TRIGGER WARNING: this post discusses sexual assault, threats of violence, and actual violence against women. If you link to this post, please include a similar warning. See below for more information on how/why to do this.
I think we need to address this.
There is a guy out there who goes by the name of MikeeUSA and who, since around 2005, has been posting threatening and harrassing comments and emails to and about women in the free and open source software community.
Most recently, in response to the Mark Shuttleworth incident, he’s been commenting on related blogs comparing us (me, Mackenzie, Carla Schroder by name, and other geek feminists in general) to Nina Reiser, who was killed by her husband, Linux file systems hacker Hans Reiser, in 2006.
The women of the “geek feminism” movement will be just as effective at excising men from the movement as Nina was at systematically destroying Hans Reiser’s life untill he saw no reason, nothing left in his life, that could hold him back from striking back.
The same comment was copy-pasted to numerous other blogs, including this one (twice), but has been deleted by most blog owners.
This is the same guy who was responsible for the Debian death threats I mentioned in my post about George Sodini and parallels in the tech community. In 2007, he sent the following to the debian-women mailing list:
Yea youâ€™ve become a developerâ€¦ and have done nearly nothing except shill your feminist shit and try to turn debian into a womanâ€™s project (you are succeeding, men are leaving debian because of you and your ilk, worthless bitch).
I pray you find your way into a feminist unfriendly country one day. God willing, you will die.
Happily the feminist-unfriendly countries are immigrating to you. Remeber the netherlands? Feminists die there.
He has a hate blog at mikeeusa.pressword.com where he posts the same sort of stuff.
Men going to jail for hitting their wives is bad for men.
Men going to jail for raping their wives is bad for men.
Men losing their jobs because they said or did a â€œsexistâ€ thing is bad for men.
Men being pushed out of opensource projects at the behest of WORTHLESS feminist women is bad for men and that which men create.
As for Nina Reiser: she deserved to die for what she put Hans through. She did die. Justice, menâ€™s retributitive justice, was done. She will never live again, she is finished; she is dead.
This is what he tells men:
Go to the local women’s group office and liquidate it (kill the feminist women there). Wear a dark suit and drive an expensive car (these are more likely not to be suspect). Continue destroying the people who have helped to destroy countless of your fellow Men untill you are killed. Go from women’s rights organisation’s office to women’s rights organisation’s office, maybe throw in a few domestic violence shelters and abortion clinics if you wish.
He’s previously been banned from Blogspot, DeviantArt, and AdBrite, DynDNS, and even the Napster forums (search within page for “Drew Armon”) for his hate speech. He is also the only person ever to have been banned from Debian’s bug tracking system.
Along with his blog posts and comments, he has also sent similar threats by email to individual women, specifically free and open source software developers. While some of the women who received his emails shared them with others and banded together to deal with the problem, others thought they were his only target, and deleted his emails and did not initally let anyone know about them.
This is completely understandable — our first reaction, and the traditional wisdom of how to deal with trolls, is to ignore them and hope they go away. But the effect on each of us, when we try to deal with this stuff alone, is to make us feel isolated, afraid, and impotent. And it becomes one of the many tiny cuts that weaken us and, eventually, drive us away.
Let’s not do that. Let’s stand together and support each other.
Here’s what you can do.
Moderate comments on your blog.
Your blog is your space, and like your own living room or workplace, you have the right and the responsibility to make it a safe environment for those who gather there.
This was a core issue at the time of Kathy Sierra’s online harrassment and withdrawal from blogging. It led Tim O’Reilly and others to propose a bloggers’ code of conduct and others to respond with Moderation isn’t rocket science and John Scalzi’s eye-rolling which said, in part:
Indeed, the reason that we’re now at a point where some self-appointed guardians of the discourse have decided it’s necessary to tell the rest of us slobs how to talk to each other is that people apparently forgot they have the right on their own sites to tell obnoxious dickheads to shut the hell up. [...]
What the blog world needs is not a universal “Code of Conduct”; what it needs is for people to remind themselves that deleting comments from obnoxious dickheads is a good thing.
Whether you decide to institute a comment policy as we have on GF, or to moderate on an ad-hoc basis as required, is up to you. But remember that deleting abusive comments is not censorship. Only the government can censor, and even governments draw the line at threats of violence, which are illegal pretty much everywhere.
Save copies of all correspondence.
Keep a copy of any blog comments, emails, or other correspondence you get from Mikee or anyone else who threatens or harasses you. Even if it starts out mild, it never hurts to have a paper trail.
Where appropriate, let other people know you’ve received threats or harassment. It might be relevant to mention it on a women’s mailing list (eg. one of the LinuxChix lists, or project-specific “Foo-women” lists) and ask whether anyone else has received anything similar. Point them at this post so they know what to do, too.
Report threats to law enforcement.
Threats of violence are illegal, and should be reported to law enforcement. Law enforcement must take them seriously, regardless of whether they occur online or off; if you think they won’t care, remember that the spectre of George Sodini will cause them to take online misogyny more seriously than they would have before this year.
Your first step is to contact your local police, wherever you are. You can call 911 (or local equivalent), or visit your local police station in person. Make sure you have saved your correspondence (see above).
Some countries have specific law enforcement divisions to deal with Internet-related crime. For instance, in Australia, the Australian Federal Police have a division that deals with technology enabled crime. Generally, you would not contact these divisions directly. Just contact your local police and they will escalate as required.
Other useful information
- MikeeUSA also goes by the nicknames Mikee, Mike, Mitch O’Brian, and Drew Armon.
- According to this profile posted in 2004 (screencap), his real name seems to be Mike McAllister and he is around 19 years old. On the other hand, his Sourceforge profile suggests that his surname starts with B, and this IRC log in which he says he was 18 in 2005 suggests he is currently 22-23 years old.
- He has recently been using the email address
email@example.com he changes regularly; other addresses include a number of variations on
firstname.lastname@example.org. As you can see, he most commonly uses Yahoo’s free email service. He previously (ca. 2002) used Drew Armon@aol.com and Martainhij@aol.com. New as of today, we’ve found he’s using
email@example.com, a Mailinator domain which provides anonymous, throwaway addresses.
- He uses a dynamic DNS service for the server that hosts some of his websites; his server is connected to Optimum Online, an ISP which serves New York and surrounding areas, and his IP has been traced to Bay Shore NY, which matches the profile linked above where he says he’s from Islip NY.
- When posting comments on blogs, he may use Tor to obfuscate his location; in this case blocking him based on IP address won’t work, though you may be able to block him based on email, username, or keywords in his comments.
Thanks to Leigh Honeywell for gathering most of the above information. Some further information came from “directhex” in this comment thread on Mackenzie’s blog. We (myself and Leigh) have additional information if you, or law enforcement authorities, need it. Please feel free to get in touch.
Please remember that many women in our community have been the targets of violence and sexual assault, or have a justifiable fear of becoming a target. Reading about these threats may cause extreme and immediate emotional and psychological distress, which is referred to as being “triggered”. If you are not familiar with triggers, you might like to read this post (Warning: Very explicit discussion of sexual assault and the nature, anatomy, cause & effect of triggers. Is itself triggery.)
Please, if you are going to link to this post, or to any other discussion of or writing by MikeeUSA or his ilk, or to post anything about this on your own blog, add a trigger warning to your post. This will allow readers to manage their reading and protect themselves. You can use the trigger warning at the top of this post as an example.
Comment policy reminder
A reminder that we have a comment policy here which means we will delete comments which are anti-feminist, abusive, or otherwise inappropriate at our sole discretion. Since we expect there to be a lot of people commenting, I’d also like to pre-empt any kneejerk reactions along the lines of “you should just ignore trolls” or “this is censorship” with an invitation for you to post those views on your own blog, not here.