Friday marked the March for Life in Washington, D.C., which means there were tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people in the city marching for their pro-life views. Complete with grotesque signage.
On my way to work that morning, I encountered several of these marchers with their signs. Being pro-choice, a smart-ass and a complete and total Twitter addict, I decided to Tweet using their own hashtag.
My tweet read: "I'm all for freedom of speech but I hope it is cold and snowy and miserable for the #MarchforLife protest today."
Passive aggressive? Yes. A little mean? Maybe. But I really didn't think it was that bad. Especially since it was supposed to be (and actually was) cold and snowy and miserable. They can be angry about my tweet, but I can't control the weather... yet.
My tweet was quickly picked up by a conservative contributor to "Red State" who retweeted it and added her own two cents of "Classy" to it.
That amused me and after several hours passed with no more interactions from the group, I thought that would be it. That was it until the march ended and people started looking at their Twitter feeds.
I let things roll off me pretty easily and would not have even engaged with these people if I couldn't have handled it, but the attacks on me were downright bizarre.
There were of course people who called me a "baby killer" and sent pictures of aborted fetuses. There was also one who decided to detail the process of having an abortion to me.
Those, at least in the context of what was going on, made sense.
The ones that didn't were the, overwhelmingly male, group of people who called me "fat," "bitch," "pig," "ugly," etc. One told me that he "hoped [my] husband gets herpes from the secretary he is bangin." (Note: I am not married and I'm not sure why he wished ill on a hypothetical husband.)
The same "gentleman" (and I use that term very loosely) also asked me what was wrong with me, was I "too ugly o [sic] get banged bitch?"
His Twitter bio reads: "Blessed and grateful. Informed and Rational. Insightful and engaged in the issues of today. Recovering from corporate life and still finding my way. RUSH fan!"
I think he'd be wise to remove the "informed and rational" portion of that. He was neither in our interactions.
I'm not quite sure what my marital status or my sexual prowess or my weight had to do with anything, but the ad hominem attacks continued. The words bothered a couple of my male friends so much that they texted me to let me they thought I was awesome, among other things, which was so very sweet and I am lucky to have people like that in my life.
I was chatting with another friend during the height of the tweets and he mentioned what was going on with me was a reason why he sometimes hated the internet. That people could sit behind a screen anonymously and just be as ugly and rude as possible.
It's true. As misogynistic and horrible as these men were, I doubt they would have had the cajones to say any of these things to my face if we were to encounter each other on the street. Yet somehow, doing it online was perfectly acceptable. Safely behind a screen name and a screen. That's where they got their power.
Is that really where the level of discourse is in this country? We rely on personal attacks instead of discussing the issues? I was fully prepared to discuss or debate with someone why I feel the way I do about abortion rights, yet that was never part of the equation. My health was though...or rather, the fact that I must weight 300 lbs. and need to "eat a salad" did come up.
It is no wonder people are so fed up with the entire political process. No one, not our elected officials, not our pundits, not even us, can seem to have a civil conversation about the issues. It just turns into bullying.
And that's exactly what it is. Bullying. I have pretty thick skin (the Twitter guys would probably agree since I'm apparently morbidly obese) so these words didn't necessarily hurt, but they still stung.
I can't imagine how my 15-year-old self would have reacted, and I know there are people in that age bracket who are getting bullied in similar fashions, and that's awful.
Not much can be done to curb this online behavior from others unfortunately, and I just hope people who encounter this can try to laugh it off as I did.
Our level of discourse needs to change in our country. We need to learn (and this goes for me too) that we can disagree without being disagreeable.