Saturday, March 1, 2008

Online Mobs can shame lawmakers, but do they go to far?

Can "shame blogging" cause irrepairable damage to individuals who are targeted by angry bloggers?

Is it fair to single someone out for public ridicule and scorn simply because of their beliefs, an unfortunate accident, the act of filing a complaint against a candidate/elected offical or a personal disagreement?

Should newspapers and other media allow commentors to post hateful comments on articles about deceased accident victims? Who is actually "punished" by the comments? Certainly not the deceased. The only individuals who are hurt by savage comments posted on an article about an accident are the grieving family members and friends who are bravely struggling to deal with the loss of a loved one.

What purpose does "shame blogging" serve?

Why do we tolerate it as a society?

Adam Hunter, in a recent article on MSN "Techs and Gadgets", quotes an anonymous blogger, “They say it takes a village to raise a child?” the anonymous vigilante wrote.
In this case, it will take a village to shame a monster.”

Sound familiar? We have witnessed similar statements on the Bellingham Herald comment pages and other local web sites.

But the Editors and Publisher of the Herald and the management of KGMI Radio claim that "shame blogging" is a matter of free speech and defend the rights of anonymous bloggers to indulge in "shame blogging" as a method of control, ridicule and humiliation of community members.

Here is a short excerpt of Hunter's article. The entire article is three pages long but well worth the read. I do not have the author's contact information, or I would request permission to reprint the entire article on this site.

It was Nov. 13, 2007. A few days earlier, there had been an article in a local St. Louis paper, telling the story of Megan Meier, a 13-year-old girl who had committed suicide more than a year earlier. The article quoted Megan’s parents, telling how a malicious message sent from a fake MySpace account created by one of their neighbors (the mother of a former friend of Megan’s) may have sent their daughter over the edge. The blogosphere was intrigued: Who would pull such a cruel prank?

One blogger, Sarah Wells, decided to find out. She used the details in the article and public tax records to find out the neighbor referred to in the article. “I’m tired of waiting for someone else to out you,” Wells wrote in that day’s entry."

The complete story can be found at this link:

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