The New York Post reports that a New Jersey family of four was brutally slain in what may well be a retaliatory act for the father's on-line arguments with Muslims. The father, Hossam Armanious, an Egyptian Coptic Christian, regularly discussed religion on the internet in a Middle Eastern chat room. The heated debates earned Armanious death threats on the website paltalk.com.
The married father of two had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site, said a fellow Copt and store clerk who uses the chat room.
"You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you," was the threat, said the clerk, who was online at the time and saw the exchange.
Police are looking into the possibility that the threat is related to the quadruple homicide. They are looking at all angles, although the family has already ruled out robbery as the reason behind the killings. If, in fact, an on-line argument is the motive for this heinous crime, it will have a far-reaching effect on the blogosphere. In any event, it does give us all pause to reflect on the potential for crimes of passion related to on-line discussion, and while I do not feel that this incident should cause anyone to consider censorship in any fashion, it does underscore the need for responsibility that goes hand-in-hand with freedom of speech.
Ultrablog, coincidentally, discusses a satellite issue this morning: Internet stalking.
Let's be careful out there.