CCR Symposium: More on the “Civil Rights” Category
To follow up my earlier post on whether the problems of online threats and harassment are civil rights problems, I wanted to offer a hypo.
Imagine a blogger located in Berkeley, California, has a blog with a comment thread. One day, the blogger ends up banning a particular commenter (who indicates that he is a conservative white male) for being obnoxious. A few hours later, the blogger receives an anonymous e-mail from a reader who is pretty angry with the banning. After contesting the banning, the anonymous e-mailer adds this threat:
It appears to me that you have internalized a recently established feminine paradigm that seeks to excuse supposed adults from all address not amounting to deference. Not that you’d care, but seem to be something of a pussy. You are so aggressive in unilaterally redefining venerable norms of adulthood that I find myself hoping that you get mugged, just so you can appreciate what real pain is. Incidentally, Berkeley can be a dangerous place after dark.
Love and kisses.
Are threats like this part of a broader civil rights issue? Does it depend on the gender, race, and/or sexual orientation of the recipient blogger?
In this case, it was a real e-mail, and I happen to know that the recipient was a straight white male (as the recipient was me — this happened about 3 weeks ago, when I was in Berkeley for a talk at Boalt). Does that change the nature of the conduct or the proper legal response?