Warning: Some of the images in this post are not safe for work.
Twitter is an open forum for anyone who wants to tweet their mind. That's great. I partake in a big way. But when I get tweets-- daily, hourly, sometimes piling on one after the other-- that are abusive, insulting, viciously demeaning, hostile, and sometimes violent, then it's time to take action.
Twitter sure doesn't. I know that for a fact, because I've tried over and over again to convince them that in some cases, it stops being free speech and starts feeling like assault.
[NOTE: This post is not about cyber bullies, although they, too, are abusive; I've been harassed and smeared for years by one "progressive" who many of you became aware of and have since avoided. This is about extremist trolls, who also happen to bully.]
I regularly hear from right wing extremists, tea partiers, and total nutcases (that's not hyperbole, there are some very sick people out there). When they're civil, I simply ignore or block them, and even debate them once in awhile. And yes, I admit to succumbing to occasional lapses of playing Whack a Troll just to share their ignorance with my followers, using as much snarky mockitude as I can muster up.
But then there are those who pop in repeatedly to suggest various activities that they want me to engage in-- with my own body or theirs-- and apply colorful words like c**t and suck my c**k, simply because they've read my tweets and don't agree with me. I don't know these people nor am I familiar with their accounts, but they get some kind of perverse pleasure out of following my threads and entering my stream with slurs, attacks, and irrational tirades.
Almost without exception, these trolls oppose me politically, and that's fine. But the intense hatred spewed by many of them is disruptive, highly offensive, and completely out of line.
There is a particularly rabid one who should be in jail or in a padded cell-- again, no hyperbole. If I were to post screen grabs of his avatars, messages, and profile photos, you'd literally want to gag. My own husband couldn't get through them. Unfortunately, catching sight of them is unavoidable when they're in my stream or when I go to block and report.
Imagine the most frantically vile, graphic images depicting blatant racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny, bigotry, and self-loathing. They include explicit close-up photos of defecation and the most hard-core XXX porn you can imagine, abominable references, every kind of debasement of women and young men, degrading photos of celebrities and our president and first lady, you name it.
And the crude, twisted tweets he sends me match the vulgar visuals. He has also opened accounts using my likeness (taken from my Twitter account), as well as those of other high-profile liberals like Rachel Maddow, Lizz Winstead, John Fugelsang, Bill Maher, and Rosie O'Donnell, among others.
In short, he is an obsessed, deranged, seething, hostile, psychologically impotent (and likely, physically) conservative coward who consistently targets progressives, mostly women. Here are semi-cleaned up, edited grabs of two of his tamer suspended accounts. Trust me when I say, they get much worse than these:
This is one reason I stay anonymous. It started when a stalker came to close, sending me a Google map of my neighborhood, so that was that.
This person has been suspended well over 500 times. I've reported him to Twitter well over 100 times, and finally contacted my local authorities as well as the FBI more than once. But because he didn't threaten my life, they did nothing. As I type this, he's added at least three more Twitter accounts that I'm aware of.
I've endured this for years, literally. Because of this, I felt it was time to put out a call to action. Perhaps if enough of us demand more oversight from Twitter, especially those of us who are sick to death of being barraged with disgustingly offensive messages and photos, then maybe Twitter will take notice and do something.
It's unimaginable that they can't devise a better system to rid Twitter of such filth.
By the way, when I tried to fill out one of their complaint forms, I didn't have a link to the offending tweet, so the form wouldn't go through. I didn't have a link because I blocked him, and the account was immediately suspended so the tweet was no longer accessible. So I'm snail mailing them, and I'm including about two dozen graphic screen shots of 93 of the suspended profiles I've captured.
Here is the tweet:
"I'd like to take a 12 in figurine of a smiling G W. Bush and ram it up your stinking communist ass."
Please share this post and contact Twitter. It's worth a shot to at least try to turn things around for once. I'm fed up with having to so much as glance at the malignancies that come my way.
Twitter contact information:
1355 Market St, Suite 900
San Francisco, CA 94103
And to Twitter users, some general contact info, not that it will do much good:
To file a ticket, go here.
To report an abusive or offensive user, go here.
UPDATE: Here is a sample letter sent by one of my favorite commenters:
1355 Market St., Suite 900
San Francisco CA 94103
Attn: Dick Costolo, CEO
I’ve become more and more alarmed by the threatening, harassing tweets bombarding people like GottaLaff and urge you to take them seriously. One man who sends one tweet after another threatening her, even sending her a map of her neighborhood, forced her to resort to using a pseudonym on Twitter and he still doesn’t stop.
Spam is bad enough but when one is verbally bashed and/or threatened it is not to Twitter’s benefit and such tweets should not be ignored. Just reporting or blocking them isn’t sufficient to stop their abuse; they simply open a new account under a different name - as you know.
Surely Twitter can trace an account back to an IP address and demand that they cease such dangerous behavior. I understand that tweets can be sent from IP addresses that are used by many people (at cafes, for instance) but there is such a thing as product liability. I’m urging you to hold the owners of such IP addresses responsible for the damage their users do. Even bar owners who serve people after they are drunk are held responsible for the damage their customers do.
I’ve enjoyed Twitter for a few years and want to continue to do so but such threatening behavior makes a pleasant experience completely abhorrent and there’s a limit to the amount of such behavior I, and others, will accept.
Please develop a policy to identify & ban such people from the Twitter feed.
Rapes in the military have been getting much more attention and seeing more and more daylight lately. A lot of that has to do with the efforts of two women senators, Senators Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Claire McCaskill of Missouri. It's not just the horrific tragedies of the act itself, it's the aftermath. And in too many cases, the result is suicide. So perhaps it's proper to say that one act of violence is really responsible for two.
Huffpo continues to run a periodic series of articles under the heading of Invisible Casualties, in which they shine a spotlight on suicide-prevention efforts within the military. One in particular caught my attention in an eye-opening way. Perhaps this the story or the outcome that surprised me most.
It's the story of what I thought was a rather unusual sexual assault but as it turns out, it's more common than you'd think.
Now the particulars of this tragic tale don't end with the assault, nor with the conviction. It's the aftermath of Jeremiah Arbogast's ordeal.
According to this HUFFPO story:
Men accounted for only about 12 percent of reported military sexual assault cases in fiscal year 2012. But more men than women are sexually assaulted each year in the military, given that men make up some 85 percent of service members, notes Michael Matthews, a close friend of Arbogast. Matthews' own experience as a veteran and victim of rape served as the catalyst for "Justice Denied," a documentary about male military sexual assault survivors.
In 2001, Arborgast was drugged and raped. He reported the crime committed by his staff sergeant. There was a trial and the officer was meted out military justice.
The staff sergeant was convicted by court martial in 2002, given merely a "bad conduct" discharge from the Marines. But Arbogast's ordeal went on for seven more years of severe depression, nightmares and insomnia. He had trouble concentrating; his mind would wander back to the rape. He swung abruptly from rage to numbness. He got divorced. Then got remarried. He drank. Nothing worked.
Jeremiah Arbogast wearing his Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.
In 2009, Arbogast aimed a gun "right dead in the chest, where my heart would be, where my pain was." He missed and became partially paralyzed.
And so his life continued, but as a paraplegic. It's as if his traumatic past wasn't enough.
This man, just like the many other men AND women who have braved and overcome their sexual assaults, are to be commended.
"I've been through life and death," he said. "There is gonna come a time in your life when you have to say enough is enough. You're letting that perpetrator who assaulted you rent your life for free. You're becoming a slave to what they've done to you."
Others may see his experience as a reason to want to give up. But he says it's the reason to keep living. "It's all the tragedy and the triumph between where I was and where I am today."
Bravo to you all, soldiers and protectors of our freedoms.
We face a military funding shutdown within days because of the lack of patriotism by the tea party. And there's a particularly important need to say thanks to the men and women of the military.
Lance Corporal Jeremiah Arbogast, U.S. Marine Corps, needs some help. And he's not too proud to ask for it. Here's the link to Operation Help First Response.