Via Romenesko today comes the story of Erick Erickson, editor in chief of a conservative website who suffered something of a backlash for calling Cindy Sheehan a “left-wing media whore.”
He didn’t, though, expect commenters at Daily Kos to post his contact information, including his work phone number. Site moderators removed his information, but not before Erickson received a number of ominous phone calls and e-mail messages, including one from a writer who threatened to “rape my wife and unborn child.” He placed a call to the FBI in response, and nothing came of the threats.
Behold the Commentocracy, where big ideas and rough remarks sit shoulder to shoulder, altogether transforming the nature of the Web and of journalism.
The internet allows people to be assholes. I’m enjoying your comments on this site, though. In fact, I didn’t expect things to take off so productively here. Something I especially like doing is blocking people who behave like assholes, because this is my site, and I want to create an environment where people can talk about things without having other people come in and start screaming. Sort of like inviting you round to my house, basically. That’s what I’m going for. Whereas a year ago, I’d probably have engaged with the assholes and dug myself into a pit of despair and self-loathing. This, I think, is what’s known as maturing. Or being an asshole. You choose.
“Nobody would tolerate if, at the end of ‘Meet the Press,’ if a bunch of weirdos stormed the studio and started screaming weird racist stuff,” he says. “They’d call the police.”
Food for thought.