Kathy Sierra is massively freaked out. My initial response was, oh, it's just some jackoff posting bullshit, but having re-read the article and given it some thought, if I were her, I'd have a friend bring me a gun, and I'd get a few nice big dogs. Like Rottweillers, or German shepherds, or maybe just a trained bear. That's some scary fucking shit.
I've said obnoxious things on the Web -- to be provocative, to get attention, to piss people off, to deliberately push well past the boundaries of good taste. Usually I was either kidding or randomly grumpy because I hadn't had my morning coffee yet. Many people have done the same thing. That's part of the Internet. What's going on at Kathy's blog is way past that. The stuff posted is weird enough that you could definitely consider it utterly sick in the head and devoid of any sense of humor, and it looks as if it's a consistent pattern rather than a random outburst.
South by Southwest recently had a panel on "the rise of the blogebrity," the neologism of course meaning celebrity blogger, or blog celebrity, or whatever. If there's anything which validates that notion, it's the first blogger targeted by some weird-ass stalker.
Stalking is strange and terrifying. It appears to be a totally modern phenomenon, but if there's one thing I learned in high school, it's that any time you encounter what appears to be an entirely modern phenomenon, there usually exists some parallel in the literature of the Roman Empire or Ancient Greece. (If there are only two things I learned in high school, number one is that whole historical parallels thing, and number two is how to make a bong out of a plastic bottle and some tinfoil. I had a very broad education. Let's move on.)
What's weird to me is that there don't appear to be historical parallels, which makes me think that what's really different is that this society protects women from stalkers, whereas previous societies tolerated it.
At the risk of sounding totally insane, and because I am Giles Bowkett, and this is how I think, I'd like to suggest a solution to stalking. I believe, in fact, that I could eliminate this problem once and for all, throughout the entire world, forever.
Step one, legalize prostitution. Step two, make paying for sex not only legal -- but required by law. Make it illegal to go longer than a certain length of time without getting laid. (Have medical professionals determine what that length of time should be.)
Why will this end stalking once and forever? Simple. Stalking is usually driven by sexual obsession. Most stalkers are male; most victims of stalking are female. One of my favorite ideas is the idea that any pattern of dangerous behavior can be viewed as a public health problem. All men become more aggressive when they don't get laid. That's biological. But the difference between a man who turns into a stalker due to sexual repression and the man who just deals with it, that's a purely psychological component which must be extraordinarily difficult to predict. The long and the short of it is that sexual repression is a serious public health problem, one that leads to deranged and dangerous behavior, and the easiest way to cure sexual repression is to have sex a lot. So my solution is really just common sense. If going without sex for longer than X amount of time was illegal -- X being whichever minimum health professionals conclude is necessary -- then the courts could just sentence law-breaking celibates to mandatory court-ordered fucking at the hands of a professional, and the sexual frustration, repression, and obsession which would have made those men dangerous would never even happen. The world would be a safer place.
Your tax dollars, hard at work.
Of course, as usual, the opponents of this plan would be the same pack of lunatic assholes who stand in the way of anybody who wants to make the world a safer place. I refer, of course, to the Religious Right. But screw those guys. They're all snorting meth and boning gay hookers anyway. Seriously, it's time to make the world a better place. Legalize prostitution and criminalize celibacy. It's the only way to end stalking forever.