We have to, then, show them we want them to live. We need to advocate and fight for justice and for resources and for safety for our youth. We have to give them strength and support and love and guidance. We have to care about the lack of access to mental health and homelessness resources for them, especially those who are working class, trans, and/or of color. We have to care about transphobic school policies that infringe on students’ identities and rights, facilitate violence against them, and drive them further away from their peers and community. We have to care about patriarchal norms and dynamics and language and how gender, sexuality, and sexual dynamics even at a very young age in grade school reinforces and starts a lot of toxic habits that can manifest dangerously later in teen years. We have to say “You, love, have spirit like nothing and no one else, and it is so beautiful. And so, I will stand behind you, with you, even when you don’t feel like you can get up.”
Yesterday, feminist cultural critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a talk she planned to give at Utah State University after an anonymous person threatened to massacre her and the crowd. The threat came in an anonymous email, “This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history and I’m giving you a chance to stop it.” In a line reminiscent of Elliot Rodgers’ manifesto, the person claimed that “feminists have ruined my life” and then signed the note as Marc Lepine—the gunman who claimed he was “fighting feminism” when he murdered 14 women in Montreal in 1989. As she made clear on Twitter, Sarkeesian did not cancel the talk because of the threat—she has received many violent threats over the past two years—but because the school and local police could not adequately guarantee her safety. Utah law allows people to carry concealed weapons in all places—apparently even into a lecture hall where someone has threatened a massacre.
[A]cademic study of the witch hunts always says as much about the era in which the scholarship is being conducted as about the hunts themselves. She also points out that many of the scholarly conclusions as to what underscored the witch hunts are exculpatory, to some degree: it was agricultural ignorance, or it was a mold outbreak, or it was something else comfortingly remote from a contemporary audience.
The MsScribe saga isn’t just a story about one woman. It’s a story about an entire Internet community trapped in a cult of belief so intense that one woman was able to manipulate its entire social structure to benefit herself. In the tale the Bad Penny writeup unfolds, MsScribe’s trolling wasn’t mindless; it was designed to highlight how fundamentally bizarre the social dynamics of early Harry Potter fandom were, and that just from a few calculated interactions with certain fans, anyone could rise through the ranks to become a BNF, or Big Name Fan.
“Our notions of digital utopianism are deeply rooted in a communal wing of American counter-culture from the 1960s. That group of people have had an enormous impact on how we do technology. […] Their ideas of what a person is and what a community should be has suffused our idealized understanding of what a virtual community can be and what a digital citizen should be. That group believed that what you had to do to save the world was to build communities of consciousness — places where you would step outside mainstream America and turn away from politics and democracy, turn away from the state, and turn instead to people like yourself and to sharing your feelings, your ideas and your information, as a way of making a new world.”