its core, Twitter reminds me of an environment that I’ve tried very hard to forget: The halls of my middle school.
Some of you on here know that story, others don’t. The short version is that for the entirety of Grade 8 I suffered constant abuse, harassment and bullying at the hands of my fellow students. I was also failed by a School Administration that continually told my parents and I that action would be taken to deal with the problem only to turn around and do absolutely nothing.
I’m sure you can see the parallels already.
The truth is I nearly ended up committing suicide because of the bullying I received at that school. Obviously, I don’t think I’d ever want to off myself because of a Tweet but we have all witnessed how peoples lives can be severely damaged if not outright destroyed by the often Wild West like environment of Twitter.
Several prominent people, including Joss Whedon, Robin Williams’ daughter Zelda and some of the women involved with the GamerGate fiasco have outright quit the service over the abuse and harassment they’ve suffered over what are realistically inane, non controversial things. Not to mention some of the GamerGate women have had to move addresses or take measures to physically protect their family after their personal details were outed on the service.
And these are just the more prominent examples. I’m sure there’s hundreds if not thousands of other folks that have been driven off Twitter by an unregulated, unrestrained army of trolls and keyboard commandos.
It was the same with me when I was bullied. I never did ANYTHING to deserve the abuse. They just saw me as vulnerable for some reason and came after me. Every hallway, every classroom, every inch of the schoolyard they could get at me. Now why in the world would I want to expose myself to that again on Twitter?
Now you may be thinking: “Oh come on man, you’re being too negative. Twitter’s not that bad. Really.”
You might think so, but when Chuck C Johnson can dox, stalk and explicitly threaten people without repercussion, when any young woman can be deluged with rape threats without any intervention, when any wannabe blogger or political pundit can unleash an army of racist, misogynist trolls without punishment and when the daughter of a beloved celebrity can be mercilessly mocked and ridiculed over her father’s death, I don’t think I’m overreacting at all.
Sure, Twitter has rules, but rules are useless when you don’t enforce them. What’s the logic in putting up a “DO NOT ENTER” sign on a door when you’re just going to let everybody in anyway? Twitter comes off more like an unprotected, unsupervised, overcrowded schoolyard cafeteria than a serious social networking service.
Twitter has failed me and many others time and time and time again. Until they clean up their act and get serious about cracking down on abuse and harassment, I won’t be Tweeting anything.
I’ve already survived the “Wild west” once and I’ve no desire to try and do so again.
I’ll still do plenty of writing, but it won’t be on Twitter.
Threats made against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) are being investigated by federal law enforcement, Politico reported Monday, citing “people familiar with the matter.”
Politico’s sources said that threats were made against Reid following his numerous criticisms of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and his backers, who he described as “domestic terrorists.” Reid’s security detail has been increased as a result, the report said.
“We are currently looking into threatening statements made against Sen. Reid as part of an ongoing investigation,” a U.S. Capitol Police spokesperson told the news outlet.
The state of Tennessee has fired a veteran investigator because officials believed that he attempted to use violent stories about how his relatives participated in a lynching to intimidate African-Americans who were trying to file claims against emergency responders.
WTVF reported that William Sewell, a medical service investigator who had been with the state for more than 40 years, told the graphic story to Shun Mullins last summer.
Mullins had filed a complaint claiming that his mother had died when the Algood’s deputy fire chief refused to perform CPR because she was black. The complaint stated that the fire chief covered it up by falsifying medical reports.
Sewell had started the meeting by asking Mullins if he had ever been to prison.
I thought about this a little when the IOC awarded the games to Russia. I thought about it more when threats were made from the fanatical Islamist terrorists at war with Russia. Now I fear a horrible point in time that should be marked with records and accomplishments. There will be incidents. There and elsewhere. Thug Putin gets the games and when something happens, the pity. The IOC is a pack of psychopaths. We are fools. Target Sochi.
I hope I am wrong.
A man has been arrested after a feminist campaigner was deluged on Twitter with abuse and threats of rape, Scotland Yard has confirmed. The 21-year-old was detained earlier in the Manchester area on suspicion of harassment offences.
Caroline Criado-Perez faced abuse after successfully campaigning for a woman’s face to appear on UK banknotes.
Labour has complained to Twitter about what it says was an “inadequate response” to the abuse.
Ms Criado-Perez, who had appeared in the media to campaign for women to feature on banknotes, said the abusive tweets began the day it was announced that author Jane Austen would appear on the newly designed £10 note.
She reported them to the police after receiving “about 50 abusive tweets an hour for about 12 hours” and said she had “stumbled into a nest of men who co-ordinate attacks on women”.
Is he trying to outdo Dinnerjacket’s threats at Israel?
GENEVA - North Korea threatened South Korea with “final destruction” during a debate at the U.N Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday, saying it could take “second and third steps” after a nuclear test last week.
“As the saying goes, a newborn puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea’s erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction,” North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong told the meeting.
Without specifically referring to the nuclear test, Jon said North Korea had recently taken a “resolute step for self-defense,” which he described as “strong counteractions to a foreign aggressor.”
“If the U.S. takes a hostile approach toward the DPRK to the last, rendering the situation complicated, it (North Korea) will be left with no option but to take the second and third stronger steps in succession,” he added without elaborating.
His comments drew immediate criticism from other nations, including South Korea and Britain, whose ambassador Joanne Adamson said such language was “completely inappropriate” and the discussion with North Korea was heading in the wrong direction.
I think North Korea threatens South Korea with destruction more often than I eat vegetables.
The same Bill White has also made threats against Charles.
Bill White, the wildly obnoxious neo-Nazi who has made a profession of lobbing criminal threats at his enemies, has apparently been at it again.
On Thursday, according to today’s edition of the Roanoke (Va.) Times, White was indicted for threatening to have his ex-wife beaten and “hospitalized” for declining to send him some $400 a month while he was a fugitive in Mexico last year. White was already being held in Chicago, where he is serving time for violating his parole by fleeing to Mexico and also awaiting sentencing for threatening a juror.
White, a one-time anarchist who later became the founder and leader of now-defunct American National Socialist Workers Party, is known for making threats over the phone and via E-mail. His targets have included black tenants of a Virginia apartment complex who sued their landlord for discrimination, a federal jury chairman who helped convict another neo-Nazi leader, a black Miami Herald columnist, and a woman at a credit card company. He once threatened to come to the home of the author of this post some time after midnight, in a car that he said was loaded with guns.
When I first wrote about the sexist abuse of women online, collating the experiences of nearly a dozen writers, the response was largely positive. Many hadn’t been aware there was a problem; they were shocked. Others had assumed that they were the only ones whose every word on the web was greeted with a torrent of abusive, threatening comments.
But a few reactions stood out, among them that of Brendan O’Neill, the Telegraph blogs section’s resident contrarian. He wrote that feminist campaigners pointing this out was a “hilarious echo of the 19th-century notion that women need protecting from vulgar and foul speech”. We were, he said, “a tiny number of peculiarly sensitive female bloggers” trying to close down freedom of speech.
The best response to that argument, incidentally, comes from Ally Fogg, who wrote recently:
What you fail to understand is that the use of hate speech, threats and bullying to terrify and intimidate people into silence or away from certain topics is a far bigger threat to free speech than any legal sanction.
Imagine this is not the internet but a public square. One woman stands on a soapbox and expresses an idea. She is instantly surrounded by an army of 5,000 angry people yelling the worst kind of abuse at her in an attempt to shut her up. Yes, there’s a free speech issue there. But not the one you think.
I couldn’t have put it better myself. As the months have gone on, and more “trolls” (or “online bullies”, if you’re a semantic stickler) have been exposed, the perception that what we’re talking about when we talk about online harrassment is “a few mean comments” or an insult or two has grown.