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No, You Will Not
I received a rather nice email from the publishers of Like the Dew, asking about my silence these past few months. I replied “I’ve just been laying low of late due to the fact that I have a cyberstalking, death-wish-spewing psychopath who’s re-published and bastardized articles that I’ve written for the Dew (and others) while doing his utmost to destroy me personally and professionally. (Such is life in a world where the existing laws regarding such things are feeble at best and non-existent at worse: we are all at the mercy of any disgruntled fool with a keyboard and an internet connection).”
Although I was kindly granted permission to submit an article about this issue under a pseudonym, I began to question my reasons for doing so. If I allow others to silence me then I become complicit in crimes against free speech.
The aim of cyberbullies – either those who plague others openly or the cowards who do so anonymously (as is most frequently the case) – is to instill enough fear in the object of their “attentions” to muzzle them.
“Make no mistake: this kind of harassment can be as frightening and as real as being followed and watched in your neighborhood or in your home.” Former Vice President Al Gore
“The fact that cyberstalking does not involve physical contact may create the misperception that it is more benign than physical stalking. This is not necessarily true. As the Internet becomes an ever more integral part of our personal and professional lives, stalkers can take advantage of the ease of communications as well as increased access to personal information. In addition, the ease of use and non-confrontational, impersonal, and sometimes anonymous nature of Internet communications may remove disincentives to cyberstalking. Put another way, whereas a potential stalker may be unwilling or unable to confront a victim in person or on the telephone, he or she may have little hesitation sending harassing or threatening electronic communications to a victim. Finally, as with physical stalking, online harassment and threats may be a prelude to more serious behavior, including physical violence.”
Back to my own personal cyberstalker. This is a man with whom I have never communicated – a man who knows me only through media reports of my community work (environmental issues and children’s advocacy). He is well known for his uncontrollable rage issues, verbal obscenity and online presence (via his own blog and a rather toxic social networking site).
Here are just a very few of his hundreds of comments over the past two years “…choke on your eggnog and die, b***h!”, “…crazy, lying, leftist, Canut b***h” (we can only assume that he was trying for “Canuck”) and “In conclusion, f**k you, a**h**e. Die in agony then burn in hell!”.
Oh yes, then there was the one that might interest Dew readers:
“Alex writes for a variety of national and international publications. A relative newcomer to the United States, she co-founded her town’s first environmental organization (The St. Marys EarthKeepers, Inc.). In turns bemused, confused, entranced, frustrated and delighted, she enjoys unraveling the eternal enigma that is the Deep South.
“Subscribe to my RSS Feed: http://likethedew.com/author/AlexK/feed/ Given that the nasty b***h has taken it upon herself to gratuitously ‘unravel’ us, Southern hospitality dictates that we return the favor.”
I try very hard not to imagine what he’s insinuating with that pithy comment.
Now let us examine the genesis of this man’s hatred and obsession (as far as anyone can tell based upon his cyber-poison). He seems particularly irked by the fact that I donated a gazebo in order to create a public park on land that the city council planned to (for no apparent reason) turn into a parking lot – cutting down 40 trees in the process. The area is now known as “The Memory Garden”; complete with a gazebo, flagpole and pathway comprised of bricks inscribed to community member’s loved ones. My bad.
Oh, yeah…and that pesky curbside recycling program that was fought for and implemented by an environmental organization that I co-founded.
But wait! My abhorrent behavior only gets worse – I am guilty of spearheading an effort to create a 2,200-book library for children to use during a free after-school program and a fund-raising drive to help the family of a 15 year old girl who is battling Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. These are, according to this man, insidious “commie, anti-American” activities.
And then there is the fact that I sought and, after four grueling and costly years, attained dual Canadian-American citizenship. That enrages him no end. He has stated that I did so with the express purpose of undermining this nation. Uh huh.
I only list these things because these are the damning issues upon which he builds his “case” and about which he, ad nauseum, flails, rails and rages. Sadly, there is no logic to be found in a diseased mind.
And now here are the effects of cyberstalking in my particular case:
My adult children live in Canada and they subscribe to Google Alerts. Each morning their alert for Alex Kearns leads them to this man’s foul rants (he has attracted two or three minions who publish similar noxious garbage about me). They read his “desiccated”, “Alinskyite”, “eco-loon” comments and are treated to vitriolic passages about his much-vaunted prowess with his handgun. They feel the psychopathic hatred that oozes from the screen and they are afraid for their mother’s safety. I don’t know what to tell them anymore.
As a free-lance writer I live in the world of Google. Many clients do a simple web-search when hiring a writer and this man has rendered my web-presence toxic. (Thank goodness for my long-term clients and those who are savvy enough to recognize the insane ramblings of the mentally disturbed).
I no longer travel about town in my golf cart with the peace of mind that I once reveled in here. My freedom has been sorely compromised. Friends and members of my two 501c3 boards have had their names and email addresses smeared through cyberspace due to their affiliation with me.
He has mocked the article (first published on this site) about my sister and used her name as an alias on an online forum in an effort to torment me.
But I am not alone in this – as evidenced by such sites as this one National Center for Victims of Crime.
We live in a world where, for the price of a computer and an internet connection, anyone can huddle by the light of the screen and wreak havoc upon others. Most law enforcement agencies are unprepared, uninformed or uncaring – and this must change.
Throughout the past two years many people have said “Ignore him and he’ll go away. He feeds on attention.” Apparently they were wrong in the former assertion. He will not “go away.” Cyberstalkers reply upon the assumption that their victims will be so cowed and unnerved that they will remain silent. But for me – for any writer – that is not a viable option.
So I will submit this article to the editors at the Dew and then await the inevitable fall-out. It will, no doubt, be re-printed on his blog or the aforementioned online forum complete with derisive, disgusting and bizarre comments and/or threats. The words that I have written here may be changed (as has been the case in the past) and the violent rhetoric will continue. I will, once again, be accused of being a part of the Dew’s “leftist community of anarchists and anti-Americans”…and the discordant beat of hatred and insanity will go on.
For any of you out there who suffer from cyberstalking (and the Department of Justice estimates that number at hundreds of thousands) I can only sympathize with you. You will go through the stages – disbelief, anger, fear, denial, shock, rage, frustration and exhaustion – and then, I hope, you will refuse to be silenced.
Words should not be allowed to be used as weapons to cow and threaten those who seek to simply state their opinion and I refuse to allow a deranged troll to rob me of my voice. Bring it on, little man. We know you for what you are.
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