Someone who couldn't seem to understand this started arguing with me, and, after just a few responses, he went berserk and started posting right and left, calling me a racist and a Nazi. I don't need to prove that I'm neither of these things by explaining my heritage (we're all mutts, as they say) or detailing whom I've dated in the past or who my friends are and have been. It's just a flat-out ridiculous accusation, especially if you consider what I was saying in the thread.
Oddly, or maybe these days not so much, this guy and I have the same general political viewpoint, something he didn't realize until later. His rampage started after I suggested that I and others in Colorado, including some Republican leaders, are not happy that an extreme right, gun-collecting Trump supporter with a shady past is in congress and possibly causing trouble. Claiming that even a significant fraction of Coloradans voted for her, let alone all of them, is like insisting people in Utah are responsible for the city council members elected in Nevada. It just doesn't make sense.
Like many online trolls, Boebert can't take criticism either, much of hers coming from the people who live where she actually was elected. The Twitter troll later put up a poll on his page saying he "got into it" after someone "came at him" and didn't realize he and this person were "on the same side" and had a list of possible actions to take to help him move forward. The whole thing was weird and unsettling, and someone else on Twitter pointed out that the guy's posts tend to be consistently inflammatory. However, the damage was done. Others who don't know me liked his Tweets that called me names without even knowing what the discussion was about.
But I'm not the only one who experiences this kind of outlandish attack. See, the left extremists have become just as radical and full of hate as those on the right, and they're as quick to stoop to name-calling and lying, sometimes even more so.
Two incidents that occurred on social media recently demonstrate how closed-minded and quick to criticize and exclude others some individuals who claim to accept and even promote diversity are.
In the first incident, a writer, Kevin Beck, posted a piece celebrating diversity and referenced a well-written article in Runner's World. In the blog post, he praised four of the five individuals who were profiled in the RW article and the author herself. It really is a good article. The fifth person profiled in the article is an outlier, someone who has been in a position of both bully and victim and has been caught in at least one lie, among other transgressions. When the blog post caught the attention of people in a Facebook group where the link was posted, several of the members were quick to criticize Kevin rather than his article, one going as far as calling him a "crotchety old white guy." Others poked fun at his use of big words, claiming he uses a thesaurus excessively.
I know the author and have for a really long time. Comments criticizing his work upset me far more than they affect him at all. That kind of vague criticism of the piece being too long or too wordy reminds me of the "too many notes" scene in Amadeus. For the record, in all the years I have known him, collaborated with him, and spent time with him, I have never, ever seen him use a thesaurus. Whatever you think of his writing style, which of course is not at all the point anyway, the guy's just really fucking smart, and, for whatever reason, I think that upsets some individuals. A few of the same people complaining about the blog post admitted to not having read the whole thing, which makes me wonder why they would take the trouble to comment at all, but everyone likes to be heard, even those who don't have much to say. There were plenty of people who were happy to read the blog post and even agreed with the content. Kevin told me he got more new sign-ups and subscriptions in the days after that post than after anything else he's published, so maybe not everyone has the same amount of trouble with big words.
As unpleasant as it is to see someone I admire and care about being called names, it's far more concerning to see at least one of these critics lie about him. In the thread in the Facebook group, the same individual who was the first to stoop to name-calling also claimed that the blog post was an "article written by a man who has pretty clearly stated over and over again that's he's uncomfortable with so called "social justice warriors" and diversity and longs for the good old days." All of this is a lie in one form or another.
This same lie has been told off Facebook, too:
Kevin very clearly defines two different types of social justice warriors, one he supports, as he did in his blog post that ultimately caused some friction, and the other he does not because he sees those involved as not being authentic. Regarding the latter, he states, "SJW antics are invariably a power-attention-and-money grab, not earnest activism. This means that fragile alliances and bridge-burnings are inevitable and easily foreseen features of any relationships forged with such people, whether they call themselves influencers or not."
It's laughable, almost, that, regarding a blog post celebrating diversity, the critic wants his audience to believe that the author has stated over and over again that he's uncomfortable with diversity. When pressed, the critic ignored that particular part of his claim and simply went on to say that his usual response is "what I said is valid, so it's not my fault that trolls and bigots are amplifying and repeating it." Notice how quickly he tosses out loaded terms like "bigot," and, as others in the group pointed out, he tried to make something that was about ethics and morality entirely about race. He also accused the host of the Facebook group of treating a black woman differently but offered zero evidence, zero. Meanwhile, the host of the group presented evidence to the contrary. There is also no evidence that the author of the blog post ever made any statements about longing for the past. This accusation is entirely fiction. If you go looking hard enough for something you want to find, though, you will probably eventually find it, even if it's not actually there.
It gets worse. On one of the critic's social media accounts, he posted the content of an argument that unfolded in that same thread but very craftily left out the last few posts to make it look like he had the upper hand, when in fact he did not.
Omissions like this are another form of lying. It looks like he wants to make it appear like he "won" as if a conversation is some kind of competition, which shows exactly what kind of person he is, not someone who is for inviting a civil exchange of words. Anyone who's into publicly putting down others in such a way that the ones involved aren't invited to reply is not the best example of a model for inclusivity. Then, he has the temerity to suggest that others who don't like Snell's lying and bullying could look the other way and claims, without any proof, that people want her to disappear, yet he looks pretty comfortable making public comments about people he could easily ignore. Why the double standard?
For someone who talks about wanting to make running spaces inclusive, this individual sure is combative, arrogant, and not truthful -- that is not the best advocate for bringing about harmony in any space at all. Still addressing the string of lies in just that one sentence, the author of the blog post never mentioned the good old days, not in the blog post referenced or anywhere else, for that matter, and the critic never bothered to provide a single example. Whenever a person takes an "I'm right, you're wrong" stance without any evidence at all, there is no room for dialogue.
People can criticize Kevin's flowery language and lengthy posts, but the truth is that he's bringing up topics that many others are too afraid to discuss, most likely because bullies and trolls who claim to be woke come out in droves to insult anyone with an opposing opinion. Fortunately, Kevin's skin is thick, so bullies and general critics who either don't bother to read the content, make assumptions about it without reading for comprehension, or just plain lie about him don't affect his drive to address difficult topics.
The other incident involved a tweet criticizing an individual, the same ACLU lawyer I have mentioned before, for lying. The one posting about the lawyer was immediately called homophobic and a bigot, and only one person asked for more information before defending the lawyer who lied, claiming he had done great things. That may be so, but he has also attempted to damage the reputation of several people simply for voicing their opinions, and, again, he hasn't always been operating above board. This kind of scenario is the perfect example of shooting the messenger.
Here's my problem with all of this. Online debate, even bickering, is one thing, and I think most people like the idea of a healthy or lively discussion. The hosts of the Keeping Track podcast, Alysia Montano, Molly Huddle, and Roisin McGettigan, do an excellent, really outstanding job of encouraging conversation. They are shining examples of how the running community can become more inclusive. In stark contrast to these women and others who actually invite a civil back-and-forth, are those who can't control themselves and immediately call others racists, Nazis, and bigots throw out some serious accusations, often without merit, and, in turn, look more like fanatics than those whom they are attacking.
It's uncalled for to drag out such potentially damaging smears when simply expressing an opinion is an option. Not that long ago, an American was sued when he called some German officers Nazis because he was upset, not because they were acting like anything other than officers. Certain words shouldn't be used simply because a person is pissy. "Wah, I'm mad so I'm going to slander your name and attempt to ruin your reputation." What an awful approach to life. But that's where we are, and the more people respond to their unchecked anger with a string of hateful insults, the more division it will cause.
Tricia Griffith of Web Suleths says that nobody should be allowed to make false accusations against another person and attempt to tear a person's life apart, but, for the most part, it's legal. You can call someone a racist, bigot, or Nazi online with little to no repercussions. I know this doesn't matter to those who live in a small online bubble among like-minded individuals who like to see bullies attack anyone, no matter the reason, but these types of bullies will lose potential allies because of their bad behavior.