Eli Rabett has a post about some extremely offensive comments on Judith Curry’s blog which raises the ugly spectre of physical violence. He also posted about some rather nasty comments which may not literally threaten violence, but certainly indicate the frame of mind which spawns violent behavior.
It is truly deplorable (as is pointed out on Rabett Run) that Judith Curry not only failed to censor such talk, she actually made light of it. We have also seen Anthony Watts recently attempt to ridicule those scientists who have felt threatened, because at least some people consider the comments not to be sufficiently explicit literal physical threats.
The threat of violence, whether explicit or implied (even loosely or jokingly), is no laughing matter. It’s nothing to be minimized or shrugged off. It’s certainly not right to ridicule those who feel threatened. When people are put in fear, whether the threat is explicit or not, they are victims of a crime.
Of course there will always be the dangerously deranged who do so, the world has never been free from insane behavior by insane people. But it’s up to those of us who disdain violence to show zero tolerance for the kind of commentary which eggs the attitude on. When someone makes explicit threats they should be censored. Period. When someone makes statements which are so personally insulting in a way unrelated to any relevant issue, they must be repudiated. I’m not talking about calling someone a “stupid fucking moron.” I’m talking about such comments as “GO FUCK YOURSELF AND DIE YOU CUNT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” and “PEOPLE THAT PROMOTE IT NEED TO BE PUT DOWN!”
And it is certainly no help — in fact it’s a hindrance — to call those who feel threatened liars because the threats they see aren’t sufficiently explicit to take into a court of law.
This is one of those issues about which, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.