Misogynistic missives launched against five Seattle City Council women show that, despite what Mayor Ed Murray says, Seattle is really no better than anywhere else.
They look like perfectly nice people. Thumbs up. Holding babies.
But beside their friendly social- media profile pictures were some of the ugliest words and wishes I’ve ever seen. (Consider yourself warned.)
“F—ing stupid bitches.”
“Go home and climb in the oven.”
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“They can burn in hell.”
All aimed at the five female members of the Seattle City Council. All because of basketball. And all because of an arena that may be built for a team we’re not even sure we’ll get.
One Sonics-related Facebook page featured a picture of a man holding a baby.
“C—s,” he wrote. Then likely signed a couple of Mother’s Day cards. Nice.
Jason M. Feldman, the attorney who emailed a misogynistic rant to the five female council members who voted against closing Occidental Avenue, tapped his own attorney to apologize. That lawyer blamed Feldman’s attack on a “lack of impulse control” and said his client would be consulting with mental-health professionals.
At one point, Mayor Ed Murray chided the trolls.
“Seattle is better than this,” he said.
With all due respect, Yerroner, we’re really not. The Seattle Freeze can turn to the Seattle Flame as quickly as the Green Monster rises in Boston. It’s just the way things are when keyboards are the new trigger finger.
Days before the virtual, torch-wielding masses hurled slurs at Seattle leaders, a website called Just Not Sports posted a video of men reading tweets to the two female sportswriters who had received them. (A sampling: “I hope your boyfriend beats you.”)
It was not only painful for the women to hear, it was painful for the men to read (“I don’t think I can even say that,” one said). More than one man apologized for what another guy had written.
“We wouldn’t say it to their faces,” the tagline read. “So let’s not type it.”
Easier said than done, especially when Twitter and Facebook provide the cover of a crowd from which to spew your venom.
It’s why at least one sports-talk radio show doesn’t take as many calls as it used to. The dialogue has become so depraved, the so-called “dump” button can’t cut people off fast enough.
“We have gone away from that for a lot of these reasons,” said Mike Salk, co-host of “Brock and Salk” on 710 ESPN radio. “We take some calls, but we work very hard to make sure they’re on point. You don’t trust they’re going to say something that isn’t racist, sexist or homophobic.”
Still, it’s not sports fans, he said.
“This is the Internet. The anonymity of social media has led people to feel more entitled to say horrible things.”
Jessamyn McIntyre, executive producer for ESPN’s Seattle station, said their programming doesn’t cater to the lowest common denominator.
“We don’t try to incite anger and we don’t get a lot of that back,” she said. “You put it out there, you’re just inviting more of it.”
Besides, she said, when it’s a person talking to a person, it’s harder to be vulgar.
“Anyone who would say something like that online wouldn’t say it on the phone,” McIntyre said, “because they wouldn’t have the cojones to say it to someone with another human voice.”
In seven years, she said, she has never had a caller say anything as awful as what was said to the council members.
There is, however, a box where listeners can text the show, “and that’s where I think people are the bravest,” McIntyre said. “You’ll see some stuff.”
If it’s any comfort, the ire over the arena wasn’t solely aimed at women. One man who has posted only twice on his Twitter account aimed one of his tweets at former Mayor Greg Nickels:
“@GregNickels just watched @Sonicsgate again, you really are a piece of s—, hopefully a metro hits you.”
Then, three days later, he called Councilmember Sally Bagshaw a name I can’t print here, or even say out loud. Way to make the most of the Internet.
“It’s sick. It’s absolutely sick,” McIntyre said. “The reaction was not what I expected. I wanted the arena to get built, too, but I’m not going to go crazy.”
Salk also wanted the arena, and was angry that the City Council rejected the Sodo street plan.
“But I didn’t turn it into a ranting of women,” he said. “I turned it into a ranting of city leaders who can’t get it together to find another team.
“So what you heard is the loud few,” Salk said.
“At least I hope so.”