Rebecca Watson is a well known atheist and self identified skeptic. She runs the Skepchick web site and is one of the hosts of the podcast "The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe."
She's also one of the most stalked atheists on the Internet. It only takes a little research to find innumerable incidents of people stalking or harassing her.
In an incident known in skeptic circles as "Elevatorgate" she made a casual comment about a guy hitting on her in an elevator at 4:00 in the morning. She described the behavior as a bit creepy. The resulting firestorm of internet drama involved well known atheists such as Richard Dawkins in an imaginary battle between men and women. One comment on a poorly executed pick-up attempt resulted in battle lines being drawn, talk of the atheist movement having a schism and general behavior more appropriate to a playground than the allegedly intellectual debates of people who claim to see no evidence of the existence of God. My brother Peter commented that it made them "sound like a bunch of bickering Presbyterians, getting ready to split off and form a new synod over how many angels could sit on the head of a pin."
Watson was a long time target of Dennis Markuze. That's not saying much though as he (Or the character he portrayed) attacked anyone who didn't support his belief that a has-bin 80's glam band predicted the September 11 attacks through a music video. Even I, who only commented on him when he started sending death threats to the Montreal police, received a few rude posts before his incarceration.
The most recent stalker is a lad who was very upset that Watson suggested that male circumcision wasn't as horrible as female circumcision. His reply was as over-the-top as anything from Dennis Markuze:
Remember, this reaction was over Watson saying the complete removal of all sensitive sexual organs on a woman, completely denying her any physical pleasure from marital relations, might be a bit worse than removing a flap of skin on a man that serves no function but to increase penile cancer rates.
Why is Watson such a lightning rod for demented people? She's not particularly famous outside her own circle. It's come to my attention that her Wikipedia entry has been deleted multiple times as the site didn't deem her "notable" enough to have an entry. She's certainly not that controversial among atheists and skeptics. I get death threats because I quote Bible verses to people who are flagrantly violating God's law. Watson is doing little more than saying what other skeptics are saying, usually with a bit more eloquence. Why is she getting so much more flack than her equally opinionated peers? You can't even blame sexual frustration and unrequited desires. While she's physically attractive, she's in a movement dominated by young people, the most attractive of whom tend to plaster their image across their blogs like wallpaper. Yes, she's very pretty, but so are all other other female atheists on skepchick.org.
Why is it I can't go more than a week or two without encountering another tale of some lunatic making a fool of himself by harassing Rebecca Watson with violent rhetoric? The lunatics cover a wide range of political and religious beliefs. She's as likely to be harassed by another atheist as by a religious zealot.
Is there anyone out there who can offer an explanation as to why?