Erin Kotecki Vest at NewComm Forum in 2008
With great regret this post discusses recent death threats (warning: graphic language) received on Twitter by Erin Kotecki Vest, known on the social web as the Queen of Spain. In the worst cases (warning: graphic language), the lives of her children were threatened.
Erin is one of those special people who has been on the social web since the pioneering days, yet makes herself widely open to her community. A Democratic party leaning political blogger and a friend to many, Erin is currently publicly waging a harrowing battle against Lupis. While certainly the ire of GOP social web opponents may be understood, no human being — especially one as fun, loving and special as Erin — deserves such horrifying threats online.
Erin’s situation also follows on the heels of the horrific Arizona shootings. While not a Congresswoman, Erin is a highly visible person on the social web, and thus has attracted the worst kind of parasocial behavior.
Such cases have happened online in the past, most notably with the Kathy Sierra controversy in 2007. Kathy ended up leaving the blogosphere, and though she came back briefly on Twitter, the threats chased her off the web. Erin has chosen to stay online, an act of courage given the harsh nature of these threats.
Having been threatened with a beating for questioning a photographer’s practice of tagging bloggers with watermarked images on Facebook, it’s easy to say that such threats are not a pleasant experience. Threatening people physically — or worse threatening to kill them and their children for differing ideas — goes beyond “heated discourse,” and enters the realm of criminal and mentally unbalanced behavior. There is no provocation that can justify these kinds of threats against other people.
Yesterday, the Momocrats hosted a podcast on the topic with Civilination’s Andrea Weckerle. While sometimes disagreeing with Andrea about the finer points of civility, we agree that there can be no tolerance for cyberbullying and online threats. If you are sickened by this news, if you have experienced threats online, please check out Civilination’s site.
Let’s hope Erin’s bullies find help, and go away. Lupis is enough of a scourge. Here’s to the Queen of Spain. Long live the Queen!