Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How We Came to Be

[Edited below for accuracy: per inside sources, the story in question simply rotated out of the main feed. It wasn't pulled, as I assumed at the time.]

I've been rather busy the past few days, in ways that have hindered me from getting online. In lieu of a standard post, I will explain Why I Blog. Fear not: hideous MLive trolls play a crucial role, though one documented only with difficulty.

A few weeks ago, in early March, I read a series of MLive posts regarding a particularly awful domestic abuse case. I don't remember the woman's name. The website broke a single lengthy article into four posts, each examining a different facet of the situation. The woman met, had a child with, and married the man before he turned on her. He isolated and physically abused her, told her if she left he'd kill their children, locked her in the house when he went to work. As I remember, they lived in a trailer in a rural area. She had no money, no transportation, and no support beyond what he intermittently doled out. The bitter irony was that she had once worked as a counselor for women dealing with abusive partners or domestic violence. She knew the signs, but she was no less vulnerable. As it turned out, he had been the prime and only suspect in a previous rape case. Case dropped not for lack of evidence, but for inability to establish reliable contact with the victim.

I likely read the MLive posts out of order, so it's difficult for me to reconstruct the original article. I can no longer cite via hyperlink. Her situation worsened progressively, until one day she thought he wanted to kill her, would kill her, and she fled their trailer and dragged herself down the road until she managed to attract enough attention for a rescue. MLive posted a hospital bed photo. She was unrecognizable.

The comments on each post progressed along the lines one might expect. Why didn't she just leave, why did she marry him, why did she have that kid in the first place, etc., etc. I will venture that every person mystified as to why she didn't just leave was a) male and b) hadn't bothered to read the part about her being locked in a trailer in the middle of nowhere.

Midway down a page, I found the most despicable comment I had seen to that point. It stated, though not in so many words, and in a more rambling manner, that
a) women like bad boys
b) women like feeling as though they're being martyred by their men
c) the woman in question likely met the previous criteria
d) she just wanted to be able to tell her story on Oprah.

I imagine that when I find myself pinned to the floor of a trailer in rural Michigan with my husband cinching a telephone cord around my neck, the first thought in my mind will be "Oh, wow! When I survive and sell my story, I bet this will play really well on Lifetime: Telvision for Women!"

So I flagged the comment. I laboriously explained to the automated system that these statements viciously slandered the woman concerned and by extension denigrated all women. The next day I checked whether the comment had in fact been removed. Everything relating to the story was gone. I can only conclude that every single post attracted such a shitstorm of hateful comments that MLive's online-content managers felt obligated to pull the story. All that afternoon and evening, I retold this story as The Most Despicable Thing I Had Ever Seen On MLive. The next day I bitterly regretted not having preserved and documented it when I had the chance.

And there it is. I didn't remember the woman's name, I didn't remember where she lived. Though the admins pulled every post from the Grand Rapids main feed It's all still there, if you search for it. The next day I knew what I ought to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment