Just have a look at the grief Martin Wagner is experiencing at the hands of a loving Christian. In a nutshell: Wagner, co-host of The Atheist Experience TV show and author of the Atheist Experience blog, critiqued a creationist’s article on the evils of atheism. Well, the creationist didn’t like that, and retaliated by vandalising Wagner’s Wikipedia entry, claiming that Wagner was a drug addict and a paedophile. Wagner called him on it on the Atheist Experience blog, and the creationist didn’t like that, either, so—like a hybrid of David Mabus and John A. Davison—he trawled atheist and Christian discussion boards alike across the Internet, and started a half-dozen blogs, wailing persecution at the hands of Wagner and a Wikipedia administrator (the creationist’s vandalism led to his banning from Wikipedia). Wagner, now armed with sufficient evidence to mount an online defamation suit, obtained the services of an attorney. The creationist went quiet for three months, then issued Wagner with a “Cease and desist” letter. Wagner has decided that enough is enough, and is now pressing ahead with legal action. He observes:
If you write anything online, there’s a good chance it will be read by someone you don’t know, who isn’t already your friend and predisposed to be kind to you no matter how much you insist on doing the writing equivalent of face-planting on the pavement. That’s the crazy thing about the intarweebs: there are people on it. People who have opinions who don’t always march in lockstep with your own. And if they disagree with you, they’ll say so. Sometimes they’ll be polite (which I am), sometimes they’ll be snarky and sarcastic (which I am). But there’s no protective law that says that opinion articles published on blogs and websites get to be shielded from criticism or even pure derision. I understand, every time I post to AE, that what I’m writing is as likely to be critiqued or flamed as it is to be praised. And I don’t mind that fact. If your ego is too fragile to take criticisms of your writing and ideas, you shouldn’t be writing in as public (some might say anarchic) a venue as the frackin’ internet!
Absolutely right. But that’s the thing about these high RWAs, especially when they are permitted access to a keyboard and an internet connection. They don’t like it when people disagree with them. They take disagreement with their ideas as a personal attack, and they deem it justifiable to respond in kind. And given the havoc and mischief they can wreak upon their victims—outing in Jeremy’s case, stalking in Bruce’s case, hacking in Neil’s case, and now legal threats in Wagner’s case—they arguably should be considered a threat to democracy, if not society.