Monday, March 08, 2010

Mt. Lebanon Bloggers Report Being Threatened

Yesterday, the bloggers at Real Lebo reported that they had received threats and may stop blogging:
Some sad news to report: the torrent of expletive-filled comments that we’ve been receiving on this blog for many weeks now ... have turned to more serious threats.... Thanks to those who have offered their support and encouragement. We’ll see you around.
This is indeed sad news. The cornerstone of any community is its conversation. When part of that conversation is silenced, through threats or other means, the entire community loses something vital.

I have urged the folks at Real Lebo to involve the police. If there are bullies in our midst, they deserve to be held accountable for their behavior. As a community, we must not tolerate threats to our freedom to speak with each other openly and honestly.

Joe and I wish our neighbors at Real Lebo all the best and hope that they will keep their blog going. On their right to speak, we support them in every way.

Read more:Updated 2010-03-08 15:04 to add Read More section and link to Suburbia Calling’s post. —Tom

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Anonymous Bob Reich, Jr. said...

They absolutely should contact the police if they have been threatened. Everyone who comments on their site (the comments they claim to have not posted) leaves a trail that one can use to track them back to the original sender. Same goes for emails sent to them.

My guess is that they got tired of being so thoroughly beaten up by actual FACTS laid forth so brilliantly by Tom and Dean and Dave and others that they finally said "No Mas!" and gave up.

Plus, from the looks of things, their side has won! The taxpayers of Mt. Lebanon, the ones who WEREN'T given the opportunity to vote on this via a referendum, now have two choices - reach for your wallets or move. Time will tell who was right.

(And, to the members of the CAC who made what, from this layperson's viewpoint, were such excellent suggestions I want to give my belated "thanks". It borders on such an incomprehensible amount of hubris to think that none of your suggestions were taken into account.)

March 08, 2010 11:49 AM  
Blogger Marjie said...

I saw their post yesterday. I know Mike (Madison) reported from time to time here that he had gotten some e-mail commentary of the same flavor. Sadly it doesn't surprise me...while I've never gotten e-mails there have been a few posts on my blog (mostly during the presidential election season) that resulted in day of hang up calls to my house.

As a lawyer with some knowledge of electronic discovery every e-mail, post etc. should leave a signature IP address and trailing information (like what you get when you get a mailer daemon back). If they set up a meter such as site meter they should hopefully have the information. Anyone who thinks they can operate in cyber space "anonymously" is a fool.

March 08, 2010 12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Tom here!
I'm on the other side of the fence on the HS project than the RealLebo girls. I found their blog... ah-- stimulating, and it forced me to investigate and back up with facts and rationale my opinions.
On the other they could be infuriating, but that is no excuse for anyone to threaten them. That's plain wrong!
I do hope they reconsider this point they wrote, "It is impossible for us to attempt to create community, even to discuss issues, under these circumstances."
To that I'd say -- Mt. Lebanon always was and hopefully will remain a great "community"! Pushing the envelope through differing opinions and then working together made it one of the area's best.
My opinion, but I'll bet that's why they settled here.
Anyway-- ladies-- thanks for the debate.
Dean Spahr

March 08, 2010 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Kim Ressler said...

Wow - that's some backhanded support. Whether you agree with the views of a blog or not, each and every one of us has a right to voice our opinion. I have enjoyed reading posts from a variety of folks on both sides of the fence on this site and on RealLebo. I doubt I am alone. But to suggest that their blog has been closed due to others disagreeing with their viewpoints on one issue is catty and shortsighted. Although the majority of comments were on the high school project, the majority of the bloggers' posts certainly weren't. Give these two women some credit that they would not manufacture an excuse.

I am saddened that the anger engendered in any of the readers has escalated to a frightening level. Let's continue each and every discussion civilly and respectfully.

March 08, 2010 4:51 PM  
Blogger Mike Madison said...

Blog-Lebo has indeed suffered its own share of abusive and offensive comments over the years. Generally, the blog's policy has been to stand up to the bullies. See these posts for more, from two and half years ago: One, Two, and Three. The bottom line is that there has been a lot of anger in Mt. Lebanon for a long time. The folks who run the blog can do a lot to maintain a civil environment, but at the end of the day the commenters have to play their parts, too.

Real Lebo's current predicament is at least one order of magnitude worse than what Blog-Lebo's owners had to deal with in the past, because the anonymous comments directed Real Lebo's way are personally venomous and profane to a degree that Blog Lebo, in my experience, has not endured -- even given the accumulated time-sucking anger- and whining-fueled melodrama that eventually led to my own decision to sign off, back in December. No one should have to endure being targeted in that personal way, no matter how much people may disagree on the merits of what is posted. If Real Lebo goes dark, I think that will be the community's loss - but it's a decision that I understand.

Moreover, while Marjie is quite right that abusive email and message board comments can often be traced relatively easily, anonymous comments to Blogger-based blogs, such as Real Lebo and Blog-Lebo, require some additional sleuthing. Reverse-engineering the data generated by something like Site Meter (assuming that the site uses something more than the standard free Site Meter) is still going to require time, and money, and perhaps some good forensic IT experts. The comments themselves are processed on Google's servers. Google is unlikely to share its own, internal analytics. And a full-service Site Meter, or equivalent analytics, imposes privacy costs on readers that play by the rules, costs that a lot of reasonable blog owners are not willing to impose.

March 08, 2010 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, Mike is right. It isn't that easy to trail an IP address and unfortunately, this would seem like a penny candy theft compared to armed robbery in the eyes of the law. What I mean by that is that it wouldn't be put on the most important TO DO list.

There are blog trolls out there who have nothing better to do than to harass blog owners. Just like we all have the right to freedom of speech, these trolls should realize they also have to right to cease readership if they don't like what they are reading. Alas, it goes back to what our mothers taught us as children.

"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Please note that I am not saying that friendly debate should be curbed. Every opinion can be heard if people learned a little couth. It is not okay to harass these women and it is against the law. And while I doubt that much would come from it, I do agree that a police report should be a protective measure...should (God forbid) the threats become more than just threats.

~Tina Saucier

March 10, 2010 6:59 AM  

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