The Campaign Spot

No, Mocking the Obamacare Site Is Not ‘Cyber-Bullying’

On CNN a few moments ago, the brother of Toronto mayor Rob Ford, lamented that he and his brothers’ family, including his daughter, had endured mockery and insults because of the scandal of the mayor’s cocaine use and admitted “drunken stupor.”

It echoed a comment from earlier in the day, from the woman whose picture was featured on the Obamacare insurance-exchange website, who said she had been a victim of bullying:

The woman, identified only as Adriana by ABC News, is a Colombian citizen who lives in Maryland and is married to a U.S. citizen. The report said she is applying for U.S. citizenship.

After remaining anonymous for weeks, she said that she decided to speak out to confront people she described as bullies hiding behind their computer screens.

“They’re cyberbullying…I had to do this for my child. I’m here to stand up for myself,” Adriana told ABC News in a choked voice.

“I don’t know why people should hate me because it’s just a photo. I didn’t design the website,” she said.

Three quick points: 

1) Kids are off-limits to anyone decent. Unfortunately, the world has plenty of people who are not decent.

2) No one was actually making fun of Adriana of Maryland; no one knew who she was. The target of the mockery was the site and the geniuses who built it and assured us all that it would work fine. No one held her responsible for the site’s failure to work – well, no one sane, anyway. Nobody hates her.

3) There is nothing all that special or remarkable about people writing terrible things about you on the Internet.

As I wrote in a Morning Jolt a year or so back, if you express your views in public on a regular basis, chances are high that at some point you’ll get a death threat. Here are some of the folks who received death threats in a one-month span:

“I want to kill you” is the new “I disagree.”

I don’t want to be cynical when I hear someone complaining about getting death threats, because it’s almost always frightening and surreal to receive one. Normal people don’t express a desire to kill each other over mundane disputes. (They reserve it for appropriate occasions, such as an insult to their loved ones, someone cutting them off in traffic, or when a referee makes an awful call.) But the ubiquity of death threats, and the ever-lowering bar to trigger an expression of allegedly murderous rage in some numbskull with access to an e-mail account, have rapidly devalued them on the scale of the Weimar Republic’s Papiermark.

I increasingly find myself rolling my eyes when a public figure cites e-mails threatening as a claim to a particular status of victimhood, or ipso facto evidence of the extremism and rage of those who disagree with them. Your critics may indeed be extreme and enraged . . . but the rise of e-mail has permitted people to express a lot more extreme and enraged views. (I like Amelia Hamilton’s method of handling it all.)

Most Popular


The Democrats’ Disastrous CNN LGBT Town Hall

A few days after Donald Trump committed the worst foreign-policy blunder of his presidency by betraying America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria, former vice president Joe Biden, the elder statesman and co-frontrunner in the Democratic presidential primary, was on a national stage talking to CNN’s primetime ... Read More
Film & TV

Joker: An Honest Treatment of Madness

When I saw that the New York Times and The New Yorker had run columns berating the new Joker movie, criticizing it not simply on cinematic grounds but instead insisting that the film amounted to a clandestine defense of “whiteness” in an attempt to buttress the electoral aim of “Republicans” — this is a ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Fox News Anchor Shepard Smith Resigns

Fox News Channel's chief anchor, Shepard Smith, announced on air Friday that he would be resigning from his post after 23 years with the network. “This is my last newscast here,” said Smith. “Recently, I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News. After requesting that I stay, they obliged.” He ... Read More
White House

What Is Impeachment For?

W hat is impeachment for? Seems like a simple question. Constitutionally speaking, it also appears to have a simple answer: to cite and remove from power a president guilty of wrongdoing. Aye, there’s the rub. What sort of wrongdoing warrants removal from power? I’d wager that the flames of ... Read More

Beto Proposes to Oppress Church with State

Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign is within the margin of error of non-existence, but in his failure he has found a purpose: expressing the Democratic id. His latest bid for left-wing love came at a CNN forum on gay rights, where he said that churches that oppose same-sex marriage should have to pay ... Read More