Out The Haters
It’s all over the news today, writer, author and First Tuesday Book Club panelist, Marieke Hardy has reportedly reached an out of court settlement with a Melbourne man after incorrectly naming him as the author of a hate blog about her. She also issued a public apology to said fellow.
Marieke (mistakenly) named names during the Twitter #mencallmethings campaign, at a time when many women were tweeting about the often anonymous abuse they have to deal with in the online community.
Marieke’s #mencallmethings tweet and the blog post it linked to were prompted by five years of harassment by an anonymous person who had set up a permanent blog dedicated to abusing her. And the blog was not just about her, it talked venomously about her mum and dad, her friends, her boyfriends… anyone associated with her was fair game. Post after post detailed how (apparently, according to Mr/Ms Hate) crap she is, and went into completely poisonous detail about why the author thought this was so.
Do you know, I think it’s really super terrible that someone would spend so much time and energy degrading and defaming another person. And for FIVE years. Sheesh. Personally I could not cope with that. I would obsess about who was writing it. I would want to catch them. I’d want to tell them how I felt about them. Perhaps that is how she DID feel, I’m not quite sure. I most certainly do not know how she managed to leave the house, let alone write a book, appear on TV and Co-Captain the Women of Letters events, amongst other creative endeavours. She is made of tougher stuff than I, obviously and has a great bunch of pals and family supporting her.
Do you know what else? I think it’s super terrible that a fella who was indeed NOT a hate blogger was accused of being that kind of horrible human being. I think that is super sad for him. I can understand his distress, and that of his family. I am not sure how I would deal with such an awful public accusation. I hope he has good people propping him up and can make a swift recovery from this unfortunate episode.
But do you know what I think is the worst thing of all? I think it’s super terrible that someone anonymous still sits behind a computer ready to defame and harass Marieke Hardy for their own pleasure. I think that Ms Hardy and the falsely accused Melbourne man are victims of this anonymous.
Anonymous (well, actually he/she has a fake pen name, but let’s not speak of it here) has a five year old blog with the Google owned Blogger, yet no one seems to be able to shed any light on who he/she is. I think that’s totally weird and makes no sense. Perhaps if the law had caught up with the internet a little faster, than Marieke Hardy might have found out who her tormenter was years ago. And perhaps the poor Melbourne mis-accused might NOT have been caught in the crossfire?
In November, a week or two after the #mencallmethings campaign, Marieke’s hate blog was removed by its author. Word had trickled out that the named and shamed man was NOT in fact the author of the blog, and perhaps the true (hater) author was feeling the heat and concerned that in light of impending legal action, someone might actually try in earnest to find the real culprit? (It seems, however, that the lure of curious traffic to their nasty blog was too much to resist? I’m not really sure, but sadly the hate blog is online once more. Thanks Google. Thanks Blogger. Sheesh.)
Without a doubt, we need to be protected from anonymous harassment online. I think the hate blog should have been shut down years ago, its author banned and prosecuted. I think that people need to be accountable for what they say, as Marieke has had to be accountable for what she said. Our system quickly compensated the poor fellow Marieke mistakenly named as her hater, but it couldn’t help Marieke track down the person who had REALLY been tormenting her for five years. What’s with that? And she’s just left to deal with it? Knowing that this person can continue on their merry way, spitting venom about her whenever it suits them?
I’m not sure why the person at the very epicentre of this whole sad schmozzle gets away scott free, snarking from their perch over on Blogger, somehow protected under our current legal system. I’ve been the victim of online trolling lots of times, and I know how upsetting it is. And that’s just a bit of committed trolling, a HATE BLOG is a whole other kettle of nastiness. They should not be allowed to exist, especially if they are degrading and defaming a person repeatedly, relentlessly and inhumanely.
Facebook commenting on blogs would be a great step in the right direction, but ultimately I think that we need better systems in place so that we can track down online abusers and make them face the music before things go horribly awry, as they did in this case.
Have you been the victim of Anonymous online abuse? How did you deal with it? Do you think we can stop trolls and hate bloggers?
NB : I KNOW Marieke. I first met her back in 1993, lost contact with her for a while and have been lucky enough to catch up with her a couple of times this year.