Curt Schilling Pitches High and Inside
Posted by gradywalton
I have many character defects, but tweeting is not one of them. Still, news stories that involve Twitter and other social media catch my attention. Perhaps you heard the recent news about former Major League Baseball player Curt Schilling’s response to internet trolls who verbally, and anonymously, attacked his 17-year-old daughter with sexually explicit tweets after Schilling posted some congratulatory remarks about his daughter’s accomplishments. Schilling investigated and exposed the true identities of some of the trolls who attacked his daughter. His actions resulted in rather unpleasant personal consequences for the trolls, consequences that may follow them in cyber space for the rest of their lives. The story sparked a debate about whether people need to accept the ugliness and ill-manners found in social media as “just the way it is”, or whether people need to be held accountable for the things they say, even when said anonymously in virtual reality. Schilling points out the importance of this topic because virtual reality has become reality for today’s young people.
So, does the Bible have any instructions about proper behavior in virtual reality? Yes, one such instruction is found in Matthew 5:21-22 where it says:
“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”
Various Bible translations interpret these two verses a bit differently. We won’t dive into the weeds of translation here. It is enough to know that these verses warn us against insulting language that spews from a heart filled with anger. From God’s perspective, anger and insults can progress to the same level as murder. In these verses, Christ himself condemns the use of insulting epithets as an offense against humanity, the same humanity created in God’s image. Words matter in God’s world. “In the beginning was the Word” gives us a glimpse of the importance of words. Think of it like this: according to the Bible, calling someone a fool is akin to calling them the N-word.
We can’t expect unbelievers to fully grasp the spiritual implications of anger-driven insults (I myself do not fully comprehend it), but we can trust the teaching of Jesus on this issue and we can set an example by the way we treat people, including when we are online at 2 AM in the dark of our basement while tapping away at the keyboard under cover of a silly pseudonym.
Who among us can see into the heart of an internet troll, or anyone’s heart for that matter? Is a troll’s heart filled with jealousy, misplaced anger, the hurts of life, revenge? Did the trolls who attacked Schilling’s daughter hope to hurt him because they disliked him or his team when he played professional baseball? These are disturbing questions. And I find it especially disconcerting that there are thousands, perhaps millions, of people online who are filled with such bitterness and rage. The internet and social media have been wonderful at giving more people a voice, but technology also gives a voice to the ugliness in the human heart.
So, should people be held accountable for the things they say on social media? Sure, but even more important than what people say online is what people have in their hearts. And only God can heal the human heart.
Posted on March 19, 2015, in Uncategorized and tagged Anger, Civility, Comments, Consequences, Curt Schilling, Epithets, Hatred, Insults, Manners, Reality, Rules, Social Media, Speech, Trolls, Tweeting, Twitter, Virtual Reality, Words. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.