Bloggers Resolve Dispute On CNN

    April 2, 2007

Before their appearance on CNN this morning, bloggers Kathy Sierra and Chris Locke issued a joint statement responding to issues raised throughout the blogosphere following Sierra’s revelation of death threats against her, as well as the depiction of her image in misogynistic sexual photos.

Bloggers Resolve Dispute On CNN
Bloggers Resolve Dispute On CNN
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Locke, who was revealed as the owner of the blogs in which the threats and images appeared, has consistently denied any direct involvement in the affair, and had criticized Sierra for implicating him, albeit indirectly, without tangible evidence.

The two, however, seem to have settled at least some of their differences and have put out a joint statement which expresses concerns over the backlash that overreaction to hateful commentary could have on the underlying principles of free speech.

Many have weighed in on the Kathy Sierra story. Some of have come down on the side of desiring more control over the blogosphere, expressing the opinion that bloggers should adhere to a predetermined code of ethics. Others feel that immature hate-speech simply comes with the territory of being a public figure, and any attempts at regulation are counterintuitive to the spirit of free speech on the Internet.

What’s the greater issue here? On one hand, you have a very real mentality of hatred towards women that is unfortunately not all that uncommon or difficult to encounter when surfing the Internet’s vast archive of commentary.

On the other hand, you have this delicate concept of free speech that so many bloggers cling to for dear life, and rightly so. So where does the balance lie in preserving the right to expression while at the same time discouraging hateful behavior?

These are the questions that Kathy Sierra and Chris Locke look to tackle in their joint statement.

On the topic of female degradation, Locke writes:

There is much more to say about this experience that can’t be unpacked in such a brief statement. There is time yet for more balanced articles to be written, less heated conversations to take place. Misogyny is real — and vile. Violence against women is wrong. It must not be tolerated. This issue should be explored and discussed, not swept under the rug, not rationalized away. At the same time, we need to look closely and carefully at the implications for free speech.

Sierra, though the target of death threats and maliciously sexual commentary, agrees that preserving free speech is paramount:

That said, Chris and I are in complete agreement that it would be tragic if this incident were used as a weapon by those who would limit free and open exchange. My desire is for much more open debate on this issue, not legislated limits.

This could be a very important moment if we stop, think, and talk about the kind of future we really want online, and make certain we don’t give up something more important in the process.

Sierra says she won’t be blogging again for a while, but will return when the time is right. Locke is trying to salvage his reputation in the midst of the media carnage.