Seriously, I have quite a bit of respect for former Phillie and World Series winning former RedSox pitcher Curt Schilling. Talk about good sportsmanship.
Because he took on cyberbullies to defend the honor of his precious daughter.
It started innocently enough. He sent a tweet out to congratulate his daughter on where she was going to college.
Even if he is a public figure he should be allowed to do that, right?
Apparently not, and soon it was raining cyberbully trolls on Twitter.
There were a lot more than this and some were kids, but a lot were adults including a DJ somewhere and some part time person who worked for the NY Yankees. So Curt took on cyberbullies and outed them to the world.
As you all who read my blog know, I was cyberbullied over a period of months last year . I knew exactly who was doing it , and much like Curt I kept a record of it. This was done to me via Facebook. Not many people “liked” the page and I found out after the page was removed that my friends reported the page daily to Facebook for months as being vile and cyberbullying.
I had the main cyberbully, the author of the page, and then there was a person who shared the posts and obviously fed them information. I considered them a bully too.
Then there was the handful of people out there who would chime in. Not one of them knew me, had ever had a conversation with me, had ever met me socially. They knew nothing about me. They didn’t know the cyberbullies. They didn’t like some of what I wrote and some cases, and that was the justification for their behavior.
Around 20 or 22 men and women, some who are members of the Chester County community and them participating with a cyberbullying effort is kind of astounding, yet they did it. They just decided to pile on in that mob mentality that any kind of bullying often takes on. A few of these people even have school age children.
And again, they didn’t know me, they have still never met me, they have never ever had a conversation with me, and they had nothing to judge me on other then they didn’t like some of the things I had written over the years. It sounds crazy and it is crazy. But it happened and it’s true.
Shortly before Christmas, the page disappeared. It was a wonderful Christmas gift and I have never publicly thank my friends (but I am now) who worked so hard to get that page removed. You see Facebook, doesn’t take cyber bullying particularly seriously when it is happening to adults , and I had gotten to the point where I was tuning it out but occasionally saving screenshots as evidence. (I was advised to do that by law-enforcement. )
Now I’m sure my critics are saying “I can’t believe she is making this all about her ” but I am not. I merely sharing my personal experience as it applies to what I am writing about. And unfortunately for me, I can now say I have personal life experience with cyberbullying. And similarly to what Curt Schilling writes about, it’s not too difficult to figure out who it is exactly who is bullying you. And it’s astounding that people think it’s okay that these things are done to you. Or that you won’t discover who it is exactly. What is even more astounding is contemplating how people who used to be part of your life in a loving and supportive manner actually do these things, let alone total strangers. A thin line between love and hate and all that.
As I said before, as an adult, you often have the ability to have better coping mechanisms then the kids who experience cyberbullying , but it doesn’t mean anyone should experience it. When it happens to our kids, the cyberbullying is often just part and parcel of other real-time in-your-face bullying that kids experience.
What Curt Schilling has done is huge. He used his celebrity for good here. He is to be commended. Because of him an even brighter light now shines on cyberbullying and he has given courage and fortitude to those being bullied; through his actions and his position he has shown people how wrong this is. I also applaud him for doing this as a father for his child. That is love.
Now it would be terrific it if other celebrities and sports figures would follow suit and just spearhead a grassroots nationwide campaign to declare war on #cyberbullying. For those who are doing the bullying out there, save your retort. Opinion is one thing, cyberbullying is something else entirely.
And it doesn’t just happen to kids. It happened to adults and not much is done to combat adult on adult cyberbullying.
Before I link up Curt Schilling’s blog post, here is some other coverage on this:
I thank God every day that Facebook and Twitter, instagram, vine, Youtube, all of it, did not exist when I went to High School. I can’t imagine the dumb stuff I’d have been caught saying and doing. If you are a dad this is something you well know already, if you are a dad with a daughter this is likely to get your blood going. If you are a boy, or young man, or husband, and you haven’t experienced children yet, or haven’t had a daughter, it’s next to impossible for you to understand. My daughter, my one and only daughter, has worked her ass off playing sports the past 9-10 years. She’s loved it, and I’ve loved being able to both watch, and coach along the way. Last week we were told she’d been accepted to college and will begin playing softball there next year. Clearly an incredibly proud day. And of course, like any dad in the modern world I said so. Now I’ve been using computers since 1981. I was a professional baseball player for 22 years. I played 10+ years in Philadelphia. I played 5 in Boston. I shared a locker room with well over a thousand teammates and I played and lived at school a year before doing so. That’s all to say I am absolutely aware of social media and how it works. As someone who’s said about 2.34 billion things he shouldn’t have, I get it. ….tweets with the word rape, bloody underwear and pretty much every other vulgar and defiling word you could likely fathom began to follow. Now let me emphasize again. I was a jock my whole life. I played sports my whole life. Baseball since I was 5 until I retired at 41. I know clubhouses. I lived in a dorm. I get it. Guys will be guys. Guys will say dumb crap, often. But I can’t ever remember, drunk, in a clubhouse, with best friends, with anyone, ever speaking like this to someone…I understand this……I have a nasty habit of talking, a lot, about anything anyone asks me and totally unconcerned about giving you my opinion. You will never question where I stand, right or wrong agree or disagree on anything….The amount of vitriol I’ve heard is not an issue. I am sure I’ll hear more. But I have to ask, is this even remotely ok? In ANY world? At ANY time? Worse yet? No less than 7 of the clowns who sent vile or worse tweets are athletes playing college sports. I knew every name and school, sport and position, of every one of them in less than an hour. The ones that didn’t play sports were just as easy to locate.
If only childhood and girlhood was as simple and idyllic as the photo above depicts.
A friend of mine and I were speaking yesterday of a pint sized terrorist in one of her daughters’ classes at school. This is a kid, who as an elementary school student decides that when she wants her friends to come over, she (as in the child) is the one who emails and texts the other child’s parents. As in she decides and initiates without going to her parents and saying “mom can Annabelle come over and play?” And no matter how often the parents are asked to be the ones to connect since it could be considered wildly inappropriate for an adult to make plans with a 10 or 11 year old they aren’t related to…it never happens.
This child is also a bit of a bully. When she goes to birthday parties of other children, the parties become about her and not the birthday kid of honor. This kid has this drive to be leader of the pack, but not in a positive way.
But this is mild compared to often what other kids experience. People often immediately think of boys when it comes to younger and middle school age bullying, but the girls are often worse.
A woman in a parenting group posted about the heartbreaking situation her daughter is in. The girl is either 10 or 11 and finally in a pool of tears broke down to her mother to tell her what was going on in school. This girl is being teased, bullied, ignored, and ostracized all at one time. She tries to eat with other kids her age and play at recess and they tease her, laugh at her, whisper about her right in front of her. She is so tormented by some of these kids that for months she has not only been eating all by herself, but she takes recess in the library. Why? Because in the library she can escape into a book to get away from these kids.
The worst part of this is the teacher knows there is a problem and has been aware there is a problem for a very long time.
Someone wisely said to her “with girls at this age, the Queen Bee mob mentality is really difficult. I hope the situation improves. As a parent, it is heartbreaking.”
I agree. It is. As parents we want to protect our kids and slay their dragons, but it’s so darn hard when the dragons are part of their peer group, isn’t it?
This mother is going to the school and going to the guidance counselor. I think she should add principal to the mix and if that doesn’t work, the school board.
Bullying in all forms is in my opinion even more pervasive than it was when we were all growing up. A lot of that has to do with social media and the political correctness police. No one wants to upset the little bullies and their parents. And then there is the age-old dilemma of the parents of the little bullies are often bullies themselves and/or might write lovely supportive checks to the school and so on.
But where do we draw the line? All schools have some form of anti-bullying policies for cyber issues and real time, but getting them to keep policies updated and to even act on them often takes almost an act of Congress doesn’t it?
This particular child being bullied is outgoing and pleasant by nature. It’s like some mean girls are jealous and want to break her spirit because of it, but when you are that age, it just hurts. There is no adult capability of looking at the situation and assessing it for what it is. That is our job.
But the thing about bullying in our schools today, sometimes the only solution is to switch schools. And is that fair to the child? Sometimes the only alternative is to give your child a fresh start and they deserve as much, don’t they?
The reality is a lot of schools do not hold children who bully or their parents accountable for anything. They are afraid to a lot of the time and they also don’t really look at why the kid is bullying. I have noticed that a lot of the kids who bully might very well just be acting out because of whatever is going on in their homes. Schools talk a good game, they all have a purported “policy” in place, but when push comes to shove not much happens.
If changing schools ends up being a viable alternative I don’t think any of us should discourage a parent from seeking what is best for their child in their home. However, not everyone has that luxury, so why shouldn’t we as parents do whatever we have to do to encourage our schools, to demand our schools do better? After all whether private, parochial, charter, or public we are paying for our kids’ education.
Now people will argue against moving a kid to a different school. They will say without learning appropriate assertiveness skills, these problems are likely to follow from one school to the next. BUT these are kids and well they often have to grow up too quickly as it is, so if we are teaching them the emotional equivalent of defensive driving at a young age, what are we doing to the magic of childhood?
And on a personal level, the mean girls I encountered between grades six and eight generally speaking grew up to be quite miserable adult women. I actually feel sorry for them now, but as an adult it’s a lot easier ignoring them isn’t it?
Sixth grade was a pivotal year for me. It was the first time I experienced mean girls. It was the year that the meanest of the mean girls in my class at a private day school decided to take a shine to me and among other things chipped my front tooth (the tooth is still chipped today).
My mother went down on that school like a Valkyrie. I remember that in and of itself gave me some empowerment feeling as a girl – that someone would care enough about me to go to bat for me like that. The school took it all seriously to a point and I was able to get through the rest of the year intact. But I never, ever forgot it.
The summer between sixth and seventh grades my parents moved us from the city to suburbia. To the Main Line and the purportedly fabulous Lower Merion School District. Seventh through ninth grades were varying degrees of hell for any girl who wasn’t a cookie cutter image of certain cliques of girls. It was the emotional equivalent of the wild, wild west. I for the most part kept my head down and my mouth shut.
I found a core group of friends, many of whom I am still connected to today. I internalized a lot of what I probably should have told my parents in retrospect. But fortunately for me, my parents decided to move my sister and I to private school.
Private school had it’s own squadron of mean girls and bullies. They were just more well spoken and better pedigreed in some cases. But for the most part they left me alone. And in high school you have a few more coping skills if you are lucky. I didn’t have enough apparent weaknesses for the high school mean girls to practice their perverse social Darwinism on me. But others were not so fortunate. We had girls with varying eating disorders and other issues, and even an attempted suicide. And in those days there wasn’t any counseling for heavy issues like attempted suicide, it just was.
Some people I went to high school with were left with such a bad taste in their mouths that as 50 years old they still don’t attend any reunion activities ever. They refuse. Part of the reason I got involved with high school reunions was to give those who often did not feel included in those days a place to feel included today and recognized for the cool men and women they became. Bullying can leave a mark for decades and a lot of people do not realize that.
The thing that always amuses me about mean girls and bullies is how they translate into adulthood. I look at a lot of them with pity and sadness because where the rest of us have grown, a lot of them are still adult versions of the tween and teen mean girls/bullies that they were. And their behavior patterns are often just adult versions of what they were when they were growing up. Some of them have clawed their way into marriages to wealthy men that gave them stature and plenty of expendable income and stuff, but when you see them they don’t look happy; they don’t act happy. I think that is sad. And then there are the ones whose own children are more ill behaved than they were, or even more sadly, become police headlines in local newspapers. That is a particularly cruel form of Karma.
But the nice thing about being a grown up is when you see these mean girl and bully people again as adults you realize how sad they are and you turn and walk away feeling blessed for who you are and for not being like them then, now, or ever. That is a very powerful feeling. When I finally realized how much luckier and better off I was then a lot of them on so many levels, it was very freeing. In retrospect, I wish I had had the emotional maturity to grasp that years earlier than I did.
We are responsible for the future of our children and life is a balancing act. We want to teach our kids to stand on their own two feet and stick up for themselves but we also want for them to be happy. For girls teen and tween years can be extraordinarily difficult, boys too. And while we are trying to instill the best ethics and values and standards into our children as much as humanly possible we have to let them grow on their own.
But I am sorry, kids that are mean and destructive need to be held accountable, and their parents as well. No one wants to punish or reprimand a child, it is simply not fun on any level. But we are the adults and we have to teach the difference between right and wrong.
And as to the teaching, that is where our schools come in. They need to be active partners in this. They need to teach kids bullying is wrong and how to be kind. They can’t just do lip service with half-assed anti-bullying policies.
Here are some great ideas I read from a stay at home mom who also happens to be a therapist:
1) make sure she knows it’s not her fault and it’s common. It can happen to anyone. (There’s a website called “It Gets Better” (I believe) where celebrities & regular successful adults talk about being bullied in the past. ) I also think it’s important she knows that it will come to an end and that she has many great experiences to look forward to. (My parents used to say – “These are the best years of your life” about high school – well intentioned but not helpful, also not true in my case.
2) tell the guidance counselor (or someone at the school she trusts and that you trust to keep an eye on it). If she’s seemed fine to you, it’s likely none of the adults at school can even see it.
3) try to help her find somewhere she can go at lunch. (Perhaps with a teacher or volunteering to help a teacher or something (and I would add that both you and she should be proud that she was resourceful enough to think of going to the library).
4) see if she wants to talk to a therapist. Therapy can be really helpful. A lot of smart, sensitive, introspective kids are afraid to talk to their parents about these issues because they don’t want their parents to be sad.
5) Maybe have her start a new activity separate from school (a clean slate if you will) where she can meet some new people and get some evidence that she is, in fact, likeable worthy of friendship.
If we as parents take consistent stands against bullying behavior in as positive a way as possible I think we can make a difference. Also, when you are dealing with bullying and mean girls don’t assume that the parents of these kids will be your ally here or even behave in an adult manner. Often they are part of the problem.
Please pay it forward and encourage anti-bullying campaigns and programs and policies no matter where your kids are in school. Check out Signe Whitson and others.
From blue dresses and White House scandals before there was the television show Scandal, to a line of failed (?) purses (see article in New York Magazine from a few years back), to social activist, Monica Lewinsky has spent years being an unfortunate household name stemming from poor choices made literally as a kid while a White House intern.
She opened up about the blue dress years and the aftermath of being a fallen star in the Clinton universe in the June 2014 edition of Vanity Fair. It was her article and it was fairly well written and interesting, I must admit.
Like millions of others at the time I remember thinking “What was she thinking and why can’t this politician keep his pants zipped?” (Face it, Clinton might look like the grand papa bear of Democrat politics today, but the man has had his issues with the ladies à la Pennsylvania’s own Ed Rendell, right?)
I don’t have the moral code that is able to justify cheating, or justify why a very bright young woman couldn’t stay away from a married man who happened to be the President of the United States, except I am guessing that was exactly why she couldn’t stay away. However, after the first few weeks of hearing about her and that, I felt as if it was enough already. There were after all, far bigger issues going on in the Clinton administration, weren’t there?
So now Monica is what? About 40 years old give or take? And she made a whopper of a mistake and has spent almost 20 years paying for it.
Yesterday she spoke in Philadelphia on the subject of cyber bullying.
I have to give her props for stepping out onto the stage at the Forbes Under 30 Summit. That took guts, all things considered. I am sure she was amply compensated for her time but her topic was of personal interest to me. Her topic was cyber bullying and that is also apparently now her personal cause.
I listened to the replays of her speech and could totally understand when she said “It feels like a punch in the gut.” After all, cyber bullying = abuse.
That isn’t the first time I have heard a similar description applied to being cyber bullied. Of course those who perform the cyber bullying always blame their victims. Much like abusers who tell their victims it’s their own fault they had to beat them.
I make no bones about the fact that I have perverse admirers, otherwise known as cyber bullies. In part, when you become a writer or a blogger it sort of comes with the territory. It shouldn’t, but it does. Only my main bully doesn’t bully me because I am some random blogger she doesn’t like, for her it’s personal. She used to know me, and used to be in my life.
It is odd to think about this late middle aged woman from several states away being so angry and so hateful because well she was someone very supportive of me when a few years ago now, my ex abandoned me and his old dying dog quite literally and then a year or so after that when I was diagnosed with breast cancer and isn’t that strange? How can someone go from being caring to being pathologically angry and hateful when there was no fighting or anything like that? This person chose to leave my life so what was I supposed to do? It was her choice and I tried to respect it. It’s like she had this weird unrequited crush on me and I am being punished for ignoring that, and her. It’s truly bizarre.
It came as a shock when I realized I not only had cyber bullies, but they had been essentially stalking my life. I am not a public figure. I am just an ordinary woman living my life. Yes, I write, and I am not just a blogger given my published bylines here and there (albeit local and regional), but I am just a regular person. I write more about my recipes and gardening these days than anything else. I share my photography, as well. Apparently and ironically, it is very upsetting to people when you are happy. And apparently it’s all my fault they have to bully me because I am happy in my life and they are miserable and stuck. Bullies like other forms of abusers have a limited sense of personal accountability, have you noticed?
Since this cyber bullying and cyber stalking began shortly before my 50th birthday I have been fascinated by the people who have supported the efforts. People I have never known or spoken to. And why do they cheer on negative and spurious activity that there are laws against? I guess because at some point in time I wrote something they didn’t agree with and isn’t that so bizarre coming from “adults”?
But as far as adults go, I have seen a lot of strange behavior. Especially recently. Take for example parents of teenagers who not only support their teen’s scorched earth bullying behavior, but in essence bully other parents themselves and how crazy is that? People who are parents and who you know love their children but who can’t see right from wrong on their own?
People spend so much time hating and why put all that negativity out there? Its not so much a Zen or spiritual thought as it is that I just don’t get people of any age who wake up with the intent to be mean or malicious. Life is a precious gift and having survived breast cancer I know full well we are all on borrowed time on this earth so why not try to be better human beings, not worse?
Cyber bullying is as pervasive and invasive as physical bullying. And there is a certain disconnect from reality with it on the part of the bullies. These bullies seem to think in their minds their behaviors are justified, and that they are invincible, which of course couldn’t be farther from the truth. They also only have power if you allow them to have power because the truth of it is, bullies are cowards. They only accept their version of reality as the ultimate reality and get totally tweaked if you mess with their perception of how it should all be. With mine I marvel at how literally crazy and unbalanced they are and pity them at the same time. This hatred is all they have to do all day, and that is truly and incredibly sad.
Cyber bullying is something, however, that not enough people take seriously even if it is illegal. So if Monica Lewinsky wishes to use her unfortunate celebrity to shine a light down the dark rabbit hole of bullying, I am all for it. After all, bullying happens most often to the less obvious in this world: ordinary people both adult and kids.
(CNN) — Monica Lewinsky told an audience in Philadelphia on Monday that her new mission in life was to end cyberbullying. Her speech — and her goal — come as the former White House intern steps into the public eye after years of trying to live privately.
“Having survived myself, what I want to do now is help other victims of the shame game survive, too,” she told the audience at Forbes’ 30 Under 30 summit. “I want to put my suffering to good use and give purpose to my past.”
Lewinsky, who as an intern in 1995 had an affair with President Bill Clinton, said she was “patient zero” of online harassment.
“There was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram back then,” she said. “But there were gossip, news and entertainment websites replete with comment sections and emails which could be forwarded. Of course, it was all done on the excruciatingly slow dial up. Yet around the world this story went. A viral phenomenon that, you could argue, was the first moment of truly ‘social media’.”
Monica Lewinsky has broken a decade-long silence to announce her campaign to end cyberbullying and today’s toxic culture of internet shaming.
In her first ever public address, the former mistress of President Bill Clinton revealed her plan to launch a “cultural revolution” against the sort of online harassment she experienced firsthand in the late 1990s…..Lewinsky described her life since the 1998 sex scandal that resulted in Clinton’s impeachment by the House of Representative and subsequent acquittal by the Senate as one marred by a deep sense of shame and even suicidal thoughts….She intends to share her story with victims of cyberbullying and online harassment. There are many of them: almost 54% of young Facebook users describe being bullied or harassed online.
The problem with small towns is among other things, gossip. Can that be said to be a huge issue in West Vincent Township?
As an auslander observing how these small Chester County Hamlets like West Vincent work, it can often be described as with fear and loathing can’t it? He said, she said with an unhealthy dose of incestuous politics, right?
So many I know would never live in West Vincent because of the convenient and batting of the eye inexplicable crap that happens to ordinary people who aren’t even doing anything half the time, right?
Want to know what I have noticed going through West Vincent of late? The number of properties for sale on every road and dirt lane imaginable. It is a small place and it seems that in it and abutting it, homes are going up for sale. Some of them incredibly beautiful, slice of heaven worthy properties. Can that all be because of the economy? Or is it deeper, darker, more sinister? Could part of what is wrong also have to do with fears of unecessary development? (see letter here called 2February2013Bville ) Or taxes? Or how tax monies are spent? Township services?
But part and parcel of what is wrong with West Vincent is fear and loathing and whisper down the lane, correct? Political retribution? Persecution of innocents?
Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and socio-economic levels. Real Christian people abhor bullying.
So West Vincent officials of course you know nothing about this, right? But can it be said you might never lift a finger if you knew who was doing this?
So West Vincent, here is the 411: Do you want to be on my radar again? Do you want to be under the microscope of media?
We realize you are still obsessed and live in fear of Chickens and mobs of Birchrunville People but let’s grow up, shall we? Not every one of your residents is going to agree with you. You are not gods. You were put there by the people and can be removed by the people, yes? You are not immune to ethics inquiries and state investigations, either, are you? Is that what you are trying to avoid?
The times they are a changing and it is time for twisted Mayberry to get with the program. Persecution and gossip are so Salem Witch Trials and February 1692 right?
And here is an idea to lay on the general public: accountability. If you know who leaves persecution missives around town in this country hamlet, feel freee to speak up. God don’t like ugly after all.
A final thought to file under God don’t like ugly and accountability are some flyers I have held onto, and in some cases for months. People have been sending them to me for months. They show up in places like the US Post Office in a couple of locations. I believe Birchrunville and maybe Chester Springs.
It is of course damn stupid to harass private citizens via the US Postal Service – and FYI it doesn’t matter if you are posting on post office property or sending through the mail it can and all should be given to US Postal Inspectors, shouldn’t it? They throw stuff like that through crime labs for prints and whatnot – sometimes state labs, but often Federal labs and would you want YOUR finger prints or DNA on them? And this isn’t CSI, they actually do this stuff. And if my name was on one of those flyers being left in post offices I certainly would contact the postal inspectors.
I have redacted the names but it is all obviously political in West Vincent because the citizen targets include one person who ran for supervisor and someone else was an honest Republican Committeeman. And the type face and phrasing is similar enough to give anyone with a brain pause that it is the same author or authoress as the notice above. But again, anyone with a brain wouldn’t do something this stupid because eventually it all comes out. And these people are doing this because they are obsessed with Chickenman. As in who the writer Chickenman is.
And what are they going to “prosecute” Chickenman for anyway? Telling the truth? (In that case Viva La Chicken, right?)Having First Amendment Rights? Exercising a very American tradition of having a pen name? (I will also note they tried this a few years ago in Delaware County with a blogger called Delco Tom Paine or something close to that. He was never exposed, never prosecuted, and much of what he wrote about came to pass.)
Bottom line: government corruption is like mold until it sees the light of day. And shame on whomever for persecuting private citizens for having two brain cells to rub together. And if these flyers end up being discovered as being created by West Vincent elected officials, appointed officials or with the knowledge of either well that might be a problem for a lot of people, huh?
West Vincent, it is 2013. Knock it off. The more you try to slide stuff by the more people seem to come forward and ask questions. Trying to silence, bully, harass, initimidate, and harrangue residents is not working in your favor so why not try a little honesty instead of croneyism?
And now for the ultimate in Paranoia. (And oh the irony they are ankle biting Jim Gerlach, eh? I bet the Congressman loves being up on post office walls next to the FBI most wanted, huh?) And at the end of the day is Chickenman silent? I still get mailings, don’t all of you?
If I was an elected or appointed or connected person in West Vincent I sure wouldn’t want to be caught along with whomever is putting harassing flyers up in US Post offices around West Vincent, would you? LOL this is some kind of truth for West Vincent isn’t it? And my final thing on this post is to post the list of “contributors” to two blogs no one reads (they are possibly vegan and at the very least chicken-free LOL):
I am a West Vincent resident and I set up this blog in 2009 to invite my neighbors to share information and enter a discussion about our township, what’s working and what’s not. Please continue to share your thoughts.
This is a place to post signed messages, no hidden authors, no unsubstantiated allegations. Please speak your piece and share your opinion. We ask posters and commenters to identify themselves; we would like this to be a discussion forum for West Vincent Township residents only. Thank you.
Twisted Mayberry….there is no substitute. You people would eat your young if it meant having your own way, don’t you all think so?
Yesterday was the 225th anniversary of the United States Constitution. Truly, the bible of our freedoms was signed on September 17, 1787. Yesterday a friend of mine had to defend her honor as a free woman of the United States of America.
Why is it Tredyffrin feels it is above the very principles upon which this country was founded? How ironic is that considering as a municipality they hold within their borders part of one of the most sacred sites of the American Revolution and of our history? You know, Valley Forge?
What truths do we really hold to be self-evident? In Tredyffrin, quite frankly, I shudder to think.
I am astounded at the Tredyffrin Board of Supervisors President Michelle Kichline. She danced around the subject of Vice President of the Board of Supervisors John P. DiBuonaventuro turning Tredyffrin’s taxpayer-funded website into TMZ.com. And I am still somewhat astounded that exiting Tredyffrin Township Manager Mimi Gleason went along with this whole enchilada, including a personal attack by an elected official on Pattye Benson who gives so much to her community. And as a blogger, I have been in Pattye’s position. I have been threatened, as have other bloggers I know. And time and again I ask for what? Having an opinion that runs contrary to the party line of some petty local government or selective government officials? Was People’s Republic of Tredyffrin Supervisor DiBuonaventuro channelling his inner Corbett? (Remember when Corbett went after bloggers before becoming governor? I wrote about that topic in *shock and horrors* Main Line Media News and it is reprinted below.)
I was thinking today about my balloon ride on 9/11, and how I was moved to tears by not only what the day represents (and it has extra meaning to me as someone who by happenstance walked out of the shopping concourse in the World Trade Center in 1993 just as the garage blew up), but moved by the beautiful green field dotted with a couple hundred first responders from all over Chester County who came together on 9/11. Then I thought about what my friend Pattye had to bravely do last night. She stood up and disclosed to all (see YouTube) that because of Lettergate she received a very odd phone call last week – from the departing Township Manager and Chief of Police. What was the point of that? Intimidation? I can’t help but wonder if I will also become a target because I have blogged about this? (This is not my first rodeo, and when horrible things like this happen it seems again that ordinary citizens have hit upon subjects government doesn’t want aired in public, right?)
When you think of what our founding fathers fought and died for, and what all those people (including first responders) died for on 9/11, I am so truly and deeply saddened and angered that Tredyffrin Township seems to think this is all o.k. and don’t you feel the same?
It’s not. Today, we as bloggers in the South Eastern PA blogosphere applaud Pattye Benson for rising above and speaking her piece in a dignified and forthright manner. She behaved far better than any in government (either elected official or township employee) deserve. Tredyffrin owes her, Main Line Media News, and anyone who exercises their First Amendment Rights an apology.
And as a municipality which is Republican dominated,
they are not exactly forwarding the cause of their party or their party’s political belief system. (As a Republican I am ashamed and embarrassed for them) I am so over bullying by government. (IMHO it doesn’t just happen in Tredyffrin either) I mean think about it people! Pattye Benson was in fact cyber-bullied by government officials and township officials. Cyber-bullied, the thing they worry about in schools and here it is adults in power not exactly practicing what they preach, right?
….The regular Board of Supervisor’s meeting ended with supervisor and citizen new matters. Chairman Michelle Kichline read a statement from the Board of Supervisors concerning the use of the township website for John DiBuonaventuro’s letter to the citizens. Although a personal attack on a private citizen, Kichline stood by the decision to post his letter on township letterhead on the website. She did say that the board will look into developing a policy for the use of the website going forward. As the private citizen who was the target of DiBuonaventuro’s venomous attack, Kichline and the Board of Supervisors response was far from satisfactory.
Following Kichline’s statement on the Suzy Pratowski matter and the use of the township website for a supervisor’s personal letter, Andrea Felkins, a former School Board director and longtime resident , presented a lengthy statement in opposition. Felkins was absolute in her conviction against DiBuonaventuro’s use of the township website for his personal attack on me and of Community Matters…Below is the transcript of my statement from last night’s September 17 Board of Supervisors meeting:
Pattye Benson Personal Statement September 17, 2012
Members of the Board of Supervisors and citizens of Tredyffrin Township – I had not intended to speak tonight, preferring to listen to other’s voices. But something happened this past Friday, that has shaken me to my very core. At approximately 9:40 AM on Friday, September 14, I received a joint phone call from township manager Mimi Gleason and Police Superintendent Tony Giaimo that has forever changed who I am. In life’s journey, this is my watershed moment and a feeling that I will never forget.
Unable to shake how I was feeling, after 24 hours, I wrote the following email to Mimi Gleason and copied Michelle Kichline, chair of the Board of Supervisors.
Let me share that September 15 email with you.
Dear Ms. Gleason,
There are two reasons that I am writing this email (1) to state that as a citizen of Tredyffrin Township, I now feel threatened and harassed by our government and (2) to request that you never contact me again, unless it is with a written apology for your actions.
I have thought of little else since receiving your phone call yesterday, Friday, September 14. As a township resident, to be blindsided with a conference call from the township manager and the police superintendent was more than a little intimidating; I have to wonder how often you have taken a similar approach with other citizens in this community. The telephone conversation left me wondering exactly what was the purpose of the call and why did you involve Tony Giaimo except as a witness or possibly to record the phone conversation. Although there was no mention made of the call being recorded, Tony did state he was in his police vehicle, so am I to assume that the telephone conversation was recorded without my knowledge.
Between the historic house tour, the Paoli Blues Fest and personal health issues, I do not have the time or energy for your directives, missives or whatever else was the intention of your phone call or of your email dated September 7. On September 7, I emailed you the following simple question:
“Who is responsible for Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s letter on the township website? Was placing the letter on the website sanctioned by you, the township manager?”
The only response that my question required was a simple, yes or no, with the possible addition that the chair of the Board of Supervisors and the township solicitor had OK’d the letter for the township website. However, no, you decided on a different response, one that was not required, not needed and not necessary. Frankly, as a citizen and taxpayer in this township, your response was one that I believe you should never have sent. When I received your email, I made no response.
Your call yesterday revisited the opinion you stated in your September 7 email to me; again complaining that Community Matters contained misinformation and incorrect facts, specifically the assisted living project. However, never once in the conversation did you cite specifics as to what was incorrect. As a response to your complaints about the Suzy Pratowski matter, I stated that the Main Line Media News, TE Patch, Daily Local and the Philadelphia Inquirer had all written articles on the subject. I further stated that there was at least a week after the news articles appeared for the police department, the township or the Board of Supervisors to make a statement before I wrote anything on Community Matters. Residents were asking questions and no one seemed to be providing answers.
As a result of the situation, I did my own mini-investigation, speaking with District Attorney Tom Hogan, District Judge Tom Tartaglio, BOS Chair Michelle Kichline and Police Supt. Giaimo. After a thorough analysis, I presented my own summary statement on Community Matters. I clarified that John DiBuonaventuro was not the unidentified driver with Ms. Pratowski in the May 28 incident, as a photo in the newspapers may have implied. In my summary, I stated that DiBuonaventuro was interviewed by the police and that the police were satisfied that he was not in any way involved with the two police officers not appearing for the August 21 court date. I wrapped the summary up and tied a ribbon on it, stating that the two police officers missing the hearing was a human error, a mistake. I also thanked those involved (Hogan, Tartaglio, Kichline and Giaimo) for their help and used the words that I was ‘closing the chapter’. Little did I know, what was to happen … DiBuonaventuro’s letter, your involvement with the letter on the website, your September 7 email and most recently, your telephone call of September 14.
Feeling threatened by your phone call, I remarked at one point during the conversation that I should have an attorney on the call. I stated to you and Giaimo that as a resident of this township, I have rights, and as a citizen of the United States, I have rights, including 1st Amendment rights. I believe that our government does not have the right to harass and intimidate those citizens it serves to protect. I am not an attorney but I cannot imagine that your actions of yesterday (or your email) would be viewed favorably by the courts. Further, I cannot imagine that you would have considered making a similar phone call to Main Line Media News, TE Patch or the Philadelphia Inquirer nor would you have dare taken this approach with an attorney who might understand the legal implications of your actions far better than me.
Supt. Giaimo asked what I would like to see happen going forward – my response was a denouncement from the Board of Supervisors for the letter going on the website and an apology from the township manager. It should be noted that I quickly also stated that I did not expect either of those two things to happen.
It saddens me greatly that you were compelled to bring Tony into this matter. He and I have enjoyed a good working relationship over the last several years, including the blues festival and the house tour. Was your motive to damage my relationship with him, or was it to record the conversation? It is entirely unclear why you involved the police superintendent, except to further intimidate me.
In case you are not aware, your phone call was so upsetting, that I immediately called Michelle Kichline, chair of the Board of Supervisors to report the conversation. You suggested that I was ‘mistaken’ when I suggested that Ms. Kichline had not seen Mr. DiBuonaventuro’s letter before it was posted on the website. For the record, Ms. Kichline again confirmed that she had not seen the actual letter before it went on the website; I guess you are the one who is mistaken.
In closing, your intimidating actions have contributed to my feeling harassed and threatened by some in our local government. I ask that you not contact me again, unless it is with a written apology. For the record, I believe that John Petersen is also owed an apology from you, for the words, “so-called legal expert has no expertise …” contained in your Sept 7 email to me.
Sincerely, Pattye Benson
This is the end of my email to Ms. Gleason but I have a few closing remarks.
The great irony is that today is this country’s Constitution Day. Two hundred and twenty five years ago, on September 17, 1787, forty-two of the 55 delegates to the Constitutional Convention held their final meeting. Only one item of business occupied the agenda that day, to sign the Constitution of the United States of America. Our founding fathers fought and died for our freedom, and I am left wondering if what is going on in this township is what they would have intended.
In closing, I am but one person, but I believe that I represent a far greater community.
Can we question our government?
Do we dare to have an opinion?
I believe that ALL our voices matter.
There is nothing subjective about the First Amendment and any of our other inalienable rights.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness
Will Pennsylvanians soon be looking forward to a new slogan for the Commonwealth? How will “Welcome to the People’s Republic of Pennsylvania” roll off the tongue? I don’t think it will dance as nicely as “You’ve Got a Friend in Pennsylvania” somehow. Nor should it.
What has my wanton blogging soul all a-twitter (pardon the pun)? News which went viral across Pennsylvania as well as the country: Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett, upholder of truth, justice and the American way in Pennsylvania as attorney general, issued a grand-jury subpoena to Twitter to unmask a couple of anonymous bloggers who weren’t part of his fan club.
Yes, that’s what I said, “Huh?” Apparently these two bloggers are known on Twitter by the handles of @bfbarbie and @CasaBlancaPA and they have been criticizing Mr. Corbett. OK, well, it’s 140 characters or less, right? He’s a tough-guy politician, right? So why the thin skin? Surely Mr. Corbett has faced tougher criticism from opposing candidate Dan Onorato? In today’s world, who hasn’t criticized a politician? Over dinner, in the editorial page, at the grocery store, in a public meeting, on a blog, on some other form of social media? It’s an American tradition as old as this great nation for goodness’ sake!
This is so confoundingly perplexing on so many levels that this issue has even prompted a comment from Paul Alan Levy, a litigator with the Public Citizen Litigation Group. Mr. Levy commented in part on Mr. Corbett’s decision to sue the federal government to try to block the new health-care bill as being too invasive in citizens’ lives. Like Mr. Levy, I have to wonder: what is so different about this?
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution was written to protect things like free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press. It says literally:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
So how does this work with politicians again? Are we as human beings supposed to blindly follow where all lead? Are we only supposed to agree with politicians, never disagree? I’m sorry; did I fall asleep and wake up down the rabbit hole with Alice in Wonderland or something?
Is Tom Corbett the new Henry VIII of Pennsylvania? “Off with their heads” and all that? Instead of priest holes, will we all soon have blogger holes in our houses and an underground railroad to move bloggers from safe house to safe house to avoid the AG’s guards?
Are bloggers all now criminals and outlaws for expressing our opinions about elected officials and those seeking not only local but higher state and even federal-level office? If some of the most famous founding fathers were alive today would they be in jeopardy as well for scribbling broadsheets under pseudonyms? You know, like Benjamin Franklin or John Adams or Thomas Paine?
Seriously, what century are we living in? What’s next? Resurrection of the Scarlet Letter? Only this time it is a “B” for Blogger? Stocks? Pillories? Being paraded through the proverbial town square in chains?
This is a man who wants us to consider him for governor, right? So how many people across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania blog or use some form of social media to express themselves? And should elected officials use their office as a bully pulpit to squash all critics like bugs? What is it about politicians? You can write about them as long as it’s good news or they can control the content? That is what their publicists are for, I thought.
If the First Amendment rights of these bloggers were or are in peril, can it be considered that so could be the First Amendment rights of every American from coast to coast?
Given the now undeniable symbiotic relationship between the media and bloggers, one would hope the media would pay close attention to this story as it unfolds and at its conclusion. After all, the media get a lot of information from blogs and bloggers (“citizen journalists”), they can’t deny it, and so in theory if the First Amendment rights of bloggers are challenged thusly, the press is next.
Media reports indicate that by Friday, May 21, 2010, Mr. Corbett was just having a bad day and is pulling his subpoena. It is a good thing that Mr. Corbett has done the right thing, but it still gives all of us pause for thought, doesn’t it?
Pennsylvanians of all political persuasions indeed have a lot to think of come November 2010.
I guess in November 2012 and every election going forward until Tredyffrin residents have more fairly representative government people will have something to think about, huh? They can try to quell our voices, but like our votes, they are our own, are they not?
Today the blog is going national. As in I have chosen to write about something causing a serious dust-up nationally: the Facebook password controversy.
What am I speaking about? The news reports and ensuing discussion about employers in this country asking potential new hires for their e-mails and passwords to their Facebook accounts. Are they kidding us? Apparently not.
It’s become standard practice for employers and schools to peruse potential applicants’ Facebookprofiles. But in some cases, they are going even further: Some have demanded applicants hand over their passwords so they can view individual’s restricted profiles.
Justin Basset is just one of those individuals. Basset was finishing up a job interview, according to the Associated Press, when he was asked to hand over his Facebook login information after the interviewer couldn’t locate his profile on the site.
Others have reported similar situations, in which employers, potential employers, or colleges have asked for Facebook passwords so they can inspect people’s profiles.
Wow. Would they like to look in our underwear drawers too? (My bras are a little messy, yo.) This is an insane invasion of privacy, and it happens all the time. Take for example certain requirements under the Dodd-Frank Act that contain post-employment look-back provisions. It’s all very Big Brother, but the long and short of it is under this provision (and it’s in the Dodd-Frank Act) , employers and former employees are wed to each other for like five years. But what really isn’t in there is HOW this look-back is supposed to be accomplished is it? Seriously, if someone has left a company and doesn’t want to be found, how do you find them if they aren’t out there on the web with a LinkedIn page or whatever without violating their privacy?
So am I surprised by this Facebook thing? Nope. Would I comply with such a request? Nope. And neither should you. People try to overstep every day.
I did not do Facebook for years, and when I set up my page a couple of years ago, I decided I liked having privacy settings active. That, however, has chafed with people who know of me but don’t know me.
There is a group on the Main Line that a lot of my contemporaries refer to collectively as “The Mean Girls of Bala.” They aren’t all from Bala Cynwyd, but a lot of them are. In essence, if you are different from them in any way it is way too much for them to handle. I became aware of them through local politics. I am a Republican. The majority of them are Democrats. I am not the most conservative of the conservatives, and find myself for the most part, politically in the middle. You know, like the majority of people in this country? I am also fairly independent in my thinking. They can’t handle that.
Anyway, this crew can and does bully. Especially verbally. They are ironically, a collective of nobodies that you would pass in the grocery store without a pause. But they are mean. Take for example a couple of years ago, I wrote a letter to the editor about snow removal. Truthfully, it was about the lack of snow removal. They sprang into action in the comments several ad hominem attacks. And they did it all with pen names. They don’t like me, don’t like my opinion, yet they can’t roll up like big girls under their own names. Truthfully, as someone who has been a community activist, you learn to expect this. It’s all about quieting the voices that might shock and horrors make you think. They went so far this one time that people commented about the newspaper company allowing comments that most considered harassing and defamatory. And truthfully, they are a group that have been vile to others I know. (And adults wonder sometimes where kids learn about bullying?)
As a related aside, this is why, for example, I cheer on the residents of West Vincent fighting for better government – they are subjected to this garbage in their own community.
Whatever. I chose not to engage with this crew. A couple of centuries ago, they would have been the ones tying people up to burn at the stake as witches. So flash forward to a few months ago. I used to be on this community board on Facebook that is one of those “private” boards – as in only those in the group can see the content. I participate on a few of these boards, but I keep my Facebook privacy settings the same. What I did not realize is that if you have people blocked, they can’t see your comments.
The moderator of the board contacted me with a message forwarded from one of the Mean Girls:
We are both members of [redacted] Lower Merion Community group on facebook. I realized recently that I can’t see any of your comments or postings. Perhaps because your facebook account is somehow blocking me from seeing. As it is a community group and you are someone who clearly believes in the free exchange of ideas I wonder if you would be good enough to check your facebook settings and allow me to see your posts and comments in this group?
Of course what the sender did not realize when she forwarded the message is that she also forwarded other bits of conversation about me including this whole ludicrous thread about me “hiding posts” from them. So pardon me if as an adult, I can choose whom I interact with, right?
It was nice to know the privacy settings were working properly, however. I eventually chose to opt out of this group, partially because more of this crew kept complaining to the administrator that my privacy settings kept them away from me and my comments, and I found it slightly bothersome. Although the page administrator never asked me outright to change my privacy settings to accommodate these people, it was more than implied. I wasn’t comfortable with that, and found the obsessiveness of these people when it comes to me downright odd. Being on a page, even semi-private does not mean you should be obligated to change your privacy settings. The two are not mutually exclusive. I don’t care for them and they feel likewise, yet I am supposed to just open it all up for their comfort levels and in the end probably just grist for their gossip mills? I don’t think so.
After all, no matter, how openly you live your life, that is a matter of personal choice. If you choose to share things with people, that is one thing. Being bullied or compelled to do so is entirely another.