Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Humble Pie

The Commons Education Select Committee has issued a report on bullying in schools, about which - as it my wont - I found myself sneering over my porridge as I watched the coverage on the BBC's Breakfast show. I remember being particularly dismissive of the coinage "cyber-bullying".

Reading Scoble a little later though, I was horrified to read what Kathy Sierra has been subjected to:
As I type this, I am supposed to be in San Diego, delivering a workshop at the ETech conference. But I'm not. I'm at home, with the doors locked, terrified. For the last four weeks, I've been getting death threat comments on this blog. But that's not what pushed me over the edge. What finally did it was some disturbing threats of violence and sex posted on two other blogs...

No one should have to put up with that sort of thing. I feel unworthy for dismissing the phenomenon.

By conincidence I think, Libby Purves talks about the issues in The Times today:

The internet is not evil. We who use it daily — for everything from news and banking to cinema listings and tracing quotations from forgotten poets — quickly learn how to navigate around the piles of rubbish, the lurking fraudsters, the lies and malice and vapidity and perversion. It is a vast teeming city, and you can choose whether to frequent cathedrals, theatres and Parliament or just the brothels and public hangings.

But we should accept the same rules of morality and decorum that govern solid, daily life. If shouting “Go on, kill yourself” to a stranger is not acceptable in the street, it is not acceptable in a chat room. Similarly, we do not allow the pushing of unsolicited obscenities through letterboxes, and so should not tolerate the clogging-up of private, often heartfelt e-mail traffic with repeated shrieks of “Ejaculate like a porn star!”. If it is illegal to print malicious lies, equal sanctions should face those who put them online; if it is stupid to leave your credit cards in a café with the PIN on them, it is equally stupid to ignore computer security.

There aren't any easy answers.
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