posted on Dec, 10 2005 @ 03:55 PM
A true and apparently sincere death threat should not be tolerated on any message board, and generally isn't, but to have outside authorities
actually take action is sort of frightening.
Long ago, when I first started posting on message boards, a poster made an apparently sincere post urging the assassination of then-President Clinton.
That was virtually the last post that he made there. His account still existed, but he vanished from sight. I had no doubt then, nor do I now, that
he was arrested. I was and remain sort of ambivalent about even that. He really did appear to be sincere, so I understood it, but still...
There's a fair amount of civil legal action threatened or even undertaken over message board posts. All forums, including this one, have rules
concerning the posting of copyrighted materials and of libelous or slanderous material and such specifically because there's a very real threat that
they could be sued over it. But that's civil action-- not criminal. Again, I understand it, but it makes me sort of uncomfortable.
The last board that I lived on had no real moderators, which, as a minarchist, I considered to be a distinctly positive thing (but that's a different
subject...) Instead, they relied on a "Report Abuse" button that came up with every post-- if a poster felt that a particular post was abusive for
some reason, then they could report it to the admin, and action might or might not be taken regarding the post or the poster. The only time that I
ever pushed that button was in response to a death threat posted by one poster to another. I felt then and feel now that that was wholly
unacceptable, and I applauded when the admin banned the poster that issued the threat.
But getting the police involved in such a thing is an entirely different matter. I'm wary of moderation on a message board-- it's all too easy for
the forum to be destroyed, or at least warped to the point that it's no longer a legitimate place to post potentially unwelcome opinions, if the
moderators are given too much power (take a look at FreeRepublic for a good example of this), but that's purely an internal issue. There are still
other sites and other boards, and the loss of one isn't a real threat. But the thing that makes the internet truly valuable, to me at least, and, I
believe, to all who appreciate freedom, is that it provides a place for a free exchange of ideas unlike any that has ever existed in this world. As
such, it poses a direct threat to the power elite, and they have been scrambling for control of it since its inception for just that reason. This
ruling provides them with an opportunity to exert that control that they so desperately desire.
Granted, we're speaking here of a death threat-- a form of "speech" that is already nominally illegal, even if not often prosecuted. But who's to
say what this or that government will attempt to prosecute next, or even what form of speech they might seek to make illegal next. While I don't see
this particular action to be a direct threat to the free exchange of ideas that I value so dearly, I do see it as a potential step in a dangerous
direction. Still it's not a direct threat, but it does concern me. All expansion of political power is incremental, and the government's control
of what is posted by whom on the internet just clicked up one more notch.
Personally-- since it's not really a threat, I feel somewhat safe to say: If I could confront that woman, I'd love to say, "Hey, way to go MORON!
Way to ruin it for all of us MORON!" And I have to admit that for that wholly selfish reason, I kind of want to be pleased to see her get
figuratively smacked upside the head for her apparently grossly idiotic actions. But I recognize that it's exactly that sort of short-sightedness
and inattention to potential consequences that allows the powers-that-be to slowly and surely expand their power and destroy ours, so I fight that
Jeez, but still-- what a shame that we should all lose even a tiny bit of our freedom to exchange ideas because of one petty person's inability to
behave like a decent human... :shk: