The story is well-known now. Curt Schilling posted on Twitter to congratulate his daughter, Gabby, for pitching for her college team next year. There were some rude responses, and Schilling escalated the situation by pointing out that he had friends in the armed forces. The tweets then turned violent.
— Zerlina Maxwell (@ZerlinaMaxwell) March 5, 2015
No matter what Schilling’s behavior on Twitter has been in the past — the Chicago Tribune and NBCSports have both posted about some of Schilling’s previous antics — his daughter in no way deserved the treatment she received. Reading over the various accounts of Gabby Schilling’s reactions, the most chilling is what she apparently said to her own father. Curt Schilling spoke to ESPNW
“My daughter was devastated the first day this happened. She thought this was going to ruin her college and she was going to have to go to a different school, and one of the best days of her life got ruined.”
Schilling, as we all know now, tracked down the identity of at least two of the perpetrators, and posted their names on his blog.
“I wanted to let you internet sleuths have a go. Here are two guys that, as you can see, thought they were somehow funny and tough at the same time. These guys went to town. If you guys reading this that know how to find people on the ‘net want to have at it, please do.”
Here’s the part where the story gets sticky. Schilling’s blog indicates that he’d already been in contact with coaches, employers, anyone he’d been able to track down to let them know what was going on. Apologies were already coming in. People were getting fired.
Ask Zelda Williams about online abuse. Ask Curt Schilling about online abuse. This is a societal issue that it’s past time we address.
— Chris Warcraft (@ChrisWarcraft) March 5, 2015
This behavior has a name. It’s called doxing, and it’s generally seen when someone with a really big platform — like Schilling — uses that platform to send angry fans after someone else — like the excuses for humanity who think that “jokes” about raping someone’s daughter is funny. It’s also the tactic of groups like Gamergate.
Some people have also expressed frustration that women have been talking about the harassment they’ve faced online basically since there was a public internet, but it wasn’t until a six time All-Star pitcher, who also won the Roberto Clemente award in 2001, gets upset about the issue that the mainstream media gets upset. But don’t worry, Schilling tells ESPNW, he totally understands.
“Let me just say this, let’s not dwell on that one now. I get that you should have been heard before or somebody should have fought for your rights… but right now this is about going forward.
“Everybody knows you don’t talk to women like this. But clearly there is something out there telling them that they can get away with anything they want—and they can’t. You don’t have to be a celebrity and you don’t have to have money—you just have to make sure people know who they are.”
Except that not everyone knows that you don’t talk to women (or, some would argue, anyone) like this, and they can (and do get away with it, daily), and letting people know “who they are” often doesn’t make a difference. Curt Schilling is speaking from a place of incredible privilege and — unsurprisingly — doesn’t seem aware that the FBI doesn’t show up for everyone whose kid gets abused online.
It’s great that Gabby’s harassers were made visible and found that there are real world consequences for their actions. But before Curt Schilling names himself MVP for women’s rights, perhaps Twitter could look at creating a real system to report and address abusive users? That would at least be a start.
[Image from Jared Wickerham/Getty Images]