Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Better Things

I’m feeling a bit disjointed as far as posting this morning. I really, really want to post about Curt Schilling. I have a 4 page mess of a draft that I was working on yesterday and the day before, but time is short this morning (Fridays are early days for the Catbird) and I don’t trust myself to write off the cuff on this one. Short answer: what was said on Twitter about him and his daughter was vile, reprehensible stuff. The fact that at least one of the “men”–and yes, the quotation marks are there for a reason, these are not men–has been suspended by his school is a very good thing indeed, and because the internet is not quite as anonymous as we would like to think, I’m guessing suspensions, or firings, or somethings are coming for the others.

It’s the “somethings” that worry me in all this. Remember Stop The Goodreads Bullies? Remember Kathleen Hale? If Schilling were an author going on the offensive after bad reviews, we would be rising up to call him an a-hole. Same thing if Schilling were a Goodreads Reviewer of Some Renown riling up his Internet Army of Followers to go after an author who had the nerve to comment on a review. Right now, the tide of support is overwhelmingly in favor of Schilling, and it’s unlikely to change. The optics on this are simple: you’re either with Schilling, or you’re standing up for rape threats, rape culture or misogyny.

I am not standing up for rape threats, rape culture or misogyny.

Let me be absolutely  clear on this: what was said by those assholes on twitter is horrible. It was beyond low. It was stupid, and unfeeling and crass, hurtful, rude. Word cannot express how awful these things were. I do not support it, I do not condone it. I’m not sure if these “guys” did this because they hate Schilling that much, or they thought Schilling would think it was funny and turn out to be their best buds and buy them beers next time he’s in town, or if it’s like the internet equivalent of shanking Scott Peterson or Charles Manson. Whatever their rationale, it was stupid. Beyond stupid. And on a certain level, I think, “Yeah, well, they’ll get their comeuppance.”

What worries me, though, is this: Schilling says, “If I was a deranged, protective dad I could have been face to face with any of these people in less than 4 hours. I know every one of their names, their parents, where they go to school, what they do, what team they are on, their positions, stats, all of it. I had to do nothing to get ANY of that information because it’s all public.” And at the end of the blog, he posted two screen grabs from twitter, and says this: “These guys went to town. If any of you guys reading this that know how to find people on the ‘net want to have at it, please do.”

And that’s where I get off the bus.

Schilling’s a smart guy, and pretty savvy when it comes to social media. What does he think is going to happen here? He’s encouraging people to track down these low-lifes and…what? Out them to their schools and coaches? Fine, but where will it end? Will these guys get suspended from their teams? Put on probation? Kicked out of school? What if one or more of them gets jumped coming home from class and ends up in the hospital, or on the coroner’s slab?  Is that what he wants? The mentality that makes idiots want to take down Schilling on social media also works the other way–there will be plenty of people who want to feel important to a celebrity like Schilling, and there’s no telling what they’ll do. And that’s pretty damn scary.

I am not standing up for rape threats, rape culture or misogyny. But I’m also not with Schilling on this. Not completely, anyway.

*****
And now, it’s Friday. On Wednesday this week we had our first day in quite literally a month where the temperature went above freezing (literal literally, by the way; the last time it happened was February 4). And while it’s below zero again this morning, by weekend’s end we’re supposed to be back up again. So, music! Have a great weekend, everyone.

4 Responses

  1. The unfortunate side of social media is that it lets people be anonymous if they choose to and lets them hate on others with no repercussions. Misogyny is far more prevalent than people think – and not just from men. Middle class liberals (and I'm one) need to stop believing that the world is naturally an Oprah-like empathetic hug-fest. It's not. Patriarchal-misogynistic societies dominate the world, the rich, developed countries just force the proponents to go underground — except for the anonymity of social media, which allows them to let their true feelings out.

    I hadn't heard about Curt Shilling, so thanks for the info and the links. Have a great weekend!

  2. The sad thing is… Curt Shilling probably didn't HAVE to post that update at the end for someone to do something. His article would have been enough. It would be nice if he could have just ignored it, and he probably would have if it was all directed at him. It's hard when it's your kid, though. And maybe he feels a little guilty that he'd started it, just by posting her picture. It's a shame you can't even share good news without getting hit with trolls.

    The Internet–It's not safe out there.

  3. -Lexa–Indeed. And I think a big part of Schilling's point was that it's very easy to peel back the anonymity. If you look at the way so many of our devices, and apps, and social media all link together in ways we don't even understand, it becomes even easier to track someone down. That is a positive message from Schilling's post, though I doubt it will really impact people a whole lot. A hallmark of human behavior (especially among the young) is acting under the assumption "that won't happen to me".

    L.G. Very ugly. All around ugly, I'd say.

    Stacy–Yeah, there was a certain amount of macho chest-thumping in that post to begin with. I understand he's angry, and if it happened to my kids, I'd be angry, too. Would I go to those lengths? I'd like to think not (Also, I haven't quite built up enough of an Internet Army yet to be really effective!)

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