If you know me or my work, you know that I am not new to social media blowups. But nothing could have prepared me for this shit.
To my regular readers – five friends and a few people who made a left turn when they first came here for organic baby food recommendations – welcome. If you have made your way here through trolling, thanks for the click cash!
For some background, please Google the years 2016-2020.
Now that you are caught up, it is Georgia election night – January 5, 2021. Through the incredibly hard work of dedicated organizers in a pandemic, Georgia elects two Democrats to the U.S. Senate – a black man and a Jewish man. They will be taking the place of an insider-stock-trading demon ghoul and a jar of mayonaise.
This means that after a four-year horror show led by an utter madman, the U.S. Government will now officially hold the majority in both houses of Congress as well as the White House.
It’s hard to describe how this feels using polite language.
We have witnessed and fought against years of environmental and public education rollbacks, terrifying threats to our healthcare, attacks on the rights of women and the LGBT community, the deterioration of our standing in the world, and the horrifying mismanagement and negligence around a pandemic that killed almost 400,000 people so far and was minimized so catastrophically that half our citizens still think it’s no big deal. We watched it become normalized for the President of the United States to state abject lies, dismantle the meaning of truth, and attack and dox private citizens.
We also watched the rules of precedent and decency be completely ignored. In the final days before the election, despite the refusal even hold hearings for a Supreme Court nomination in the last year of Obama’s term, a new right-wing Supreme Court justice was pushed through in the days after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. Women everywhere – particularly Jewish women – felt defeated and heartbroken and angry. But I would soon learn, once again, what it means to be a Jewish woman in America who speaks her mind.
In those moments as the Georgia Senate wins were being announced, I posted a tweet. I’d had a couple of drinks, sure, but I was simply stating what thousands of others were posting and millions of others were thinking. It was time to fight back:
“Well, I’M calling it. We got the fucking trifecta. Take no prisoners. Burn them to the ground. Kick that turtle shell straight to hell. Pack the courts. End the filibuster. Make DC and Puerto Rico and Guam all motherfucking states.”
I’m not sure if I have to qualify my intention here, but this was clearly written in a flood of emotion and incandescent rage that millions of people were feeling across the country. One tends to feel a boiling of emotions when their children haven’t been able to go to school for 10 months or hug their grandparents because of the handling of a pandemic that could have been squelched by common sense and public health policy. One tends to use profanity and scream at the top of their lungs.
“Burn them to the ground” likely wasn’t the best choice of words – certainly if I had known what would happen just a few hours later – but I think common sense dictates that I was being hyperbolic. I wasn’t suggesting burning people or property, but policy and practice and quite possibly, yes, a political party. We’d been trying to play fair for decades and it had gotten us absolutely nowhere. I wanted gloves off on the Senate Floor – not in the streets.
My Twitter followers are mostly like-minded folks. But my profile is public, so occasionally something gets picked up and riles up folks on the other side. This happened quickly, and as the nasty replies started to come rapid-fire, I deleted the tweet so I could enjoy my evening. When it continued, I did something I have never done and made my profile private. Then I went to sleep.
The next morning I woke up to a dozen voicemails, several texts, a bunch of emails, and a zillion pings on all my social media. What was happening?
The personal attorney for the President of the United States, a woman with millions of followers and the righthand of Rudy Giuliani, decided that I, a private citizen with no power, no office, no celebrity, and no protection was, in fact, the official voice of one of America’s two political parties and should be amplified as such:
A sitting U.S. Congresswoman and known QANON conspiracy theorist concurred that I was all powerful:
Reminder: I am just a regular person. I am a mom who does some communications work for local politicians, but really just a regular woman with no actual power beyond the blue-check mark I got for writing a book several years ago.
People with power doxxing private citizens for speaking their minds has become ubiquitous. And I’m not talking about holding accountable those who post racist, anti-Semitic, or homophobic comments – those actions should have consequences. I’m talking about death threats to people who thought they took on basic bureaucratic jobs to run county elections and tech company employees and journalists and sometimes just a woman with an opinion on the internet.
I don’t mind the comments that call me fat and ugly – and not just because I happen to know that I am extremely cute. I can deal with the heartbreaking antisemitism. It’s the death threats. It’s the we know where you live, you’re on the list, we know you have children kind of stuff that is absolutely chilling. And it makes you question whether you should ever speak up, speak out, fix your mouth to use colorful language when it is warranted knowing that is the only thing that will make a neo-nazi clutch their pearls.
It’s the days when you don’t know whether to call the FBI or laugh at the abject absurdity of being a news headline, of being picked up by right-wing media outlets and seen as authoritative in the same breath as sitting Congresswomen.
Really, who do you think I am?
The level of threat and vitriol I received for saying the same thing thousands of people were saying on social media was astounding and terrifying. It’s both personally appalling but also extremely alarming the level of importance these people have placed on the opinion of, again, a random woman with no power or notoriety. They could just have easily borrowed a tweet from literally any private citizen and blasted it out into the universe as the authority on the proposed direction of our nation.
I know that words have consequences. And I also know, that like everyone else, I don’t always choose precisely the right words at the right time (i.e. I did not know an insurrection was coming). But, essentially, when boiled down to its essence, I have been targetted by the far right for the suggestion that we end the filibuster and D.C. be considered for statehood. For that opinion, however loaded in its emotion and colorful language, I have been targeted as a mother, a woman, a Jew, a business owner, and a human just trying to get by in the middle of what constantly feels like an apocalypse.
I’m not the first to be targeted and I won’t be the last. The end of Trump’s presidency and his ban from Twitter might help, but the damage he has caused will likely span for generations. We’ve normalized conspiracy theories and selfishness and “alternative facts” and cruelty and divided our country with an irreparable chasm.
Nothing justifies the hate-fueled, anti-semitic statements being directed at me for comments I made in jest as a private citizen.
And I’m sure I don’t have to mention how fine it was to “grab them by the pussy,” while my use of the F-word is a call for attacks on my family and livelihood. In fact, as I scroll Twitter today (never said I wasn’t a glutton for punishment), I see elected politicians going on expletive-laden rants met with far less vitriol. (Likely because they are men.)
Since then, Trump has been banned from Twitter. Parler has been taken offline (for now.) But this will continue. From the depths of the 4chan boards to the comment sections to the newest and latest app for right-wing Neo-nazism disguised as “free speech.”
To be clear, I have also been targeted by the far left. As a vocal progressive, I refuse to “both sides” this, but I can’t disagree that there are a few powerful and deeply problematic leftists out there with cult followings who will also dox and sic a mob after a private citizen for, again, using profanity in a rage over the stakes of the Supreme Court.
We can’t undo the damage that has been done over the years of unaccountable raging harassment, particularly against women and people of color who choose to speak their mind – or, in some cases, simply take up space and exist. How do we toe the line between being bold and brave and outspoken and protecting ourselves from this kind of harm? The genie is out of the bottle and it’s a real motherfucker.