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Blog blunder fells UA teacher

Postings not meant as threat, ex-adjunct instructor says

A University of Arizona adjunct instructor resigned Saturday after a nationwide firestorm erupted over her comments on a political blog.

Deborah Frisch, 44, posted last week on a site named “Protein Wisdom,” which belongs to Colorado resident Jeff Goldstein.

Tensions escalated after Frisch and Goldstein swapped comments about North Korean missiles. The conversation on national security and political warfare got personal.

Goldstein wrote, “We’re pragmatists, Deb. I think if push came to shove, we’d rather just shoot you.”

Later, writing under the tag “southwestpaw” – her Web site’s name – Frisch made a comment about Goldstein’s son: “You live in Colorado, I see. Hope no one Jon-Benets your baby.”

She also wrote: “If I woke up tomorrow and learned that someone else had shot you and your ‘tyke’ it wouldn’t slow me down one iota. You aren’t ‘human’ to me.”

Frisch admitted to submitting the postings, but on Monday said she never meant her comments to be read as a threat.

Bloggers contacted UA psychology department head Alfred Kaszniak calling for Frisch’s resignation or dismissal.

Kaszniak received Frisch’s resignation letter Saturday. Along with it, he got “a couple hundred” e-mails – about Frisch.

“It’s saddening, for anyone who is a reasonable person cannot but deeply regret the kind of incivility that seems to characterize so much of what passes for political debate on the Internet,” said Kaszniak, who hired Frisch four years ago to teach a required undergraduate course in resource methods.

UA has on-campus restrictions on blogging but “does not control any speech of its employees that occur as a private citizen,” Kaszniak said.

Goldstein said that while he did not feel threatened, he did want Frisch to lose her job. He said educators must “be extra careful.”

Frisch said during a telephone interview Monday that she has apologized to Goldstein.

“Everyone said it was in very bad judgment and very bad taste,” she said.

“Things tend to get rough there on the political blogs. It was a culmination of frustration after talking to this guy,” she said, adding that other bloggers began to weigh in on her.

While Frisch said she “didn’t feel it was fair to drag the university into this,” she said she resigned partly because she intended to return to Eugene, Ore., where she has been living for the summer.


Blogging Etiquette: How to Blog Safely

• Blog anonymously. Preserve some privacy by shielding your IP address and registering your domain name anonymously.

• Use a pseudonym and don’t give away any identifying details, including where you’re located, how many employees there are and what sort of business you do.

• Do not blog while you’re at work.

• Limit your audience by only allowing a select group of people to read your blog.

Source: The San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation

For more about the workplace, blogging and how to be safe when juggling both? Visit these Web sites:

● Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Legal Guide for Bloggers


● Electronic Frontier Foundation, listing of legal cases


● CNet’s “FAQ: Blogging on the job”

http://news.com.com/ FAQ+Blogging+on+the+job/2100-1030_3-5597010.html? tag=nefd.ac

● Tor: An anonymous Internet communication system


● The Bloggers’ Rights Blog:


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