Should it be illegal to insult authors?

In this article Jessica Valenti argues that authors should endure “Insults and rape threats”. Of course threatening anyone is and should be illegal. But insulting public figures has been our pastime since 1776.

Valenti writes:

The Guardian blocks insulting comments since 1999, but how can authors be protected from insults on forums where their work is being discussed?

Blocking comments on a message board is not the same as making insults illegal. If governments made insulting comments illegal, it would violate the First Amendment, and hence be unconstitutional. The remedy should remain as it is. Individual owners of message board forums and other publications are free to restrict comments within their medium.

Of course. But as long as there are sites that allow insults the insults will continue. When Reddit banned a few subreddits, Voat boomed.

That is not the same as making insults illegal. You seem to be confused about the First Amendment.

I will resist the urge to insult (insert the name of any person you wish here) and will just leave it at I think is should be legal.

In UK it is easy to be jailed for an offensive tweet.

Of course insults shouldn’t be illegal. (Threats are different from insults. Surely you’re not equating calling someone a douchebag with threatening to kill them?)

Got a cite for that? :dubious:

Thanks for the link to a picture of a jail. I’m sure none of knew what one looked like.

In the world of actually useful links, yeah, in the UK can you can be arrested just for saying mean things on line.

Well, the last one made a joke about bombing a plane – they kind of frown on that. The others – I think that’s stupid. (Please don’t arrest me!)

Thanks for the links. In UK, jails are much better then in USA and look differently.

An author who can’t handle an insult has no right to be in the business. After all, you will be getting reviews and rejection all your career. If you don’t have a thick skin, you won’t stay in the business for long.

In the same context as nitpicking over the word “illegal,” the phrase “no right” is a bit off. Sure, thin-skinned whiners have a right to be in the business. They just are unwise to make this their business.

Some very good authors have been petulant little whiners. Harlan Ellison jumps to the front of the line.

Of course it’s ok to insult anyone (not threaten). However, why would anyone want to insult an author? Just don’t read the book. Or if you did read it and don’t like it, post horrible reviews of it that touch on the book’s lack of merit. If you manage to cut into the author’s sales with your horrible reviews, that will bother the author more than hurling insults.

Somewhere along the line, our culture unfortunately decided that people have a right not to be offended. Once that right is established, it does away with all other rights, since virtually anything that anyone does or says carries the possibility of offending someone, somewhere. The OP is a reflection of that attitude, if you ask me, as are the links from the UK about people being arrested for saying or posting “offensive” messages.

I’m curious as to who voted for the 2nd option.

The article is about Guardian comment sections, reddit or 4chan have no bearing on that.


Screw Progressive, I’m a State Farm man.

Threats should of coarse be illegal. A creditable rape threat should absolutely carry a heavy penalty.

Insults and cretitable threats are not the same thing, and should be treated differently.

That’s really archaic. Jailed is the common spelling.

No author—whether thick-skinned or not—has the legal, moral, or ethical obligation to allow comments of any particular nature directly on his or her own forum. Even a traditional newspaper always had the right to choose what letters to the editor to publish.

Especially in this atmosphere in which online commenters feel free to make vile statements of no substantial import, especially when the writer is a woman or a racial minority, I see no reason to expect publications to host open comments.

Even in the physical world, you don’t have a right to barge into someone’s house or office and berate them. And even in the public street there is such a thing as harassment.

‘Gaoled’ is the UK spelling. thelurkinghorror was making a funny. :slight_smile:

ETA: Wait. You’re in Scotland. You know that already. Doh! I’ll go back to mostly lurking.