Within the first few months of public White Advocacy, I started receiving death threats on my phone number, 317-324-8282 and at my [email protected] email address. I was repeatedly threatened with being “doxxed”, so I was careful to conceal my [redacted, at girlfriend’s request] social security number. My employers were repeatedly pestered by the SPLC and others, which led to my current arrangement of being a long-haul trucker who performs freelance computer consulting work in my mobile office. It’s rudimentary to take my CDL to a different outfit if this one cans me, and most of my freelance clients couldn’t care less if I were an ax murderer, as long as I deliver solid code.
I would offer my home address, but I live in my truck, so I don’t really have one to offer.
The heckler’s veto which the Internet’s anonymity provides has resulted in a profound chilling effect on public discourse, and has steadily grown from a childish prank phone call stunt targeting toxic extremists like yours truly to this obnoxiously familiar canard peppering every major public political brawl. With the recent #gamergate hassle, each side eagerly served up death threats and eagerly presented the death threats as a farcical sort of digital badge of courage that they were supposedly risking their lives for feminism or social justice or whatever.
Having a bit of a morbid sense of humor, I was especially amused by a call a few years ago purporting to be from right outside my apartment, threatening my imminent death and the imminent rape of my dog. I didn’t even own a dog, though my family’s Teacup Pomeranians which I’m very partial to were most likely never in any meaningful danger. I helped organize a Shadow Conference for would-be AmRen attendees the year that Daryl Lamont Jenkins “anonymously” threatened to corrupt the morals of the hotel manager’s dog, and I was in more danger on the public bus ride to the previous year’s AmRen then I was directly defying the fearsome legion of anonymous assassins.
It’s all bullshit, and I’m glad that this latest tiff between Sony Pictures and the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea has elevated the bullshit to the point where this micro-terrorism can officially jump the shark and people can stop taking it seriously. It’s not serious. I suppose, in theory, that some day, somewhere, somebody’s death threat or bomb threat could actually result in a death. But even then, for God’s sake, is the statistically insignificant potential of death really worth handing over your very agency to speak your mind in public? And if you’re that cowardly, should you really be dabbling in public life to begin with?
I helped organize the Shadow Conference for would-be AmRen attendees, and one of the topics of discussion at that event was how this whole “death threat/bomb threat” phenomenon amounts to a crowd panic fad which people will eventually grow past. People will eventually learn to quietly and calmly file a police report about the threatening communications and go about their business, resisting the urge to publicize the threat. People who shriek about having received death threats will be socially shamed for cowardice and attention-seeking, and the increasingly popular phenomenon of faking these threats to receive attention will further cloud matters.
Even if the threats were entirely legitimate and death were imminent, it would still be necessary and appropriate to plug forward. The alternative is a world where nobody says anything that anybody disagrees with, where everybody cowers in constant fear of crowd-sourced Anonymous Assassins achieving a 1984-style dystopian control on public discourse. I’d really rather be dead than live in the kind of world we’ll end up in if we don’t all develop the habit of ignoring and dismissing death threats, bomb threats, and doxxing threats. I like the anonymity that the Deep Web provides, and it’s here to stay. But it’s going to require our culture to catch up with the technology, namely a new normal where a blogger casually chuckles “Bring it!” when somebody dials his cell and threatens to kill him to death with a machete.