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This weekend, I tweeted this:

As a conservative millennial on the Internet, I’m no stranger to controversy. Every conservative take these days is seen as a “hot” take, so I’ve come to expect some kind of pushback on nearly everything I post. This tweet, however, was mild. I simply expressed the belief that #metoo – sexual harassment and assault – is a product of a broken world in need of much heftier redemption than can be offered by sheer legal reform.

A man, who has trolled me often, responded with this:

Wait, what? I thought. To this tweet? How was this insensitive? I’m taking this even more seriously than someone who only suggests the law needs to be changed. And, wait. Did he just say he hopes I get harassed, assaulted, or, worse – raped?! Just because he disagrees with me? Just because he doesn’t like what I have to say? Really?

This wasn’t the first time he’d sent me a rude tweet, but this, to me, was too far. I went to his profile. His bio read:

Seriously, Georgetown – this guy?  I took screen shots, then tweeted this:

Thinking he’d quickly see the gross error in his ways, I didn’t think it would turn into a big deal. I honestly didn’t think that much of it. But, the tweet began gaining ground. And when people started going after him, instead of backing up, he doubled down on his remark. (He has since deactivated his Twitter, so I can’t show you the tweets). He eventually deleted his tweet, insisting that’s not what he meant. But every apology he mustered was qualified with explanations of why I actually deserved his comment because of my “insensitivity” toward the #metoo moment, women, the LGBT community, immigrants, etc.

I asked him to provide me with examples of this so-called disrespect I’ve shown toward these groups. He refused, citing that Twitter wasn’t the place for that. Okay. Just for bullying girls, I guess. Got it.

And while it’s true I’ve criticized aspects of #metoo, I have always taken sexual abuse – and its victims – seriously.

He continued down this vein of self-justification, until it was clear this was a losing battle. Hell hath no fury like a Twitter army scorned. It was clear to him, presumably, that the more the tweet circulated, the more his position at Georgetown was at risk. He now had hundreds of Twitter users attacking him for his grotesque remarks.

Under siege, he apparently had a change of heart. His tweets were getting more apologetic and less defensive. At this point, I started to get a pit in my stomach. “Ugh – sure, this guy is a creep and a bully. But does he deserve these attacks? I don’t want to ruin his life,” I told my husband. I went back-and-forth about deleting the tweet, weighed down with a burden of guilt.

But I reminded myself that if he reaps consequences from this, it’s not me who’s responsible for it, it’s him. He wished – unprovoked – that I would get harassed or assaulted. That’s bad. Plus, he even has a pattern of saying disgusting things to conservative women:

Even so, I accepted Jeff’s apology that he sent publicly and in a private message, and I genuinely forgave him, but I didn’t take down the tweet.

Today, Georgetown released a statement, and it’s been confirmed to me that they asked him to resign from the board:

So, I guess I got what I wanted in the beginning, but I don’t feel good about it. In fact, I feel downright awful.

Sure, was what he said disgusting? Yes. And do disgusting actions have consequences? Yes. I have no doubt that he actually deserves what came to him. I just hate having any responsibility for it.

I’m battling now what I’m sure many Christians have battled before. On the one hand, calling out people for clearly inappropriate harassment is good and necessary: it prevents them from targeting someone else. On the other, where does grace come in?

Should I have just let it go? Should I never have sent the tweet out in the first place? Haven’t I said stupid stuff, too?

But… what if he’s actually a bad guy whose influence was negatively affecting not just the Georgetown board, but also the staff and the students there? Is this how a man, old enough to  be my dad, should talk to a young woman? Could I imagine my dad saying something like this? (Never in a million years.) With his history of crude comments about conservative women on the Internet, he certainly doesn’t seem like the upstanding gentleman I’m sure Georgetown would prefer their board members to be. Did I just help the university out?

But maybe he’s not a bad guy. Maybe he’s a good guy who had a bad day, and now part of his life is ruined.

I don’t know. I don’t know if I handled it the right way. When he initially made the comment and then subsequently defended himself, insisting that I deserved it, I felt no remorse. But to watch him crumble from the backlash and then see the real-life consequences unfold, I feel guilty.

I didn’t tweet the screen shots for attention. I have visibility as it is. I tweeted it because he was wrong.

But haven’t I been wrong before, too?

I don’t have a tidy way of wrapping this all up. He said a nasty remark and got punished for it, but I still don’t feel good. I guess I’m still learning the balance between justice and mercy. Here’s to continuing to try to figure it all out.

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13 comments

  1. Very well written young lady. 🙂
    Had you not brough it to the light of day, other liberals would have continued to snicker to each other about making disparaging remarks such as this.
    And, eventually, this behavior would have caught up with him. What I suppose I’m saying is “If not you, someone else would have forced him to pay… better sooner than later”. Let God judge him as to if he’s sincere. And let God judge you if you are intentionally being malicious, or if you are good in your heart.

    Buckle down for this pending “ice-pocalypse” in DFW!

  2. I don’t think you have anything to feel bad about. He’s reaping what he’s sown. We all have freedom of speech, but that doesn’t mean we’re free from the consequences of that speech. And unfortunately social media lets us record random thoughts without thinking through what we’re saying first. It’s a hard lesson, but words have consequences.

  3. Try this. Sort of sounds as if we need to call out the bad guys. Ezekiel 33:8-9…”When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. 9 Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”

    1. I don’t see any attempt to “warn the wicked” here, rather it seems more like snitching to his boss. Is this something “Jesus would do?”

  4. Don’t we all wish the world was a better place? I had to be the one to deliver consequences to someone I love this weekend – a young woman who had been living in my house. I was trying to help her until she got her GED and improved her situation. She lied to me repeatedly and was not repentant when confronted. I wish her the best, but I did not choose this for her. My wife is still a bit distraught about it.

  5. I wish to encourage you: you did nothing wrong, and I hope you don’t feel too badly about this for long. This was not your fault. What he said was wildly out of line, regardless of how quickly he may apologize for it (and he didn’t do it any too quickly, I would note). Could he have been having a bad day? Perhaps, but frankly, so what if he was? There are plenty of people who could serve on a University’s MSFS Board that don’t make sexual threats when they have a “bad day”. I’m certainly glad you don’t feel vindictive. It’s a sign of spiritual maturity to feel empathy for someone who threatens you.

  6. What you are currently feeling is called, “compassion.” When good people see others suffer – even when they do it to themselves – their natural (Godly) reaction is compassion. No one with a heart turned toward God likes to watch one of their brothers or sisters suffer; and too many times society tells us we MUST stop the suffering of others.

    The truth is he was an internet bully. You didn’t make him that way. You didn’t force him to become a keyboard warrior. And you certainly didn’t do anything to warrant his misogynist attack. You simply removed the veil.

    Could you have kept your mouth shut? Of course, but what about the next young woman who makes a statement he disagrees with and attacks… they may not be emotionally strong enough to overcome it with the grace and tenacity you have shown.

    The fact you are not standing triumphant over ashes of this man’s career is testament to the fact your heart is/was in the right place. You may have been instrumental in bringing this to the fore; but you are NOT responsible for him losing his position. (You may have even secretly wished it, but you didn’t cause it.) If anything, he’s a victim of the system (both institutionally and societally) he and others who think like him helped to create.

    Stay strong, Ms. Stuckey. “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” ~ Eph 6:13

  7. No,no, no, Allie.You have some very articulate commenters here, and I would like to chime in from the perspective of academia. Allie, attitude ‘bleeds’. If this guy has ANYTHING to do with students, any sort of ‘direct contact’ through teaching, research or advising, it was a TERRIBLE choice to put him in a position of influence. As a researcher myself, I can tell you that I am 100% positive that this is far, far from the first chance he has had to have social influence. Obviously, his social influence, his attitudes, are not pro-social, they are destructive, anti-woman and poisonous. He needed to be removed, and frankly, good for you for helping create a situation where his management team was left with no choice but to do so. You do far more good with this than you realize. Please understand that.

  8. Justice is law tempered with mercy/compassion/forgiveness. You are experiencing a common human state when the law has been followed, without Grace (aka mercy, compassion, forgiveness). This man suffered lawful reasonable consequences for his actions, but without compassion and acknowledgement of your forgiveness you do not seem to feel Justice was served. If that accurately describes your feelings, then consider the next time something like this happens try reaching out to the offender directly — it is possible to change minds and it is far more rewarding to have someone change their viewpoint than to have a viewpoint forced on them. it is especially tragic if the view point so forced actually is a position that person will get to eventually on their own, with a little bit of coaching/help. I (and I daresay most everyone) have struggled with these sorts of questions, and what I have found that works for me is to check my actions for motivation — if my proposed action is rooted in Love, or a derivative of Love (compassion, mercy, forgiveness), then it is likely to be a successful and Just action, and one which I will not regret. If the action is rooted in Fear or a derivative of Fear (hate, anger, revenge, etc) it is likely to be an action that I will regret at some point. This is because God is Love, and only Love. Fear has no place with God, and any action based on Fear is ultimately unjust. Because we do not always see the harm of such actions, we can fool ourselves into thinking differently, but the damage is always there. Good luck in your journey.

  9. I wanted to say how much I appreciated your thoughtfulness in this post. You have every right to defend yourself against unprovoked attacks, and I think you made the correct choice. But as you’ve also laid out, online resources and social media history are a insufficient way to get the measure of a person, and even a person who does bad things can do good things in equal measure, and can love or be loved by people in their life. I tend to be more of a moderate in my political leanings, and I’m sure we would disagree on some topics in that space, but I respect how you’ve brought a much needed serving of human decency and personal consideration into a political world that all too often builds around blanket opinions treated as fact, ad hominem attacks, and shouting disguised as debate. Keep up the great work!

  10. A note to all people taking glee in this man’s downfall, I offer up a cautionary tale. Full disclosure: I am an black American civil rights attorney, clergyman, and academic. I have been called racial slurs more time than I can remember. There are two in particular that stand out. Once in leaving a courtroom after a motion hearing and a second time during my graduate school days by a professor. In both cases, I consciously chose not to report the two individuals. In both cases, my reporting the incidents would have resulted in the destruction of these person’s careers and livelihood. Ironically, when I was invited back to give a commencement address at one of my alma maters, that epithet hurling professor met me as I was descending the stage. He said, “I really admired you for not taking me to the Dean all those years ago. Several other black students complained, but you never did. Why?” I explained to him that I have developed a deep and profound empathy for the human condition. It was obvious to me that something was broken in him that caused him to see me as less than. I never internalized this. His problem. Not mind. I knew he had a big family with lots of kids depending on his salary and in my mind, ruining his career meant ruining their lives. I also know personally from abuse suffered as a child that a loss of employment could psychologically destabilize anyone. I was also a hardcore supporter of free speech and whereas I did think he was a bigot, I felt racism was just another idea, albeit an ignorant one, to be debated in the academy. I relished in the opportunity to meet bigots on the battlefield of ideas and I saw him as no different. He was shocked by my response, but I have a personal ethic that I subscribe to that no one should ever be fired for their utterances. This includes bigots, even those that wish me physical harm. What I do not do is join them in their verbal abyss. I try, to the best of my ability to call them to higher ground. Beyond my die hard beliefs in free speech principles, I believe the worst thing we as a society can do with such people is to send them into exile. They must be educated and the only way that occurs is by keeping them in the fold. Some of my black friends and fellow civil rights colleagues have taken serious issue with me over this, but over the years I have learned that sending such people into exile can have disastrous consequences. Permanently exiling such people could actually inadvertently create the next wave of terrorism. Their hate will be further entrenched in their hearts. In any endeavor, when you take some one’s livelihood, you are literally actually taking their life away too. Having nothing to lose, they might actually decide choose to respond in kind. You don’t want their pain brought to your front door or your children’s or other family member’s front door. Never forget, you can be right, but you can be dead right too. Literally.

  11. A note to all people taking glee in this man’s downfall, I offer up a cautionary tale. Full disclosure: I am an black American civil rights attorney, clergyman, and academic. I agree with nothing this man tweeted. However, I have been called racial slurs more time than I can remember. There are two in particular that stand out. Once in leaving a courtroom after a motion hearing and a second time during my graduate school days by a professor. In both cases, I consciously chose not to report the two individuals. In both cases, my reporting the incidents would have resulted in the destruction of these person’s careers and livelihood. Ironically, when I was invited back to give a commencement address at one of my alma maters, that epithet hurling professor met me as I was descending the stage. He said, “I really admired you for not taking me to the Dean all those years ago. Several other black students complained, but you never did. Why?” I explained to him that I have developed a deep and profound empathy for the human condition. It was obvious to me that something was broken in him that caused him to see me as less than. I never internalized this. His problem. Not mind. I knew he had a big family with lots of kids depending on his salary and in my mind, ruining his career meant ruining their lives. I also know personally from abuse suffered as a child that a loss of employment could psychologically destabilize anyone. I was also a hardcore supporter of free speech and whereas I did think he was a bigot, I felt racism was just another idea, albeit an ignorant one, to be debated in the academy. I relished in the opportunity to meet bigots on the battlefield of ideas and I saw him as no different. He was shocked by my response, but I have a personal ethic that I subscribe to that no one should ever be fired for their utterances. This includes bigots, even those that wish me physical harm. What I do not do is join them in their verbal abyss. I try, to the best of my ability to call them to higher ground. Beyond my die hard beliefs in free speech principles, I believe the worst thing we as a society can do with such people is to send them into exile. They must be educated and the only way that occurs is by keeping them in the fold. Some of my black friends and fellow civil rights colleagues have taken serious issue with me over this, but over the years I have learned that sending such people into exile can have disastrous consequences. Permanently exiling such people could actually inadvertently create the next wave of terrorism. Their hate will be further entrenched in their hearts. In any endeavor, when you take some one’s livelihood, you are literally actually taking their life away too. Having nothing to lose, they might actually decide choose to respond in kind. When people have nothing left to lose, nothing else you can take away from them, physical violence is often a natural byproduct. The loss of a job and career can be an emotionally violent episode and because violence begets violence, the threat of retaliation and suicide become real possibilities. Just ask the family members of the victims of Vester Lee Flanagan. Google it. You don’t want their pain brought to your front door or your children’s or other family member’s front door. So before you seek rightful vengeance and make the conscious choice to campaign for another human being’s downfall, fully comprehend what that could mean for you and your loved ones. Never forget, you can be right, but you can be dead right too. Literally.

    Keep the good fight good people and may the universe shine on all of you and your families in 2018

  12. Feeling guilty is not the same as apologizing, which is what you should do. The man got fired. You got publicity. Further, while claiming to be a critic of the MeToo movement, you exploited its worst aspect: seeking revenge against men by damaging their careers.

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