Going Beyond Sports

I wanted to write about my recap at TwinsFest, but events over the past week and a half have caused me to want to write about something else. If you or a person you know has been attacked unfairly, or been the victim for unjustifiable reasons, regardless of if the attack was physical or verbal, then I strongly recommend you continue reading.

If you recall, I am part of a Twins Facebook group. Thanks to the archiving process Facebook undertook months ago, we had to start over. A group of over 20,000 members was no more, and we’re now a group of just over 40.

Back when we were larger, we had many discussions about the Twins, as you can probably imagine. Many of these discussions were airing our frustrations about Gardy, the players, and other issues that we felt could be easily fixed if we were in charge.

Well, there was one person in these discussions that kept popping up, disagreeing with everything we had to say (I’ll call him Tim). He wasn’t trolling us, but rather was an eternal optimist. Tim was upset that we kept bad-mouthing the Twins. Quickly, our discussions turned to aggression as one side became frustrated with the other. Maturity disappeared as one person even took the time to create a fake Facebook profile of Tim and make fun of everything he was saying. He was banned several times from our group because our members were just fed up with his consistent defense of every Twins move and decision, and we eventually made the ban permanent after we felt we had given him enough chances to change.

Fast forward to two weeks ago, and a member of our new skinny group was posting hilarious transaction ideas that an unknown Twins fan was suggesting the team accomplish this offseason. All you need to know is that it involved signing Prince Fielder, and that was just the first addition. It turned out that this comment had originated on the Minnesota Twins official Facebook page, and this member also added that Tim was being torn apart on that page. I hadn’t heard from him since the last time we kicked him out, so I went over to the group to see what was going on.

What I saw was vile, disgusting, horrendous. In my group, we had said some mean things to Tim, but here… well, here’s a sampling.

Tim, no one puts any stock in the opinions of a retarded child molesting facebook (sic) stalker. Isn’t it about time for lights out at your group home, Sally?

Speaking of jerk [Tim’s last name]Loser, still pleasing yourself to that Drew Butera bobblehead?

I see that Tim is back to his childish ways… I think Tim is more or less pissed that Mauer is getting married to someone that isn’t Tim himself.

The cemetary is full of better people than Tim, as is the prison system (sic)

Don’t forget to take a picture of Tim licking his inflatible (sic) Joe Mauer doll on the concourse!

Perhaps most shocking to me was this Facebook post on the Twins page, from the victim of all this harassment himself.

I’m not retarded, I’m autistic, there’s a difference.

Wait, what? The guy that had been bugging us all this time was autistic? Well, if we weren’t before, it looked like we were all going to hell now.

When Tim was a part of our group, I wasn’t one of those bothering him, but I kept myself silent and watched everyone else bully him around. After seeing that he was autistic, enough was enough. I contacted Tim to ask if what he said in that post was true, and then I atoned for my apathy months ago. I went on the Twins page, spoke out at those that were harassing him, and used my connections within the Twins organization to get several of those guys that made those comments above banned from the official Twins page (hence why I did not link to any of them, as they were deleted when the owners of those words were removed, but also because apparently I have enough of a heart to keep those jerks anonymous).

To those that were harassing Tim, this… this… shit is what causes people to commit suicide. This is how we end up seeing Hardball Talk posts about Giants fan Brian Stow just being able to blink. All because people have to take their passion for their favorite sports teams and turn it into hate against anyone that disagrees. In fact, this even transcends sports. Just simple hatred against a person for being who they are, for dressing differently, for anything that we do not approve of, is what causes violence.

To those that were harassing Tim, no matter how much you believe it, discussion about the Twins does not involve personal attacks. When someone differs from your opinion, it is possible to have a civil conversation about it. But when you start saying that the dead are better people than a living person that has done nothing to warrant this kind of behavior, then there is something severely wrong with you. I reported you not because you were being negative about the Twins. I reported you because you were picking on a man with autism, and were creating your insults based on his disability.

To those that were harassing Tim, you said that he had to grow up and stop telling people to shut up. Well, what about you? Why didn’t you grow up, and refrain from saying the things you said to provoke him in the first place? As far as I’m concerned, if Tim has to tell you to shut up after you make a homophobic comment about him (which homosexuality has nothing to do with autism), then it’s more important for you to become civil. However, I see you embellished the unfortunate power of remaining protected behind your computer screen. If only you could realize how hurtful your comments are, not just to Tim, but to me, a person that has never and still hasn’t met Tim in person.

To those that were harassing Tim, I see that some of you have found my blog. Mr. Truth and Narcs Blow, welcome to Off The Mark. By the way, I’m glad to see one of you was so smart that you used your actual email to comment, and that your name is in your email. I’m sure you recognize your homophobic Joe Mauer doll comment above.

What I said in my comments section is still true. Lay off of the guy with autism. Picking on someone that has a disability has got to be one of the lowest things you can do. Now that you’re here, though, you’re on my turf, and not yours. The people on the official Twins page were apathetic and in some cases even supportive of the shit you were saying. Well, that’s not going to be true here. So keep calling me a dick. I’m a dick because I’m one of the few that spoke out against your hatred towards Tim. I’m a dick because I “ruined your fun.” I’m a dick because I felt that justice had to be served, and that attacking a person online warranted removal from the Twins group.

Unfortunately, from continued contact with Tim, I see that this bile is still being spewed on the official Twins page, even after removing the worst offenders. Well, after coming in to defend a person I used to never think twice about, I’ve lifted my group’s own ban against Tim. Because our group is a safe haven. It may be small, but as long as you harassers are not members of my group, it will be superior, as it is a place where real discussion occurs, and opinions are honored and respected. We all feel terrible for how we acted towards him in the past, and it’s amazing that he’s chosen to forgive us for what we did. Few would do that, but we were also the ones that were willing to defend him when everyone else remained silent.

To those that were harassing Tim… it’s a damn shame you probably won’t be reading this. Because of all Twins fans that needed to read this the most, it’s you.

2 Responses to “Going Beyond Sports”

  1. jbiowa Says:

    I appreciate your post, Andrew, and quite frankly, I don’t facebook but my question would be: why does it matter that the victim is autistic?

    It seems to me that the personal attacks crossed the line and that some of the posters should have been banned regardless of the victim’s characteristics.

    Tim’s autism may shed a little better understanding on his posts but I don’t think that his disability (or anyone else’s) should be the determining factor in whether his attackers crossed the line.

    • Bryz Says:

      That is an excellent point, and unfortunately is a key piece to how I reacted. Throw out the autism, and there’s no guarantee that I would have acted the same way.

      Another thing is that if I didn’t know Tim prior to this incident, I may not have reported those guys either. It’s a shame that I feel that way, but I believe that this would have been true if those two factors weren’t a part of this conflict.

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