You know that old advice about dealing with trolls by ignoring them, instead of feeding them the attention they want?
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling doesn’t, apparently.
Instead, this is his strategy in the first inning of a game called mess with my daughter and I’ll knock you clear out of the ballpark: naming and shaming on his blog.
This is how it started: last week, Schilling – a professional ball player for 22 years – proudly tweeted his congratulations to his daughter, 17-year-old Gabby Schilling, who’d been accepted to Salve Regina University, where she’ll play softball.
Congrats to Gabby Schilling who will pitch for the Salve Regina Seahawks next year!!
A variety of responses came in.
The first batch were predictable, with responses like “Can’t wait to date her!”
Then came some schoolboy nastiness, and it spiraled down from there – with mentions of rape and other vulgar acts, in one of those one-upmanship troll contests that are so miserably common on Twitter.
The contest also sprawled into personal tweets, texts and email to “more than one party,” Schilling says.
A father’s vengeance when his daughter is threatened is a mighty thing.
The protective father in this case had, within 1 hour, tracked down the names and schools of the antagonists, as well as the sports and playing positions of 7 trolling athletes.
Schilling told the NY Daily News that so far, he’s aware of nine trolls who’ve been fired or kicked off athletic teams because of his having published their tweets – “and we’re not done.”
He went into detail about two of the worst, including their names and backgrounds.
One of them, identified by Schilling as a recent graduate of Montclair (New Jersey) State University, was fired by the Yankees as a part-time ticket seller on Monday after the team learned of his posts.
Schilling identified another troll as a Brookdale Community College student.
Avis McMillon, a spokeswoman for the New Jersey school, told the newspaper that the student has been summarily suspended:
The student has been summarily suspended and will be scheduled for a conduct hearing where further disciplinary action will be taken.
Both the trolls’ Twitter accounts have been deactivated, and their tweets have been deleted.
Schilling has no sympathy for them, even after the trolls turned apologetic:
I found it rather funny at how quickly tone changed when I heard via email from a few athletes who’d been suspended by their coaches. Gone was the tough guy tweeter, replaced by the 'I’m so sorry' apology used by those only sorry because they got caught.
A mistake is tweeting once and saying 'damn, I'm an idiot' and taking it down. These guys? They're making conscious choices to cyberbully an amazing and beautiful young woman on the internet, that none of them know by the way, because they don't like her dad or they somehow think saying words you can teach a 5 year old is tough?
Predictably enough, some of the trolls’ friends told Schilling to “lighten up”, given that their buddies were “just joking.”
Why, they asked, would Schilling say things that might “ruin someone’s life”?
Schilling’s response was apt, and it was chilling: he listed links to news articles about dozens of cyberbullying-prompted suicides, including that of 12-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick, 15-year-old Amanda Todd and many other teens who were taunted on Ask.fm.
He also reminded the trolls – and everyone else who uses the internet – just what happens when you say or do something online:
What these kids are failing to realize, what this generation fails to realize is this; Everything they’ve just said and done? That is out there now, forever. It can, and in some cases will, follow them for the rest of their lives.
Schilling told CBS News that he’s been contacted by the FBI and two local police departments, and is discussing filing possible criminal charges.