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But you can monitor the types of offenses and where they occurred in Second Life by accessing its community incident report chronicling the 25 most recent infractions and resulting penalties. 28, 2009, five of the 25 infractions concerned "indecency: broadly offensive content or conduct"; three, sexual harassment; and two, intolerance.

Most penalties included warnings with four one-day suspensions and one three-day suspension.

Tom Beell, a journalism professor at Iowa State, asked me about Second Life, knowing I had researched and written about it. In 30 years in academe, I have encountered homophobia in an inappropriate joke or offhand remark about lesbians, gays or transsexuals.

In researching the phenomenon, I sought viewpoints from directors of information technology and women’s studies at Big XII and other peer institutions.

My research assistant Sam Berbano and I spent two months working with our Institutional Review Board, seeking approval to post our survey online.

Second Life advocates often note that avatar assault is easily avoided; you can teleport away, they say. Walking away from hate speech on campus doesn't mean damage was circumvented or an epithet excusable or that charges cannot be filed against a person making slurs.

Linden Lab recommends muting voice during verbal assaults. Why should virtual reality be different when users assume liability for what happens there? Verbal assaults are just that, no matter where they happen.