Recently I was pulled into a bit of social activism because I wanted to plan an adventurous weekend for some friends and I who desperately need to reconnect outside of being parents. One of my fun outdoorsy friends recommended we try kayaking at a Nature Center in Fort Worth, Tx, USA. She said the Center was beautiful and along with renting some kayaks to enjoy the water there was good hiking and wildlife. Throw in a picnic and it sounded heavenly.
What could possibly go wrong planning that right?
She couldn’t remember where to rent the kayaks but a quick Google search brought me to the company’s Facebook page where the first post I saw was the company body shaming women, using the phrase “jew down”, and a host of other inflammatory phrases.
If any of that sounds familiar it’s probably because the news of what was posted on the Facebook page and defended by the owners and its supporters has gone global. I’ve been sent copies of articles that have appeared all over Texas, the US, Europe and the Middle East. Repetitively using the phrase “jew down” certainly caught the attention of Israeli papers.
I originally felt for sure the company had to have been hacked because in 2017 NO company is going to insult its customers base like this. I called the company on 15 June 2007 at 13:28, my first and ONLY call, which my phone records will back up. I explained I wanted to rent some kayaks for a group in July but also let them know they had been hacked due to some questionably bad posts on their page. The person I talked to denied they had been hacked, refused to identify herself or allow me to talk to an owner. At that point I realize that this company really had posted those things and truly believed what they said so I no longer felt comfortable giving them my money.
After that I shared the information on my personal Facebook and Twitter, let my friends know, one of them did an interview on NBC DFW about it, and we brought it to the attention of the City of Fort Worth, the Mayor’s office and the Jewish Anti-Defamation League. Why? If a company wants to believe this stuff then go ahead but they were running their company on government land as a government vendor. The City of Fort Worth would later announce through their various social media outlets they had cancelled the contract which allowed this company to operate their business on government land.
When you run a business through government connections you are in essence representing the government and it was not appropriate to have a representative of Fort Worth using language like “jew down”, body shaming women, insulting people, etc.
All we kept asking was that the company apologize and agree to stop insulting customers, stop purposely driving people away because of their body size, gender and/or ethnicity. Instead they kept claiming they had a right to say those things; you do have a right to Free Speech, you just don’t have a right to no consequences.
I made a point to avoid personal attacks, I came close when I nearly let my anger get the best of me, but a fellow activist pointed out that resorting to name calling makes us no better than the argument we’re trying to make. I never physically threatened harm against the owners or their family, I never encouraged anyone else to do so either. Everything I shared was public information about the company, I did not go to the owner’s personal Facebook page and pull information to attack him with.
Yet for whatever the reason the owner has fixated on me and continued to threaten me, post my picture on Facebook pages and has now even posted my parent’s home address on social media. There have been HUNDREDS of people who have left comments attacking him, threatening him and his family, he claims to have gotten death threats and his daughter called names yet I did none of that so why is he coming after me instead of those people? Why is it MY face that gets cut out and put on a troll’s body?
I’m an easy target. I’m fairly liberal, I’m a Bernie Sanders supporter, I’m bisexual, I’m from an immigrant family, my daughters are half-Mexican, my family has always been big supporters of the Jewish community, I could go on. Rather than try to salvage what happened due to his own choices the owner has instead chosen to insult and threaten me and my family to the point he purposely chose to cause mental suffering, anxiety, harm to our reputation and place us in a perpetual state of fear by releasing my family’s address to his supporters with a big red background like he was placing a target on their backs to encourage his supporters to come after them and where.
I have continually notified the police, city hall and Mayor’s office in Fort Worth as to what is happening but have been met with silence. The Mayor of Fort Worth is a woman which just makes it worse when she chooses to say nothing while a fellow woman is harassed and victimized by a man in her city.
It’s 2017 and women are still second class citizens.
All that this whole situation is teaching us is that men can do whatever they want to women and get away with it.
I’m embracing the insults and denigration that have been hurled at me and I’ve created a place where everyone is welcome regardless of gender, sexuality, race or culture. A place where we can ALL be Trolls together 🙂
Come embrace your inner Troll: Tara the Troll
*Update – it’s been 2 months since this happened and the owner has continued to stalk and harass my parents including driving into their city and posting on Facebook how he was trolling for them.