Before Netroots Nation ’09, I always considered myself apolitical. I had relentlessly avoided the two-party system and the politics that accompanied it. Even during the G20 Conference, I objectively tweeted and posted photography. Music is my primary function as an activist.
G20 was a celebration of Independent Media. My flickr account exploded with traffic and my twitter account was widely retweeted and critically praised. NPR, YES Magazine, and others picked up on my work. Yet, on the heels of the celebration came the unexpected.
After a night of hanging out with friends, I received a phone call at 2am.
“We know where you live boy.”
“Fuck you, you liberal scum.”
The conversation happened briefly. I spoke firmly that I never claimed to be an anarchist nor liberal. Then, I started to ask them questions between their cursing. The best I got was they were Alabama conservatives.
Later, I had found out it was because of this tweet:
Stability is a pleasure for the conservatives.
I had meant to say “Conservative” not “Conservatives” trying to suggest people should try new things outside of their routine. A simple mistake had put me in the firing line of a long-standing battle.
Another threat came in over a different matter:
You have 24 hours to take it offline or we’ll fuck you up.
During Netroots Nation, I vividly recall a conversation about hate mail at the DailyKOS booth. Apparently, they receive such an unreasonable amount of hate mail. So much so, they parodied it at their DailyKOS after party. DailyKOS staff read hate mail into webcams as if they were the source of the emails.
What I take out of these experiences:
People are attentive. No matter the message or response, there are readers on both sides.
There is importance in the message. Enough so there are those who will resort to threats physical violence silence speech.
Role models are crafted out of courage. Freedom of speech is an easy forfeit for perceived safety. Silence should never follow intimidation.
And it continues to this day. Most of them are passive-aggressive social networking messages. Some appear as comments to my blog; some appear as insidious Myspace messages. I can’t help but think, it is a sign of doing something right.