Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Curt Schilling Confronts the Rape Culture

For every species of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by the human species, but no one can tame the tongue—a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse those who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this ought not to be so.
James 3:7-10

I am a huge fan of Curt Schilling. As a pitcher for the Red Sox he was spectacular. He was dependable in the regular season and came up big, very big, in the post season.

I think he belongs in the Hall of Fame. On the other hand, I also think Jim Kaat belongs in the Hall of Fame.

But Curt Schilling the political commentator and pontificator, not so much. He doesn’t believe in evolution or global warming, for starters. And I think he sometimes seems to have a martyr complex about that. I don’t think he was kept out of the Hall of Fame because of his political views.

That is a somewhat long way of saying that when it comes to Curt Schilling, as much as I admire his baseball skills, I am not a true believer. So when a friend posted a link to his blog site, I approached it with some skepticism.

The short version is that he tweeted a congratulatory note to his daughter, Gabby, on her acceptance to Salve Regina University to play softball for the Seahawks, and the response included some vile remarks from young guys. Curt did a little internet research, tracked down the guys, exposed them, and there were consequences. A couple of them lost their jobs and several were suspended from their college sports teams.

Of course, it didn’t end there.

Perhaps it is not surprising that some of the response has been that Schilling should have known better than to say anything about his daughter. He’s the one who opened the door in the first place.

On sports talk radio, Jim Murray went even farther. Commenting on the Felger and Massarotti show, he went hard at Schilling:

“To be all high and mighty about this, like Curt Schilling has kind of been, I think he’s almost as bad as some of the guys tweeting at him. It was a poor joke what some of those guys were doing. It was a dumb joke in bad taste, but for these guys to lose their job and for him to sit there and be like, ‘Ha-ha-ha gotcha!’, I think that’s just as gross. He just seems a little bit pompous about the whole thing, but then again I don’t have kids.”

If you read Schilling’s blog, I think you will agree that what was tweeted about his daughter was a lot worse than “a dumb joke in bad taste.” But before you look at the blog, please be warned that his pictures of the twitter feed really are incredibly vile. In their tweets, they talk about wanting to rape his daughter. And although a normal person would not believe that it could be worse than that, they don’t just talk about raping his daughter, they do so in gross and graphic ways. If you read what they wrote and what they threatened to do, I don’t think you will feel sorry that they lost their jobs or got kicked off of their teams or maybe expelled from school.

In this, as in many other instances, Curt Schilling did get “all high and mighty.” But in this case it is more than justified.

But the much larger point has absolutely nothing to do with Curt Schilling.

Question: Is this episode an outlier, or is it evidence of a larger problem? Specifically, is this evidence of what some have called a “culture of rape”?

How else do we explain it?

This goes way beyond the general observation that “guys are pigs” because we are always thinking about sex. There was nothing even remotely erotic about the tweets.

Admittedly, all of the vile tweets were sent by a small handful of young men. Thankfully, this is not how most young men think about women.

But it has caused me to look again at the problem of campus rape. When activists talk about a “rape culture” on campus, others dismiss it as hyperbole. The Schilling experience may be more indicative than we might hope.

Clearly, it is something that needs to be addressed. It is real. We cannot excuse it or ignore it. This is not just guys saying dumb things. It is misogyny in one of its most brutal forms.

In his blog post, Schilling says that those who don’t have children and more specifically, those who don’t have daughters, will not understand. I think he is wrong. I know plenty of men who do not have children and yet understand this issue.

We can’t wait for young men to grow up and have daughters before they understand that threatening to rape someone is wrong.

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