11:08 AM

Sierra, Locke issue coordinated statements

Kathy Sierra and Chris Locke have issued statements on the situation that has been roiling the blogosphere. Sierra received death threats on her own blog and threatening comments and images were posted on sites Locke ran. Sierra accused Locke and others of being party to these threats.

Some selections from Sierra's statement:

My post led many people to the wrong conclusion about the specific levels of involvement by the people I named. That my one post touched a nerve for tens of thousands of people shows just how wide and deep this problem is. People are outraged not just because of my story, but because it's been a growing problem that's hurt the lives of so many others online.

I do believe that Chris, Jeneane, and Frank did not make the specific posts and images that I found threatening, and I believe they were not responsible for the threatening comments on my own blog. However, Chris and I (and others) still strongly disagree about whether people who are respected and trusted in our industry (like the three of them) are giving tacit approval when they support (though ownership, authoring, and promoting) sites like meankids and unclebob.

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.

And from Locke:

The material Kathy quoted on her site was hurtful and ugly. I do not excuse it or think it should be excused. Some of the things that were posted about her were admittedly frightening, and far beyond tasteless. The post about Maryam Scoble was cruel and disgusting. These postings prompted the decision to delete both blogs...

Neither were we laughing about the impact of this affair on the people who did nothing to create or promote the words and images that touched off this whole imbroglio. Careers and reputations have been seriously injured by a rush to judgement that was often sadly short on evidence of crime or culpability.

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. The First Amendment allows and protects language that many find noxious. But there are forces in the world at present -- not least in the US -- that would leap at any opportunity to limit speech or even abolish certain forms of it. Crucial as is the current debate about hate speech directed at women, it would be tragic if this incident were used as a weapon by those who would limit free and open exchange.