Posted by: Kevin | October 20, 2006

Disturbing Internet Behavior

I choose not to Blog under a pseudonym.  Not everyone chooses that option.  Some people work in more visible professions.  Others simply want to reach beyond the normal outward face they present to the world.   Using a pseudonym is a normal part of communicating on the Internet, which no one seems to have a problem with.  Except for Ann Bartow.  In addition to being a law professor, Ann fancies herself a feminist.  I don’t consider myself one but I do know this.  Regardless of her words, Ms. Bartow’s actions are anything but feminist. 

In a series of comments (here and here) Zuzu of Feministe criticized Ann’s behavior in threatening to out a fellow blogger (i.e. reveal her real world identity).  Ann had made that threat because she disagreed with that blogger’s point of view.  She responded to Zuzu’s comments by indicating that she also knows who Zuzu is and that she wants to sue.  Zuzu, whose profession would dictate avoiding that kind of negative exposure, has elected to retire from blogging for the time being.

To my knowledge, Ann has gone to the trouble of learning the identities of 3 different feminist bloggers.  While it’s not that hard to learn someone’s real name on-line, it does require effort.  In each of those cases Ann made a point of letting the blogger know that she knew their identity.  Now in two of those cases she has used that knowledge to harass people. 

There’s only one word to describe that kind of behavoir, power.  Ms. Bartow acquired knowledge not readily available and has used it to manipulate / punish others.  She has now successfully used that power to silence someone who disagrees with her.  Way to go Ann.  You’ve really advanced your cause today.

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