Island Life by David Slack


Who's laughing?

Who, would you say, was the bravest person you've ever known?

Readers of this forum answer the question.

One nominates his father in law.

He was a Navy pilot in the Pacific during WWII. When I asked him one day if he was ever scared he replied, "I never made a carrier landing with my eyes open."

A proud parent picks their four year old.

This morning the little guy was learning to ride his bike... he had a bad high side spill. With a quivering lip he climbed back and and by God he RODE!

There is selflessness:

My mother who, when dying of cancer in the hospital, tried to comfort me.

There is Neolithic flippancy.

I leave spear here. I go to cow. I squeeze bottom. I drink what come out.

There is the courage only some possess.

He stood in a burning smoke filled hospital and carried invalid patients out windows for an hour.

No-one cites the obsessive blogger or the online stalker. Their accomplishments are acts of bravery in only their own minds.

Slinking into cyberspace to do your work of hate and menace is no act of courage. It's the safest place in the world for a misanthrope to hide. Snug in your darkened room, hunched over your keyboard, no-one can hit you back. You can fire at will.

You may even fire at Kathy Sierra. Sneering misogyny is possible; so is raw abuse. Hilarious photoshopped images? By all means. Death threats? Why not.

You may not mean to act upon these death threats; you're probably no more than you profess to be: someone who thinks they're making a joke. But Kathy Sierra is only the latest of many women online who have taken the prudent approach: don't give a death threat the benefit of the doubt.

We have something of this in our own neighbourhood. Some of the more extreme comment threads on the likes of Kiwiblog and Sir Humphreys, have been polluted by this same sneering misogyny, purporting to function as humour.

It's not funny.

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