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June 16, 2010

Standing Up to Blog Rage

John Hawkins takes it on:

Earlier, I referenced a complaint Emily Zanotti filed with the Michigan Bar in an attempt to try to get Schlussel to stop cyber stalking/harassing her. In that complaint, Emily referenced a number of blogs where Debbie showed up and made comments about her. It wasn't like those people were filing complaints themselves or even testifying on Emily's behalf. Most of them didn't even know they were being referenced beforehand. It was just Emily posting examples of what Schlussel was doing for the Michigan Bar.

Well, Debbie apparently saw them as just more enemies who were against her because she actually started harassing those people, too. She said nasty things about some of them on her web page. She attacked some of them, rather randomly, on Twitter. In at least two cases I know of, she contacted where they work in an effort to make trouble for them. To this day, it's still going on.

That brings us to yesterday, when Schlussel bizarrely accused Mark Levin (and Fred Thompson) of supporting Hezbollah....

Full marks to John for standing up to Ms. Schlussel. Not sure how many of you remember, but this isn't the first time she's threatened legal action against a blogger.

Recently, Attila had similar problems with some other blogospheric blowhard.

In opinion writing, disagreements are inevitable. Most bloggers expect this and handle them with grace and aplomb. A few, for some reason, go off the deep end and resort to threats, insults and intimidation.

I've never understood what they think they're accomplishing (other than making fools of themselves)? The world would be a boring place if most of us didn't feel passionately about at least one topic or if we blandly agreed with each other like sheep all of the time.

The Internet is no place for the insecure or thin skinned.

Posted by Cassandra at June 16, 2010 12:32 PM

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Comments

Another case of Michael Yon Syndrome... somehow, in her own mind, Schlussel got to be bigger than the stories she covers. Which is quite a feat, since her main focus is one of the biggest stories of the modern age. It's a shame.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at June 16, 2010 02:10 PM

The Internet is no place for the insecure or thin skinned.

As opposed to say....the White House or the halls of Congress, eh?
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at June 16, 2010 02:26 PM

Wow. That's some searing legal analysis from Ms. What's-her-name, the Public Figure. Good thing she's not a community activist

Posted by: spd rdr at June 16, 2010 02:28 PM

You know how several folks here can't stand to watch movie scenes of people beclowning themselves? I can't stand to read stories about people who lose control of themselves when they're criticized in print and start stalking their critics and generally make people want to cross the street when they see them coming. It's just too depressing. Don't get me wrong. I don't like to be criticized either, and I'm not above entertaining private revenge fantasies in which I'm publicly vindicating. The operative word is "private."

Lately everything seems to remind me of Captain Queeg, from reports that our President is increasingly erratic in private conferences, to Etheridge's puzzling reaction to the student would-be interviewers, to people so caught up in their own awesomeness that they inspire others to take out TROs just to get them to observe a minimal level of publicly appropriate behavior. It's one of my guiding principles, that people shouldn't need to take out TROs against me.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 16, 2010 03:20 PM

Texan, I know what you mean: watching someone self-destruct is not pleasant, especially when that person is someone who has done good work in the past. I'm certainly not the expert, but when I read the recent accounts of what Schlussel has been up to... the word "schizophrenia" keeps popping into my head. I hope she gets help before she harms herself. Or someone else.

Posted by: Cousin Dave at June 16, 2010 03:25 PM

I just have one question, what is a "ghetto attorney?"

Posted by: Allen at June 16, 2010 04:13 PM

It's one of my guiding principles, that people shouldn't need to take out TROs against me.

Word.

Posted by: Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq. at June 16, 2010 04:18 PM

You'll say I'm setting my sights too high, but I'm a dreamer.

Posted by: Texan99 at June 16, 2010 05:10 PM

Let me postulate a general rule:

Any blogger tempted to send another blogger a "cease and desist" letter should probably turn off the computer, go have a few beers, and chill the hell out until the temptation passes.

Posted by: Robert Stacy McCain at June 16, 2010 07:11 PM

Any blogger tempted to send another blogger a "cease and desist" letter should probably turn off the computer, go have a few beers, and chill the hell out until the temptation passes.

That is sidebar-worthy :)

Posted by: Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq. at June 16, 2010 07:16 PM

I think it's worthwhile to think about intervention when a person clearly becomes unstable. There is no such thing as real anonymity on the Internet. Does this person have family? Is there no source of counsel, calm, and comfort?

That kind of mental upset has to be painful, and the loss of reputation in the blogosphere can have severe consequences in daily life. Yet, I can foresee terrible consequences where people go too far to pursue others (such as Joe the Plumber). I've no idea what is appropriate, or where to draw the lines for relatively harmless people who go crazy online.

Posted by: valerie at June 16, 2010 09:20 PM

IIRC, several years ago Jeff at Protein Wisdom had to get a TRO because of a college professor who was making threats against his family. Her last error was to do so from her university account. Not only was she in major legal trouble, she was also rather abruptly unemployed.

In that case, the line was finding his home address et cetera and digging up information about his children. And he'd been documenting everything once it became apparent that she wasn't firing on all six cylinders.

Posted by: LittleRed1 at June 16, 2010 10:03 PM

Ah! Deb Frisch. I recall that brouhaha, no relation to Don...

Strange how most folks understand that anything you say online will be available until the apocalypse, or until The WON kicks the arse of the internet via the FCC and/or Fairness Doctrine. Yet some folk don't.

Posted by: bthun at June 16, 2010 10:53 PM

Valerie:

I don't want to comment on specific cases, but in most of these incidents people have tried to intervene privately (often for weeks or months on end). I know that happened with one recent case, and in the case of Deb F., I spent a lot of time trying to negotiate a stand down.

While I in no way excuse any of her actions, I also don't understand intentionally provoking someone you already know to be unbalanced. That's not the same thing as backing off completely, by the way. Some pretty inexcusable things were said by both sides during the Frisch thing.

Deb was a frequent commenter for months here in 2004. When she said or did something objectionable, I called her on it and eventually I banned her when she took to attacking my husband and friends (verbally) because she couldn't get a rise out of me any other way.

But her behavior was never anything worse than mildly annoying. I have had run ins with others who hacked my site and threatened me privately on far less provocation than a verbal sparring match or exchange of insults. I chose not to publicize it at the time b/c it was my impression that they were doing it to provoke an emotional reaction from me, or possibly to provoke me into doing something I would later regret. I saw no reason to reward that kind of idiocy with attention, much less the kind of response they desired.

Posted by: Cass, Ghetto Atty. Esq. at June 17, 2010 06:59 AM

Debbie didn't accuse Fred Thompson or Mark Levin of supporting Hezbollah. She pointed out that they hired a Hezbollah sympathizer for a temporary political gain. You keep attacking Debbie - meanwhile Hezbollah and the Islamos keep making inroads into our institutions. Get your prioriies straight.

Posted by: Salt1907 at June 17, 2010 11:00 AM

Debbie didn't accuse Fred Thompson or Mark Levin of supporting Hezbollah.

So? No one here ever claimed she did.

You make the same mistake Debbie does. That any agreement at all necessarily requires 100% agreement.

Posted by: Yu-Ain Gonnano at June 17, 2010 11:32 AM

Strange how most folks understand that anything you say online will be available until the apocalypse, or until The WON kicks the arse of the internet via the FCC and/or Fairness Doctrine. Yet some folk don't.

People understand how the integrated trigger lock for the Glock works too. They still put it in their pants with their palm on the unlock.

Link

This is an unloaded gun, darou? This is a glock 40, darou?

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 17, 2010 02:09 PM

to people so caught up in their own awesomeness that they inspire others to take out TROs just to get them to observe a minimal level of publicly appropriate behavior. It's one of my guiding principles, that people shouldn't need to take out TROs against me.

My explanation for it is pretty simple. Elect a mad dog as leader of the pack and the pack will all go crazy sooner or later.

Posted by: Ymarsakar at June 17, 2010 02:38 PM

Cass,

If intervention does not work, then the only remedy that I can think of right now is to ban the individual at any site where misbehavior occurs.

My kids tell me "aw, Mom, that's just the Internet!" but they have no experience with semi-functional mentally ill people. They do not comprehend that such a person can be latently dangerous to both themselves and others.

Posted by: valerie at June 17, 2010 07:28 PM

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