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:
Hi @Georgetown — someone on your MSFS board just told me he hopes I get sexually harassed or assaulted. Is this the kind of standard your university holds for your advisors? pic.twitter.com/O2CLUkYvcR
— Allie Beth Stuckey (@conservmillen) January 14, 2018
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.