Andrew Keen of ZDNet is all over Tim O'Reilly in this post. First of all, I'm as outraged as everyone else about the situation Kathy Sierra is in; nobody should be subjected to that sort of harassment, let alone someone like Kathy, one of the nicest and smartest people on the planet.
Second, Tim O'Reilly is one of my competitors, so it would be very easy and convenient for me to pile on and try to say how Keen's argument is right. O'Reilly is the one who has properly stated things in this case though, not Keen.
Tim O'Reilly is right to say that this is not a statement about the internet. If these losers weren't harassing Kathy online they'd undoubtedly find some other way of doing it. Then Keen brings guns and the NRA into the argument. For the record, I don't like guns and I'm certainly not a member of the NRA(!)...but...people do kill people, not guns! If the gun wasn't there, murderers will (and do) find some other weapon.
I hate the idea of anonymous posts. If someone feels like speaking out about an issue they should be willing to add their name to the discussion. But Keen's suggestion that anonymous posts should become illegal is over the top. Besides, does anyone really think something like this could stop someone from getting around the system and using someone else's identity?! Banning anonymous posts isn't the solution.
I also don't understand why Keen focuses his argument so much on the blogosphere. Where does he draw the line? If the blogosphere went away tomorrow, wouldn't these same idiots post this sort of stuff on message boards, websites, etc.? Do we need to shut down the whole internet?!
What is the solution? Self-policing is touched on in Keen's post. He pokes fun at O'Reilly for suggesting such a thing, but I think that's part of the answer. The real solution though is just applying the same tactics that are used offline: Law enforcement needs to identify these losers and hold them accountable for the threats and other crimes they've committed.