Friday, April 06, 2007

Is it time to crack down on internet harassment ?

I have just submitted the following to Shane Richmond's "April Fool" blog:

"There is a pressing issue that maybe needs discussing next Thursday, Shane.
It's to do with harassment, which comes in many different forms. Here's what Wikipedia has to say:


Types of harassment

There are a number of harassments that fall into this category.


Harassment that can occur on the playground, school, in the workforce or any other place. Usually physical and psychological harassing behaviour perpetrated against an individual, by one or more persons.

Psychological harassment

This is humiliating or abusive behavior that lowers a person’s self-esteem or causes them torment. This can take the form of verbal comments, actions or gestures. Falling into this category is workplace mobbing.

Racial harassment

The targeting of an individual because of their race or ethnicity. The harassments include words, deeds, and actions, that are specifically designed to make the target feel degraded due to their race of origin or ethnicity.

Religious harassment

Verbal, psychological or physical harassment's used against targets because they choose to practice a specific religion.

Sexual harassment

Harassment that can happen anywhere but is most common in the workplace, and schools. It involves unwanted and unwelcome, words, deeds, actions, gestures, symbols, or behaviours of a sexual nature that make the target feel uncomfortable. Gender and sexual orientation harassment fall into this family.


The unauthorized following and surveillance of an individual, to the extent that the persons privacy is unacceptably intruded upon, and the victim fears for their safety.

Anyone who follows Telegraph blogs cannot have failed to notice two quite obvious examples:

1. The harrassment of one particular individual (myself) by another, clearly visible on this thread, but which has been going on now for the best part of a year.

2. The harassment by one individual of his own ethnic group (Anglo-Saxons)which from his adopted home in France he now views with utter contempt. So great is that person's obsession with the anti-Brit agenda that one senses that he scrutinises every blogger's post on the Telegraph for the opportunities it offers for his baiting and demonising that, quite apart from anything else (fair play, good taste etc), is usually a distraction from the issues under discussion.

In both examples, I would guess that we are seeing a kind of obsessive-compulsive behaviour.

OK, so we are not supposed to dabble in amateur psychology, and I certainly have no training in that area, but one has at least to try to understand and rationalise what is going on around one. The question I would ask is this: should the Telegraph moderators be on the look-out for harassment, and if they find it, what should be their response ?

My obviously biased opinion would be as follows:

Firstly: they should state that harassment in whatever shape or form will not be tolerated.

Secondly, it should be open to any individual to claim that past comments constitute a long-term systematic attempt at harassment. If the complaint is upheld, then all the offending comments should be retrospectively erased from the archives, being replaced by a standard message eg "Comment deleted due to breach of Telegraph guidelines".

It should be apparent to Shane Richmond that his belated April Fool's joke has been pushed to the back of this particular writer's mind, despite my being part of his Aunt Sally line-up. That's because there are weightier matters that need to be dealt with.

What defects of personality or character will Bill Taylor discover in this comment, one wonders ? Be on the lookout for the P word, but ask yourself if it's not something that better applies to him.

And one wonders what defects of Anglo-Saxon character Richard of Orléans will discover, and consider it his personal prerogative to expose ?

Today seemed as good a day as any to lance a few boils ( well, two of them, anyway)

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