Frost advisory in Hell: Leonard Pitts writes a column I agree with.
That, in a word, is how you feel when someone broadcasts your home address without your knowledge, against your wishes. Your correspondent speaks from experience. Six years ago when white supremacists published my home address and phone number on their web sites, the first thing I felt was vulnerable.
The folks at the Journal News newspaper in New York state would doubtless say it was not their intention to do anything like that when they published online maps of gun ownership in their area. But intention and effect are two completely different things.
The maps show dots covering two suburban New York counties — Westchester and Rockland — like a rash, one for each of the 33,614 persons who is licensed to own a handgun there. Had it been the intention of the paper simply to illustrate the ubiquity of guns, those graphics would have done the job nicely.
But the paper did not stop there. Click on any one dot and up comes the name and home address of the gun owner in question.
Because Pitts had it happen to him personally, he's able to empathize with gun owners in this situation. He then goes on to speak of privacy, and I think that is the best point he makes in the essay:
And if one consequence is that some New York state gun owners feel exposed, the larger consequence for all of us is a further chipping away of private spaces, a further compromise of the increasingly quaint idea that one has a right to live peacefully and an expectation to not be bothered in so doing.
This is not about freedom of the press or freedom to own guns. It is, rather, about the freedom to be left alone, and whether that’s still sustainable or whether henceforth we must all live exposed. The technology being what it is, it’s worth remembering that the answer to that question, whatever it may be, will be shaped both by journalists and by those who are not.
Consider that, while some gun owners vented their anger by making threats and sending baking soda in the mail, others expressed themselves more pointedly. They posted home addresses for Journal News employees online.