Internet Social Justice Mob Goes Batshit on Activist, Has No Sense of Irony

Illustration for article titled Internet Social Justice Mob Goes Batshit on Activist, Has No Sense of Irony

Have you ever said something sort of dumb and immature on the internet? When it was brought to your attention, did you own up to it, acknowledge that your saying it was wrong, apologize for the offense and pain it caused, and immediately explain how you've learned from the experience and will make sure it won't happen again? For sex positive educator and internet denizen Laci Green, that very series of events was followed by a deluge of harassment, defamatory gang ups, public humiliation, and, ultimately, death threats — and all from people who were supposedly allies. The world is a rainbow of assholes.

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Green first found herself In Internet Trouble when she received a question from a reader 5 days ago. It read,

Hi Laci. Why do you use the word "tranny" in your video about Haters from 2009? (The one talking about Miley Cyrus, Fred, and Chris Crocker). You really shouldn't be using that word as a cis girl and it's really disappointing for the people who look up to you.

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Green didn't have to respond, but she did, because she seems like an open-minded, good person who doesn't want to alienate people. She wrote,

Probably because I was 18 and ignorant. You are totally right and I sincerely apologize for my mistake. Before I educated myself about trans issues I had not the slightest inkling of how the word is used to dehumanize nor its place in the cycle of violence against transfolk. Now I have seen people hurt by it and seen it used as a nasty slur. Words have power, and "tranny" is not a word for anybody but transfolk themselves to use because only they can reclaim it. If I knew that was in a video, it would have been long long ago removed. Consider it banished forever.

That should put an end to that, right? Ahahaha no. This is the internet. Discussions end when the biggest jerk involved decides they do.

After Green issued her apology, Tumblr basically exploded with calls for her to shut up that went from a trickle to the roaring, raging river of vitriol that, from the looks of it, was the result of a hyper-sensitive pissing contest. It seems resentment toward Green had been dammed up for awhile in that community and was just waiting to be set free — the fact that Green's an atheist, and in the past has made comments on how Islam and Mormonism perpetuate sexism and have led to personal strife for her and her family (Green's father is from Iran and his family is Muslim, her mother is Mormon) have led to charges of Islamophobia. Green's also white, a biological female who presents as a feminine woman, able-bodied, and slender, which led to charges of her being ableist, transphobic, ignorant of the strife of people of other races, and an all-around idiot dummy jerk. Also, she's a woman, and being a lady is sort of like being born with a permanent "BE A DICK TO ME" sign affixed to you. Posts about Green's "white fairy vagina" and not wanting to "defend the oppressor" popped up all over Tumblr.

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And now we're at the part of this internet harassment saga where everyone acts like an embarrassing cartoon for awhile. After the Green fiasco started going viral and everyone got themselves whipped up to a nice, frothy state, Green started receiving email. Lots of email. Some of it contained death threats. One message contained a picture of her apartment building and came with text that called her a "stupid transphobic cunt" and told her that they knew where she'd live and that they'd smash her face. Neil Gaiman and John Green lept to Green's defense, which was met with bristling by other people who claim that Laci Green is white and nonwhite people get harassed all the time and no one makes a big deal out of it, so therefore they don't support Laci Green. Someone brought a folding chair into the ring! Everyone weighed in! Clusterfuck city!

Green's fans seem to think, according to The Daily Dot, that the backlash originated in the Social Justice section of Tumblr, but today, it seems like most people involved in the discussion, including those who are uncomfortable with Green's internet presence, think that death threats are whack.

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This is far from the first time that a group of allegedly peace-loving left wing equality nerds decided to show their ugly side and gang up on another, more prominent person in the digital realm. One well-known and respected educator and writer received between 1,500 and 2,000 emails after offending what we can only assume is a similar contingent. The Angry Internet Gang even started a petition to get the activist fired. Digital bullying goes meatspace.

In the meantime, Laci Green has gone underground, to re-emerge at a time to be determined, when everyone's chosen another thing to be mad about. Mission accomplished, jerks.

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[The Daily Dot]

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DISCUSSION

I've seen POC bloggers (many of whom get arbitrarily labeled "social justice bloggers" simply because they talk about the racism they experience on their personal blogs) get all kinds of harassment. People will make it a point to single these bloggers out. create entirely new blogs designed to send them racist messages when the blogger blocks them. They get harassed, threatened, stalked with no support or aid from the tumblr staff or other tumblr users not in their close circle of friends, year-round. Some get pictures of their homes and their friends' and family's homes sent to them with threats of physical and sexual violence attached. And keep in mind we aren't talking about bloggers who are engaging in some kind of activism. Many of these will just be personal blogs of people of color.

There is a radical feminist blogger who has made numerous transphobic comments and when people who are trans* comment and call her out for making often eliminationist statements about trans people, she finds out their personal information and then e-mails it to their employers or family. Trying to purposely out them as trans to people who may not know. In some cases it has actually led to some trans* people on the site being kicked out of their homes and needing a place to stay. This person has been reported numerous times and they still have their blog up.

There are bloggers bring attention to this behavior regularly to Tumblr staff and there is no concerted effort from Neil Gaiman and John Green to talk about how unfair it is. Jezebel isn't penning any pieces on that. People scoff and make jokes about how she's getting hate because she's a a cis straight, able-bodied white lady, but the lesson really does seem to be that you need to be a popular white woman blogger if you wanted people to care about you being harassed, threatened and stalked, and that's really just a microcosm of the crap we see daily all over the place. It's always time to rally, come together and build solidarity when people like Laci Green is in need, that's when all the arguments about how everyone's human and we should all treat each other nicely start to come out, but for anyone else it's like pulling teeth to even get noticed.

Laci Green dealt with this shit for less than a week. The stuff I mentioned has been going on for months, but I guess it didn't happen to the right type of people to get noticed, right? And if any positive changes do result from this, I can almost guarantee it won't be for the benefit of those queer and POC bloggers who get shit on now.