The Twitter Incident

If you are a regular follower of my blog-type-thing (God, why would you do that to yourself?), then you may have noticed a few changes.  The first, would be the obvious redesign (I was using a 5 year-old theme).  The second would be that I am displaying my actual name, instead of the pseudonym I have been using since my last blog.  The decision to use my real name was agonizing for me, & may put me at great peril.  Before I explain why, there are a few key points you must know:

1.  My politics are generally a little to the left.

2.  I support responsible gun ownership.

3.  I have a difficult time keeping my mouth shut.

4.  I despise zealotry of any kind.

Okay, now that you know this about me, I can tell you about this Summer.

I had a Twitter account, with a few followers.  Nothing huge, but enough to have considerable discussions.  A group in my state was gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would require background checks to be conducted before permanent private party transfers of firearms.  That sounded reasonable enough to me, but since so many reasonable sounding laws become so completely unreasonable, & because there was such a vocal opposition to the measure, I thought I’d ask what the objections were.

And so I started off a reasonable discussion with one of the more intelligent sounding opponents of the measure.  And honestly, the objections he had did make some sense.  The draft was poorly worded, specifically being very vague.  He was concerned an anti-gun judge would interpret it poorly and basically take away the right to lend his friends and family his guns to shoot anywhere but state approved ranges.  Fair argument.

I countered that if the judge was anti-gun, that judge would still likely interpret that portion broadly enough to include private property or public lands approved for shooting or hunting, so as to not risk the entire law being thrown out as unconstitutional. Civil discussion so far.

I was pleased, as I was very interested in the perspective of the other side.

But then his friends joined in.

“This is just a first step to a gun registry, so they can know where to go when they want to confiscate our guns!” said one.

“The government doesn’t need a registry, all they need to do is look at your Twitter pics of you and your open carry buddies and find you that way.  Or they could just look at your NRA window stickers on your truck if they really wanted to,” I retorted.

“The government and Obama wants to take our guns!  The Bundy Ranch incident proved that armed Americans can still stand up to a tyrannical government!” another added.

“The Bundy Ranch incident proved that the government didn’t want a PR disaster the likes of Waco again.  The government isn’t scared of the little “militia”.  The killing of those people just wasn’t worth the land to seize.  They’ll wait until he dies and take it then.  If the government really wanted to win that fight, they could.  They’d declare this “militia” domestic terrorists and a drone would take them out before they could even lift their AR-15s.”

“Posse Comitatus.  The military can’t be used against civilians,” another piled on.

“The Patriot Act, essentially nullifies that in cases of terrorist activity and/or threats to National Security,” I responded.

And then it got ugly.

“Fucking lib-tards, love to hide behind their drones,” another one said.

I’d been baited.

At this point, I should have politely ended the conversation and agreed to disagree, but I didn’t.  I took the bait.  And I said…

“No.  If I killed you, I’d stab you, so I could look you in the eyes as your life bleeds out in front of me.”

What in the actual fuck did I just say?  I instantly knew I fucked up.

If you know Twitter, you know there is a retweet feature, and in that feature, there is a Quote feature, that allows you to edit the quote before retweeting the tweet.  And they did. “WHEN I KILL you, I’ll stab you, so I CAN look you in the eyes as your life bleeds out in front of me.”

That, plus a million hastags about gun rights was retweeted too, as if I’d said it.

Then a follow up tweet with that screenshot and the explanation of another example of a crazy anti-gun nut. And then came the death threats.  Asking what my mom (using her name, since we followed each other, wasn’t hard to figure out) would think, & my location (because I often tweeted pictures of the beautiful, iconic views around here).

And so I deactivated my Twitter for a few days.  When I reactivated, I kept the same followers, just changed my display name and profile picture. They were waiting for me.  They immediately noticed I was back, and the threats, complete with my real name started right back up again.

So I deactivated once more, but not before I fired one more shot (so to speak).

One of the more vocal gun zealots had his actual name on his Twitter.  So I read his tweets to establish where he lived.  Then I went to Facebook, and found a page that seemed to fit.  Same name, same place.  Belonging to certain groups.  I was fairly certain I had my twitter tough-guy.

And on his Facebook profile, a picture of his college aged son, along with the college he attended.  Shared publicly.

So I copied the picture, and sent out one final tweet, direct to the toughest of the tough guys with the picture, complete with their hastags.  It said, “I’m leaving now, but say hi to (son’s name) at (college name), unless I see him first.”  (I told you I couldn’t keep my mouth shut.)  Then I waited 12 hours for a response that never came.  I deactivated my Twitter for good, and tightened my privacy online everywhere.

But you can’t live in fear forever, even if it is in fear of armed zealots.

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Author: Josh Wrenn

Cancer survivor, wanna-be artist, musician, author, and all around good guy.

9 thoughts on “The Twitter Incident”

  1. Okay, I love Twitter. I am not a fan of Political Twitter or Sexy Twitter, and like to stay in Funny Twitter, with a bit of a peek into Art and Music Twitter.
    You absolutely cannot take the bait.
    Example: The other day, on my tweet that read, “My schizophrenic neighbor thinks I’m a movie star, so I’ve got that goin for me,” some @er came back with how I was mean and schizophrenia wasn’t funny and I thought for a long time about what to reply, and there was just no proper answer. Since I don’t think schizophrenia is funny, and I regularly deal with my neighbor’s delusions and partial nudity, and take him meals, and bake him treats, and do everything possible to be kind and helpful as I do with all my other neighbors, I must realize, she doesn’t know me. She has made an assumption about me that has nothing to do with anything regarding me. I never said it was funny. I was as flattered as I was disturbed — there’s nothing particularly funny about schizophrenia, but THAT WAS FUNNY.
    Also, I live here in my red state with racists and bigots galore, and lemme tell you, I’m separated from gun crazies by a slight margin. Like you, I respect the 2nd amendment, but not the typical mentality that accompanies it.

    Liked by 1 person

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