The Fourth Monkey

The Fourth Monkey

Among my earliest memories, perhaps around my 3rd birthday, when sentience and memory converged and began to pack some areas of the brain with all sorts of content, is a ceramic piece.  It sat on a dresser in my room; I loved to look at it.  To this day I can recall it, and still get a sense of how it amused me.  A small piece, it could have fit in my palm, even when I was a toddler.  It was next to the radio, another early memory and item of significance in both my early years and then throughout the rest of my life.  Sometime in my 3rd year I decided to go into Radio.  And sometime the same year the impact of that little ceramic piece must have been made, when I asked my parents what it meant, and also, why was it there.

It was a ceramic representation of the classic Asian Three Wise Monkeys: See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil.  I vaguely recall my mother explaining to me the meaning of the ceramic figure.  She told me they had bought it somewhere on a vacation, liked it, and thought it would look good in my room.  Perhaps this was also their way of imbuing a sense of right and wrong in me.  Common sense, as well.  An important lesson in life is when not to say a word, when not to listen, when not to look at things.

Blog no evil, said the 4th monkey<br />

Which brings us to the present.  There's a maelstrom going on in various quarters of the blogosphere over two sites that were put up and since taken down, and the comments, hate mail, and some mean-spirited entries, all targeted at one woman.  She, too, a blogger.  And one who became an easy target for those who found her posts to be less than deep. less than savvy, and perhaps some other adjectives, all of which would be unknown to me.  I'd barely ever looked at this woman's blog, and I never saw the two blogs poking fun or taking potshots at her.  Now that the story is all over the web, much of the content of those blogs is repeated and reposted.  It most likely now has a larger audience due to the uproar than it ever had in its short web life.

In a post last week that was a response to a Britt Blaser blog entry  I made mention of using a graphic from Britt's post which came from an item in Kathy Siera's blog.  Kathy Siera, of whom I know very little about --although in the past day or two I've heard and read a great deal more, albeit having no idea how much of what was said or read,  good or bad, is anything even remotely approximating the truth-- is the blogger discussed above.  Potshots were taken at her.  Real nasty comments.  Mean, vindictive, and a bunch of childish ones, as well.

This is what happens in an unmoderated comments environment.  Ghoulishness reared its ugly head and some commenter wrote what is being taken for a death threat.  There was also some prurient photoshopping, not at all complimentary, and which could easily offend readers, and surely offend Kathy Siera.  Frankly, I thought it was meant to offend, meant to be mean, and laughed out loud, knowing this was satiric, as well as in what many could consider to be very poor taste.

Throughout the blogosphere there is a ton of discussion, name calling, muckraking, accusations, and many people taking sides in this dispute and an avalanche of allegations without fact.  And of course all sorts of sexual politics enters the discussion, rightfully so given the graphic. 

Kathy Siera is upset.  Well, yeah.  Mean spirited content, comments and graphics, and what she interprets as a death threat.  Further, she says her local police see it this way, and she canceled a speaking engagement.

Many bloggers, some of whom were responsible for developing the two sites in question. some of whom had posts on the sites, are being accused in what has been coined the Court of Public Opinion.  IMHO it is not such a court, rather, it is the blowing of much hot air in the blogosphere, and as such it will blow over.  Blog wars, like flame wars in news groups and bulletin boards, go away.  They die down.  They vanish.  Some people are hurt, and maybe even scarred by such wars.  But life goes on.

This isn't like being sent to Iraq, getting in the way of an IAD, and being sent to Walter Reed where there's mold and rats in the room.  That's very real and lasts a long time.  It is far different from words on blogs.  Remember the old saying, about how words (even in a blog, even if the blogger is an A-lister!), unlike sticks and stones, will never do any harm?

Death threat?  No, doesn't seem that way to this reader.  Stupid, boorish, childish entry by an anonymous (the coward's ruse) commenter.  It appears to have been a rude, senseless, and perhaps even misogynistic blog comment entry by someone using an IP address from Spain.  And in a better world it would have gone the way of all posts moderated into never-neverland.  This is not meant to say that Kathy Siera's concern should be dismissed.  She has every right to be upset and if a comment from some coward across the globe scares her, then so be it.  And how sad.

Fact is, I don't know much about Kathy Siera, I bear her no ill will, I wish her the best.  I like some of her work, and in other areas and blogposts of hers, am not far afield in opinion from the bloggers who took her to task.  That they chose to do in as mean-spirited a way is unfortunate.  But it  is just words, blog content, unmoderated comments.

I know  a good many of the  players in this  drama.  Friends of mine were involved.  Caring, decent people.  Some of them have rapier wits, and some of them are a little quick on the draw and post items that they may either regret, or at least see in retrospect as not exactly what they would have posted if they'd thought it out.

Mostly, though, I know Chris Locke (aka Rageboy) and Frank Paynter.  These are friends of mine.  I know them as a result of news groups and blogs and private mailing lists and all sorts of things.  Without connectivity I might not ever have met them.  Both of them have posted about this flap, and I accept what both have said.  Were their postings or those two sites that took Kathy Siera to task (and then some, in a few cases maybe too far) in poor taste, or errors in judgment?  Let them have their say on this.  I am reluctant to pass judgment on or to question the ethics of two respected friends. 

I also know Jeneane Sessum, who has been in a hospital bed throughout most of this ordeal.  Jeneane is a witty one with a sharp pen (keyboard?) and also has a heart of gold.  She, too is a friend.  All I can say about Jeaneane is this: leave her alone, get well soon, and rah rah, J, you're still not smoking cigarettes.

Another blogosphere buddy of mine called me to ask if I'd been involved in this whole flap.  He knows my friends are involved, and also that I am on some group blogs with them.  Nope, I said, this is news to me, let me check it out on the blogosphere.  And thus did I learn of this, which occurred concurrently with the receipt of an e-mail from RageBoy pointing to his site on which he discusses the whole shebang.

After reviewing the matter, and reading a bunch of related posts (man oh man, is every blogger writing about this or what?), I was reminded of that ceramic piece from my childhood, The Three Monkeys.

Apparently there's now a fourth monkey to join them.  Blog No Evil.