Afternoon InquisitionFeminism

AI: Death Threats and Hate Crimes

This has been a topic that has been on my mind for some time.

You might assume the topic of death threats is fresh thanks in part to the media storm that was Elevatorgate. But actually, we, all of us here at Skepchick that post regularly, have been receiving hate mail and death threats for years now. This is just one small example. Many of the threats we receive come in via our personal websites or from the contact links with fake return emails. The truly vicious messages tend to be anonymous. We usually ignore the hate mail because hey, some people are jerks and really hate to see successful people. So f-ing what. Amirite? But today, I read a post on by By Naomi Dunford sent in by Elyse and I think it’s high time we discussed this.

My first question: What the fuck is wrong with people?

From Naomi’s blog post 8/29/11:

They decided I had to die.

I got a death threat.

I got another death threat.

And then I got one telling me that if I went to a popular blogger’s conference in November, they would find me, they would kill me, and they would kill everyone around me.

I then found out that the website owner had sent me a harassing email a few days earlier, ending it with “I guess I’ll see you around”.

As a reasonably prominent female face on the internet, I always knew the day would come when it would get very, very ugly.

I guess that day is here.

And, everyone take note: Naomi blogs about business. Nothing crazy. No heathen-baby-eating posts or hardcore feminism or even mundane advice on how not to pick up women. Nope. She blogs about marketing and business strategies.

From her post:

I have devoted my life to making sure you can bring your kids to Disney World and send them to college and pay for their overpriced weddings, and hell if I’m going to stop now.

Because this isn’t about me. I have the resources to protect myself. I have the support of a strong community with loud voices and far reaches. I have a contact list full of experienced friends who can give me crash course media training at 11 o’clock on a Sunday night.

This is about innocent women bloggers getting attacked for trying to make a go of it online. This is about all the people who are petrified when they get hate mail and don’t know who to ask for help. This is about smaller bloggers, and newbies, and women just finding their voice.

They don’t have what I have. They don’t have YOU. And they need you today.

I thought we had so much hate directed at us here at Skepchick because of the whole atheist-skeptic thing but it turns out that, gosh-golly-gee maybe we are indeed just hated for having lady-bits. Seems to be happening all over this here internet.

Show your support and read Naomi’s post in it’s entirety here.

• EDIT: August 30th 4:45pm For the sake of clarity here, I have not personally verified any of Naomi’s claims specifically and can only speak from our experiences here at Skepchick and as as public skeptics and online writers and activists. The story seems reasonable based on our experiences with hate mail and threats but Naomi’s story has not been verified by me.

Now my final questions: Why are prominent women online being targeted and threatened for speaking out or simply being successful and what can we do about it? Should we ignore? Should we shut-up and deal with it as I have been told by some to do? Should we hide as some recommend? Should we speak louder and then deal with more inevitable abuse? Should we form flash mobs complete with a robot armies to destroy the hate hidden in the shadows of each of our valleys and cities?

Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia, science-loving artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics and is currently in love with pottery. Daily maker of art and leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Tip Jar is here.

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  1. The more you’re in the public eye the more of a target you become. Unfortunately, that’s the way it works. however, there are a finite number of assholes in the world. The more of you there are the harder it is for them to yell louder than your combined voices.

    If you back down then they get what they wanted in the first place: your silence. So in the end it comes down to who’s more stubborn and/or pissed off. You or them?

    Remember that for every one of these idiots there’s at least one of us who would go to any reasonable length to ensure that you feel safe and secure enough to stand up to these bullies.

    You ladies (and dude, can’t forget Sam) are amazing. Please keep up the good fight and don’t let these jerks win.

  2. Report early and report often.
    These people do not understand the meaning of free speech, they believe that intimidation and coersion are acceptable forms. THEY ARE WRONG!!
    We need to stand up to these internet thugs and show them we mean business, and that means those who consider themselves good-guys like 4Chan.
    These people should be in jail. End of story.
    Is there any way to find out who Mean websites 1 & 2 are?

    1. Threats are not a protected form of speech under the 1st Amendment as long as a reasonable listener believes the threats are serious. Historically, courts have been very reluctant to impose restrictions on speech, for a good reason. The freedom of speech doesn’t mean anything if it only applies to speech you agree with. It HAS TO very broadly protect speech with which you don’t agree. One of those exceptions is speech which contains a reasonable threat – but I react strongly to blanket statements like “they should all be in jail.” And don’t get me started on university speech codes, hate crimes legislation, etc., it becomes a very slippery slope.

      The answer to this idiot, or to any idiot who uses intimidation as a way to silence you or alter the debate, is to change nothing. If you feel the threats are credible enough to warrant police involvement, report them. But change nothing else.

      The only power they have over you is their ability to alter your actions through intimidation. Deny them that power.

      1. You are picking a fight with someone who agrees with you. I did not say “they all should be in jail”; I said “these people should be in jail” meaning specifically those who are make death threats.
        I absolutely agree that free speech has to include unpopular speech but threats and incitement are not covered.

  3. This seriously makes me reconsider setting up a blog for my art/skeptic stuff. I know the courageous answer is to say ‘fuck these guys’ and stand up to this kind of insanity, but the truth is, I don’t have the resources to protect myself should something like this happen.

    I will probably do it anyway, but I don’t blame the one blogger for packing up and retreating – I’d probably do the same thing. It’s just a shame that there are sick people out there who take pleasure in not only making threats, but taking them that far. It’s unhealthy and downright frightening. I hope they’re all reported to the police and their ISP.

  4. I’ve given this a whole lot of thought over the years. I don’t know about it starting out having much to do with the “lady-bits”…

    Not that I’m minimizing or trying to flip things in a “men’s rights” direction or anything, but in my experience young men fling around ridiculous death threats at each other all the time. As a man, I’ve received so many death threats and actual beat-downs that I hardly give them any credence anymore. On the other hand, unless I’m completely missing something, women on average receive many fewer total in-person death threats, threats of violence, and actual random acts of non-sexual violence than men do. Again, not minimizing the experience of women at all… I wouldn’t trade all the ass-whippings I’ve gotten for a single rape.

    So. Young men are used to talking like that to one another, although they usually don’t talk to women that way in person. They get online, and without seeing an actual woman in front of them and being insanely thoughtless, they use outrageously violent language. They probably don’t mean anything by it, because if I had been killed even one-tenth of the times it has been threatened, I’d put a cat’s nine lives to shame. I’d even bet that the majority of boys/men who use threatening language on the Internet are or have been victims of the same bullying tactics that they are themselves using.

    Of course, that creates an environment where that one crazy fuck out of a thousand thinks he’s got community approval to hurt or kill people… which is the reason no one should use that language, and women are right to be afraid. And there’s no reason why women shouldn’t band together and form “flash mobs” or other groups specifically devoted to protecting one another. Why not? After all, guys do it all the time and we’re supposed to be the tough ones!

  5. Hi, Amy — According to Jason Jones, aka The Salty Droid, it’s not quite as simple as that. He’s a lawyer and well-known fraud buster, who runs a website dedicated to exposing people who exploit the vulnerable for commercial gain.

    According to him, Ms. Dunford’s business blog is a front for such a scam, and the post you’re referencing an attempt to divert attention away from it.

    I have no way of knowing the truth of the matter, but I’ve followed The Salty Droid long enough that I you might not want to take Ms. Dunford’s statement at face value. To my knowledge, he has never yet gone after anyone other than seriously nasty people, and never without very solid evidence.

    The relevant Salty Droid article is here.

    1. Interesting. Behind the scenes we were wondering if there was a way to verify her claims. I just tried to read the link you sent and I couldn’t get past the comments about her weight and appearance being made as if that would prove something about her character. Someone who starts off their argument in that way does not seem like a credible source imo.

      And even if Naomi’s particular claims are false the fact remains that we at Skepchick get threats and hate messages on a regular basis. And from what commenters are stating, we are not alone.

      1. @Amy: I agree about the Droid’s style. He punches below the belt, and I think that does more harm than good, precisely because it turns off potential allies. Hell, I feel extremely uncomfortable defending someone who calls someone else a fat cow.

        But he does have substance. You might want to check out his exposés of the group that calls itself the Internet Marketing Syndicate and Tony Robbins’s connection with it. The former is related to his post on Ms. Dunford, and the latter is an example of the kind of investigative work he does.

        I gave this heads-up despite my misgivings because I think there’s a good possibility that you’re being had, in which case your call to defend Ms. Dunford might blow up in your face. That would be a setback in the fight against sexism on the Internet. That would be a pity, because I think this you’re doing a great job with it, and it’s a fight that desperately needs fighting.

        Anyway, that’s about all I have to say on this. I’m sure it’d be possible to do a bit of research on Ms. Dunford, to see what kind of business she’s running and if she seems credible, independent of what the Salty Droid wrote. Y’know, the usual source criticism thing.

        1. Thanks, and I acknowledge that I have not verified that the claims made by Naomi are in fact true. I can only speak from my experiences with hate mail.

          1. @Amy — Just a heads-up, in case you hadn’t noticed: The Salty Droid posted an update on Ms. Dunford. It’s a chat log where she discusses a scheme to evade a couple of hundred grand in taxes from undeclared income on her Internet businesses. I.e., one of the reasons he went after her.

            It’s theoretically possible that Mr. Jones is making it up or has, himself, been had, natch, but I think he’s too careful for that.

            I would expect there to be more revelations in the near future. That’s his usual M.O.: first publish one or two really nasty hatchet pieces to get attention, cause controversy, and drive up the Google rankings for his target, then hit with the heavy stuff.

            All of his pieces on Ms. Dunford are here.

    2. If they want their criticism of another tech blog to be taken seriously, perhaps you shouldn’t use words like “chubby”, “fat”, and “cow” in their introduction.

    3. I read the salty droid article, and it sounds like they’re completely wrong.

      Naomi begins her article commenting about how she’s attacked for being a woman… to which SD responds by…. attacking her for being a woman.

      Not offering any, y’know, *proof* or anything.. but just insults and innuendo.

      How on earth is this “credible”? If they have “very solid proof” that Naomi is lying about the death threats, they should present it, rather than proving she’s right about being attacked for being a woman, all the while attacking her for being a woman.

  6. This comes with being in the public eye. I get death threats for being an atheist. I get death threats for being a police officer. It’s nothing unique to being an online female, although this doesn’t make it any less serious. Report people, collate evidence, carry on as normal.

  7. Flash mobs with robot armies is the way to go (volunteering for recruitment in the second one). It’s been getting me down a bit lately, I went to a local Pride, first ever here and it amazes me there are so many people who say “I’m fine with gays”, but then argue vehemently against gay adoption and say things like “I don’t see why they have to be so exhibitionist about everything”.
    Young people.
    Atheists, agnostics and deists.
    Generally liberal people for fuck’s sake!

    And the same thing crops up whether I talk about LGBT, women’s rights, racism, homeopathy, religion, whatever.

    People are so horribly biased, hateful, bigotted it makes me surprised.

    I would say: skepchicks, I LOVE you “for having lady-bits”, but then that immediately uncovers my own misogyny I still have to fight.

    Eithier way keep at what you’re doing and I’m a guy 100% behind you – even if I didn’t agree with your opinions, hate-mongering assholes are completely disgusting to me and not to be tolerated.

    1. All too often people don’t think about their opinions. They have never been challenged in them and had to critically examine and defend them. I’ve had many arguments with my partner about topics similar to those and after we get done screaming at each other for being wrong he will generally ask me for more information and over the last 8 years he has significantly opened up his views regarding gay marriage/adoption/etc. He simply had never had to think of it.

      I would say in general what ever you do don’t shut up. Find a way to keep talking because you should never let anyone take away your voice (specially if that’s exactly what they want!)

  8. I vote for robot armies, inevitably they will turn and destroy us, but totally worth it until then.

    Seriously though, this is horrible and disturbing. I do think there should be some co-ordinated strategy, sort of like how one deals with spam. We all report it, and everyone’s filter gets better. Find out who the trolls are and start a collective database. Ban them. Report them everywhere and to everyone; ISP, facebook pages, local law enforcement, there family, friends, everything and anything.

    It is scary to receive a death threat, even more so if you feel alone. You are not. Make it public, so if anything happens let those who threaten know that their words are out there, and it will all lead back to them. Cowardly troglodytes.

  9. It’s hard to know what to do, but one possible way to deal with it is to send each and every threat to the police, or maybe save them up and send the in lumps, and treat the threats like the crimes they are.

    I suppose in theory that could backfire in making the cops just start ignoring all threats, but I have a slightly more optimistic view of our law enforcement community than that…

  10. I guess I don’t really post here regularly, but for the record, I have never rceived any hate mail or death threats. Maybe I’m just under everyone’s radar.

  11. Well, the internet is filled with children. Even the grown-ups are often children. And it’s filled with with people who feel impotent and abused and kicked around in their real lives. It’s filled with anger and spite. And it has the wonderful cloud of anonymity to hide behind. You see hatred, bile and personal attacks regularly coming from people who would never, ever dare say those things in real life. And on the internet, we’re also all equalized, and language becomes the only way people used to having the social advantage have with which to push around the people they are so accustomed to being able to push around (like, say, women).

    But it’s pretty much just a lot of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    These death threats aren’t going to be acted upon. I know that doesn’t really detract from how scary they are, and it doesn’t mean it’s okay to use these intimidation tactics to silence other people’s voices.

    But… I don’t know. I guess I’m not quite sure WHAT I’m saying. Just that… I guess it’s like cat-calls. You walk down the street and someone calls out “hey hon, I want to wreck that ass of yours”, and yeah, that’s scary and inappropriate and disgusting as all hell, but one can be fairly sure you’re not going to actually be attacked or raped by that guy. At least not if it’s daylight. And if you get visibly distraught, you’re kind of giving that jerk what he wants.

    So… I guess I mean, keep heart that these threats are empty, and just a desperate attempt at intimidation, coercion and maintaining power. They’re not at all okay, and whenever possible these people should be exposed and reported, but… don’t give them more power by letting it get you terrified, or forcing you into giving up and hiding, yeah?

    1. The problem is that there are plenty of people who do act out these threats. It is not safe to assume any threat you get online from a misogynist is empty. See: Anders Breivek and George Sodini.

      1. Neither of those examples bolster your point Rebecca – as far as I can tell George Sodini was sexually frustrated but didn’t openly threaten women on the internet or through twitter, and Anders Breivik went the other way, “deliberately desisted from violent exhortations on the net [and] has more or less been a moderate,” according to a Norweigan newspaper.

      2. I’m glad you take this stuff seriously. I’ve received a number of death threats and even a bomb threat at my home as a result of my job. And while I know most threats are empty and are the product of situational anger, I’ve seen too many people with serious mental health problems that hold onto their anger or obsess about someone to the point of acting out to not be mindful and cautious.

    2. I guess the problem is that these threats are occasionally acted upon. I’m not sure what the appropriate response is, and everyone has to figure it out for themselves, but this isn’t a situation where it is safe to say that there’s “zero threat” no matter how unlikely it is. I disagree with Rebecca that there are “plenty of people” who act out these threats, but at the same time the numbers hardly matter if you’re a victim of the one in however many million attacks.

      Maybe more importantly is to recognize the atmosphere that these sort of personal attacks create. We know that people as part of groups are willing to partake in heinous behavior that they would never engage in alone. The Internet creates a virtual mob, which means that people are more dangerous than they would be otherwise if they think they have a crowd behind them. Someone seeing dozens or hundreds of posts encouraging violence might get swept along by it and act on it. It is rare, but I don’t think it can be dismissed.

  12. OK, Seriously WTF is up with this story?
    I went to the Salty Droid website (that guy is a realy aweful writer, has never met a sentence fragment he didn’t like) and found out what Mean Site 1 and Mean Site 2 supposedly reference. The second website was his own (hence his interest) but the first was a site called Letters to Dave Navarro; I have gone there and started reading a bit and found out that Dave either left his wife and kids for his business, or for Naomi, it’s pretty confusing but if you read between the lines…
    Did this Dave guy escape from a cult? I’m not an expert on cults but what little I’ve read this shows some of the signs.

          1. The more I look at it the more I believe that this is all a hoax marketing ploy scam.
            The brother who so desperately wants him to come home can’t stop mentioning Dave’s Twitter address, or upcoming events, or his Facebook page and everyone who posts there has a suspiciously similar style.
            The kicker is that on Nov 14th (a very buzy day for the site) his brother directs Dave to Ms. Dunford’s website.
            It’s starting to smell like scamburgers.

  13. @ mrmisconception I applaud your diligence in investigating. I could not get past the zillion God references and the creepy “Dave with come home” to try to decipher wtf they were saying.

    Clearly, I am having some paying attention issues today. I think it’s because I leave for D•C in 48 hours. Squeeeeeee!

  14. Yeah, you’re right. Not at all threats are empty. Sometimes it happens. I’m sorry if it sounded like I was totally dismissing ANY danger. But… it’s just a one in a million kind of thing. And yeah, that’s awful if you turn out to be the one in a million, but… do we stop flying airplanes because of the slim risk of crashes? Do we stop going outside because of the risk of being attacked? We take reasonable precautions, sure… aviation safety boards, pepper spray, seat belts, etc. But I guess I just mean that the risk is small, most of the threats are empty, and we’re giving them exactly what we want if we let them intimidate and silence us.

    1. Oops! That was supposed to be in reply to Rebecca’s reply to me. And I meant giving them exactly what *they* want, not what we want. Damn the lack of an edit function!

      P.S. Ever thought of making a Skepchick message board? That would be fun. And could have edit buttons.

      1. The problem is that this threat DOES exist, and is often fostered in those “cat-call” environments. How often has some nut bar been driven to act on their whackadoodle insanity because they’ve been stirred to violence by the environment that they move in?

        The internet is full of assholes. Most of them hide behind internet anonymity and will never act on their threats. I get that. But I can’t help but think that those assholes are feeding into the problem. Stirring those who could/would act on their threats. IMO.

    2. Well… kind of hard to figure out the line, and even harder to draw it without making people feel dismissed and diminished. Not that I’m a fair judge, since I never leave the house without a knife that is illegal in most of the United States. I tend to think that threats shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but you should also be at least a little prepared for even the least likely threats.

  15. I’ve made choices in my life, and done things with the express intent of enabling liberty. Sometimes this enables voices that I disagree with strongly, but I have never disagreed with the right to voice.

    Say what you want, and do what you will. More people support your liberty (and life) than don’t.


    1. @hans

      I think I might have a hard time writing a group of sentences more meaningless than these. Congrats. What about long term effects on “liberty”? Humans are not immune to cultural influence, so if we cultivate a culture that limits the success of certain groups of people, how is that liberty? Isn’t speaking up against things that we disagree with and fighting against an oppressive culture a hallmark of liberty? Do you think about the things you write, or are do words like “freedom” and “liberty” just give you boners?

  16. Does anyone else notice the parallel to ElevatorGuy’s behavior? One of the bad consequences of people acting like EG is they provide cover for dangerous predators. Some people were saying, so what, EG was harmless, the percent of actual people who would cause harm is tiny, you shouldn’t be worried. But the more people who act like EG, the better the cover for the small and most likely fixed number of truly evil people out there.

    It’s like the proverbial lion creeping through the tall grass our ancestors had to be wary of. The more false positives there are, the more dangerous it is, because it is less likely you’ll notice when there really is a lion out there. People trying to spook other people by deliberately shaking the grass just make it worse.

    Same with the probably bogus death and violence threats. The more of them there are, the harder it will be to recognize the serious ones. So people who make any sort of threat should be dealt with harshly and publicly, and people in general need to be aware that this is not acceptable behavior. Any public figures who promote this should be severely taken to task. <cough>Sarah Palin.</cough>

    I will have to remind myself of this next time Glenn Beck, Michelle Bachmann, John Edward, Kevin Trudeau or any similar idiot does or says something particularly sleazy and repellent.

    1. That last paragraph actually reminds me… we ourselves have gotten into some kind of nasty territory sometimes. Just a couple days ago I think I read some comments here on what kind of board would be best to hit the Psychic Kids guy in the face with?

      I really don’t want to be dismissive, and anonymous,personal death threats sent directly to people are much, much different than violent language used in comments the people in question will (probably) never read… but I just think it’s worth noting that casual threats of violence happen even in nice little corners of the internet like this one. I mean, to what degree do we foster that kind of language and hostility ourselves by tolerating it and looking the other way when it’s used against people *we* disagree with?

      Just a thought.


      Again… when I was saying that most of the threats are empty, I wasn’t trying to say that they’re totally harmless or that they’re acceptable. They’re completely unacceptable, and yeah, I think it’s an excellent point that the casual threats help make the serious threats more dangerous. I’m mostly just saying that I don’t think it’s something worth hiding or quitting on account of, and that it sort of feeds into it and lets them win if you allow it to get to you or prevent you from saying certain things or making certain appearances or doing your work. You know? I’m totally not trying to brush it aside or saying it doesn’t matter.

        1. A discussion in which I gleefully took part :-(…

          I take solace in the fact that at least some of my comments were sensible and non-violent :-).

          To misquote someone, “Do as I do, not as I say”. I.E. don’t actually hit anyone with a 2×3.

          1. Well, I wouldn’t hold it against you or anything, Buzz. I don’t know you very well or anything, but from what I’ve seen on this site you seem like someone willing to accept his faults and work towards being a better person, and that makes you okay in my book. :)

            But yeah… I’m not trying to call out the people who made those particular comments. And of course direct death threats are a much more extreme version of violent internet language. But I’m just thinking that maybe the tendency to so casually accept these milder examples is helping to nurture the environment and mentality that gives way to the more extreme and scary versions.

            Like… sorry if I seem inarticulate, I’m having a bit of trouble gathering my thoughts… but I’m reminded a bit of the sort of “boys will be boys” argument someone made above. Something like “well guys threaten each other all the time. I’ve been threatened and beaten up a whole bunch!” … maybe accepting violent language in everyday life as something normal is what allows it to grow and makes certain people feel entitled to use it as an intimidation tactic? To feel okay about threatening people they disagree with? Maybe the death-threat writers are thinking this is a normal, acceptable way to behave because they’ve grown up with violence and threats being normalized.

            Like… you know, how casual racist, sexist, homophobic or cissexist jokes help normalize institutionalized categorism or more overt forms of discrimination and bigotry. Someone who grows up with his family and friends using “gay” as a catch-all pejorative (“psshh… I hate that show, it’s gay”) may end up developing a hateful attitude towards gay people and be far less open-minded about gay marriage, adoption-rights, etc. Or someone who works in a male-dominated environment where he hears lots of casual sexist jokes may end up feeling that it’s okay to treat the actual women in other areas of his life as being stupid or useless or “bitches” or sex objects. Or someone who keeps seeing trans women repeatedly used as punchlines in their favourite sitcoms might not have much respect for actual transgender human beings and the difficulty of their actual lives…

            …so too might an overall environment of casual jokes or comments about directing violence towards people we disagree with, or just casual threats towards one another, normalize that behaviour for the people who are going to take it to certain extremes.

          2. P.S.

            I totally think Chris Fleming is a vile, loathsome person who should not only have his show pulled off the air but maybe even legal action for his exploitation of vulnerable minors and criminal negligence of people in need of serious medical attention. But the violent comments still creeped me out. The weapons of a good skeptic are critical thinking, the right questions at the right times, logic, well-written and well-reasoned arguements, empirical evidence, science, facts and sometimes ceramic trilobite earrings… NOT 2x4s or fists. Not even hypothetical 2x4s or fists. Those are weapons for thugs.

          3. As the person who started that particular discussion I will point out that it was clearly tounge in cheek; but the point is made and I will watch my use of violence in humor.
            I do point out every time my wife uses gay as a pajorative and have gotten her to curtail that behavior.

  17. Amy, I think a lot of this has to do with “Tall Poppy Syndrome” i.e. jealosy. There was a short documentary about this recently on Channel 7 – I can send the link but not sure how well streaming TV works internationally.

    Apparently Australia is the worst in the world for this syndrome. Many of our child stars like Nicky Webster and Jason Donovan received death threats.

    (I know, Buzz, Channel7 chose the MOST annoying examples and maybe our wannabe TV stars are the worst, but death threats to a teenage kid??)

    Apparently this is why so many go to the USA and UK to try to “make it” (so it ends up being a lose – lose situation for all concerned!)

    Anyway, just to be clear, I am not comparing the Skepchicks to child stars in any way here, just to say that jealosy seems a likely motive.

    Needless to say, if I can help in any way to catch one of these creeps and bring them to justice, Skepchicks need just whistle – you almost don’t even have to ask!

    1. I’ve never heard the term “Tall Poppy Syndrome” to describe jealousy. Neat.

      And thanks for having our backs. Hopefully we wont ever need to ask for help.

  18. @ natalie1984 Haha! Thanks! I agree, one of the best weapons a good skeptic can carry is ceramic trilobite earrings! That, and quality evidence of course. :)

  19. The recent “Mabuse” case comes to mind. Do you think women get more, or is it just different, death threats? I know “Mabuse” is accused (he’s in a hospital now being evaluated) of basically targeting anyone that was on twitter. I wonder if say PZ gets different kinds of death threats than say Harriet Hall?

  20. I’m one of the hundreds that signed the petition. I’m glad that someone finally took that nut seriously. OTOH, I’m a bit worried because it took so long for them to do so. He could have (if he were so inclined) gone off on someone and hurt people.

  21. I did some link-following to the other websites involved, and yeah–honestly, it sounds like three distinct groups jumping up and down on each other after a break. None of the participants in the clash is really impressing me at all.

    But none of what happened seems to justify death threats, either. It’s just… bizaare.

  22. That’s just friggin’ awful.

    Maybe I’m just naive, but I simply can’t imagine how anyone can threaten someone else with death over anything, much less something that amounts to a simple disagreement. (theism vs. atheism) I feel really bad for you guys.

    The fact that Sam hasn’t received any threats says something to me about the mentality of most of these douchebags, though. I think that they are threatened by you ladies, and maybe it makes them feel like “more of a man” if they try to put you down. (I also realize that I’m awfully late to the party on this particular topic, but I don’t comment <a href=""<much.)

    I am ashamed to be of the same species as some of these people.

    1. crap… messed up the link. It should read: much

      That’s why I don’t comment. Not that anyone’s going to read it anyway, really. Most of my comments here are the last in the thread. Boy, do I know how to clear a room.

  23. First to state where I’m coming from:
    I’m writing this because I really care about skepticism, and I really care about truth. I think skepchicks is an awesome site and awesome concept because the world needs more skeptics. I’m concerned that leaving this article up in its current form is damaging to this site’s overall credibility, and I would ask you (even though I know you’re busy and I’m kind of long-winded) to take the time to read through what I’ve written and study the stuff I linked to.

    Death threats are bad–very, very bad. Death threats against women are either equally as bad as death threats in general or else death threats against women are even more bad than death threats in general. I don’t want to have that debate right now. If Naomi Dunsford has received death threats, which is possible, then that’s really bad.

    I’m writing because, I feel that in the last two days I’ve learned a lot more about Naomi Dunsford that I might have ever liked to know.

    I first ran across her post claiming death threats a few days ago. I was already vaguely familiar with IttyBiz at the time. I knew it was one of those Internet here’s-how-you-can-improve-your-business websites. I thought Naomi was cool. I thought her site was cool.

    I was all enraged that someone was messing with her like that. Then she made her next post ( where she went into great detail about the sordid messiness between Dave Navarro, Dave’s older brother, and Naomi. It looked for all the world like Dave’s older brother was a crazy religious guy (and he might be). But it is also the case that Dave left his wife and kids for the “Internet lifestyle”. Or something like that. Actually, the separation from his wife may or may not have been semi-amicable. That part is not clear. It is pretty clear that he did up and leave his wife and kids because all parties (Dave, Dave’s brother, and Naomi) agree on that point.

    Like you, I was initially repulsed by the Salty Droid website because he appears to have no idea what “decorum” means. He says that the reason he writes this way is because he’s targeting Internet scammers (note: Naomi does not dispute this point either).

    If you can steel yourself to look around the Salty Droid cesspool-ish site, you will see that, that site is indeed devoted to showing Internet scammers being caught in the act of being scammy. In this article ( there’s an embedded video (actually audio with mocking graphics) of Andy Jenkins and Jeff Walker in discussions. (You yourself may not have heard of either of these folks, but both of them have Internet followings of people who are convinced that these two have the secrets to business mastery–rather like how the flock of an evangelical preacher are convinced the preacher has the secrets to salvation.) Andy is asking Jeff for advice on how best to fleece his customer base for the maximum amount of cash. Seriously. Please do not dispute the intensity of my claim without listening to the audio.

    So that brings me to this article with the curse word in the name:

    After Salty Droid says some mean things and uses more curse words we get to a chat log that apparently occurred between Naomi and Dave circa 2009. Dave hadn’t yet left his wife and kids at that time. Naomi wanted to sell to him–or at least hand over control of–the IttyBiz website.

    In the chat log, Naomi said she wanted to do this because, in *her* words: “I made a f*ck ton of money and don’t want to pay tax on it.” She also said that her IttyBiz website was not actually ever registered as a business and that she has never issued a single receipt to anyone or paid any tax.

    While it’s true that unethical business practices do not necessarily mean that her claim of death threats is untrue, I feel it does cast some *serious* doubt over all the rest of her claims.

    Thanks for reading this.

    Furry cows moo and decompress.

    1. I completely agree that all parties involved in this appear to be total assholes. I however have no evidence to support either side and yes, I am currently at a big convention and don’t have time to figure out who is more of a jerk at the moment.

      I have edited the post to clarify that I have not verified any claims made and can only speak from my personal experience with death threats. I appreciate your concern and if we have time and feel it is warranted, we will do a follow up post or look into the issue further. At this point I am not endorsing Naomi, I am only stating that death threats online or in person are never appropriate. And that threatening women online seems prevalent and should be spoken out against.

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