10 of Kathy Shaidle's Greatest Hits
4. May 8, 2012:
Three Rules for Handling the Online Trolls, Bullies, and Crackpots
The internet is swamped with angry, stupid weirdos. Learn to neutralize them and get your life back.
"Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning."
It's arguably the most famous opening line in 20th century fiction. The predicament in which Franz Kafka's "Joseph K." finds himself is even more chillingly relevant today than it was in 1920.
Not only was Kafka lucky enough to have died before the Holocaust he'd intuited was on the horizon, but he missed far, far lesser scourges, like internet trolls and slanderers.
If Kafka were alive and writing on the web today, he'd have dozens of online stalkers, making fun of him for living with his parents and having really big ears.
He might even be subject to "lawfare" for his "controversial" blogging.
A while back I wrote about the particular abuse women in general -- and conservative women in particular -- attract on the web. The good news is that there are ways to dial down this annoying din, and these methods work for everybody.
#3 - Are You Being Served?
Law suits. They're what we got when we stupidly made dueling illegal.
(At least with dueling, when the shootout was over, the world was down one useless idiot...)
Along with a bunch of other Canadian bloggers -- including my husband -- I'm being sued for writing about our "Human Rights" Commissions.
(The video above has more.)
Encouraged by other great folks like Michelle Malkin, my blog readers have paid all our legal bills.
In the meantime, Arnie and I got married. We've been invited to Israel and Washington, D.C., and other places simply because we're now "famous" bloggers. We've made friends we'd never have met otherwise.
Our employment has been utterly unaffected. In fact, we're both busier than ever.
Because the second worse thing you can do if you get sued is let it take over and ruin your life.
If you're online, no matter how careful you are, you too could be targeted.
I still wish I'd gotten libel insurance when it was offered to me over twenty years ago. If you blog or write anything, get libel insurance. Now. It's the cost of doing business, just like your internet connection, dedicated server, and so forth.
So what's THE worst thing you can do?
As someone whom the process server now greets on a first name basis, here's my advice:
Don't take anybody's advice.
Unless they're a libel lawyer.
Not any other kind of lawyer, either.
And not your Uncle Fred, whose watched The People vs. Larry Flynt a bunch of times. (Believe me: all these well-meaning folks will come out of the woodwork, and you'll be so freaked out you'll be tempted to hear them out.)
Don't issue any apologies or scrub a post until you talk to a libel lawyer first.
Nothing brings on sheer, bone chilling, blood curdling panic like getting served -- I cried for two days -- but do NOT react out of fear.
Yes, lawyers are expensive. But "playing lawyer" yourself is ten times more costly.
Americans are lucky: you have organizations like the Legal Project (who are graciously helping my husband) and the Thomas More Law Center and, yeah, the ACLU.
If you forget everything else you read here, remember this:
Do-it-yourself law works as well as do-it-yourself dentistry.