During a week when Time Magazine wondered why the internet is so full of rage, and Leslie Jones’s personal website was hacked, I learned that some of Kobe Bryant’s fans want to rape me.

Not all of his fans. Just a few on Twitter.

I tweeted about a past rape allegation against Kobe Bryant on “Kobe Bryant Day.” And that’s when the floodgates opened. Yes, I received rape threats. More importantly, I learned that Kobe once dropped 81 points so he gets one rape. Some of his fans told me that I’m racist for bringing up past rape accusations when so many white dudes are rapists. And a few thought I should kill myself. I also found out that I’m an autist. Only a salty bitch with a big nose would bring up the past like that.

It’s amazing how the internet knows me so well.

The Response

Surprisingly, Twitter was super-responsive. They locked accounts and made the scariest tweets go away. And I’m grateful that it wasn’t worse.

But mostly I’m heartbroken. I’m walking the typical “victim walk of shame” where I’m blaming myself for what happened. I’m also mad at a fucked up system that allows online harassment and bullying to occur in the first place. How did that happen?

Oh, right, any platform used for speech will cover both ends of the spectrum: from the sanctimonious to the vulgar.

The Solution

Blame is boring and pointless, although there’s a lot of blame to go around. I’m pretty upset and confused about what happened, but it’s not really Twitter’s fault that I was threatened with rape. You don’t hit a pothole on the highway and blame the inventor of asphalt. You blame the local department of transportation for the current conditions of the highway, or maybe you blame yourself for driving like a moron.

Twitter is a fast-moving highway, and in that way, we’re all responsible for its care and maintenance. When someone is bullied or harassed, it’s our collective fault. There is no hate speech if we check ourselves. There is no harassment and bullying if we, as an online community, pay attention and call out the abusers.

But that’s never going to happen.

So until there’s a software-driven solution that instantly enforces community guidelines while not infringing upon protected speech, I’m left to solve this problem the old fashioned way by limiting my time on Twitter. I’m not going to delete my account and get back into the kitchen as some of Kobe Bryant’s fans suggested, but I am going to spend my time elsewhere.

Big deal, right? Nobody cares what I think about Kobe Bryant, anyway. And it’s clear that some Kobe Bryant fans just want a chance to threaten a woman from behind a pay-as-you-go data plan.

No thanks. I don’t want that for my life.

21 Responses to Some of Kobe Bryant’s Fans Want to Rape Me
  1. Jessica Miller-Merrell

    Remember when this happened to me and you came to my aid? I was threatened by someone who told me that he wished my daughter a horrible death. I think it was about 4 or 5 years ago? Twitter did absolutely nothing about it. I’m glad they are taking these threats seriously and cracking down.

    The internet lends to so many trolls and so does Twitter because you can be anonymous. I’m glad they reacted this way. Unfortunately, this doesn’t change the larger internet.

    JMM

    • ruettimann

      No, a friend said that Twitter is our “id” — and I think that’s right. No rules, no limits, no boundaries. Me me me me me.

  2. Sarah Wallace

    Aww that is terrible. A few more weeks and you’ll be in Iowa, where people are nice 🙂 and we can pretend we are in Cedar Rapids

    • ruettimann

      I’m excited!

      • Ed

        Headed to Iowa Laurie? A good trip to Iowa can cure a lot of worries. I’m from Iowa and so proud to be an Iowan. Good people is the charm of the state.

  3. Franny

    What’s with misogynists and ham sandwiches? Maybe traditionally-raised ham has so much extra testosterone and cortisol that it feeds their man-panic?

    I’m sorry that small people tried to make you feel small. But remember:

    Boys drool. Girls rule. (Or at least SOME boys drool.)

    • ruettimann

      Ham sandwich = anti-semitic, I believe.

      Some boys do drool!

    • @dds180

      I was also hugely disturbed and saddended by the overall content – and then slightly confused by the number of people who fixated on sandwich making

  4. Conor Nicholson

    Laurie, I’m sorry to hear about the vitriol you experienced after a fact based tweet. People can be very nasty when they’re alone and in front of a computer. But they don’t matter. They have nothing better to do than send nasty messages to strangers. Rest peacefully knowing they lead a miserable existence.

  5. Martin Snyder

    The rationalizing fails in the sense that some of these posters are “normal” people in everyday life – IOW not miserable losers by usual normative standards.

    Also at least half of them would piss themselves if they had to face Laurie full-bore in a dark alley or a lit conference room.

    One would think if one liked to be served sandwiches (and who doesn’t) that denigrating the act would be counter-productive, but you will always find the wished for proto-image of hot wimmin as servile factotums- because in real life hot wimmin wouldn’t look at these (overt or covert) losers when stepping over them on the street.

    Also too, aggression & sex drives are very mixed up in a natural biological state, and you can’t expect just everyone to actually be human and capable of modulating their biological drives into some kind of civilization.

  6. Ed

    Laurie,

    Those tweets are vicious, it’s crazy how the world of social media has devolved. There’s a lot of really bad people in this world. Just know that the numbers of good still outnumber the bad, and these senseless tweets don’t represent what the vast majority of your followers think. I respect and admire your writing, and courage.

  7. sarah

    Laurie – I am so sorry you had to experience this. Those tweets are horrible and frightening. I have always wondered about how quickly Kobe refurbed his image. I guess creating a crazy nickname that would draw attention from his admission of non-consensual sex with a hotel employee doing her job really was a smart PR move. I am reminded of a story about Kobe from back in my Memphis days… he would go to the same salon I go to for a manicure when he was in town. The thing is, the person cleaning his nails was not allowed to address him directly. They couldn’t say hello, They couldn’t ask him how he was. They had to address the assistant with him. It’s this same removal of humanity that a) made him think it was okay for him to rape a hotel worker and b) makes people on Twitter feel okay to be so horrible. If I don’t see the human holding my hand and trimming my cuticles as such, then there’s no way I would respect they have any boundaries. If I can’t see a screen name as anything representative of an actual person, I can run all over them.

    I was proud of your tweet. And I am proud of you for being an autist. And you have a lovely nose.

  8. Jennifer McClure

    Wow. So bad.

    Love you.

  9. Will Fazille

    Get over it everybody gets stuff like that online

    • akabruno

      Get over it? Really?

      I’ve never “got stuff” like that online, and it is sad and disappointing that you did.

      • Will Fazille

        Why you getting offended by random strangers you never met. 99.9% are trolls you will never meet. Chill out its not serious. If they were to say it face-to-face then you got to worry. But none of them got the balls to say that.

  10. Just Some Guy

    I’m sorry that happened, Laurie. I’m proud of you that you had the intestinal fortitude to stand up to them. It’s wrong that people make threats over such matters, but unfortunately predictable these days. People, including me, have been threatened with bodily harm and even death for tweeting or posting unpopular opinions. I submi that neither Twitter nor the Internet should be allowed to be used as a substitute “id.”

    It shouldn’t be that way and I wholeheartedly agree that there should be a software or other-based solution. We don’t (and shouldn’t) accept this as the price of using the Internet or Twitter. Perhaps if enough of us scream long enough and loud enough, something will be done.

    Until then, the good people will have each other’s backs.

  11. Gabrielle Garon

    Laurie, thanks for sharing. Twitter is becoming a weird place (for women.) I had a similar experience last week when I tweeted about Leslie Jones and #IStandWithLeslie and was called a Cunt. It was shocking, scary, and a total turn off from Twitter. I like what you said about blaming the inventor of asphalt Vs. the department of transportation.

  12. Carmen Hudson

    Give no fucks about those ignorant assholes. The question haunts me every time I see him on TV. And, I’m sad that there is a verb for this – that you were “Twittered”. Foretells the decline of what might have been the most empowering medium ever.

  13. Rachael

    I gave up Twitter a long time ago and at no point have I considered my life to be poorer for it… 🙂 🙂

  14. Aimee

    I left Twitter as there were too many trollers like that whenever I’d say anything not directly related to my professional work, and Twitter doesn’t do shit about it – very ‘blame the victim’ rather than just letting you report the profanity and threats, and them handling it. They’re known for being brogrammers there (just like Uber who has a ton of rape allegations out there on their drivers) so it’s not surprising.