Sunday, November 9, 2014

Collateral damage

Gamergate is a war, and women are the targets, but as with any war, sometimes the guys with the guns miss their intended targets and hit innocent bystanders. This is known in the war biz as "collateral damage," and in the last couple weeks, the 'Gaters have inflicted a bit of collateral damage on a standup comedian named Brock Wilbur.

As Wilbur notes, he was "doxxed" on October 25. That is, a 'Gater somewhere discovered his home address and phone number and tweeted them with the hashtag #gamergate in the hopes that other 'Gaters would deluge him with harrassing letters and phone calls. Whoever doxxed Wilbur apparently did so under the mistaken impression that he was associated with the gaming website Kotaku. Since then, Wilbur has indeed been the recipient of various harrassing phone calls and emails, and was also the target of a "swatting," an anonymous tip to his local police that would have sent a SWAT team kicking in his door if he hadn't already warned his local police to expect to receive false anonymous tips regarding him.

Since the initial anonymous doxxing of Wilbur, other anonymous 'Gaters have re-posted his address and phone number every few days, ensuring that he continues to be subject to misdirected harrassment. As Wilbur points out, "the angriest voices of a movement have built something they no longer control. There is a system — a mechanization — for hatred that now exists, and has become self-sustaining."

Which raises an important question. I've been taunting the 'Gaters myself in a not-entirely-futile effort to make a stand against misogyny and maybe get my pageviews up. Is there any chance that I could be doxxed? I suppose it's possible, but I've been maintaining my "Johnny Pez" persona for almost twenty years, and very few people know which real-world person it connects to. As I've said before, I'm ideally suited to this, um, mission.

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