The Difference Between Banning and DDoS

As you may have noticed, the whole Skepchick network has been down recently thanks to a DDoS attack. It was pretty much a pain in the ass, but as of this point in time we’re all doing swimmingly and the network is back up. However in the process of getting back up and explaining what was happening, there were some folks out there who said that we were pretty much asking for it because we write about divisive topics and we ban people from our comments.

Now both of those facts are true, but there is some faulty logic getting us from those two beginning facts to the idea that we deserve to have our website censored. So here’s one of the main ideas that I’ve heard about the Skepchick network, and it’s actually something that I briefly worried about.Essentially some people believe that the Skepchicks are hypocritical because we promote skepticism and free speech, but we also ban certain commenters and delete certain comments. For some time I was convinced by this argument: how could we ban comments that disagreed with us and still say we would entertain opposing positions? Wasn’t this censorship? And I suppose turnabout is fair play…if we’re censoring others doesn’t that give them the right to censor us?

Here’s the problem with that: Skepchick is a privately owned website. It’s the property of our dear Rebecca. This is our space on the internet. Let’s use an analogy: Skepchick network is our house. Now I may be deeply against censorship by the government or by corporations, but hell if I’ll let anyone say the n word in my house. I have the right to create what is for me a comfortable space in my own home. We as the Skepchicks have the right to choose the climate in our home and enforce that climate. Just as I have the right to kick out the annoying drunk person puking in my living room, so I have the right to kick out the ridiculous MRA with a neckbeard puking hatred onto this site.

No one is required to give another person a platform for their speech. Every person has every right to tell the whole Skepchick network that we’re evil misandrists who are trying to kill all the mens. What they don’t have is the right for us to host that on our webpage. There are plenty of other places for that, so please, go do it somewhere else. So telling you “get off my lawn and stop screaming obscenities” is really not the same as infringing on your freedom of speech.

On the other hand, the DDoS attack was an attempt to burn down our house to get us to shut up. It was not telling us that we weren’t welcome in a particular location or that someone didn’t want us saying that in their space. It was telling us we didn’t get to speak in our own home.The idea that we deserved it because we had asked people to respect us in our own home is appalling and out of line. These two things are in no way equal or comparable.

The whole idea that if we try to protect ourselves we’re just as bad as the people attacking us is totally ridonk and is the same victim blaming nonsense that feminists and other people speaking up for the oppressed always hear. I for one feel no guilt whatsoever anymore for denying a comment that’s utterly ridiculous, that’s not improving the conversation, or that’s just cruel.I don’t have to put up with that. Not in my house. My beautiful, imaginary, Skepchick island house.

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Olivia is a giant pile of nerd who tends to freak out about linguistic prescriptivism, gender roles, and discrimination against the mentally ill. By day she writes things for the Autism Society of Minnesota, and by night she writes things everywhere else. Check out her ongoing screeds against jerkbrains at


  1. February 10, 2014 at 7:03 pm —

    I have always thought the arguement that if you don’t allow everyone to comment on your website that censorship. You aren’t stopping those commentors setting up their own website.

  2. February 10, 2014 at 8:05 pm —

    I have so many gif feels right now…

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