Women Techie Being Threatened Online

A recent controversy surrounding a female blogger has brought to light the extremes of cyberbulling as well as the lack of respect women continue to have within the technology field.

Kathy Sierra, who is a game developer and programming instructor, has been maintaining a blog for quite some time now. Within her blog, she has provided inspiration, advice, guidance, and information to her fellow techies. As of late, however, she has started to receive a number of death threats and other violent threats.

Some of the threats Sierra has received have included graphic images of her being suffocated/silenced or of her next to a noose. Many of the threats have been sexual in nature as well.

“If you want to do something about it – do not tolerate the kind of abuse that includes threats or even suggestions of violence (especially sexual violence). Do not put these people on a pedestal. Do not let them get away with calling this “social commentary”, “protected speech”, or simply “criticism”. I would never be for censoring speech – these people can say all the misogynistic, vile, tasteless things they like – but we must preserve that line where words and images become threats of violence. Freedom of speech – however distasteful and rude the speech may be, is crucial. But when those words contain threats of harm or death, they can destroy a life.” - Kathy Sierra, written on her blog in response to recent threats

As can be expected, Sierra now fears leaving her house out of concern for her safety. She has also cancelled her upcoming speaking arrangements and has even decided to discontinue her blog.

The reasons behind the death threats Sierra is receiving are unclear, though most of the threats make reference to the fact that she is female and that these cretins wish her to be silenced. While Sierra is a supporter of free speech, it is clear that these death threats go beyond maintaining one person’s rights as they infringe upon another person’s right to live her life in safety.

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