After cyberbullies attacked his daughter on Twitter, former American Major League Baseball Pitcher Curt Schilling, waded into the fray, apparently rooting out two of the culprits – one a college radio DJ, the other a newly hired New York Yankees employee.
The ensemble effect of crowdsourcing justice may put Mr. Schilling into the parenting and online record books for the uniquely effective results.
And this may be a wake-up call for parents of college students to remain steadfast in checking the social media feeds of their college-age children in order to avoid seeing an education and future prospects dashed after being called out for making this kind of post.
While some Twitter users blame Schilling, saying he shouldn’t have tweeted about his daughter in the first place, I don’t think the onus should be on parents who celebrate their child’s accomplishments to watch what they say, but instead on the cyberbullies.
Many more applaud Schilling for crowd sourcing his way to a solution for cyberbullies.
Schilling didn’t merely spout-off angrily about the statements made in the tweets, which included sexual threats, the word “rape,” and vulgar references to his daughter’s body.
Instead, Schilling, with the help of his fans, began to identify and call out those posting these tweets and responses online by name, organizational affiliation, and online identification.
Nothing grabs attention like naming names, and, if you can’t name the culprits, you may be able to look back at their posts and find their affiliations. When someone posts something as threatening about someone’s daughter as many of these posters did, both the parent and child may feel victimized and powerless.
Schilling took what many are hailing as a safe, rational approach to regaining a sense of being able to protect those they love from online abuse.
He connected the offenders to schools and businesses they were affiliated with, and Twitter fans did the rest to expose the two culprits to the point of suspension from the site and going into hiding by deleting their profiles from LinkedIn, Twitter, and other platforms.
Two state-run New Jersey institutions of higher education took collateral damage as the result of the actions of young men Schilling identified: Adam Nagel a current student at Brookdale Community College in Lyncroft, New Jersey, and Sean MacDonald, a recent graduate of Montclair University.
Brookdale caught my eye because it is the same two-year community college from which I, director Kevin Smith, and now disgraced television anchor Brian Williams all graduated from once upon a time, before moving on to larger institutions.
Mr. Nagel, who calls himself “The Sports Guru” is an online student radio station host at Brookdale.
Brookdale has two radio stations, one professionally run and the other an online, student-run station. Nagel is affiliated with the latter.
According to Avis McMillon, executive director, College Relations for Brookdale, “The Twitter comments posted by this student are unacceptable and clearly violate the standards of conduct that are expected of all Brookdale students. The student has been summarily suspended and will be scheduled for a conduct hearing where further disciplinary action will be taken.”
Ms. McMillion adds, “The Brookdale Police are actively investigating this matter. Brookdale takes this behavior very seriously and does not tolerate any form of harassment. Our sincerest apologies to Gabby Schilling. Her achievement should be celebrated and not clouded by offensive comments.”
Schilling also called out Sean MacDonald, identified by Suzanne Bronski, director of media relations at Montclair State University as a 2015 graduate who no longer attends the school.
According to his now deleted LinkedIn and Twitter profiles and some online reports, immediately after graduation Mr. MacDonald was hired by the New York Yankees. All MacDonald’s social media and work profiles have apparently been deleted since the incident, something that did not go unnoticed by Schilling's supporters.
At the time of his initial posting, Schilling was unaware that MacDonald now works for the Yankess. He identified MacDonald only as the VP of the Theta Xi fraternity at Montclair State University.
Interim Executive Director of the Theta Xi Fraternity in St. Louis, Missouri, Charlie Hiemenz wrote in an email, “We are aware of the inappropriate and offensive tweets that were posted by an alumnus of Theta Xi Fraternity. We agree wholeheartedly that cyber-bullying is unacceptable and should not be tolerated. This is not in accordance with the values of our organization, and we assure you that disciplinary actions have begun to address his unfortunate decision and hold our member accountable. In the future, we sincerely hope that the members of our organization will take note of our expectations for public decency and will treat others with respect, and we will do all that we can to educate Theta Xi men accordingly.”
Perhaps, now that Schilling has had such a major-league impact on these two cyberbullies, more people using social media will step up to the plate to help families identify users who become abusers. In the end, Schilling's biggest fan was perhaps his Gabby, who was tweeted how proud she was of her dad, and grateful for his support.