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Julie Barrett is a freelance writer and photographer based in Plano, TX.

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Thomas Hawk has made a second post concerning his expulsion from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Fortunately, he decided to moderate some of his language in the title of the first post.

Since Hawk is a prominent blogger, it didn't take long for this to get picked up on a number of web sites. Predictably, a firestorm has erupted with people taking sides and name-calling and (apparently) threats against the museum employee in question. Someone has been posting the guy's home address. This is wrong.

Was Hawk a little fast on the trigger with his response? Perhaps he should have given it at least overnight. Perhaps he should have contacted the museum. This is what I would have done. But I am not him.

What this has done, for better or for worse, is subject someone to harassment. Some people seem to take a vigilante approach to righting perceived wrongs online. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with speaking out about injustice, I certainly don't condone taking the extra step of tracking down the apparent wrongdoer and subjecting him or her to public humiliation. We quit using stocks in the town square long ago.

If it does turn out the employee overstepped his bounds, then it's up to the museum to deal with it, and it's up to individual patrons to decide whether or not they want to continue to visit or support the museum.

And on that note, Hawk and some other bloggers state that they have since contacted the museum and have had no response. I can certainly understand if the museum has asked the employee not to speak out until they have a statement. Regardless of whether or not he was justified in his actions, any statement me makes on his own might inadvertantly fuel the fire. However, this happened Friday and it's now (checks calendar) Tuesday.

I'm very anxious to hear the other side of this story.

One reason I'm so concerned is that I'll be doing some shooting in public spaces this weekend. What will I do if I get confronted? For starters, I'll have a copy of The Photographer's Right in my bag. I'm generally not a very confrontational person, but I'll try my best to stand up for my right to take pictures from public property. I'll take names, but I won't kick a** because getting detained is absolutely no fun.

Much to do today, but I'll update should the museum issue a response.

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Filed under: Photography            
8/12/2008 1:23:42 PM
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