Curt Schilling tried to be a nice dad.
Schilling, the former Red Sox pitcher and co-World Series MVP for the Diamondbacks, congratulated his daughter via Twitter after learning she would playing softball at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island.
He ended up being a ticked-off dad. He channeled his outrage, fury, disgust over those who trolled his daughter's admission into college in a brilliant must-read post on his blog called "The World We Live In ... Man Has It Changed."
Many on Twitter were in a congratulatory mode when Schilling shared the news about his daughter, but others were not. Schilling had no patience for any of these would-be suitors [or stalkers] who were thinking of bothering, harassing, or assaulting her.
I was also going to mention that there is little in life I’d ever go to jail for, but my daughter is one. Another nod to that father/daughter bond….In between a fight with Kevin Millar, congratulating Juan Pierre on a wonderful career (just hated facing him) and praying Josh Hamilton gets right, I started to see ... tweets with the word rape, bloody underwear and pretty much every other vulgar and defiling word you could likely fathom began to follow.
One of the culprits who called himself “The Sports Guru” on Twitter is Adam Nagel, who was a DJ at Brookdale [N.J.] Community College. He's since deleted his account, and Monday was suspended by the school for violating its "standards of conduct."
Another was, according to Schilling, the VP of the Theta Xi fraternity at Montclair State [N.J.] University. Sean MacDonald also claimed on social media that he was a ticket-seller for the Yankees. Monday morning, he had briefly changed his LinkedIn name to "John Michaels" before removing his LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn users are alerted when their profile has been read. According to WEEI's "Dennis and Callahan" show, the Yankees had no comment. A few other trolls have also deleted their accounts, and at least one of the posters involved wrote Schilling after he had been suspended by his college team.
Schilling's daughter was not only victimized by the cowardice and hatred posted by these people, she was threatened with legitimate physical abuse. Schilling's post linked to several stories about how young women were bullied online to the point where they felt suicide was their only option.
I sometimes hear from female readers and media types, who are gracious enough to read what I write, about how women are treated on social media, message boards, and the like.
"Welcome to being a woman on the Internet. That is what it is like for us," one told me. "They come out of the woodwork and say the most vile, violent, hideous, hateful things. Then they dox [share your identifying information] you. They even do it to the guys who stick up for the women."
"It is a menace. It is heartbreaking. It is paralyzing."
We're not using her name because she doesn't want to bring any more of this upon herself. I can't blame her.
Schilling was trying to be a good dad, and a protective dad. He's done far more with this post. In defending his daughter, and shedding light on the human debris who thought they could get a few cheap laughs at his daughter's expense, he's reminded everyone that women are dealing with a horrible double-standard online.
And his lesson was as much for those who have fathered sons as for those who have fathered daughters.
I know how grossly unfair it was for every fraternity member in the United States to be tarred by the Rolling Stone piece about the gang rape at the University of Virginia that never happened, at least in the way it was reported. My son is in a frat. Not every college-aged male is a pig. But he and his fraternity brothers nationwide bore the scorn generated by Rolling Stone.
There are, however, way too many young men who think nothing before posting online about what they would do to Schilling's daughter, or anyone else's daughter. It's not OK to be 20 years old - or any age, and be talking to or about women in that way.
Real men don't do that, no matter what you've read on line.
This is why Schilling's post applies as much to the fathers of sons as it does to the fathers of daughters.
What the hell were Adam Nagel's parents teaching him when he was growing up? Or Sean MacDonald's? Or any of the others.
In what culture, in what sphere, did they learn that because you are not a Red Sox fan, you get to lobby for the sexual assault of Curt Schilling's daughter?
What the hell has happened to us?
I don't give a damn if you disagree with Schilling's politics, or the management of his failed computer game company. Does the fact that he is a Republican, or cost the state of Rhode Island millions of taxpayer dollars, or was once a member of the Red Sox, mean it's OK in anyone's mind for his daughter to be trashed like this?
This isn't about Boston or New York. Republicans or Democrats. This is about decency and depravity.
I'm not going to say it's time to further restrict free speech, especially on college campuses. But what was posted about Schilling's daughter isn't a free-speech issue. Threatening to defile someone with a baseball bat, even via social media from hundreds of miles away, is not a First Amendment issue. Speech has been responsibly restricted by the courts for centuries.
The First Amendment applies to governmental restrictions of speech. Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites are private companies. They are free to set whatever restrictions they want on whomever chooses to use their sites. Twitter is free to stop ISIS from posting its propaganda, as it is free to silence clowns like Nagel and his fellow perverts.
Silencing these types on social media doesn't fix the entire problem, beyond disallowing them to share their lurid thoughts. Sorry to say, women haranguing them about this type behavior won't accomplish much to change their minds. If you're predisposed to talk about raping a man's daughter directly to her father, a sign protesting "Rape Culture" in front of the student union isn't going to make a dent.
Boys or young men will not stop treating girls and women like garbage - until the men they look up to stop others in their peer group stop treating women like garbage. Those who treat women with dignity and respect must be lauded, not mocked.
Hopefully, the vile clowns who thought Gabby Schilling was an easy target have been shamed as much by their peers as they have been by those who coach or teach them. Hopefully, everyone who has ever come into contract with Adam Nagel or any of these other jerks see this and realizes how catastrophic this type of behavior - even on social media - can be to themselves and others.
Whatever punishment is generated by Schilling's post is warranted. "Twitter Justice" has already delivered its verdict. Adam Nagel's name will forever be associated with this story on Google and every other search engine. Same with Sean MacDonald, or whatever he's calling himself now. It's easy for some to say just walk away when the cyber-bulling begins. For me, it's a no-brainer. But I'm not a 16-year-old girl whose entire social circle has turned on her and threatens her with verbal taunts or violence.
Those in the public eye have to determine which threats are serious and which ones are just empty characters. When it comes to their children, that line becomes a mile wide. There's zero shades of grey.
Those who crossed that line in Schilling's case are learning the price can been steep.
Even if it's not high enough.
Well done, Curt. Well done.
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