I am not a fan of former Boston Red Sox player Curt Schilling. In fact, as a Yankee fan, he was the player I hated the most. But today, he has earned my enduring respect… not because of something he did as a baseball player or in his current career as a sportscaster. No. He has earned my respect because of something he did as a father.
For those of you who do not know Curt Schilling, he is an American baseball player, who, among other achievements, came to Boston and helped the Red Sox win a championship for the first time in a long time. And in doing so, he established himself as a loudmouth arch-villain for Yankee fans. He was a great baseball player, but he was also kind of a jerk. I despised him when he played.
Last week, he tweeted out a congratulatory note to his daughter who had earned an athletic scholarship to play softball in college. Proud papa. I can relate to and respect that. He did nothing out of the ordinary or wrong. He was simply bragging on his kid a little, something every parent has done and can understand.
But because of who Curt Schilling is, and because of the obscene tone social media can take in the 21st century, a bunch of people attacked this quote and tweeted some awful and threatening things about Schilling’s daughter. I won’t repeat any of them here, but suffice to say they were disgusting and should cost the authors any job or scholarship they currently enjoy. Offensive does not even begin to capture the nature of it.
So Schilling reacted. He reacted swiftly and aggressively. He maintains a blog, that historically I do NOT read, at a site called 38 Pitches. And he wrote a post about the conduct, he did quick internet searches to find the names of some of the tweeters, and he outed them, publicly. His post on the topic is here.
The reaction was swift and sweet. One tweeter lost his job. Another lost his leadership position within his fraternity. Another was suspended from school. In my opinion, the punishments should have been harsher, but the annoying First Amendment probably will get in the way of that.
My point here is two-fold, and a modest departure from our usual topics here at The Beacon Blog. First, if you are going to speak, don’t try to hide behind the technology or a screen name. Put your own name to it. Stop flexing your “twitter muscles” and stand up and say what you feel you need to say. The downside of social media is that too many people feel empowered to take anonymous shots at people, while hiding behind a screen name. Schilling taught us how easy it can be to figure out who you are. But regardless, be accountable for what you say. Don’t be a coward.
Second, and much more importantly, don’t give the vast majority of men who treat women with respect a bad name. We have an epidemic level of abusive language and behavior towards women. Yet while there is far too much of it, it is being perpetrated by a small percentage of men. The men I know and the men I have in my life treat their wives, girlfriends, mothers, and daughters with complete respect.
Kudos to Curt Schilling for tackling this head on. Let’s stop hiding behind social media when we want to try to say something terrible and stupid. And let’s eliminate the abusive language towards women that does nothing but perpetuate a culture of violence.
Photo by Aaron Frutman used under the following license.