June 23, 2003

Watch Out for Your Jobs, Folks

Veronica (Moxie Pop) saw my post about her site disappearing, and she told me why she took it down. A week ago today, the president of her company got a fax from a blocked number, claiming to be from a potential client who would never do business with a company that employed someone like her. She wasn't allowed to see the fax, and that's all the HR person would tell her when she was made aware of it last Thursday. She was fired that same day, without even a chance to clean out her desk. She's still in shock, but she's trying to find out the details of the fax, whether there's any way to find out who sent it, and what she can do about it.

She can't prove it yet, but she strongly suspects this is fallout from the absolutely ridiculous Moxie vs. Moxie feud. It's not a big leap of logic: On June 8, somebody makes an unfounded accusation of identity theft against Veronica. The resulting flamewar rages all over the place for a week and a half. On June 16, someone posting as "np" threatens her in at least one blog comment she knows about (now deleted by the administrator, unfortunately), and the same day her company receives an anonymous fax. On June 19, she's fired because of that fax. So coincidence seems unlikely. She also thinks "np" is one of the people who's been going around impersonating people in the comments of various blogs. (There's also a comment-impostor called "Potatohead," apparently, but I'm not sure if it's the same person.) In addition, "np" or whoever it is has been posting as much personal information as he or she can dig up about Veronica and other people. [Update: Posting it as those people, in some cases. Think how you'd feel if you saw a post signed with your name that you didn't write, containing private information that you might not want people to know.] So Veronica's trying to find out who's doing this and get a restraining order so it doesn't happen again. If you have any information or advice (informed advice), she can be reached at moxiegirl1979@hotmail.com.

So far I've kept mostly quiet about this whole fiasco, other than a few vague references and some jokes to try to put it in perspective. Out of a misguided sense of friendship, maybe. I was content to just block Madison and Dawn's angry, irrational e-mail and move on, but I can't stay neutral after this. No matter how much you hate somebody or which side of this you think deserves to have more of their hair pulled out, none of this crap is worth going after people's jobs.

Whether or not Madison and Dawn are directly responsible for getting Veronica fired -- and we should give them the benefit of the doubt that they didn't send the fax and aren't sure who did -- none of this would be happening if they hadn't made the public accusation that started this stupid fight, stoked the flames in every blog comment section they could fit into their day, created a perfect breeding ground for trolls who impersonated people on both sides and stirred things up even more, and repeatedly tried to drag me and who-knows-else into it when things didn't go the way they wanted. Playing martyr the whole time, hurling insults and threats and wild accusations if you dared to tell them they were wrong. (I was informed that I was somehow "turning my back on my friends," among other accusations. Well, too bad. I'm not saying we all have to sit around holding hands and humming along to the latest Dave Matthews tune, but I reserve the right to pick my battles. I don't leap to the defense of bullies, no matter how much they play the victim and try to take advantage of my past friendliness and tolerance.) Well, they succeeded in whipping up a big ugly controversy, and now somebody's out of a job because of it.

I know you're reading this, Madison and Dawn and whoever else, and you're not liking it. But the following is pretty good advice, so please pay attention:

You can keep scrambling to make new "friends" to replace the ones you've alienated, so you'll have somebody to back you up. You can cry about how you're only human, and you make mistakes just like everybody else, and sometimes you just act before you think, and it's not your fault because the bad people were mean to you, and blah blah blah. (Don't worry, somebody in your comments will tell you you're right!) You can try to discredit me, tell people I'm crazy and ungrateful and a liar and whatever else. You can throw a fit and whip up yet another flamewar, and then delete the whole thing after you calm down. Go ahead. If all that helps you feel better about yourselves and relieves some of your self-imposed stress, fine.

But if you've got a damn bit of sense, and I'll be charitable enough to assume you do, you'll quit lashing out at anybody who doesn't jump when you snap your fingers, and you'll do whatever you can to help find out who got Veronica fired. This isn't just a self-dramatizing little slapfight anymore. Your actions are having very real consequences, and you need to stop dodging the blame. This all started, you said, because you were worried about Madison's reputation. Well, this is your chance to salvage whatever's left of it.

And as for you Right-Thinking guys, and whoever else was wallowing in this on both sides? Please take your teeth out of each other's throats for 5 minutes and help figure out how this happened. I know the consensus is that these vicious flamewars are just a fun pastime, but we're way past that stage.

Now stop flipping me off, and start cleaning up your mess.

Update: Lee at Right-Thinking has some more information. The opinions of commenters at Right-Thinking do not necessarily represent those of this blog, etc., etc. (On second thought, I'll just leave them to their revenge fantasies and so forth. If you want to seek out that thread, you're on your own.)

Update 2 of ???: I didn't point out anything of the sort about the identity of the fax-sender. Right now there's no solid proof who it was. (I even put that part in bold so you wouldn't miss it.) That's kind of the point of telling people about it, to see if anybody has any evidence. I can't stop anybody from drawing conclusions beyond what I've said here, if you just can't help yourself, but please don't put the words in my mouth.

Update 3: Here's somebody else who was fired because of an anonymous fax, if you're skeptical about such things happening.

Update 4: Steven Chapman looks back at other blog-related firings and offers some good advice.

Update 5: In Dawn's defense, it's true: at least she's never thrown a baby out a window.

Update 6: More good advice for all involved, myself included.

Update 7: ...or, you could deal with it by interviewing one of your cats...

Posted by Jim Treacher at June 23, 2003 03:25 PM