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THE PLANK MARCH 9, 2007

Misogyny.com

I sometimes wonder whether the anonymity of the Internet has not only ushered in a less civil age but a more misogynistic one. Just check out this article in Wednesday's Washington Post about AutoAdmit, a law school discussion board. The purported purpose of the site is to give law students an open forum to anonymously discuss their community ("We are very strong believers in the freedom of expression and the marketplace of idea," says one of the site's high-minded founders). But one part of that discussion seems to involve insulting minorities and sexually harassing and ruining the reputations of female law students. To wit:

"Another Yale law student learned a month ago that her photographs were posted in an AutoAdmit chat that included her name and graphic discussion about her breasts ... The woman, a Fulbright scholar who graduated summa cum laude, said she now fears going to the gym because people on the site encouraged classmates to take cellphone pictures of her."

The site's defenders, unsurprisingly, point to their First Amendment rights to break out their creepy inner-Joe Francises. But isn't it about time we stop confusing what we can do with what we should?

--Katherine Marsh

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