In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

It feels grandiose to use the words of Martin Luther King on the subject of blogging, but I can’t think of anything more appropriate to describe my recent experience with hate mail.

Remember when I was suddenly bombarded with comments from angry lunatics? I think it went on for three days. I recall sitting at my computer late at night when I literally couldn’t keep up with the volume of nasty personal attacks. I typed as fast as I could but the unmoderated comments appeared every few seconds.   The tone became more and more psychotic. It was an epic feeding frenzy that I allowed to happen because I felt to strongly about free speech.

I’ve thought a lot about mob behavior. What is it about violence (in this case, verbal abuse) that is so contagious? Why do people observe abuse and then feel empowered to join in, rather than denounce it? I’ve read that if you’re being raped. you’re more likely to get help if only one other man is at the scene. If it’s a group of men, they are more likely to join in.

The hate mail stopped just as suddenly as it started. One determined troll keeps reminding me how awful I am, but everyone else has slunk back into the woodwork or where ever they came from. I guess it’s only fun for them to attack if they feel protected by a crowd.

It’s so discouraging to see human nature at its very worst. It’s also disappointing that only one blogger was willing to speak out about this abuse – Kate of Make Do Style was outraged and said so.   She is one in a million. No one else had the courage or empathy to take on the situation, or maybe no one else cared. But it could happen to anybody. If I saw it happen on another blog, you can bet that I’d condemn it here, as forcefully as I could.

Free expression is genuinely important to me! I’m not sure what crosses the line from free speech to hate speech but I know a gang rape when I see one. I’m going to stop moderating comments and I’m hoping we can all have fun being bitches, without degenerating into a massive clusterfuck.


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66 Responses to Aftermath

  1. tartandtreacly says:

    I don’t think moderating comments is a strike against free speech – you do what you have to do, and if the “noise pollution” gets to such a stage that it has to be policed for your sanity and the good of the community, then that’s that.

    However, I hope that even if moderating continues, you’d still allow some space for criticism, not just plaudits. This is coming from someone who likes a lot of the humour on the site – almost always on the mark – but finds the screed-like tone to be sometimes de trop. Yeah, fashion bloggers can stand to be more self-aware and socially-aware, but in the end they’re just silly girls, and are as much the influenced as they are the *cough* influencers. That Sea would let mommy and her cohorts fight her battles for her (and not, what, engage in bilateral repartee? With her jocularity and expansive wit?) isn’t surprising, although the nastiness and personal attacks from the mob went beyond the pale.

    Anyway, my two cents on the “first they came for _____, and because I was not a snarky whistleblower of narcissistic, hyper-consumerist fashion bloggers, I did not speak up” discussion:

    There was a massive outpouring of support for you and instant denunciations of the trolls from your fans on this blog. Considering that this place receives pretty heavy traffic and the comment-bombs happened here, perhaps your fans thought your blog, and not their own (if they had one), was the most suitable forum for engagement.

    I also think that, because the internet is such a “scruffy fighting place” (to quote Salon quoting Seamus Heaney), the fact is that for better or worse, many people are inured to the turd-throwing that goes on. I used to hang around political blogs (the stanky, reeking-of-postpubescent-testosterone-and-armchair-posturing armpit of digital media) and got called pretty much everything nasty under the sun at one point or another, and now I can be an insensitive bitch, unfortunately.

  2. Sister Wolf says:

    tartandtreacly -Of course I allow criticism! And to tell you the truth, I used to enjoy my haters. Again, I’m talking about a concerted orchestrated hate campaign, instigated on a facebook page.

    I like to think I can “take my own medicine” or however that saying goes. But this is not that. I dont think of myself as a snarky whistleblower of fashion bloggers, but I admire the snarky insult!

  3. tartandtreacly says:

    Lady, you have gumption, and I’m not so insensitive that I think it’s a case of “getting a taste of your own medicine” or “asking for it”. If Sea and her supporters wanted to dish it out in equal measure, it would have been done on her website. What they did instead was conduct the internet coward’s version of asymmetrical warfare.

  4. hammiesays says:

    Of course I care about you! but my way is to deny the trolls the oxygen of the google ranking. Those people got a real kick out of seeing their name on your screen as they know you are esteemed by all of us. When you started moderating you took away their shit and left them drying out the dregs of the bong to find whatever flakes of other peoples phlegm covered weed they could suck down.
    And then they went else where.
    Kate is a true Samurai – but don’t think for one minute that I don’t love you and think about you everyday to worry how you are, You are always in my thoughts big Sister, xx

  5. YouKnowWho says:

    The main ingredient in a troll is hate. Giving them fuel to carry on is what they need and seek. As a reader who is on your side and who’s view has been reiterated many times by others already I wasn’t about to add anything to keep the fire going for their sake. Like the Chinese proverb says, If a dog bites you are you going to bite it back? One can’t be crazy just to keep up with the crazies.

    Yo Dave Duff, Palin is a public figure and waves her family in public so it really is OK to be expressing some personal political views on one’s own blog. It is not a wonderful feeling to read about one’s favorite politician made fun of but you already knew SW’s views on ding bats and dumb bats.

  6. Erika says:

    I wanted to say also that I am sorry that you had to experience these people like this. They suck and their payment is that they have to live with themselves and their rotten minds and lives.

  7. Dru says:

    I’m sorry you felt a lack of support during that awful time, Sister- for my own part, like so many of us, I’d assumed that your own comment space was the best place for your readers to speak up against the trolls. I hope they’ve finally gotten over themselves now, and that there will be no next time- the ones whose comments I saw, made this blog’s Original Troll up there, look like a friendly bit of pesky local weed.
    I still feel bad that we didn’t do enough, though- but hooray for Kate, she really is one in a million. And for you, because I don’t want to forget that despite the wit and levity you display here, you’ve still suffered horribly and a pack of jackals tried to take advantage of that.

  8. JK says:

    Kate, taking anything away(nor your subjective Sister Wolf – if you’ll remember I’ve got your pre-war ass as my screensaver [jeaned fashionistas, butt still… anyway Kate, I’m thinking Sister Wolf owes you abit more than a cyber-acknowledgement.

    Remember that watch she won in that contest?

    I’d been looking for a pic… it would seem Mr. Wolf has objections to the way I requested it’s portrayal (the watch Mr. Wolf… you don’t have my ‘on-duty weekend e-mail address, correct”?

    Anyway, what harm could be in it Sis? When you do the holiday story about “Lesbian Stick” no one seems offended and hell, given you bribed the Judge -under the table of course- about the Prop 8 thing, surely Mr. Wolf wouldn’t mind allowing one of the archival pics being posted?

    With the watch of course, and what I’ve never noticed the trolls including – peechurs of the ass, of course no kiddie stuff like Sea’s particulate encrusted (nor Sea’s Mother’s)… anyway, send the fellow blogger the contest watch.

    Our preliminary investigation shows the contest watch is ideal for re-gifting.

    If you need to get hold of me, this is my duty weekend, so you’ll need send it to “Attn: JK” at:

    US FBI

    No! HelOnWheels, I’m working (unless you’re paying).

  9. JK says:

    Try this one more time:

    “US FBI”

  10. Sister Wolf says:

    JK – I would be glad to offer Kate my contest watch, if it ever arrives, but really I can’t think of anything in the way of consumer goods that comes close to the value of her friendship and loyalty.

    Also, just between us, Gretchen continues to be fascinated by my vagina, as per the comments she sent that I choose not to publish.

  11. JK says:

    Crapchen fascinated by your vagina? Has she a handlebarred Florida moustache handler? (Not to imply anything untoward my friend) but you’ve at least blog-pic’ed California’s finest denimed rear – and invited comments… no Mr. Wolf, I can’t order F-16s into the air – but I’ll bet Crapchen can’t get even a partially defrosted weenie pointing toward Venus. Maybe toward Uranus.

    The thing is this Sister Wolf, with extremely few exceptions (HelOnWheels, I’m working – but we’ll …) anyway, most of your friends are showing significant others your gifts. Others… well, if you’d only forward their IPs I can give them something worthwhile to do on a Saturday night. Of course all this shows something particular, and inadequacies of course.

    But for the truly inadequate, cognizant of course, you’ve a forwarding address… I’d like something to make my shift interesting.

  12. Cristina says:

    I just came across your blog recently (as in, today) via a fellow blogger and was drawn to your eloquence & personality and taken aback by your recent comment troubles. I admire how you chose to voice your thoughts on the indifference shown to you. Not many people would have been so honest and strong-willed about it. For this, you have my utmost respect.

    Haters will be everywhere, and will surely strike upon anyone who doesn’t closely follow the status quo and has an opinion. The best is not to attempt to understand them, but to keep in mind that in the process of garnering admirers and building anything worthwhile, these haters are bound to come (enter Field of Dreams joke here). This is especially true within the Blogosphere.

    Tim Ferris, who has had & continues to have his fair share of haters (in 35 languages!), wrote a great blog entry on this subject. I know that if I had been in your recent situation, I would have liked to read it. Check it out:

  13. Sister Wolf says:

    Cristina – Thank you, I’m going straight there now to read, xo

  14. Ah, and Gretchen returns. I was amazed she managed not to comment on the massive, innuendo-welcoming goat fur skirt post.
    Sure, you do say some vicious things about people, and the trolls that linger mocking you as weak because now that the abuse has come back at you, you don’t like it, makes sense, but I very much doubt that you saying someone had a fat face warrants the disgusting things said about Max. If someone called me fat I’d just call them ugly, not systematically attack a member of their family.

  15. Sister Wolf says:

    RedHead Fashionista – Anyone who calls me “weak” may try becoming the target of a concerted effort to attack their character, by hundreds of snarling lowlifes telling them it serves them right to have something to grieve about, bla bla bla. It does not make sense to me at all. But, as you see, I’m still here, saying whatever I feel like saying. Sadder but madder.

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