The chatter on the net, and everwhere else, is about model, Liskula Cohen and her legal pursuit of an anonymous blogger who wrote immature and unflattering things about Cohen, calling her a “skank” and the “#1 skanky superstar” on a blog hosted by the search engine’s subsidiary, Blogger. Cohen wanted Blogger to give up the identity of the errant blogger, who had decided to write nastyand potentially defamatory things about people, anonymously.
My reaction was to create a blog this morning of my own, not anonymously, called “Skanks A Lot” http://skanksalot.blogspot.com/ The new blog, as well as this daily blog, The Advice Sisters Guide to Life, Success & Happiness at: are both on Blogger.
What’s All the Fuss About? I haven’t read the entire post or set of posts that the masked blogger spewed out about Cohen, and as far as I can tell, Blogger has pulled the entire blog. I read somewhere that there were only five posts, anyway. The remarks sound like something a five year old would hurl in the schoolyard, but the blogger who wrote these posts is 40-something! It would be shameful, if it wasn’t so awfully laughable. There are plenty of nasty blogs (didn’t Perez Hilton make a “name” for himself doing just this?) and to me, it’s the Internet equivalent of mud wrestling. But the point of Cohen’s lawsuit is that bloggers shouldn’t be sheltered when they’ve acted irresponsibly.
Cohen wanted the right to make Blogger unmask the errant blogger’s identity. Apparently by now, the model knows it was a woman–someone she already knows (could this be a publicity stunt cooked up by the two, to boost “fauxsocialite” status? But the point has been made — have we just gone too far in spouting whatever tripe we feel with no consequences and should anyone, especially cloaked in the cape of internet anonymity, be allowed to do so?
Caveat Lector: The reason why I took the ONLY name available with “Skank” in it, that didn’t include mine (as Blogger’s automatic engine helpfully suggested) is that I have been online for 1 1/2 decades. I am a multi-published book and articles author, as well as being touted as half of the twin sister team (the Advice Sisters ) who brought the genre of advice and “info-tainment” to the net. I have seen many changes in the quality (and certainly the quantity) of content on the Internet since I began working on it. In the beginning, most online content was still managed by professional companies or publishers and written by seasoned, experienced writers and reporters. If they were not personally feeling the need to be honest and responsible, their companies yanked the editorial leash. But with the introduction of easier Internet access and now, free blogs for all (thanks to easy, third-party publishing software), Internet content is hideously bloated, the quality, seriously degraded. There is no assurance that what you read online is credible or even, valuable. It is now the responsibility of each reader of each piece of content, to judge it’s value and question it’s credibility. That’s a difficult thing to do, but it is up to the reader to be wary.
Free Speech? The very thing that makes blogs amazingly wonderful (immediate access and anyone can be a writer) is also what makes it troubling. With free access to everyone and the license to blog whatever they want, should come some responsibility. When you can write anything you want –especially anonymously –without journalistic (or legal) repercussions, situations like this one with Liskula Cohen, are bound to arise. While the Skanks in New York blog seems to be a childish and stupid enterprise, to do it anonymously makes it just that more juicy. When people skewer others in a public forum, and are allowed to do so anonymously, someone is going to get hurt. It makes sense that what we wouldn’t do in person and in public, we should not do online. But there are lots of people out there who seriously lack judgment. I am certain that the anonymous blogger would not have dared to write the unflattering, silly and inflammatory things she put on her blog, if she had to do it with her name and face on it, or worse, in person.
I absolutely do believe in free speech, but I think if you’re going to say something, you need to do so with some common sense, and stand up and be identified. I also believe that if you do something wrong, you need to accept the responsibility for your actions, and accept the consequences.
Blogger has already pulled the anonymous blogger’s blog, but doubtless she will be back, with another nasty, useless diatribe against something or someone else. There’s no one to stop her. And, as long as the reading public enjoys this type of snarky garbage, more people will race to follow in AnonBlogger’s footsteps.
Skanksalot Blog: I plan to use the Skanksalot Blog to write about things that bother me (as does this issue) and that don’t really fit the focus of this Advice Sisters Blog. But whatevert I write, it will have my name on it, and I will do my best to write in a professional and responsible manner. Whatever her motivation, I applaud Liskula Cohen’s initiative in bringing the issue of free speech vs. taking responsibility for your actions, to the general public. So, SKANKSALOT, Liskula!
“Entertainment” doesn’t have to mean “trash,” but when it croses the line, blogger, be ready to take your lumps.
-Alison Blackman Dunham —
Do you think easy and free access to say whatever you want, however you want to do it, a good thing, or not? I’d welcome your comments.