It’s all fun and games until somebody receives a thinly veiled death threat. The editor at Ms. Magazine was forced to cancel an ongoing series about guns after a pro-gun advocate posted the author’s home address in the comments section.
Heidi Yewman, the writer behind the series, wrote three articles with the first one under the title, “My Month With a Gun: Week One.” A title like that might sound fairly pro-gun, but Yewman tended to lean to the gun control side of things in her article.
“Getting the permit to carry a concealed weapon was simple," she said. "I filled out a form, had my fingerprints taken for a background check and paid $56.50. No training required. It took far longer to get my dog a license.”
She also describes her fear and how her “hands shook from the adrenaline surge” when she held the gun – hardly a confidence-inspiring message.
The blog post sparked a flurry of pro-gun comments. Things took a turn from a classic internet flame wars to possible life-threatening danger when one of the commenters evaded the filter and posted Yewman’s home address.
That, editor Michele Kort decided, was more than enough. Kort sent an email to Yewman to explain that she was canceling the remaining two blog posts, citing the vicious comments and the alleged desire for “payback.”
“I don’t think I should post the next two installments of this — they’ll only fire up the troops again, and we’re just not equipped to handle this on our blog,” Kort wrote.
It is understandable that Kort tried to protect one of her employees from what could have been a death threat, but it’s also surprising that Ms. Magazine caved under the pressure. On the internet, it is virtually impossible to post an article — especially an editorial piece — without inciting anger and criticism. Angry comments directed at online authors are a dime a dozen, and acquiescing to internet trolls only encourages them to keep using the same tactics.
Do you think that the editor was right in axing the last two articles?