The Aftermath – What Happens Next?

It’s been over a week but since March 14th, I have spent (probably way too much) time sorting out my emotions and trying to parse out my reactions. It’s hard to come to terms with being a victim of bullying. As an adult one might feel that bullying can’t happen to them and that it’s limited to high school. However, cyberbullying is more frequent towards adults than one might think. The anonymity of the internet allows the perpetrator to hide behind a pseudonym if they so choose. It’s an unsettling experience when you’re not sure if the person on the other end of the cyber-line may be someone who is masquerading as a friend on a different account.

Social media – especially Twitter – runs at a rampant pace. 140 characters and the press of a button sends your thoughts out into cyber-land in less time than it takes you to read this sentence. A simple retweet takes less time than it does to blink your eyes three times. The consequences of such can be huge… and hugely detrimental. I feel that it’s why it is so important for official accounts who are representatives of blogs to attempt to be unbiased and avoid “punching down”, where they don’t directly attack someone but incite abuse from their followers via retweets and .@’s. I can only speak for my own experiences, but it hurts when an organization that you have supported turns their back on you.

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I wrote the above letter to the editors of On the Forecheck (OTF) Saturday evening and posted it on my Twitter account. I don’t regret it and I continue to stand by it.. Their accusations of me were groundless. They proclaimed the right to defend themselves, but never allowed me the same courtesy, choosing to derail the conversation. They made what should have been an eye-opening discussion about sexual assault about them by attacking voices that they didn’t want to hear. The major difference between us is that they are as close to mainstream as a blog can get, while I am without the support and backing of a parent organization.

It is my belief that it wasn’t the words I used over how the Predators’ fanbase was choosing to react to Toni McIntyre’s article, but this image that caused OTF to lash out:

Ribeiro

Without that image – without my public condemnation of their article and having people voice their agreement and support – would the events that happened still occur? I highly doubt it. Making that image public was a choice I made on Saturday. OTF attempted to silence my voice – a voice that didn’t agree with theirs – through intimidation and bullying.

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Jason Zito (co-editor, OTF) never attempted to have a dialogue with me. I made  a conscious decision to say “the Predators fanbase” and not single out OTF. He was the one that chose to apply the label of “misogynistic, victim-blaming assholes” to the blog. Their casual dismissal of their own actions speaks volumes to me of their ownership and recognition of events. I fully believe they would have dismissed any attempts at dialogue I may have made… that is, further than the  “wow” I had managed to come up with in response before they retweeted this to their nearly 3,000 followers.

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In my opinion, they weren’t there to debate the subject. I feel that in their eyes, their thoughts were the only just and true opinions that were going to be allowed. Dirk Hoag prefaced his article with “This is a very sensitive topic so please be respectful of one another while discussing it” but Zito failed to follow their own request of being respectful. Furthermore, my opinion is that within their own comment section Zito violated their own community guidelines of a personal attack.

The post Hoag wrote was a direct attack on McIntyre’s article. Zito’s actions through the On the Forecheck Twitter account were a direct attack on me. Both of these were done because they couldn’t stand for a view that didn’t cow to their version of events.

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Previous to Zito’s actions, I did not feel that Hoag was being a misogynistic, victim-blamer.  At the point, if Zito really had been “watching it very closely on all sides” (as he claimed to be doing) he would have seen that the only things I had said about OTF was that I was disappointed in the blog and the article was BS. Futher, if Zito had taken one moment to glance at McIntyre’s mentions on Twitter, he would have hopefully realized that they were who my ire was directed towards.

“All sides” was simply OTF’s side and others weren’t welcome or adequate. Take a glance at the (now closed) comment section on Hoag’s post and make your own decisions of whether you feel any discussion other than “yes, you’re absolutely right” was welcomed.

Do I deserve an apology from Zito? Probably, but I don’t expect one. I don’t know where this leaves me now. I am mostly persona non grata amongst the fans of a team I genuinely enjoy because I refuse to fall in line and not speak my mind. But, as according to Zito, I am not necessary and neither are those who think like me. We are “just members of the community”. My voice was deemed unimportant, and I was subsequently discarded and removed by the OTF editors.

I sincerely hope that Zito’s actions have consequences. I said then that I was the last person that would be defending OTF, which still holds true. I have had encouraging communications with “the powers that be” of SB Nation about this incident and I hope that progress is made. But I need the editors of OTF to know that attacks such as the one on myself are not okay and why they are not okay. I don’t believe Zito has learned that, and I don’t know if he ever will.

A red flag needs to be raised. These attacks by influential members of the hockey community need to stop. Their behavior is unacceptable. The next woman they choose to make an example of may not have the supportive people surrounding her that I did and may be unable to cope with their tactics. I may be putting myself out there by writing this, but if I can make the community safer for others, then it’s the least I can do.

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