[Trigger warning: internet harassment, violence]
Earlier this month, Lisa at Questioning Transphobia wrote a post about a disturbing threat against her.
Mostly, I want to point out that it happened. I get tired of some folks talking about the internet as if it's this magical place, unburdened with the nasty aspects of the "real" world. The internet is part of the real world, and violence does take place online, real violence. And furthermore, yes, online violence sometimes does translate into offline violence.
I actually thought about whether I wanted to bring up this incident, as online violence often spreads like the common cold. This is exactly how bullying silences folks with "controversial" viewpoints.
I don't have a good sense of how frequently bloggers deal with violence. I'm a relatively new kid on the block, so I haven't had to deal with anything yet. Friends and colleagues don't forward me their hate mail. Bloggers tend not to post every threat they get; among other things, addressing every threat effectively distracts from the "controversial" ideas bloggers often wish to put forward.
If you're looking to get a sense of the virulent hate and violence I'm referring to, there's always that one infamous [Trigger warning for sexual assault, death threats, fat hatred, disablist language, and probably some other heinous stuff] Shakesville thread.
IMO, my quotes around "controversial" are one of the more depressing aspects of this violence. Sure, I don't agree with everything that folks post at Shakesville, or on the feminist blogosphere, or on the internet in general, David Brooks. But from what I gather, it's usually not the finer points of feminist theory that generate the most virulent hate.
As brilliant and insightful as so many of my colleagues are, a lot of their (and my) posts boil down to decidedly elementary ideas. Trans people are people. Women are people. Fat people are people. People with disabilities are people, etcetera. All people have the right to have their autonomy and their personhood respected.
Gasp! Maybe I'm too far gone, but I don't think the importance of universal human rights is particularly complicated or debatable. Yet, I think it's important to acknowledge where we find ourselves; a world where coming out in favor of trans people's existence, against rape, or in favor of many other expressions of personal autonomy is a good way to ensure that you're the target of violence. This is a key example of why social justice, feminist/womanist activism is still important; this world is nowhere near the safe space that all of us deserve.