This isn't a long diary. I just want to put something out there for your consideration, in light of recent bullying events here at Dkos.
Free speech isn't a shield. Normally, I write that in response to some Republican bitching about being held to account for lies, being stupid, or for their discriminatory and divisive advocacy. They experience some real push back, often from the targets of their speech, and they respond with something along the lines of it being harder to speak, a violation of their rights, due to that impact being felt in a material way.
It could be something as simple as just looking really stupid, or losing some AD revenue. On the other hand, it could escalate to death threats, vandalism, physical harm, or worse too.
The right answer to these things is more free speech. Anyone can recover from feeling bad, or looking stupid. Having to repair our car, perhaps replace tires, live with a scar, or worse isn't the right answer to these things.
Neither is outing or threats.
Most Americans get that. I get that, and it's highly likely you too get that, but a few of us don't, and it's a problem we need to deal with as a community, because it is happening here.
When our politics are a threat to others, we run the risk of retribution. Again, it could be simple vilification, in which case, I've outlined a great way to deal with that. But, it could be more material, and that is quite simply a risk everyone takes when expressing their political views.
Sadly, we all have various levels of vulnerability in these things. Some of us have family, or a sensitive job, lack of financial resources, or moderate physical attributes. Politics is important, but family, health, property, kids, employment are all important too.
This is a big part of why pseudonyms are not only allowed, but mandatory. The small fraction of us Americans, and Kossacks apparently, who don't understand the boundary issues and who are willing to exert real contact are dangerous. The more vulnerable we are, the more dangerous they are, and that is a simple fact of life.
UPDATE: Not mandatory as in everybody needs them. Mandatory in that we must continue to allow anonymous speech so that we can get the great voices heard, even when they are personally vulnerable.
We have people here on Dkos, who are not really Kossacks. They have crossed the boundary from responding to speech they don't like with more speech, into real, material, actionable in some cases, deeds that are causing, or present the potential to cause people real harm. Not, "I feel bad over it." kind of harm, but more like "I'm scared I might get hurt, or my family will get hurt, or worse!" harm.
I am deeply troubled by the fact that we have to deal with this here on Dkos. Whoever you are, know that a whole lot of us are looking now. You have crossed a line that should never be crossed. I don't accept you as a fellow Kossack. It is my sincere hope you get dealt with in a proper and timely way.
Maybe you can get help and fix whatever it is that drives you to attempt real harm over political disagreements.
What does this mean?
It means we all need to take a good, hard look at what vulnerability we have. Some of us are strong, others not so strong. For each one of us, we need to think really hard about the value of social media and our connections between it and Dkos, because it could matter for each one of us.
Dkos is a business, and it's advocacy is important. Great voices grow here, and we have community, action, advocacy, and we grow stronger every year. I get that, but given what is happening, I have to ask:
Do we really want SHARE, LIKE, TWEET icons? Are those responsible while our own house isn't clean? I submit they aren't.
Do we really want people logging in via Facebook, while our own house isn't clean?
How can we get our house clean? That's an open question. Can we crowd source the finding of the people who taint this place?
It is bad enough to deal with outside influences. Many of us get hate mail. Some of us get worse, and a few of us --some of the best, brightest Kossacks I have had the pleasure of reading have gotten a LOT WORSE, and they didn't get it from outside.
IT CAME FROM HERE. INSIDE. That is my belief.
Maybe it's time to provide Kossacks an option for severing their Facebook, Twitter, Blog and other connections. There are people here, who have made those connections with the best of intentions, who now may be at risk from those people who have the worst of intentions.
Bullying people, making material threats, doing real harm over policy preference differences is just shitty. I don't know how else to put it. Whoever you are, you lose, and you lose on form period.
Be careful people. There are folks among us who would do others real harm, and until our house is clean, remember politics is a contact sport and the impact can be very real.
Let's figure out how to fix this.