Brianna Wu on CBC’s The National

Game designer Brianna Wu (and a past File 770 cover artist) appeared on CBC’s news program The National on May 12 in “Online shaming: the return of mob morality”.

An ancient, almost barbaric punishment has returned, out there in the virtual world, Neil Macdonald reports.

That punishment is shame, and this documentary sets out some of the personal stories — from Adria Richards to Jonah Lehrer and Justine Sacco — and the sometimes devastating consequences these individuals have had to endure.

Brianna Wu is on for three minutes beginning about the 12:00 mark.

50 thoughts on “Brianna Wu on CBC’s The National

  1. I could only watch the YouTube video for less than 2-1/2 minutes before I had to stop in distress. I haven’t tried (as yet) to finish it or watch the other video.

    I’ve seen Monica Lewinsky’s TED presentation. Her father sued the producers of the network television series Law & Order for defamation for having the late Jerry Orbach as NYPD Det. Lenny Briscoe tell what we used to call an “off-color” story using their shared surname as a punchline. His lawsuit failed.

    People are not monsters: people are people, human beings — but they can have monstrous intentions and commit monstrous acts. The late George Carlin made the point that words are not monstrous, words are words. It is intentions and actions which can be monstrous.

    There are people in science fiction fandom who write with monstrous intention. There are people in Star Trek, Doctor Who, Star Wars, and comic book fandoms who write with monstrous intention. There are people in the Society for Creative Anachronism who write with monstrous intention. There are Spacers who write with monstrous intention. There are people who are political and/or economic libertarians who write with monstrous intention. There are people in the Neo-Pagan religious movement who write with monstrous intention.

    There are people who use Blogger, WordPress, and TypePad who write with monstrous intention. There are people on LiveJournal, Journalfen, and Dreamwidth who write with monstrous intention. There are people on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube who write with monstrous intention.

    There are plenty of people outside the above overlapping-but-not-identical-to-each-other sub-cultures who write with monstrous intention. There are people reading these words this very second who write with monstrous intention.

    Some people have difficulties with relationships through genetics rather than curable fault, with the lifetime incurable heriditary disorders known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome. These are just as real and just as physical (research as of the year 2000 indicated that they stem from a mis-structuring of the brain itself) as the equally incurable lifetime heriditary disorders diabetes and hemophilia; disorders of hardware, not software, as physical as a broken limb or a laceration. Because they have to do with the brain rather than the pancreas or blood or bone or skin, it’s still “okay” to bully and make fun of people who have them.

    The interpersonal-relationship difficulties these disorders engender make people who have them an easy target for those with the mental illness/syndrome of Schadenfreude (*), which requires them to cause harm to others in order to feel good about themselves. When combined with the common human tendency to “follow the loudest” and “go along with the crowd” — which in their most extreme forms create lynch mobs — it means that people with ADHD and AS are often treated with the same contempt as people who commit genuine acts of evil, both real and fictional, regardless of the fact that their shortcomings never begin to approach those evils.

    Some of the schadenfreude-afflicted, are angry at the idea that schadenfreude could be considered to be a mental defect of its own, and that their attitude about “fun” could be characterized in such a fashion.

    If an individual finds it “fun” to verbally pummel another human being until tears come forth, and/or to the point of causing suicides (as happened in Vermont in 2003, Missouri in 2006, Florida in both 2008 and 2009, Massachusetts in 2010, and several more each year in other states since), then there is in fact something wrong with that individual’s personality and corrective action is needed, whether it be psychiatric, psychological, judicial, or a combination of the three.

    (*) I am of the firm opinion that at some point, perhaps in the DSM VI or VII, that Schadenfreude will be listed. It will take time for the idea to filter through, since some people who use the DSM professionally are themselves afflicted,

  2. No one should suffer harasment of any kind.

    But when it comes to online harassments, while it takes a day or two to pull off, it is still reasonably easy to put a stop to it. All you need is new new email address, followed by termination of your old twitter account and the creation of a new one. Not to mention how you can switch your phone numbers, and finally you just inform of the ‘address’ change to your friends and family.

    And to limit possible real life harm done, only have the bare minimum of information available online. Because lets face it, if anyone says anything even mildly controversial, someone is bound to comment on it. The more controversial, the hotter the emotions.

    remember that you should have only the least required contact information available online. And actually, when it comes to online harassment, it is e

  3. Tuomas Vainio: “when it comes to online harassments, while it takes a day or two to pull off, it is still reasonably easy to put a stop to it. All you need is new new email address, followed by termination of your old twitter account and the creation of a new one. Not to mention how you can switch your phone numbers, and finally you just inform of the ‘address’ change to your friends and family.”

    You don’t have the first clue about this. At least in the U.S., changing phone and e-mail address is a huge undertaking, because the person will have to notify dozens, perhaps hundreds of individuals and businesses and update dozens of online accounts.

    What’s more, in the U.S., there are companies which buy names, addresses, phone numbers, social security numbers, e-mail addresses, and other personal information from private corporations — then make that information available through websites online to anyone willing to pay some money to get them. People (and their loved ones) can be stalked by phone and in person by a malign actor who obtains their personal information in this way. Moving physical address to escape such harassment is even more expensive and difficult. And changing any of these personal details just means that the new information will eventually become available for purchase as well.

    Putting a stop to online harassment is rarely “easy”. The only real solution is to create very real, very punitive sanctions against online harassers and stalkers — after all, they, not their victims, are the ones who should be forced to make changes.

  4. Tuomas Vainio:

    “But when it comes to online harassments, while it takes a day or two to pull off, it is still reasonably easy to put a stop to it. All you need is new new email address, followed by termination of your old twitter account and the creation of a new one. Not to mention how you can switch your phone numbers, and finally you just inform of the ‘address’ change to your friends and family.”

    So.

    Its relatively easy, as long as you isolate yourself from the world around you. That you do not communicate outside a small boubble. Live in hiding. That you never use any public ways to promote yourself and your works.

    Also: No, it is still not easy. Countless of stalkees could tell you of how their old abusers find them again and again. And in gamergate, there are stalkers working in coordination.

    So no, it is not easy. And it is horrible that a person could even write such a thing.

  5. Tuomas Vainio:

    You have been posting ignorant garbage on this blog ever since your guest post, “Who Deserves a Hugo?” was posted here on May 2nd: http://file770.com/?p=22295

    You are an admitted non-SF-reader. You claimed to have no knowledge of the Hugos until the “Entertainment Weekly” story, claiming to be not a part of SF fandom (Although another poster pointed out that you were not actually new to the story, being a regular presence on the Puppies’ blogs long before the EW story).

    In your essay you argued with numbers you yanked out of Amazon’s notoriously unreliable database as proof that no one could actually read enough SF to find the best works. You argued that the Hugos must have been gamed previously or else no one could have the experience necessary to recognize that the Puppies gamed it this year. You essentially said that all who protest the Puppies’ blatant and admitted vote rigging are liars and hypocrites.

    After your guest post you started commenting on later posts here.

    You have argued endlessly over whether books are good or bad based not on your reading (you do not seem to have done any) but on a combination of other people’s anonymous Amazon and Wikipedia reviews, numbers you have copied from Amazon, and your opinions as a non-SF reader on SF book covers you spotted on the internet somewhere.

    You have never answered anyone’s request that you speak about something you have actually read. You just log off and come back the next day with more long-winded, unfounded arguments.

    And then last night, as the icing on the cake, you scoffed at the idea that internet stalking, which has led to real-world suicides and deaths, is anything serious, and you argued that stalking victims can put a stop to it in “a day or two” if they really mean it.

    Tuomas Vainio on May 13, 2015 at 4:43 pm said:
    No one should suffer harasment of any kind.

    But when it comes to online harassments, while it takes a day or two to pull off, it is still reasonably easy to put a stop to it. All you need is …

    Mr. Vainio, you have been arguing in bad faith ever since you came on here. You have left a trail of ignorant, ill-informed, unfounded misinformation and dismissive pronouncements everywhere you post.

    I see no reason anyone should give credence to your statements.

  6. . All you need is new new email address, followed by termination of your old twitter account and the creation of a new one. Not to mention how you can switch your phone numbers, and finally you just inform of the ‘address’ change to your friends and family

    It’s so easy you just have to keep changing your contact information over and over again.

    To hell with that, we need better real world consequences for people who do this. People use the internet for a communication tool for work and social lives more than the telephone and stalking/threat laws should sure as shit apply.

    Because it’s not as easy as changing an email or twitter account name, some, in particular someone like Wu, has had her home address put out there along with information like phone numbers and addresses of friends and family. For some it might be as easy as changing their Twitter handle, not that they should have to do so, for others it’s not that simple at all and it’s pretty disrespectful to tell a victim that if they could’ve avoided being a victim if they had just stayed about controversial opinions and switched all their contact information.

    I agree with you that people shouldn’t suffer harassment but being passive about it will change nothing.

  7. Just change all of the contact information for your game development company, and only give the new information out to your family and friends. That’s easy, and won’t have any serious real-world effect on you.
    Right.

  8. I know someone who had to deal with a stalker before the days of social media–yes, they always find you again. In the case of my friend, she quit her job, the clubs she had joined, and moved. The stalker hired a private detective.
    Another friend got torn apart on social media, even had his picture on line compared with a serial killer.
    These trolls are sick indeed.

  9. Sorry Standlee. But apparently Mr. Gyer doesn’t have enough faith in his readership to allow my comments to stand on their own merits. But if either you or Hampus Eckerman actually want to discuss the subject, feel free to let me know.

    Ill be holding my breath. Really I will

  10. Oh and Mr Glyer, that you are willing to allow criticism of my posts to stand, without allowing the post’s they are criticizing to stand says more about you than it does about me. It’s your site and you can do whatever you wish to with it, but the decision you have made reflects very poorly on you. You are of course free to disagree, or to delete this post as you did those being responded to, but in either case you will say far more about you than you do about me.

  11. You are of course free to disagree, or to delete this post as you did those being responded to, but in either case you will say far more about you than you do about me.

    It says you are a transphobe, and he won’t allow that on his site. That really says everything anyone needs to know, and it doesn’t make you look good.

  12. marsultor13: Had the other posts quoted your material I would have deleted them too.

  13. @Aaron,
    And yet, neither he, nor anyone else is willing to address what I actually said. You are more than willing to label me a “Transphobe”. But if what I said was so wrong, was so beyond the pale, if it was so factually wrong, then why cant anyone actually allow those comments to stand on their own, much less actually address them?

  14. marsultor13: But you don’t know that the things you stated are facts. You’re just guessing, and it is an insult to my intelligence for you to claim otherwise.

  15. I saw what he had said and I couldn’t make head nor tail of it at the time. Transphobia explains a lot, including what looked like bizarre grammar errors.

    I appreciate you policies, Mr. Glyer

  16. But if what I said was so wrong, was so beyond the pale, if it was so factually wrong, then why cant anyone actually allow those comments to stand on their own, much less actually address them?

    I would suggest that it is because allowing truly stupid and beyond the pale junk to sit on the his site degrades the level of commentary.

  17. then why cant anyone actually allow those comments to stand on their own, much less actually address them?

    Because some stupid comments don’t need to be addressed as though they’re anything but stupid comments.

  18. So one Puppy is here to tell us online harassment is no big deal to stop and another has some kind of problem with transgender people. One top Puppy thinks a black SF/F pro is “half savage.” A second thinks calling a male pro gay is a put down. A third says the instinctive reaction of men upon seeing gays is to beat them with tire irons.

    How did the Puppies movement become such a gathering place for people with offensive ideas? It’s like they’re a scout movement awarding demerit badges for every category of awfulness.

  19. marsultor13 –
    Here the skinny, fella.

    It’s *his* blog. They’re *his* rules.
    This is a private space that the owner has graciously allowed people to
    talk and play in, not some government instrumentality.

    You don’t want to play by his rules? You don’t want to be a polite guest?
    You want to play rules jockey with the guy who runs the page?

    Good, luck. You’re going to need it.

  20. @JJ http://file770.com/?p=22508&cpage=1#comment-261429

    Things are different elsewhere in the world. It is possible to have your address information concealed from the public records. And getting a new phone number from an entirely new provider is just a metter of walking to the nearest shop, or ordering it online to be delivered by mail, and then it is just a matter of spending few hours resending the same message around to pass the new number.

    So yeah, I completely forgot how tied Americans are to their service providers. I mean problems in the internet, phone reception, or anything like it? Over here, you just change your provider.

    @Hampus Eckerman http://file770.com/?p=22508&cpage=1#comment-261466
    If you need to step onto the public spot light, then it becomes necessary to create online accounts just for that purpose. You know, try to keep your professional and private lives seperate.

    Any public endeavour is likely to cause someone being upset about it. In which case you can try to engage with the harassment, which never leads to anything unless the spammer is about 12~ years old and you can reach out to their mother or father, or you just mark things as spam or block users and pay no attention to it.

    And yes, online death threats should be reported to the police. But a sheer majority of those are simply baseless.

  21. Tuomas Vainio: “So yeah, I completely forgot how tied Americans are to their service providers. I mean problems in the internet, phone reception, or anything like it? Over here, you just change your provider.”

    It’s about way more than simply being tied to a provider. That is actually the least of the issues in the U.S. when trying to escape harassment. The comments above only begin to hint at what a complex, difficult, and rarely successful process it can be in the U.S.

    It’s not that you “forgot” this, Tuomas — it’s that you’ve never had any real understanding of what it’s like in the U.S. (and you still don’t), because you don’t live here. Which is something you would be well-served to remember whenever you are tempted to comment on things which are completely outside your experience.

  22. @JJ The ‘you do not live here argument’ also applies to those living inside the borders of United States. I mean, it is a big country and just because you live in one corner of it does not necessarily mean you have an accurate grasp of what it is to live on another. Or even just few kilometres on the other side of the state border.

    But I’ll keep that in mind. So if you allow me to start again: based on my earlier experiences, it is relatively easy to put an end to forms of online harassment.

    If it is not elsewhere, then perhaps we should discuss on the legislative and cultural differences behind our different realms of experience and expectation. Perhaps there is something to learn for all of us.

    Thus to make it easier to stop harassment over there, based on what you said, we need to put in place legislation that limits who and how the aforementioned information can be accessed.

  23. Tuomas Vainio: “Thus to make it easier to stop harassment over there, based on what you said, we need to put in place legislation that limits who and how the aforementioned information can be accessed.”

    Gosh, wouldn’t that be lovely? Except that such a thing is next to impossible, because such legislation would impede the ability of big businesses to do what they want in order to make more money — which is why the legislation is the way it is right now. In the U.S., most legislation which gets passed is to the advantage of Big Business and to the detriment of the individual. It’s been this way in the U.S. for decades now. This is because Big Business can afford to wine and dine and influence legislators and support their campaigns to get re-elected with large amounts of money — leaving legislators who are “owned” in this way feeling obligated to write/re-write legislation to Big Business’ advantage.

    Some years ago, a law was proposed that would allow individuals to prevent businesses from giving away or selling their personal details. By the time the law was voted on, legislators pandering to Big Business had modified it so much to include so many loopholes that the law as passed was essentially meaningless in terms of offering any choice or protections to the individual.

    Perhaps you should just accept that this is an issue on which you’re simply not informed enough, and stop offering uninformed opinions on it.

  24. So in otherwords, you wish to focus on harrassers who for the large majority of the minority that they are, write potty things. You wish to draw focus of law enforcement into making sure that no one writes anything deemed offensive on the internet? Criminal court hearings for someone being an ass on the internet?

    No, the effort and public eye should be spent on passing legislation that actually protects the individual.

  25. Tuomas Vainio: “the effort and public eye should be spent on passing legislation that actually protects the individual.”

    Wow! What a genius idea! How amazing that you’ve come up with something that no one else has ever thought of ! When will you be moving to the U.S. and running for office in order to fix the corruption in our legislative system???

    Tuomas Vainio: “So in otherwords, you wish to focus on harrassers who for the large majority of the minority that they are, write potty things. You wish to draw focus of law enforcement into making sure that no one writes anything deemed offensive on the internet? Criminal court hearings for someone being an ass on the internet?”

    No, I wish you to stop opining on things about which you are utterly informed. But then, that would pretty much eliminate all of your comments on File770, wouldn’t it?

  26. Because they have failed in the effort to keep the public’s eye on the matter. Something which these days apparently requires you to land novelty aircraft in front of the White House and other monuments in DC.

    Now, you are free to have whatever opinion on the quality of my comments. But do keep in mind how yours do not really go beyond the realm of ‘I believe this’ and ‘you should too.’

  27. Tuomas Vainio: “Now, you are free to have whatever opinion on the quality of my comments. But do keep in mind how yours do not really go beyond the realm of ‘I believe this’ and ‘you should too.’”

    No, my remarks are facts: “this is how things work in the U.S., something which I know and you don’t”, “quoting other peoples’ Amazon reviews does not provide any evidence to back up Puppy claims that unworthy works have been receiving Hugos”, and “judging a plot (or a ship’s size) by the book’s cover is not a valid way to make that judgment”.

    P.S. Thanks for that endtag, Mike!

  28. What the “Amazon review quotes” prove is how Hugo nominated works are not universally liked. The readers have found reasons to complaint, to dislike, and hence even question the worthiness of work’s Hugo nominations. In fact it has been the dominant trend in the discussions presented here at File770. Anyone can deem any work for whatever reason unworthy for the award, or even nomination.

    Yet it does not change the fact that these works deserved their nominations and awards on the merit of fans’ votes.

    For example, I personally find Scalzi’s Redshirts infuriating. The reason being that I think it would read much better if it had been formatted as a play script it obviously is. (I really like reading play scripts, something I picked decades back in school.) Yet I cannot argue that it did not deserve its nomination.

    As for judging a book based on its cover. No, you cannot tell the plot of a book based on its cover. But, I think a reader should be able to have a realistic idea what to expect upon glance at the cover. Just like with movie posters, or any other image with intends to sell the work. It needs to be representative. For example in the case of the Hawksbill station, based on the cover I know not expect a sappy romance adventure with a dashing hero.

    In addition, I would like to clarify how I have not judged the sizes of space craft based on the covers. What I have stated is that I find it likely that a book will contain space combat if the cover presents spacecraft with clear military designs.

    And at the end… let us go back to that first portion of your reply. I was reminded, corrected even, so I guess I could say that I know better now. Yet I am not going to shred away my optimism for better tomorrow just to please you.

    But anyhow…
    Feel free to sit in your muddy hole,
    As the online flame war rages ever on.

  29. Tuomas Vainio: “I would like to clarify how I have not judged the sizes of space craft based on the covers.”

    Actually, you said something laughable along the lines of it’s clear that the ship is small, as it appears on the cover, though I can’t be bothered to go find the specific quote.

    Tuomas Vainio: “Feel free to sit in your muddy hole, As the online flame war rages ever on.”

    Oh, is that what you call it when you repeatedly make incorrect and uninformed statements, and others on here continually point out that you’re wrong, a flame war“?

    Silly me. I just thought it was called Tuomas Vainio makes himself look incredibly foolish by repeatedly making incorrect and uninformed statements. But hey, you can call that a “flame war”, if you wish.

  30. Actually search that line you claim I have made, give a link to me, and I admit being wrong. It is as simple as that.

    If not:
    Feel free to sit in your muddy hole,
    As the online flame war rages ever on,
    So remember to keep your head down,
    For it is far too scary to look around.

  31. Somehow I was not surprised to find out that Tuomas Vainio is a GamerGater.

  32. Well… I am as much of a GamerGater than a SadPuppy. My participation is questionable.

  33. Tuomas Vainio: “Actually search that line you claim I have made, give a link to me, and I admit being wrong. It is as simple as that.”

    http://file770.com/?p=22495&cpage=6#comment-261374

    Tuomas Vainio: “The cover of the book has an image of a smaller vessel. Hence, combat is expected.”

    I am awaiting your admission of being wrong.

  34. Unless you go ahead and claim that the cover…

    Typos. I need sleep.

  35. Tuomas Vainio: “But please look again at the cover artwork. The difference in size does seem pretty evident.”

    You see that big gray thing in the background? That is the ship on which they have tea sets and dinners with fancy crockery. The little ships are ship-to-planet shuttles.

    Which you would have known, if you had actually read the book.

  36. So are those shuttles bigger than the big grey thing at the back where they have the dangerous tea cups?

  37. Tuomas Vainio: “The cover of the book has an image of a smaller vessel. Hence, combat is expected.”

    You genuinely have no idea why statement 1 and statement 2 are not logically related, do you?

  38. I am a big fan of ‘aircraft carriers in space’ – not to mention how those ‘shuttles’ are quite similar in their appearance with ‘modern jet fighters.’ Especially the ones on the left. I hope I do not have to google images. I hope I do not have to google images. The one in the middle could be a bomber, and finally the one on the far right resembles a damaged bomber.

  39. Hence given the above context. I kind of see the logic between statements 1 and 2, because aircraft carries in space have a tendency to do battle in space.

  40. “Hence given the above context. I kind of see the logic between statements 1 and 2, because aircraft carries in space have a tendency to do battle in space.”

    Which above context? That you’re a fan of air-craft carriers in space? Your likes and dislikes have no impact on what the artist drew. Letting your biases for certain kinds of fiction impact your interpretation of a book cover is a literatal demonstration of Torgersen’s “Nutty Nuggets” nonsense.

  41. No, the effort and public eye should be spent on passing legislation that actually protects the individual.

    Including protection from harassment regardless of the medium used for it.

  42. If you need to step onto the public spot light, then it becomes necessary to create online accounts just for that purpose. You know, try to keep your professional and private lives seperate.”

    Tip: It is the same person that writes on the private account as on the professionell. A threat towards the person on one account is a threat towards a person on the private one. Makes no difference.

    “And yes, online death threats should be reported to the police. But a sheer majority of those are simply baseless.”

    When you start to get them in the hundreds, how can you differentiate between which are baseless and which are not? Tip: You can’t. Until you get seriously hurt.

  43. Tuomas Vainio and marsultor13 certainly have done an excellent job of hijacking this thread and not dealing with any of the points I brought up. That one or possibly both of them are GamerGators makes sense and says much about why they so thoroughly hijacked it, as nobody who is writing with monstrous intent wants there to be discussion of anti-social behavior, bullying, doxxing, harassment, online threats, home vandalism, vicious intent, scapegoating, causing science fiction professional, fannish, and real-world injuries, driving people to suicide, etc.

    “So I was jumpin’ up an’ down, yellin ‘Kill, kill kill!’ And the shrink started jumpin’ up an’ down with me, yellin’ ‘Kill, kill, kill!’ An’ we was jumpin’ up an’ down together, yellin’ ‘Kill, kill, kill!’ An’ the sergeant came in, pinned a medal on me an’ said ‘You’re our boy!'”

    — from “Alice’s Restaurant” by Arlo Guthrie

    Mr. Guthrie was committing mockery. GamerGators do it for real.

  44. “Shaming” should not be a generic term for Internet abuse. It’s only “shaming” if the target has actually done or said something for which he or she should feel ashamed. Otherwise, it’s verbal abuse, and should be described and defined as what it is.

    “Shaming” implies there is justification for an attack, that’s it’s the victim’s fault, and that certainly isn’t the case in so, so many instances. Megan Meier, age 13, in Dardenne Prairie, Mo., wasn’t shamed in 2006, she was abused and driven to suicide. She had done nothing of which she should have been ashamed. It was middle-aged adult Lori Drew, who was responsible for the abuse, who was later shamed after her identity became known She had done plenty of which she should have been ashamed.

    If someone cannot see that there is a difference between shaming and assault, they’re not smart enough to be operating something so powerful as a computer on the Internet in the first place.

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