"I’m puzzled why some comic book forums have let abusive language, threats and hate talk go on for this long in the first place. Why is the internet somehow different from other media which have always had codes of conduct? Letter sections in newspapers and magazines have always been edited for content. Broadcast TV and radio, the ‘public airwaves’, have always had decency standards — bad words bleeped and the like. Certainly, none of the vile comments in the Teen Titans cover critique discussion would have ever made air or print."
I responded on two levels:
I'm cynically wondering if the potential for legal culpability might have been at the root of Jonah Wieland's Big Change. If you Charlie Ryan take a dim view of CBR's lack of self-editing in this situation, then I would bet dollars to donuts that somewhere, some legal expert has thought of making an issue of Internet forums allowing for the spread of hate speech and the like.
Another issue: though I don't doubt for an instant that Ms. Asselin was harassed by scumbag fans-- particularly since she reprinted some of the commentary-- do we as outsiders have documented evidence that those same fans tried to hack Asselin's bank account? If Asselin was certain enough of the connection to make the assertion on Twitter, then someone, I presume the police, ferreted out the connection. I've heard zero follow-up as to the identities of the fans who committed these crimes, but logic would dictate that some party was identified by the cops, or by someone.
Since this has had a considerable impact on the comics community, I for one would like to see the story investigated in more detail.
However, the moment after I posted this, I wondered if I might have missed something, and looked around a little more. This Janelle Asselin blogpost, entitled "An Explanation No One is Owed," clarifies that Asselin (a) was unable to interest the FBI in the investigation of the rape threats that appeared on her online survey, and (b) had only circumstantial-- though not improbable-- evidence that one or more of her harassers had been complicit in the attempt on her bank account.
This statement is somewhat less definitive than the one Jonah Wieland made in his 4-30-14 declaration as to what happened to Ms. Asselin:
Unfortunately, what happened next was unacceptable -- so-called "fans" around the Internet, on various message boards and social media, including the CBR Forums, attacked Janelle personally, threatening her with rape and assault. These same "fans" found her e-mail, home address and other personal information, and used it to harass and terrorize her, including an attempted hacking of her bank account.
Did one or more of Asselin's verbal abusers also hack her bank account? Maybe, but given the dodgy circumstances Asselin related in her Tumblr post, I find it questionable that so many reposts of the Asselin story reported the attempted robbery as gospel.
I'll have more to say on this matter and the CBR board-closings in Part 2, but I'll close out this largely informational post with this question-- why would Ms. Asselin title her post "An Explanation No One is Owed?" No question that she was sinned against, but why would she, a law-abiding citizen whose privacy has been invaded, not feel herself obligated to provide a transparent account of her reasoning? Yes, I know that it may smack of "accusing the injured party," but we're not talking about shifty lawyers trying to undermine rape victims by commenting on their choice in apparel. We're generally talking about respondents who seem to be honestly concerned about what happened to Asselin, but who didn't quite understand the chain of events as she represented them. I think that once she did chose to make her harassment public, she did "owe" her public a concise testimony on the matters she raised.
But then-- I've been in the minority about a lot of things.