Asshole(s) Of The Week: Gabby Schilling Cyberbullies

Cyberbullies cross the line in attacking Curt Schilling's daughter, but where should the line be drawn?

Former Major League Baseball pitcher and future Hall of Famer Curt Schilling had a proud moment this week when he announced on Twitter that his 17 year-old daughter Gabby will play softball at Salve Regina University. Good dads brag about their children, so the "congrats" tweets he received were expected.

Tweets suggesting rape, assault, double penetration and other offensive actions regarding his daughter were not expected.

 (Some of those comments are photoshopped into the picture at the top of this article.)

Curt Schilling has been in the public spotlight for years, so I believe him when he says he doesn't care what people say about him. But his daughter (pictured below)? He'd die for her, and will never stop protecting her from anyone. He said as such in a recent post on his blog. I think any self-respecting father would and should feel the same way.

Gabby Schilling

While I don't agree with Curt at the end of his post imploring others to "have at it" with the cyberbullies who attacked his daughter -- because what would that really solve? -- I do think he raises a valid point when he asks "what the hell is wrong with people?" who spread such hate. It's not a question I can answer. And given that I'm the first person to say people can and should be able to write whatever the hell they want online, I would hate to be involved in deciding where that line should be that people can't cross. But even I agree that these tweets take things too far and are flat-out awful.

One of the main perpetrators of the hate tweets was fired from his job with the New York Yankees. The other main offender was suspended by his community college. These are fair ramifications for their actions. And this is where the consequences should stop.

True cyberbullying is emotional abuse, and yes cyberbullying has led to horrible outcomes for those who couldn't handle the vitriol of faceless, nameless losers who troll and shame others through the anonymity of their keyboards. But the reality is this: There is no legal precedent for the criminal prosecution of emotional abuse, and given that what offends one person could be a silly joke to another, it'd be hard to definitively say where that line of "too far" vs. "joking" should be drawn. Now, actual threats are another matter altogether, as they can be prosecuted if certain criteria are met.

But why, fundamentally, do people post such hateful things? Because they can. Because the Internet and social media have granted the freedom for the whole world to discover you're an asshole rather than just your close friends. Policing such a thing strikes me as such an endless and futile task that even attempting to do so appears to be an exhausting endeavor. Here's a simpler idea, one that's not always easy to follow but in its core is true: If someone is spreading negativity, block them out. Unfriend. Unfollow. Block their e-mail. Avoid at social functions. Distance yourself. Life is too short to be surrounded by hate. I applaud the Schilling family for speaking out in an effort to get people to be decent human beings, but the truth is it's going to fall on deaf ears for those who need it most.

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