An elderly woman sent a letter to the editor in Springfield Missouri. The letter was published in the local newspaper.
That would — and should — have been the end of it. But the internet wolf pack locked onto this elderly woman and her little letter. They did this because she has a famous son. Brad Pitt’s name in a headline is always good for a few extra hits from the search engines. Driving up traffic to their web sites by whatever means is how these people make their money. It seems that the trashier they behave, the more money they make. So, the pack went on the hunt for Mrs Pitt.
I have not read Mrs Pitt’s letter. I don’t intend to. First, I am not from Springfield Missouri, so what an elderly woman writes in a letter to the editor of a local Springfield newspaper doesn’t matter to me. Second, I am not writing this post to comment on what she said. I don’t care what she said. I am writing this post to defend her right to say it.
Mrs Pitt has evidently run afoul of some of the internet sewer dwellers who seem to believe that anyone who says anything they disagree with is fair game for threats and character assassination. According to reports that I have read, this lady has been subjected to all manner of attack, up to and including death threats. She is evidently feeling besieged. The sewer dwellers have won their victory. They have effectively intimidated another person who disagrees with them into giving up the exercise of her right to free speech.
This isn’t anything new. Character assassination and verbal terror tactics have become the norm in what passes for public debate in this country. What is surprising is that Mr Pitt has responded to these attacks on his mother with silence.
Mr Pitt is a world-famous public figure who has not been shy about giving his opinion in other areas. His silence in this instance of the public trashing of his mother looks far too much like assent. What kind of man (or woman) would allow anyone to attack their mother this way and do nothing?
From what I’ve read, Mrs Pitt made some sort of comments about the current Presidential race and about same-sex marriage. Based on what I’ve read about her comments on the one hand and Mr Pitt’s stated views on politics and this social issue on the other, I am guessing that he does not agree with his mother’s viewpoint on these things.
I don’t know of a gay man — and I know several of them — who would sit by and let someone attack his mother like this. It wouldn’t matter what she had said.
I wish that both Mr Pitt and the responsible members of the gay community would take a stand against this kind of outrageous attack on people who are merely exercising their right to free speech. Mrs Pitt’s letter was published, presumably with her permission, in a newspaper. That makes everything she said open to equally public disagreement and debate. It does not open her or anyone else up for personal attacks, filthy name-calling and death threats.
I do not see how a movement that is based on working for the human rights of a group of people can justify advancing that work by attacking the human rights of other people.
I have no quarrel with homosexual people advocating for the things they believe. I also have no quarrel with them working within the electoral system and the courts in support of those beliefs. It doesn’t matter whether or not I agree with all their goals. That’s how we do things in this country.
The rights to petition the government, vote and organize, freedom of speech and access to the courts belong to every American. The Constitution applies to every single one of us; whether we are gay rights activists, or an elderly woman writing a letter to the editor in Springfield Missouri.
Anyone who tries to effect social change will encounter disagreement and resistance. If you can’t accept that and answer these disagreements, counter this resistance, in a civil and intelligent manner, then it makes it look like your cause is without real merit.
I hope that responsible leaders in this movement will make a statement of non-support when followers of their movement do something so wrong as these attacks on Mrs. Pitt. I think they should do this out of respect for the basic human rights of all people, including those who disagree with them, and also out of respect for their own movement and the things they say they believe.
As for Mr Pitt, my only advice to him is, grow a spine.