That was the first thought I had.
As you may know, a few trolls tweeted some horrible crap about Schilling’s daughter — including some pretty graphic rape threats — after he publicly congratulated her for getting a softball scholarship. Where most of us would have thrown up our hands at the injustices of the world and lied to everyone that we were finally getting off social media, Schilling found out everything he could about these people and posted their information on his blog. One dude was suspended from school and another was fired from his job. Oh, and their names are now all over every website on Earth, their lives effectively ruined for the immediate future. So to recap, two internet trolls faced consequences for their actions because one man finally had enough and leveled appropriate justice. Curt Schilling is Batman.
I paused and waited for the world to slow clap.
Yet, it didn’t really happen — at least, not totally. On top of the glacier of major media affirmations of “great job, Curt Schilling,” I kept falling into cracks of dissension. A website here, an opinion there. Even my own brother, who I would describe as a capital “G” good person found fault in Curt Schilling’s actions. “He should know that this is what happens on Twitter,” is what he told me. “Accept it and move on.” Some people saw this as Curt Schilling punching down — a kind of bullying, even — I guess because he’s Curt Schilling, and they are a couple of nobodies.
Of course, Curt Schilling is a legendary prick — and I think that’s feeding some of this sentiment — but can’t we separate the man from the action for just a moment? “It takes a dick to fuck an asshole” as they say. What are we saying about these trolls if we’re not acknowledging their responsibility in this? The condescension to believe that these people are bereft of standard morality while rich, famous Curt Schilling has faculties they don’t possess is offensive on its own. I get that Schilling has opportunities that these guys don’t. I get that when he punches back, those punches will land harder because of his status in this life. That does not forgive the initial action. It does not change the reality that two humans of free will talked about raping his daughter on Twitter. If you are pondering a “free speech” argument here, remember that these guys ARE free to say whatever they want. They are not in jail. But their bosses are also free to fire their asses. “Free speech” is not code for “no consequences.”
I think we all get this. I don’t mean to help build the straw man here. And, don’t mistake me, I don’t think there should be some vigilante internet police squad. In almost every case, trolls should be ignored. I wrote this not because I believe that most people are siding with two hateful men from New Jersey. Of course, I know that is a very small minority. I wrote this to say we are custodians of the world around us. I agree that Curt Schilling should have expected some shitty responses to his innocuous tweet, but that doesn’t mean he has to sit back and take it.
Faulting him for his initial tweet about his daughter is the internet equivalent of faulting a guy who was mugged for walking down the wrong street. Just because there is a kind of status quo with trolls and thieves, it doesn’t mean we should just ignore them and act like they are blameless, as if they’re wind-up toys of hate. They are more than that, and we owe them the respect of consequences. While it’s fashionable to act the contrarian, we should — at its basest — recognize the difference between good and bad. To say “What did you expect?” is to ignore the initial truth, to throw up your hands in defeat, and devalue the world around you. It’s one thing to understand certain natures; it’s quite another to accept them as normal.
Now excuse me, I have some YouTube commenters to research..
Image via YouTube