Some time ago, I attended a political rally focused on the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally and subsequent events. A person in the crowd was handing out flyers showing a picture of a Kentucky person who was supposedly at the rally. Included on the flyer was the person’s home address, work location, and a picture of the person’s car.

“So, you’re doxxing this person?” I asked. “Why?”

“Because people who do these things should pay for their actions.”

“What exactly do you expect to happen as a result of you sharing this information?” I continued. The person with the flyer just looked at me, silent.

I spoke to one of the rally organizers about the doxxing going on in the crowd. They said “we can’t control what people do.”

I left the rally.

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“Doxxing” comes from the words “documents” or “documenting,” and refers to sharing personal information about someone. It usually includes their home address, along with other information.

People dox other people to get back at them, to exact revenge, to express anger. It is usually done anonymously via social media, but in the case of Mitch McConnell and others, it was shared on their Wikipedia pages.

People who dox others usually use the same justification as the person I met at the rally: these people should “pay for their actions.” Pay how, exactly?

The unsaid intention of doxxing is nevertheless clear: the doxxer hopes that by sharing a home address or a personal email or a car license plate, that someone else will harass or even attack the person being doxxed. The doxxer doesn’t have the courage to carry out such an attack themselves, but they are fine with helping others to do so.

This is wrong. It is not a way to “resist.” Instead, it is a form of stochastic terrorism – taking actions that inspire others to commit acts of violence.

Dr. Christine Blasey Ford was doxxed almost as soon as her name surfaced in connection with the Brett Kavanaugh hearing. She and her family have been forced to move out of their home and go into hiding, with hired security protecting them. Her work email was hacked. She received death threats.

Someone has now doxxed Rand Paul, and his wife states that she will keep a loaded gun beside her bed. The local sheriff has increased patrols around the Paul home.

So, let me be as clear as I can be: doxxing is wrong. It is crossing a line. And at Forward Kentucky, it will not be tolerated.

If someone attempts to dox someone else via our Facebook page, they will be banned from the page and reported. If we see it on Twitter, we will block that account and report it.

You want to resist? Great – call, write, on visit your elected representatives. Take part in peaceful rallies and protests. Get active in elections, give money, volunteer. And especially, go vote.

But in all the resisting, remember that the persons on the other side are fellow human beings as well, and no matter how angry you are, there are some actions that cross a line. And doxxing is one of them.

–30–

Bruce Maples
Bruce Maples has been involved in politics and activism since 2004, when he became active in the Kerry Kentucky movement. He has been President, Vice-President, and Treasurer of the Metro Democratic Club, and has served on the Democratic Party Executive Committee in Louisville. He began blogging in 2004, and currently operates two personal blogs (BruceMaples.com and brucewriter.com). He founded Forward Kentucky in the wake of the state elections in 2015, and expanded it in the summer of 2016. He has lived in Louisville since 1992 with his wife and two sons.

2 COMMENTS

  1. I am proud of you for this article Bruce. As a candidate I decided to make my address and phone number public but I’m not sure that’s a good idea and I recognize that each person’s story is different.

  2. I wouldn’t do this to anyone. I’ve only heard the term this week and feel awful for those who have been victimized. Appreciate your stand against it, Bruce.

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