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My name is Jeff Hawkins, my twitter handle (and formerly here) is Crapgame13 (Don Rickles in Kelly’s Heroes plus my lucky number). If you look up Crapgame13, some accounts that are Crapgame13 are me, some are not. Most have my name attached.
On the internet, I’m accused of being a bigot. Here’s what that’s like in the day to day world.
This might take a bit. I was an aspiring comedy writer. I started standup very young had sold a few jokes to one talk show and asked to submit packets to others. I took sitcom writing at a summer program at NYU. When I was trying to find a job I included my resume and at that time the adage was: “if you don’t have work experience include political campaigns or organizations.” My work in college consisted of working for George Allen for Governor and Oliver North for Senate. I was 22 and stupid and told they were welcoming of alternate viewpoints. One of the producers who was an alum of my undergraduate alma mater wrote me a rather nasty letter calling me one of the worst person to ever contact her. Years later she was quoted in an article about how it was “so hard” to write conservative characters because there just weren’t any conservative writers in Hollywood. Imagine that.
I’ve always had an escape in professional wrestling. Not that WWF kiddie stuff but the southern blood and guts stuff. I even did some training because I liked the cutting promos aspect and thought I could make a go. Comedy gave me a gift for gab, but I was a bit small and the business had changed.
In college, I read USENET newsgroups but wasn’t very active. A lot of us would talk on Internet Relay Chat on major events. Deja.com gave me access when I moved to Los Angeles. I lapsed a bit but when Google acquired Deja I revisited my old haunts through Google Groups. Among people in my time there was a troll who was rather infamous in USENET circles, and a black conservative whom he didn’t like very much. There is a racial epithet based on a Harriet Beecher Stowe character he liked to throw around and I defended my friend. Little did I know that in Google groups, there’s an odd way in which someone who really knows what they’re doing can if they want, clone your address, and post as you.
So there, under my name and email, if you do a hard enough google search, you’ll find out that I, a man of letters just randomly started saying racial and anti-Semitic slurs. In Hollywood, as I transitioned from writing to try performing to make bills meet I worked in big law on an overnight shift. I had been posting at 4 am from my work computer through my Gmail. So when this person sent “my” posts to my employer I not only had to explain that yes, I a college-educated man like professional wrestling, but that yes someone would do this sort of thing due to personal politics, and that no, this wasn’t me. Luckily my IT department confirmed it, but, they could have very well fired me and not investigated.
The “I was hacked” excuse is a lame one, and people who have used it to lie makes my “I was cloned” defense suspect, as you can imagine. But, to some, it’s not so preposterous that I just started shouting epithets because “that’s what I really think.”
My fandom lapsed but for podcasts, I decided to join a wrestling news site’s message board early in the age of Obama. I believe my second post was a simple suggestion of tax cuts to help the economy and someone on there decided I was a bigot, expressing signs of Dunning-Kruger. The name-calling persisted whenever I’d post something remotely non-left wing. When they needed a moderator for the politics section because they didn’t want people clogging up the off-topic part of the board, I got the gig. My payment was a free subscription; big money.
You can imagine how much the angry leftists just knew that this fascist was going to abuse his power. Posts of mine were taken out of context. Emails sent with said edits to the owners of the site. Threads that were started about me included accusations of being a pedophile, being the victim of a pedophile, and asking what size Klan robe I wore. Once a moderator, my job performance came into question: I was deleting posts, editing posts. We have a log that automatically updates things we do, I was also accused of having the power to change that. I was accused of being lax on the job and when I pointed out I was in bed because I needed sleep that was a sign I needed to go despite there being four other moderators who were available. Each of the people who really hated me would eventually show themselves to be just as obnoxious elsewhere and be banned, so all I have to do is keep my cool and let them flame out. As time has gone on, different users of various viciousness have decided that my scalp was a valuable one. Sure enough, the cloned USENET posts made their way into the discussion. Our message board on the IT side is done on the cheap, so if you ban someone they can just come under a different name. So about once every six months I have to deal with someone posting images of these posts.
Few users defend me. Some are like people with cellphones at a fight, enjoying the carnage. Others just don’t mind if I get destroyed. Those that say something are asked “why defend the racist?” in bad faith.
So I mind my p’s and q’s and take numerous screenshots in case I’m accused of doing something wrong. I’ve had to explain it to the owners, the sysadmins and the other mods. The latter group doesn’t like me. You’ll never guess why. The one useful thing about everyone hating you is the other mods either don’t want to deal with discipline or like being liked so they won’t, who knows. So I do it… which then brings up more complaints that I’m biased.
In hindsight, the irony is the guy I replaced as moderator was a collector of Nazi memorabilia with “Rommel” in his username. They said they’d rather have the Nazi than the Republican.
I now host my own semi-successful podcast. I never talk politics on my show Twitter or on the show I host with a far-left non-raging person who also happens to like wrestling. But wrestling fandom has become woke. As with most culture, it’s also become toxic because everyone has an opinion.
Guess what has made its way onto Twitter because people on the message board who didn’t like me? Yeah.
When I see my mentions at around 100 overnight, I know what’s up. I’ve had to “out” myself to my sponsors, to my content provider, and to the audio host. They don’t understand why someone would do that to another person. On Twitter, not everyone takes my explanation verbatim. Even if they believe one part they then follow up “so you’re a right-winger” and you know those conversations aren’t going to end well. People ask why I don’t try to hide things under a different handle, and my response is because then it becomes “He was trying to hide his past as a bigot but we found it” so it’s best just to stay put. I now have a political burner but certain friendships I made were early under #tcot (top conservatives on twitter) and a lot of them now have blue checkmarks and you know those kinds of friendships where you like someone’s work but don’t really know them so those are now gone too.
So I eventually got to close the politics section of the message board. I was told I was the major problem as the only conservative and if I’d just go away, they could all get along. They couldn’t. An occasional centrist or libertarian would try to have a discussion and all of their posts would be flagged for having offensive content. I decided to take it all away. I was of course accused of “not wanting to do my job” and I should be “fired.”
After almost 20 years in legal administration I have a new job. I’ve locked down my LinkedIn so no one can find where I work. I’m still a moderator on that message board. We allowed limited politics talk as people try to talk about Minnesota and I said protests that include looting were not like the Michigan one with white people with guns. I explained that I did not like the behavior of some in Michigan, but it was legal. Then of course I was told the “optics” of defending it made me look bad in the discussion about a “racist killing” (which was an aspect I had no interest in discussing). Thank God those looters are white nationalists and Russians, right?
Later that night someone I had banned for a week for trolling posted “my” posts and here we go again: I really should be fired because this “proves”….ad infinitum
This has been my life for the last ten years or so. I always recoil at conservative commentators who think it’s all overblown, that if you just mind your words better nothing will happen to you or those willing to shun someone for a misspeak. I’m not the most Trump-y guy, but his relationship with the press echos mine online: if they accuse you of something in bad faith, don’t explain yourself, don’t try to prove it false, they don’t want to be convinced, definitely do not reveal aspects of your personal life as a defense as they will then go and dig into that (friends, family, etc.), They just want to see you beg for forgiveness or dance for them but you won’t be forgiven.
The troll who tried to ruin my life loved saying “dance, puppet, dance”
I don’t dance. So, my name is Jeff Hawkins, and according to some on the internet, I’m a bigot.Published in