Today is one of those posts I wrestled with. The trial of George Zimmerman in Florida ended today with a verdict of not guilty. Anger, outrage, disbelief flooded Twitter. But there was one tweet that crossed the line.
All them jurors should go home tonight and kill themselves for letting a grown man get away with killing a kid—
Roddy White (@roddywhiteTV) July 14, 2013
For those who have read my blog before, they know that I have called out fans for their behavior, including their tweets. Harassing, threatening or wishing ill-will on athletes for any reason is uncalled for. Nobody deserves that type of treatment from another person. Nobody.
When I have put fans on notice, it’s usually related to their responses to an athlete’s on-field performance. Thus, why I wrestled with this post tonight. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that if I call out fans, I have to call out athletes too.
White, and many other African-American athletes like him, could identify with what happened. They saw themselves in Trayvon Martin. They too have walked in his shoes. They may have been suspected of something simply because of the color of their skin. They too may have been made to feel lesser or belittled simply because of who they were.
He was angry about the verdict. White has every right to be angry. But wishing people would kill themselves? That’s no different from someone telling Baltimore Ravens’ wide receiver, Torrey Smith, to kill himself.
White went too far.
Needless to say, there was some disagreement
.@roddywhiteTV so sorry that you're so inappropriate. We held you in such high regard. Good bye and good luck. We're not Falcon fans anymore—
Yoenis Cespedes (@AppFlyer) July 14, 2013
ASSHOLE ALERT! @roddywhiteTV: All them jurors should go home tonight and kill themselves for letting a grown man get away with killing a kid—
Jon McC (@fatdaddybulldog) July 14, 2013
Believe it or not, this was actually tweeted.
Off my fantasy team MT @roddywhiteTV All jurors should go home tonight & kill themselves for letting a grown man get away with killing a kid—
Amy Lutz (@amylutz4) July 14, 2013
He had his supporters.
TVLover (@ILustTv) July 14, 2013
I agree RT @roddywhiteTV All them jurors should go home tonight and kill themselves for letting a grown man get away with killing a kid—
chill payne (@onlychill) July 14, 2013
True! RT @roddywhiteTV: All them jurors should go home tonight and kill themselves for letting a grown man get away with killing a kid—
Jazzybabe (@JazzyTdaBoss) July 14, 2013
Yes, we are free to tweet whatever we want:
So apparently people are mad at @roddywhiteTV for voicing his opinion but they do it to? Smh. Hope no consequences come from it—
Terrance Peterson (@ET_CME) July 14, 2013
But we should be prepared for a response, good or bad. Thankfully, there was one voice of reason in response to White’s tweet:
Damien Woody (@damienwoody) July 14, 2013
Deadspin curated athletes’ reactions to the verdict, here. Hat-tip to them for the James Harrison tweet that lead me to this Facebook post. To “be” angry is fine. It’s what you do with that anger, even on social media, that you have to be careful.
This tweet from the Philadelphia 76ers’, Royce White, speaks volumes. Wonder if White or Harrison will listen?
The world is showing its colors everyday, why be outraged today... just to wake up tomorrow and doing nothing CONSTRUCTIVE about it? #Reform—
Royce White (@Highway_30) July 14, 2013
I know this story has nothing to do with sports. But there’s no excuse for White’s tweet or Harrison’s Facebook post.
@roddywhiteTV come on, Roddy. You're better than that.—
Van (@Vanakatherock) July 14, 2013
Social media has the power to change or even validate the way people think. Ways of thinking that can be positive or negative. Ways of thinking that can bring dialogue or more fuel to the fire. Telling people they should kill themselves won’t bring Trayvon Martin back. Threatening to kill “someone”, even in angry-jest, won’t alleviate Trayvon’s family’s pain.
If I tell fans “we” should be better, then athletes should too.