The Case Against Outing Franc Hoggle

There’s a battle raging presently over at Ophelia’s and Stephanie’s over a guy by the ‘nym of Franc Hoggle. I say ‘nym, because a real-life friend of his learned of his online identity, evidently by him outing himself to this friend — leading to his friend discovering his blog, Grey Lining (no link, sorry). Said friend decided to tell Ophelia Franc’s real name so she could use it to defend herself and the rest of us by extension from his ongoing misogynist, anti-feminist, anti-FtB, anti-Ophelia and downright obsessive anti-PZ campaign.

To be clear, Franc Hoggle, despite making a great many oblique and yet threatening comments like “if I were a woman, I’d kick [Ophelia] in the cunt”, has never directly threatened anyone. In his nascent proto-Mabus state, he has compared PZ Myers, popular atheist blogger and small town professor of biology, of being like Idi Amin and Kim Jong-Il, the only admitted difference being that PZ was lacking only the opportunity to commit mass-murder.

The constant drumbeat of anti-feminist sentiment from his site and his commentariat (whom we would probably leave largely alone if they would only stop staging raiding parties!) is evidently intended to inculcate a hostile environment for our bloggers, shaming and othering and invoking fear to speak our minds lest we incur the wrath of some people who happen to think that including feminism in the skeptic and atheist blogosphere is the Wrong Direction For The Movement™. But he has made no direct threats to anyone, and short of the fact that he has visited the Melbourne-based Global Atheist Convention in 2010 under his real name, and PZ was planning on being at the 2012 GAC, he poses no physical threat to anyone in real life.

Yet.

Primarily because not many people in the real, non-blogospheric part of the world actually know that Franc Hoggle’s actions are being perpetrated by a person who goes by a different name altogether in meatspace. You know, because Franc Hoggle looks like a real name. The anonymity of the internet is being used presently to provide this person with a shield he can use to protect himself from all the attendant fallout that would inevitably result from waging a four-months-and-counting campaign of hatred against an entire gender. And anyone who supports them, especially our ostensible deity figurehead “PeeZus”.

On the internet, anonymity can allow a person to espouse a particularly unpopular or government-censored position. It can also allow you to, if you’re willing to cheat the system by developing multiple screen names or accounts on various networks, amplify your voice beyond other folks’. You can, as with the case of the You’re Not Helping guy, build “sock-puppet” accounts and pretend like you have a small chorus of like-minded individuals on your side.

Or you can slip from one identity to another after one’s utility is used up, like Franc Hoggle did with his previous identity, Felch Grogan. Over at Atheist Nexus, Felch evidently acted as unofficial vigilante, unilaterally deciding to “out” three people’s real life information for relatively minor offenses like spamming or not being an atheist. Franc has also explicitly declared that Stephanie should out him, over on the Elevatorgate Challenge #4 thread. I guess the suspense is killing him.

So the case for outing Franc is relatively solid — for one, we have a months-long internet demonization campaign completely divorced from reality which threatens to spill over into the real world; secondly, we have Hoggle using the exact same tactics rather liberally on “small-timers” who are definitively not out to cause as much emotional harm as Hoggle has managed thus far; third, people generally want Franc’s real-life acquaintances to have the opportunity to learn what he’s up to on the internet in case they need to decide to dissociate themselves with him (e.g., forcing him to “wear his colors off the field”, to steal Stephanie’s phrasing); and fourth and most relevant, Hoggle himself says we should. However, a large proportion of the bloggers at FtB know Franc’s real name, and yet none of us have yet outed him. Ophelia feels that by being told she can’t out him, the defenders of this pseudonymity are condoning further abuse, helping hold the shield that Hoggle uses to protect himself from the splash damage of his invective. And yet, she has still not outed him. She has in fact stated that she has no immediate plans to do so.

There have been a large variety of arguments made against revealing Hoggle’s real name to the internet, the primary being that we are not the adjudicators of who is abusing their pseudonymity on the internet — that we are not a Star Court, that we do not have any moral authority to make the decision with which we are presented. There is fear that if we out Hoggle for his contributions to inculcating a chilly climate for women, others’ pseudonymity will be targeted in cases where Hoggle’s supporters decide our pseudonymity is less important than the damage they feel we’re causing to the community.

Additionally, acting as a damping mechanism is the fear of escalation of the selfsame campaign of vitriol and smear, where people who are so obsessed as Hoggle has become might see any attempt to out him as a personal attack. He has already decried the “smear tactics” of forcing him to own his actions in real life as well as on the internet. Certainly his defenders consider us as engaging in a personal attack. Some have expressed fear that it is when an obsessed person loses everything — and pseudonymity is pretty easily construed as a valuable thing to lose, and could very well be the last thing Hoggle has, aside from his sycophants — that they will “go nuclear” and lash out in a potentially very violent manner. We of course cannot act as psychologists based only on the ASCII characters he’s spewed forth onto his screen at great volume, but when faced with a potentially very bad situation like that, it’s only natural to want to protect one’s self from the worst-case scenario. Delusional, perhaps, but self-defense is hard-wired, and nothing we should under any circumstances abrogate (especially if I wish to remain consistent with my opinions about Rebecca Watson and Elevator Guy).

It is my earnest opinion that the entire skeptical-atheist blogosphere (meaning, the section of the two communities where the Venn diagram overlaps) is fractious in another and rather novel way. There are schisms of which we are already keenly aware in this community, e.g. the “New Atheist” / “Accomodationist” sections of the movement. There is a similar schism in the process of forming, between those who want to encourage more female participation in the movement where it has largely been a chilly climate for women in the past; and those who feel the community is perfectly open as it stands, and any attempt to improve the climate for women would be an abrogation of men’s rights. This last group is, by all accounts, comprised of a rather significant proportion of Men’s Rights Advocates, anti-feminists, and outright misogynists.

Yes, it’s well possible to become an atheist and skeptic without critically examining the plenary role that the patriarchal establishment has had in creating the disadvantages that men face, blaming instead those women that are pushing to deconstruct the patriarchy that leads to the disadvantages that both genders face. Just because you’re appropriately skeptical on one topic doesn’t mean you’re appropriately skeptical on all topics — and in fact, you’ll often find that to justify their misogynist presuppositions, people will engage in hyper-skepticism with regard to every mundane detail of every story offered by a woman just because it was told by a woman. And I suspect that this movement we’re seeing in the skeptic-atheist blogosphere is an echo of a larger movement going on internet-wide presently, where simply blogging on the internet as a woman will earn you death and rape threats, sexist name-calling, or demands for sexual service (as though these women are simply being uppity because they are lacking in the “being stuffed” department). In fact, there is an anti-misogynist-bullying campaign hitting even the mainstream media lately, indicating that this pushback against the constant and pervasive sexism everywhere on the internet may have hit a tipping point.

I mean, hell, I’m a guy, and just blogging in support of women, I get called all manner of things by these same misogynist trolls — “mangina”, “pussy-whipped”, “puppy dog”, “parroter”, “misandrist”, “gender traitor”, and my new personal favorite, “Jason Bieber”. Among other such grade-school taunting. It’s kind of nice that I never got a chance to stand up to bullies as a kid, but I’m getting a second chance now.

But I digress.

The case against outing Franc Hoggle boils down to one of respecting the pseudonymous rights of those who wish to participate in this community without having to risk themselves in their real lives. The biggest problem with that stance is that it also entails protecting people who want to tear down this community, out of fear that they will retaliate against our community members. I strongly suspect that there will always be some faction on the internet who wants to destroy what progress we’ve made in including women in the dialog, and that faction will not always “play by the rules”. In fact, one of them has already posted some otherwise less-than-public information about Stephanie Zvan’s current employment as a bargaining chip against her outing Hoggle, though it apparently isn’t information you’d need a private investigator to obtain. I don’t see this fear of retaliation as something that should paralyze us into inaction in the face of rampant bullying. But I’m also not seeing very many cogent arguments offered with respect to Stephanie’s challenge.

Frankly, if there’s a good argument against outing Franc Hoggle that outweighs the very real trauma being done to the psychology of some of our members and to the inclusiveness we’ve hoped to foster with regard to women in the community, I haven’t seen it yet. And that’s despite 552 comments in the thread at Stephanie’s where people are explicitly asked to provide a good reason that overrides women’s right to feel safe and protected by this community’s members.

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The Case Against Outing Franc Hoggle

87 thoughts on “The Case Against Outing Franc Hoggle

  1. 51

    How realistic does this version sound?

    If you used the US Mail to harass and threaten people anonymously WOMEN, you WOULD be in deep shit if your identity was learned.

    If you threatened people anonymously WOMEN over a phone line using a pay phone but were caught at it, you would be in deep shit if your identity was learned.

    If you try to solicit children anonymously WOMEN over the internet for sex and get caught at it, you’re in deep fucking shit when your identity is learned.

    I really think you’re blaming anonymity when it’s just a fig-leaf for the real problem of misogyny not being taken seriously.

  2. 53

    Acquaria: Are you on your medications pie-face?

    If not, please, for all of our sake, get them NOW! Because, in your delusion of power up there, I realized that you were gnashing your teeth at balls–which won’t cure you, really. Meds, pieface, meds.

    Journalists get evidence–you’re hilarious, Mr. O’Reilly. Or is that Ms. Graham with the puppy of pictures?

    And in case you missed the memo? Being an angry, mentally unhinged sociopath who masquerades as a ‘woman on the internet’ doesn’t mean that some of you don’t deserve exactly what you get.

    Equality stops at YOU, Acquaria being a rude angry piece of shit–a nutcase with a vagina and an agenda, somehow asking a right to not be treated the way you treat others? Or treated as the nutcase you are?

    If you had a blog, I would make sure I avoided it–just look at yourself–your only issues–like so many sociopathic narcissitic ‘women on the internet’ –is your vagina, and your hatred for anyone who could give a shit that you have one.

    After that? short on substance, and not even funny as a pundit.

    Pteryxx: I can smell your bad aftershave/perfume from here, and those shoes have gum on them. And that haircut–dead giveaway.

    Jason–anything to say about her/their/its misandrist projections here?

  3. 54

    What misandry is that, Dougma? Point it out explicitly. Blockquote it. Because I’m not seeing it, and maybe that just makes me particularly blind to it, but I’d think I’d recognize misandry when I saw it.

  4. 55

    Jason–anything to say about her/their/its misandrist projections here?

    Translation: I just spent and entire post calling someone else names and using their gender as a the reason they’re CRAZY, so I’m going to pretend I’m the victim before someone notices.

  5. 56

    Jason: You are apparently clueless about stereotypes of men, or you and Acquaria up there are conspiring by the minute to merge your IQ’s into one–so that you can hit the 130 mark.

    [pause…] but all the stereotypes, and presumptions about men are present in her/their/its raging, rambling discourse. But I am not here to crowd source lunacy.

    Here are a few tips on how to spot anti-male misandrist gender insults:
    1) do they attack your intelligence?
    2) do they ‘presume’ that you are talking a pro-male stance before you actually state your purpose, or even signify gender?
    ( this is important, in the case of franc hoggle–no one knows his/her gender, do they?)hmmm…
    3)do they presume that all critique of female opinion is ‘misogynist’ and then, blame men for that?
    4)do they presume an awareness of ones social, or financial status? ( think women and wallets–bunch of wallet heads)

    Jason, this last one is important, so I will segregate it, but misandry feeds on attacking male social conections…

    5) when men speak of connections, they are really speaking of ‘power’.

    Pie-face infers as much, and the inherent misandry seeks to get its teeth into those connections with .

    “Hello, John Scumbag Kwok. Hint: Name dropping won’t work here. People here known powerful people, too. You’d be surprised who some of us know.”

    She/it even gendered the insult”Kwok”. She/it must smell a wallet…( deliberate sexist stereotype)and in the misandry riddled mind, the misandrists want the right to play ‘dress-up, and dollies” with male wallets, by causing competitive strategies–which is also important: men are engendered to compete–not born that way.

    AS for block quotes, really, again, there’s that crowd-source issue–it would be endless.

    WE can start here:
    If you used the US Mail to harass and threaten people anonymously WOMEN, you WOULD be in deep shit if your identity was learned.

    If you threatened people anonymously WOMEN over a phone line using a pay phone but were caught at it, you would be in deep shit if your identity was learned.

    If you try to solicit children anonymously WOMEN over the internet for sex and get caught at it, you’re in deep fucking shit when your identity is learned.

    (oops–Pteryxx tags didn’t format on the cut and paste)

    Every one of those comments phrases criminality in ‘male as perpetrator’ terms. In fact, many, if not most of the most rabid dissent about RW and women in general comes from women!!

    Misandry wastes no time at all perpetuating images of men as creeps, pedophiles, and other scary predators. ( and quite oddly–yet accurately– the three most prominent cases of missing children in the US right now all have female suspects)

    Worse, yet again, you, and to others miss the opportunity to examine women’s culpability in this great “misogynist” thought crime.

    Misandry, and I might add misanthropy as well, have at their root the phrasing of ‘potential harm’ in male as perpetrator only terms.

    Now, for an object lesson, imagine if Aquaria, or Ptyerryx above were raising a young boy. Would you want that heap of angry, rageful, and oddly framed dialogue to infect his mind?
    ( I know your answer here, and I expect you have already rationalized away the harm that women can cause a boy, so bear with me…)

    Then: would it also be O.K. for other women to project that anger and rage on your son–and also perpetuate the image of men as ‘stupid’ and ‘selfish’ and competitive, etc. onto and into his mind?

    Now, lastly, notice who called names first. Really. take that moment.

    And then, notice how illuminata jumps into the fray–after the others have done as I mentioned above–and projects this:

    “I just spent and entire post calling someone else names and using their gender as a the reason they’re CRAZY,”

    I never said anything that others didn’t say FIRST. See how that works out?

    But in a truly equal world ( which starts with my own actions) I don’t respect, or uphold the “women get tothrow shit first” rule.

    My comments are not gendered–theirs are, clearly.

    My comment are egalitarian–there’s are not, to whit:

    “YOU, Acquaria being a rude angry piece of shit–a nutcase with a vagina and an agenda, somehow asking a right to not be treated the way you treat others? Or treated as the nutcase you are?”

    The rage these pie-faces have is that I could care less about their gender, and THEY WANT ME TOO–if you replaced any of their vaginas with an asshole, the results would be the same. They are all still assholes, but double. Jerks are jerks, and deserve what they get; it’s how jerks learn.

    But really, if you can’t see the object lesson of women’s gendered insult and projection, then what’s the point?

  6. 57

    2) do they ‘presume’ that you are talking a pro-male stance before you actually state your purpose, or even signify gender?
    ( this is important, in the case of franc hoggle–no one knows his/her gender, do they?)hmmm…

    I’m going to take a wild guess and say that this Albright Dougma is Hoggle just like Eva Beige was Hoggle. The hate for women is apparent. And yes, we know you are male, Hoggle. FFS.

  7. 58

    Just in case you folks weren’t aware, when you enter an email address in the comments field, it’s mostly there to associate a gravatar with your account. When there’s no configured gravatar image, it generates you a unique randomly generated one. If “two people” use the same email address, they’ll show the same generated image.

    Knowing that Albright Dougma is pornalysis should help explain why Albright Dougma thinks he knows what pornalysis is saying. And considering I know pornalysis well enough to know either he did it on purpose leaving a clue to see who was paying attention, or he did it to tip his hand to me so he could go on trolling my commenters under a different name.

    Additionally, I’m still not seeing anything misandrist in what Aquaria was saying. I see things that are explicitly anti-feminist coming from some people in this comment thread, but nothing explicitly misogynist yet. With the possible exception of the very gendered epithet “cupcake”. (Yes, I know it comes from Pharyngula, and people there think it’s not gendered, but it certainly is.)

  8. 60

    Please note that Marieke Hardy has removed her post “outing” Joshua Meggitt, the hate blogger has denied he is Meggitt and the real Meggitt (who is friend of mine) is considering his legal options. Republishing her allegations could be considering defamatory. As a courtesy to a young family who have been hurt by this completely unfounded bullshit, please remove references to Joshua Meggitt from comments.
    And bloggers, if you’re going to name and shame, be sure you don’t drag an innocent name through the mud.

  9. 61

    Lucybeaumont,
    How coincidental, then, that the hate blogger is now ending his hate blogging according to his most recent post.

    You’ve also provided no evidence of the reason Hardy removed the post; it could have been as simple as that post drawing in too much traffic.

    And don’t tell us not to drag innocent names through the mud. Tell that to the trolls.

  10. 62

    How coincidental, then, that the hate blogger is now ending his hate blogging according to his most recent post.

    Wow, that’s all the evidence you have that Josh Meggitt is the hate blogger? I guess that’s about as much as Marieke Hardy has, too, considering he isn’t the hate troll, or whatever term they’re using. Both you and Hardy (and everyone else here, including Alethea H Claw, among others) should stop making claims about people without evidence. There can be some serious legal consequences.

  11. 63

    We don’t know what evidence Marieke Hardy had. We don’t know why she took down the page. We DO know that she named Meggitt, and we can report that she named Meggitt, not because we agree that he is definitively the hate blogger, but because it’s a matter of fact. That’s who she named. If she turns out to be wrong, you’re right, it’s horrible for Meggitt to have to endure being accused of doing something he didn’t do.

    But you know what? It was also horrible for Hardy to endure being the target of hate speech for four years. I will not contribute to the chilly climate where you are not allowed to name the people who are targeting you without ironclad evidence. And I don’t believe anyone here is in any legal trouble for reporting that Hardy named Meggitt, whether Meggitt is responsible or not.

    I would like a full and proper accounting of that evidence, though. Because as Aratina says, it’s more than a little convenient that several days after the post disappeared, suddenly two Australians are visiting blogs that were only tangentially related to the event (in that a commenter mentioned it in comments) to try to threaten legal action.

  12. 64

    @Fred Phillips

    Wow, that’s all the evidence you have that Josh Meggitt is the hate blogger? I guess that’s about as much as Marieke Hardy has, too, considering he isn’t the hate troll, or whatever term they’re using.

    That is exactly what I’d expect the real anti-Hardy blogger to say. Sow doubt, try to cast Hardy as the one lying, etc. We’ve seen it all before. It’s all been done to Rebecca Watson already. Yawn yawn yadda yadda…

    Both you and Hardy (and everyone else here, including Alethea H Claw, among others) should stop making claims about people without evidence. There can be some serious legal consequences.

    People were bringing up the revelations about the Hardy troll and I mistakenly thought they were implying that he was this other troll (see thread title) who gets off on hating specific women. About four or five people here corrected me on that in other locations. Did you read that? They corrected me. Otherwise, no one has said jack squat about Joshua Meggitt. What serious legal consequences could there be for that? Oh, that’s right–none.

  13. 65

    Um der, “that’s what I’d expect the real anti-Hardy blogger to say”. It’s also what you’d expect the person who’s been defamed to say. And as for evidence, the onus is on the person doing the accusing to prove their accusations, not the other way around.
    I can’t imagine that in any other arena, you’d say “well we don’t know if anyone had any evidence but we do know this person was accused and that says it all”. WTF?
    I am not a troll, I am (worse!) a journalist for a Melbourne broadsheet. And this is indulgent BS.

  14. 66

    And if you think it’s a coincidence that I’m visiting this blog, you can blame google. I have googled my friend’s name and you site came up and I’m trying to help him out. Can the conspiracy theories.

  15. 67

    We don’t know why she took down the page.

    Maybe you don’t. Other people do.

    But you know what? It was also horrible for Hardy to endure being the target of hate speech for four years.

    I agree.

    I will not contribute to the chilly climate where you are not allowed to name the people who are targeting you without ironclad evidence.

    Really? You’re prepared to trash someone’s reputation with something less than proof? I don’t suppose it occurs to you thaat you might not be naming “the people who are targeting you” if you don’t have “ironclad evidence”?

    And I don’t believe anyone here is in any legal trouble for reporting that Hardy named Meggitt, whether Meggitt is responsible or not.

    Best get some legal advice about this, as I am quite sure you are mistaken.

  16. 68

    @Aratina Cage:

    That is exactly what I’d expect the real anti-Hardy blogger to say. Sow doubt, try to cast Hardy as the one lying, etc.

    Right, and if he WASN’T the blogger he would do what exactly? Sit back and let his name be trashed over something he didn’t do? Please tell me what you would do if she named you as her internet stalker. Be specific. Thanks.

  17. 69

    Okay, here’s what I’m saying, because you, a journalist, and you, a litigious dummy resepctively, seem to think it’s perfectly acceptable to sweep into another jurisdiction and threaten legal actions.

    I do not know what the evidence was that led Hardy to finger Meggitt. If it is less than a video of Meggitt laughing into a camcorder about his latest hate post (e.g. “ironclad evidence”), then maybe Hardy was premature in naming him. Then again, maybe not. Here on the internet, people say very mean things to other people all the damn time, and some of it is actionable slander, some of it is not. For instance, threatening to rape a person to death is probably actionable if the real identity is discovered. Saying that the person who threatened to rape you to death is someone who it turns out is not, is not actually actionable as “libel” in just about any jurisdiction I’m aware of, if the person making the accusation is doing so in good faith.

    And saying that the people here who have reported that Hardy named Meggitt are definitely not actionable. If you’re a journalist, lucybeaumont, and you were to report that someone famous was accused of murder, but then evidence turned up that proved he didn’t do it, you aren’t about to get asked to go and find all the places where newspapers happen to exist that reprinted the accusation, and burn them, then purge the memories of all the people who remember reading those papers, lest you get sued for libel. Reporting on the accusation is not the same thing as accepting it without seeing that evidence.

    I’m really very sorry that your friend is being accused. I’m very glad that this has stopped Hardy’s hate blogger, and while I find it curious that there’s now a concerted campaign of multiple people to take her down legally coinciding with the hate blogger’s disappearance, I don’t think it’s a conspiracy by any stretch of the imagination. Just a curious coincidence, is all.

    Now, if it turns out that you running around threatening legal action against people who merely reported events that have happened, and you never bring any actual charges against people, then you’re devaluing the institutions. Talk to a lawyer and see if you stand a chance of actually winning some sort of suit for slander/libel over people reporting what one person said about another. I know our countries are really very different, but our legal systems are not so different that you can bluster like this and expect everyone on every comment thread on every blog, most of whom have actually done pretty close to nothing at all, to fold.

  18. 70

    These are new areas of media law where jurisdictions are increasingly meaningless. In Australia, we have very strong defamation laws where republishing can be defamatory. You would hope that the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” would hold worldwide but I guess not?

    No one should be hate blogged (it’s happened to me and I agree, it wasn’t nice) but here we are talking about a public figure with one vile hate blogger, who has dragged an innocent person’s name out for hundreds to vilify. They are seeking legal advice and we’ll see where that goes.

    I think out of courtesy — not legal obligation, if you don’t see that as an issue — this thread should consider removing a real person’s name who’s been accusing without proof. I’m talking human decency here and I thought that’s what the trolling discussion was meant to be about. Otherwise, who is trolling who here?

    Find it “curious” and “coincidental” that a decent person has defenders if you like. Wouldn’t it be a sad world if he didn’t? What would you or your friends do?

  19. 71

    No, not special dispensation, just fair dealing. And yes, Marieke or anyone making baseless accusations should be vilified. As far as “both guns blazing”? Give me a break. My words were:

    “As a courtesy to a young family who have been hurt by this completely unfounded bullshit, please remove references to Joshua Meggitt from comments.”

    Hardly threatening legal action. A simple request. I’m an unknown on this page but you’ve been discussing people unknown to you. I’ve used my real name in good faith.

    I’m going to stop here. I’m clearly wasting my time trying to encourage you to show some empathy for a crap situation someone has found themselves in through no fault of their own. I sincerely hope you don’t ever find yourself in a similar situation and have anyone trying to defend you face a response along the lines of “well you would say that wouldn’t you” and “aha! how convenient!”

    The irony that this is a discussion about the evils of trolling is laughable. Enjoy.

  20. 72

    You’ll find that nothing has been republished here. Nobody’s quoted anything that she’s said. A commenter reported on the accusation. Complete unknowns came in both guns blazing, then when I put them in their place about the legalities, they resort to “human decency”. That would have more truck if you’d asked, instead of demanded, special dispensation.

    As it stands now, I would love to see the evidence available to Marieke before I’d allow anyone to say that Meggitt definitely did or did not do anything. Innocent until proven guilty goes both ways. Does Marieke Hardy get vilified for making an incorrect accusation if she did it in good faith? Do commenters on random blogs have to endure threats of legal action for mentioning something that’s already long since gone viral? Have you ever heard of the Streisand Effect?

  21. 73

    All I’ve said about Meggitt is:
    a) Marieke Hardy named him as her hate-blogger. (True.)
    b) He lives in Coburg. (A neutral statement of fact, which even if mistaken is not libellous.)
    c) A question as to whether he might be Hoggle. (Intended to be rhetorical and counterfactual, but even on face value it’s a question, not libellous.)
    d) I don’t think he’s Hoggle. (Opinion, also not libellous.)

    If it is a genuine mistaken identity, then that’s a real problem and I can quite understand that Meggitt might decide to sue Hardy over that. Or at very least seek some sort of public retraction and apology. Assuming that she acted in good faith, it could still turn out to be a mistake – such as a different person of the same name, or some third party using a hacked account of Meggitt’s.

    But unrelated people threatening other unrelated people is just plain silly. (That point is addressed to Fred, who has been blustering away about legal action, and not to Lucy who I think has been quite reasonable.)

    Of course, this does add another dimension to the question of outing a harasser. What if you get the wrong one? I gather with hoggle that the identification is firm, because it comes from someone who knows him personally. The Tom Johnson/Wally Smith affair went well, too. But you’d definitely want to have very good evidence.

  22. 74

    @lucybeaumont

    Um der, “that’s what I’d expect the real anti-Hardy blogger to say”. It’s also what you’d expect the person who’s been defamed to say.

    Not really. I think if a wrongly named person had a heart, she or he might be a little more understanding of Hardy if Hardy had indeed named the wrong person. The least you could do instead of making a big scene here over how unfair it all is would be to direct us to evidence that Hardy has issued a retraction about the hate blogger’s identity.

    And as for evidence, the onus is on the person doing the accusing to prove their accusations, not the other way around.

    Has anyone said differently? Hardy did not disclose her evidence so we don’t know it. How do you know that her evidence isn’t solid?

    I can’t imagine that in any other arena, you’d say “well we don’t know if anyone had any evidence but we do know this person was accused and that says it all”. WTF?

    Hardy–hello?? Hardy obviously has some sort of evidence. You think she just made it up? Brilliant!

    I am not a troll, I am (worse!) a journalist for a Melbourne broadsheet. And this is indulgent BS.

    Some journalists are indeed worse than trolls. I have no idea who you are or what your beef is with Hardy, and, I am sorry to say, I really don’t care!

  23. 75

    @Fred Phillips

    Right, and if he WASN’T the blogger he would do what exactly? Sit back and let his name be trashed over something he didn’t do? Please tell me what you would do if she named you as her internet stalker. Be specific. Thanks.

    I might work with Hardy to figure out what evidence she had that pinpointed me and then offer her help finding the real hate-blogger. I would rather work with Hardy and get her to issue a retraction and a sincere apology than go around to blogs across the planet trying to cover up the slightest mention of the allegations.

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    I might work with Hardy to figure out what evidence she had that pinpointed me and then offer her help finding the real hate-blogger. I would rather work with Hardy and get her to issue a retraction and a sincere apology than go around to blogs across the planet trying to cover up the slightest mention of the allegations.

    Marieke Hardy has 50,000 twitter followers, who all got to hear about this. If she wrongly outed you as the hate blogger to that many people, I sincerely doubt you would be working with her to do anything. You’d go straight to a lawyer, more likely.

    And to Jason and Alethea, I haven’t threatened anyone with anything. Re-read the things I’ve said while applying some basic comprehension and this should be apparent.

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    Republishing her allegations could be considering defamatory. As a courtesy to a young family who have been hurt by this completely unfounded bullshit, please remove references to Joshua Meggitt from comments.

    Both you and Hardy (and everyone else here, including Alethea H Claw, among others) should stop making claims about people without evidence. There can be some serious legal consequences.

    Sounds a lot like “You’ve got a real nice shop here. Be a real shame if something were to happen to it.”

    It’s indirect speech, thinly veiled legal threats. I don’t care if you’re Meggitt’s friend and he’s actually innocent, or if you’re the hate blogger himself looking to shore up support and silence critics and otherwise hurt Hardy. You don’t get to come swaggering into a place that happens to have commenters talking about an event on the internet and say “remove all references to that event or there ‘may be legal consequences'” without being challenged.

    I will not assist you in your campaign to make the internet forget something. Until we see evidence one way or another, we will comment on and speculate on the events surrounding Marieke’s suffering through four years of hate blogging and the circumstances that made her hate blogger disappear suddenly and extremely conveniently when she made her accusation. The harder you push to scrub Meggitt’s name from people’s comment threads, the less good you’ll do on his behalf, because of the Streisand Effect I mentioned earlier.

    And if you sue commenters over mentioning his name, his name will be mentioned exponentially more.

    I recommend you simply desist in your campaign. You’re doing more harm than good if Meggitt’s innocent, and if he’s guilty, you’re just being a troll.

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    @Fred Phillips

    Marieke Hardy has 50,000 twitter followers, who all got to hear about this. If she wrongly outed you as the hate blogger to that many people, I sincerely doubt you would be working with her to do anything. You’d go straight to a lawyer, more likely.

    You know what, Fred, I just told you what I might do. If you didn’t want to accept that I might not be sue-happy and that I might be a little more understanding than you and capable of looking past the initial wave of vitriol that might occur, then why did you even bother to ask me what I would do if I were wrongly accused of hate blogging?

    Did you hear that, Fred? You asked me what I thought I would do, and I told you what I thought I would do. You don’t get to disregard that and tell me now what I would do. I think I know myself better than you.

  27. 79

    I too was checking what had been written about my (very nice and very innocent) friend Mr Meggit

    Forgive me if I share the view that the tone seems all rather aggressive in defending freedom of speech, which surprised me given the spirit of this blog and the adage that with freedom comes responsibility.

    I’m not going to add much to it all – although from my skim read everyone’s intentions above seem honorable – but I’m with Lucy on this one – wishing it had never happened – and I didn’t read her entry as threatening legal action at all, though it seems to have been construed that way for whatever reasons.

    Perhaps we can (or I can at least) accept M Hardy seems to have been given very bad IT/journalism/legal advice before outing someone. There seems to be no conspiracy. Just cock-up. And put yourself in my friend’s shoes – what a horrible thing to experience from someone (Hardy)who ironically was intending to out and discuss internet related abuse. I hope there’s a happy ending to all this – as putting aside the details, the actual issues raised by M Hardy’s stance and then mistaken reaction are valid and interesting. I hope I don’t get abused or misconstrued for writing this! But a final reflection is bringing a family and kids into it, as M Hardy did in her blog, especially without proof, that was, let’s say risky and not the most responsible thing ever done in journalism. That’s what made the impact of her mistake twice as bad as it would have been anyway. Those kids had to go to school the next day….

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    Lucy Beaumont: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=547462893

    “I’ve used my real name in good faith.”

    I hope you are smarter than that, and if you are not, start NOW!!!

    If your name is really Lucy Beaumont, I hope you are smart enough to change it to Lacy Beauregard next time you deal with these people–their entire goal is entrapment, and blackmail.

    You should know better than that! These are not writers, these are clueless wonder-breads–crusaders for middle class virtue! They will eat you, and your legitimate dissent as quick as they will hear you.

    Talk to the authorities in you country before you deal with these people–put them on a watch list before they do that to you!

    And this, coming from a random friend who knows them from the get-go.

    We call it a ‘honey-pot’ in the real world. It’s just there to capture you at a crucial moment of time, and bog you down.

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    Did you hear that, Fred? You asked me what I thought I would do, and I told you what I thought I would do. You don’t get to disregard that and tell me now what I would do. I think I know myself better than you.

    Well, it’s not so much that I disregarded it, as I just didn’t believe it. Did you hear that, Aratina? I didn’t believe it. I am so sorry if that hurts your feelings, complete stranger on the other side of the world.

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    [email protected]: considering you’re here trying to bluster us into submission, protecting your friend from the hurt feelings he’s getting by being (ostensibly) falsely named as the hate blogger, from people you don’t know on the other side of the world, you get the Irony No-Prize.

    Yaris is the most reasonable of the trio defending Meggitt here. Nobody is going to abuse or misconstrue you, Yaris, assuming you are in fact three people and not sockpuppets of the same Mr. Meggitt.

    Which, you must grant, is well possible in this internet — that a hate blogger was caught out and went into damage control mode to keep his good name from being sullied by his horrible actions. If we were to name Franc Hoggle and lay out all the evidence presented to us by his acquaintance, he could very easily create numerous sockpuppets to testify as to his good nature and how he could never do what we have evidence of him doing. We could end up turning what should be an open-and-shut case into a he-said-she-said, even when “she said” has real evidence for it.

    That’s one of my primary fears about outing Hoggle — not that we turn out to be wrong, but that we turn out to be right and he manages somehow to turn the tables on us and convince everyone that he’s the victim of mistaken identity and is really the nicest, sweetest guy imaginable and we’re all just out to pillory him.

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    @Fred Phillips

    Well, it’s not so much that I disregarded it, as I just didn’t believe it. Did you hear that, Aratina? I didn’t believe it. I am so sorry if that hurts your feelings, complete stranger on the other side of the world.

    Since when did everyone have to act according to Fred Phillips’ whim and fancy?

    No, Fred. No. Fuck you. It doesn’t hurt my feelings, but it does show that you are a disingenuous asshole.

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    Wait a minute, I’m confused. I thought those blogs were just “satire/troll – why u mad?” when they were posted under a pseudonym… What changes them into hate blogs when someone is outed for writing the content?

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