In his post about Blog Stalkers — Personal Safety for Bloggers (via Performancing), Darren Rouse shares his personal experience of being stalked by a blog reader who, after a series of escalating behaviors, ended up at his home.
Having put this situation behind him, Darren goes into detail about how bloggers can protect themselves:
- Decide ahead of time how much personal information to share on your blog
- Be aware of what impression you’re leaving
- Remember to follow offline security measures
- Develop a plan of action ahead of time
- Don’t try to deal with a problem situation alone
He also writes an important post about What to Do when Your Blog is Attacked, which I’m going to clip for future reference.
With violence increasing and the polarization about the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy becoming greater, it’s easy to agree with Neville Hobson’s statement that this conflict “illustrates a massive cultural and religious divide that is getting wider… with no meeting of minds looking likely at all. If anything, this will probably get worse.”
Fortunately there are dissenting voices, as these excerpts from around the world show.
Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani denounced the violence and appealed for calm, accusing infiltrators of sowing the dissent to “harm the stability of Lebanon.” Prime Minister Fuad Saniora also urged peaceful protests. “Those who are committing these acts have nothing to do with Islam or with Lebanon,” he said. “This is absolutely not the way we express our opinions.”
From Rantings of a Sandmonkey:
Fully knowing that it is retarded to punish a whole country and its products for what a Newspaper in that country did, I expected someone to start a movement to restore common sense our muslim brothers and demand a stop to the boycott, especially since the Danes have apologized over and over again. Then I figured, shit, why don’t I be that someone?…
So I guess I will start the official local campaign to boycott the boycott, and thanks to the efforts of Roba and Jameed, the campaign now has banners that you can get here, put on your website and show solidarity with Danish people…
From Sorry Norway Denmark (via History News Network’s Deja vu — Judith Apter Klinghoffer):
In the middle of all the mayhem surrounding the Danish cartoons controversy, a group of Arab and Muslim youth have set up this website to express their honest opinion, as a small attempt to show the world that the images shown of Arab and Muslim anger around the world are not representative of the opinions of all Arabs. We whole-heartedly apologize to the people of Denmark, Norway and all the European Union over the actions of a few, and we completely condemn all forms of vandalism and incitement to violence that the Arab and Muslim world have witnessed. We hope that this sad episode will not tarnish the great friendship that our peoples have fostered over decades.
The problem with media representation of such issues tends to be that the media only picks up the loudest voices, ignoring the rational ones that do not generate as much noise. Voices that seek tolerance, dialogue and understanding are always drowned out by the more sensationalist loud calls, giving viewers the impression that these views are representative of all the Arab public’s view. This website is a modest attempt at redressing this wrong. We would appreciate it if you could forward the word to as many of your friends as possible.
What long-term effects on free speech will this conflict have? We probably won’t know for quite some time. There is possibly a new Europen Union media code of conduct in the works (via EU Rota). And Lee Hopkins points out that, on a lower level, “the whole issue does… introduce fear and loathing in the workplace.”
In the meantime, although there is already some “fight cartoon with cartoon” behavior, as evidenced by the Arab European League’s two cartoons, I’d speculate that for most media, Serge Cornelus’s prediction is right on.
CNN.com reports that hundreds of Syrian demonstrators stormed the Royal Danish Embassy in Damascus, Syria today and set the building ablaze. This is the latest reaction to the publishing of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammed by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
Many Muslims are offended because they find the cartoons disrespectful and blasphemous; others object because various hadiths prohibit any depiction of the Prophet, regardless of what the images contain (although Wikipedia notes that representations of the Prophet have existed in Islamic art for quite some time).
The Vatican had this to say about the cartoons:
“The freedom of thought and expression, confirmed in the Declaration of Human Rights, can not include the right to offend religious feelings of the faithful. That principle obviously applies to any religion…
Any form of excessive criticism or derision of others denotes a lack of human sensitivity and can in some cases constitute an unacceptable provocation.”
Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, part of the Vatican’s diplomatic service, was also critical:
“Freedom of satire that offends the sentiments of others becomes an abuse — and in this case it has affected the sentiments of entire populations in their highest symbols…
One can understand satire about a priest but not about God. With reference to Islam, we could understand satire on the uses and customs and behavior, but not about the Quran, Allah and the Prophet.”
See Wikipedia’s Jyllands-Posten Muhammed cartoons controversy for a chronology of events and international reaction. Make sure to also read the posts by Allan Jenkins and Neville Hobson, both of which offer an analysis from a communications perspective.
I predict that this explosive situation is only the beginning of other similar international incidents we’ll see in the coming months and years. I’d venture to guess that others (see, for example, Media Orchard’s post Newest Beer Pitchman: Jesus Christ) would agree.
It was bound to happen. Our most intimate moments in life and death are now public for anyone to see.
According to New America Media, 17 year-old Joshua Anson Ballard posted his last MySpace.com bulletin on Nov. 29, 2005 just a short while before fatally shooting himself. And Chris McKinstry, the founder of Mindpixel, made two posts dated January 20, 2006 on his Mindpixel Blog before taking his own life a few days later.
What’s our obligation if we stumble across something like this? Should we get involved, contact the authorities? Can we just click away without guilt? I’m not sure there is a universal answer. In the cases of Joshua and Chris, it seems that people did try to intervene before it was too late.