You wrote this post without seriously examining the facts that created the controversy in the first place: the death and rape threats blogger Kathy Sierra received at her blog, and elsewhere on the net.
I understand that any blogger can make this kind of mistake. You saw an issue that might impact your business, and the free speech of all online bloggers. You wanted to come out strongly against any regulation or censorship of online speech. And that’s a reasonable and laudable position to take. You just happened to pick the wrong incident to exploit for that purpose, as many others across the liberal blogosphere have noted. Perhaps Jessica at Feministing said it best:
[I]t’s one thing to argue–as Markos does–that a blogger code of conduct would be ineffective. Fine. But dismissing online misogyny and Sierra’s experience (without even bothering to do any research on the subject, to boot) is reprehensible.
And this from Melissa at Shakesville is also very much on point:
I could write four paragraphs or so here documenting all the research done on stalking and threat conversion against women, but, frankly, I don’t think numbers and stats are even necessary. Every male blogger to whom I’ve ever spoken about receiving rape threats reacts with horror and shock because they don’t get them. It’s a very different series of tubes for women and men, and it’s really disappointing that the most prominent progressive blogger doesn’t seem to recognize nor care that it’s so. And, worse yet, tells those of us who do we ought just bugger off with our silly concerns for our own and others’ safety.
People of color and members of the LGBT community are disproportionately targeted as victims of hate crimes; the solution is not more segregation. People with developmental disabilities and untreated mental illness leaving them vulnerable are also disproportionately targeted for harassment; the solution is not hiding them away from society in dreary but allegedly safe asylums. When female soldiers are raped, the answer is not to ban women from military service.
We are meant to be champions of integration, not exclusion, of placing the responsibility for harassment squarely where it belongs—on the harasser, not on the victim of harassment.
So, what should you do now? You could ignore the criticism, or make excuses for your error, like Don Imus and his loyal gang of sycophants have tried to do in the case of the racial slurs the I-Man directed at the Rutgers women’s basketball team. You could claim you were misunderstood, or that people took your words out of context, or employ any of a number of other rhetorical devices to obfuscate and obscure that what you wrote about Ms. Sierra was fundamentally wrong. In other words, you could act like Hillary Clinton has done regarding her vote to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq.
But that wouldn’t be right, and I think in your heart you know that. So do the right thing.
Apologize, without any conditions or excuses, to Kathy Sierra and to all the women bloggers whose characters have been sullied by your callous and ill considered remarks. Publish another front page post at your blog admitting that you were grossly mistaken when you made light of the severity of the vicious verbal attacks and threats posted online against Kathy Sierra, and implied that her legitimate response to such inexcusable and terrifying abuse resulted from a lack of testicles on her part.
Man up, in other words. It’s not a sign of weakness to admit one’s mistakes. It’s a sign of maturity, a demonstration that you are big enough to admit that you were wrong. A lot of people, whether they like you personally or not, will respect you if you do. Even more important, I think you’d respect yourself a lot more, too.
Think it over. It’s never too late to make amends for the wrongs we do in life. That’s what I tell my two kids anyway.
Three Updates are now below the fold.
Update [2007-4-13 10:49:32 by Steven D]: This update references questions in the thread asking if I have posted this at Daily Kos, or if I will be doing so.
I have emailed Markos through his contact page at Daily Kos. I don’t believe this diary would generate a productive discussion at Daily Kos, and so I chose not to post it there. In any event, Markos has received hundreds of comments to his original post at his blog, so further discussion of it by that community would only hash over much of what has previously been discussed there.
However, if Kos requests I post this response over there, I will.
2nd Update [2007-4-13 13:44:7 by Steven D]: MB at Wampum has a nice collection of links to other liberal blogs who have posted about this issue.
Here’s MB’s list:
Dan at Fitness for the Occasion
Nezua at The Unapologetic Mexican
My dear friend, Natasha, at Pacific Views (N. and I have a history of dealing with this kind of cyber-crap.)
Kevin at Slant Truth
Aaron at Faithfully Liberal
Scott at Lawyers, Guns and Money
3rd Update [2007-4-13 14:12:8 by Steven D]: BornAgainDem posted a diary at Daily Kos on Thursday which argued Markos should issue an apology. That diary can be found here. I think the comment thread gives a fair idea of how the DKos community would react to this post.