Kathy Sierra, one of the authors of the blog, "Creating Passionate Users," has put up a disturbing story on her blog, which has the entire blogosphere questioning the limits of free speech.
The post is called "Death threats against bloggers are NOT "protected speech" (why I cancelled my ETech presentations)."
In the post she outlines how she has received death threats against her, posted to her blog and others, and that as a result she's cancelled all her public appearances and is loathe to even leave her home.
It's a frightening and disturbing post, which has generated a huge amount of commentary both in the comment to the post itself (which are overwhelmingly sympathetic and positive) and in other posts about the issue.
Since I started blogging three years ago, I've always been aware of the dark side of this genre. But I've never seen anything like this, both in terms of the threats to Kathy directly and the response from the blogging community.
I know that it's probably only a few "wingnuts" that are responsible for this, but I'm not sure that we'll be able to ignore their impact. And if someone as passionate about what she is doing as Kathy Sierra is silenced, we'll all suffer for what's happened.
But I'm also grateful that Sierra had the courage to write this post, as difficult as that may have been. She didn't just hide it under the rug, and now the bad stuff is out there for us all to consider and talk about.
The blogosphere is a community, which we usually think of as a good thing. But every community has a dark side, so we shouldn't be surprised by what's happening. Let's hope that the discussion that comes out of this is positive.
And let's sincerely hope that this is not the last post that Kathy Sierra ever writes.