There are few worse sins in cyberspace than outing a pseudonymous blogger. It’s barely forgivable to do it to someone who was using their pseud to break the law. Doing it to one who did nothing worse than harshly criticize you is roughly equivalent to the Unforgivable Curse. Henry Gee, an editor at Nature, apparently saw a few posts and the occasional sideswipe on Twitter as terrible persecution. I hope to contact Henry and get evidence of this defamation, persecution, and bullying very soon, as I was unable to discover any in several days of Googling. Certainly, it must be severe in order to justify giving a woman’s meatspace name to the public, therefore opening her private life to all of the lovely death threats, rape threats, and endless harassment enjoyed by women everywhere on the intertoobz. Would a white man with power punch down at a woman of color without suffering a campaign of harassment that would put Rebecca Watson’s stalkers to shame?
I wish I could say I think not. But perhaps he’ll surprise me. I live in (cynical) hope.
Whilst I search for evidence of this terrible persecution that was so, so horrible he had a right – nay, a duty – to dox a
mouthy woman uppity female critic, I thought I’d share some recent musings on the situation. If you know of ones I’ve missed, please do include them in the comments.
And Nature? After at least three spectacular fails when it comes to the way your hallowed pages and your editors treat women, I’d be seriously reconsidering what one must do in order not to behave as raging sexist assclowns. I will here simply point out that two of the three incidents infuriated women in science and their allies involved your esteemed Henry Gee, and leave it at that. Also, I see Henry’s Twitter page was somehow tragically lost. If you need its contents from the time of the incident in question, I have preserved them.
On with the linkage, then…
Isis the Scientist: Be Not Afraid… Wherein Isis discusses her outing by Henry Gee, and explores its optics and possible consequences.
Pharyngula: Oh, Henry. In which PZ adds his caustic two cents.
Biological ANthropology Developing Investigators Troop: Outing Dr. Isis: A retaliation of consequence by a Nature editor. Wherein we are advised that we should not poo-pooh this incident as “just happening online.”
Balanced Instability: On bullying and being outed. In which Gerty Z discusses why being outed is being bullied, and how damaging it is.
Jezebel/Groupthink: Do people know about Nature editor doxxing a science blogger? Oh, dear. Looks like this misstep’s gonna make it out of the sci-com community… whoops.
Tobias Buckell: Dear Mr. Gee: you don’t punch down. In which the propriety of an editor of one of the most prestigious science journals in the world outing a young university scientist of color is explored.
DrugMonkey: The protection afforded by pseudonyms depends on the community. In which community standards are discussed. Hint: they do not include outing pseuds.
it is NOT junk: On anonymity in science and on Twitter. In which a former target of Dr. Isis’s wrath explains why he’s grateful she nailed his ass under a pseud.
FrogHeart: Is it Nature or is it Henry Gee? science’s woman wars continue (or start up again). A battle-weary soul takes Henry Gee to the woodshed, whilst wishing that woodshed doesn’t have to be used so damned often.
UPDATED LINKS 1/23/2014
Popular Science: Why Did This Top Science Journal Editor Expose A Blogger’s Pen Name? Title says it all, really.
Respectful Insolence: On “Orac,” Isis, pseudonymity, and anonymity. This post was perfect in nearly every particular, and a welcome, happy surprise.
NPG: Statement from Nature. Oh, Nature. Nature, Nature, Nature. This is a step, but… you’re still so very, very far from getting it. Step one: this isn’t something that just happened, it was something one of your editors did. Sigh.
Pharyngula: Henry Gee is gently, delicately, softly chastised. In which PZ explains how Nature done fucked up. Again.
The End Of The Pier Show: Reflections On This Weekend’s Events. Henry apologizes. Not perfectly, and amusingly under a pseudonym, but I’m going to hold out a tiny sliver of hope that this will be the beginning of Henry Gee finally coming around. Sometimes, it happens. Sometimes, it takes fucking up hugely, harming people in the process, to realize you’re not the person you wish to be, and to change. And while I’m fairly positive my tiny sliver of hope will be ground to powder and then set on fire, and then nuked, I’m not going to crush it preemptively. I’ll have some possibly helpful advice later for you, Henry, and good on you for taking this step towards being a better human. Just remember: nobody owes you a damn thing. And some people won’t accept your apology, not one iota of it, and don’t owe you the benny of the doubt. Step one in being a better human is realizing and accepting that.
And, last and very much least, Larry Moran gets to stand as the example of the (mostly) White Doodz Who Don’t Get It. Look, you little fucks: women, minorities, and other less-powerful folk have many and good reasons for shielding their identity. They would prefer not to have other Clueless White Fuckers like you google their name while, oh, say, researching them for a job, and find their name linked to their ‘nym by some asshat, which in turn is linked to some pointed things they said to Clueless White Fuckers, which might cause you to dismiss them outright as being Not The Right Type. Among other reasons. (The wishing to avoid threats of rape, death, and having raging asswads show up at their door to deliver a little comeuppance at two in the morning is also a favorite reason to be a ‘nym. There are ten thousand others.)
Let me repeat for the terminally hard-of-thinking: A ‘NYM IS NOT AN UNKNOWN.
And a huge, ginormous thank-you to all the dudes who’ve got, I mean, really, got it. There was an encouraging number of you out there. Thank you for taking the time to understand the lives of people without your advantages, and act. You are awesome and give me (non-cynical) hope.
In a future post, I will highlight posts that took Nature to school over the previous bout of dumbfuckery. And if Henry Gee decides to speak with me in regards to this incident with Dr. Isis, I will be happy to publish that exchange.
Full disclosure: I also blog at Scientific American, which is part of the Nature Publishing Group. The views expressed in this post are my own.