About a month ago I posted a story where Tom Green, Comedian took it upon himself to let listeners and hosts “Opie & Anthony” that he wanted to have the twitter handle of an individual who had the same name, a Canadian Media Professor named “Tom Green” at a College in Toronto, Ontario. During his interview he let Opie & Anthony know that he had attempted to get this twitter handle from the Professor but Professor Green spoke to him and declined for his own reasons. What resulted was a rampage of tweeting and cyber bullying.
Original story here a-series-of-unfortunate-slanderous-events
I followed up with another post on the same story after the hosts and the listeners continued to cyber bully Professor Green tom-green-twitter-controversy-radio-hosts-continue-to-cyberbully
Opie & Anthony have never apologized or stated that they did anything wrong. This is a sad state of affairs for the airwaves. These hosts have no filter, boundaries or guidelines that they adhere to and can say anything they wish.
When this incident took place Professor Green opened up his twitter account and it “blew up” in front of him with thousands of tweets from the Opie & Anthony listeners with the most hateful and derogatory remarks imaginable. Below is a story that CityTV reported in Toronto where the Professor lives. You can see that the police officer when shown the tweets found them to be beyond cyber bullying and to the point of “criminal”.
Professor Green as you can see is a professional and I would say, quite forgiving man and he proved that once again by allowing me to ask him a few questions about how he felt with respect to the incident that “infiltrated” his life and twitter account for a few weeks.
Q & A WITH PROFESSOR TOM GREEN
Q After watching the CityTV News report the police officer mentioned he felt it went “beyond bullying into criminality”. Have considered taking this incident and reporting these tweets to the police?
A Taking over 3,000 individual responses to law enforcement is not a good strategy. Had I suspected the threats were credible or felt there was a risk to my personal safety— of course . A few hundred were sent directly to Twitter and these people usually had their accounts suspended.
Q Tom Green did write an open letter to you. Did you feel that letter was a heartfelt answer/apology to what happened on the Opie & Anthony Show?
A I think you have to look at that letter “in context”. Context of what? His career. He, too, was getting slammed and realized this could affect him if he didn’t get in front of it. I perceived it as being more damage control than apology. If you listen to the YouTube broadcast he had ample opportunity right at the start to shut it down but didn’t.
Q Tom Green also offered to meet with you and “bury the hatchet” so to speak, would you consider this?
A I understand we are going out for dinner next time he is in town and I have accepted as long we use plastic cutlery.
Q How has this affected you, your family and your career?
Not in the least other than giving me a prime opportunity to give my students a really up close and personal look at how cyber -bullying starts.
Q How, while this event was occurring has this affected you emotionally?
A It really didn’t bother me all that much. I live an online existence, so to speak, and in my circles I am regarded as a public figure which means my work is constantly open to public scrutiny and comment. Having gone through the review process for my books and comments attached to my tutorials I have learned people are entitled to their opinion and to leave it at that. I couldn’t ignore this one because, being a professor in a publically-funded higher education institution, accusations of pedophilia and sexual misconduct can have profound, professional, personal and legal implications if they “stick”. That sort of thing needs to be dealt with swiftly and forcefully.
Q How do you feel about your privacy now and have you ever been concerned that you may be harmed in any way?
A No. In this situation you have to “consider the source”. Opie and Anthony’s followers are not exactly Nobel laureates. What irritates me is they unleashed their followers on a private citizen. That, to me, is an abuse of their public persona and celebrity. It is great for their ratings and not so great for their victim. What I don’t think they expected was for me to react as forcefully and publically as I did. By making the incident a “poster Boy” for cyberbullying I put them into an awkward position where they had to state why they didn’t regard this as cyberbullying.They still haven’t responded and don’t expect them to.
Q Did you ever think, that as a non-celebrity you would be subjected to this type of attack and controversy?
A No. This incident clearly shows that people who have “celebrity status” need to be very careful of what they say or do to motivate their fans.
Q Have you spoken to the “Shock Jocks” that created this fiasco? I understand they feel they have done nothing wrong, but as we know this is all for viewership and ratings so why would they say anything else, however if you have spoken to them what did you say and what was their response?
No. Their only response was the tweet in response to the cNet article.
Q Tom Green has suggested that this was “not his fault” but I have followed this closely and heard the entire show. I believe he did “egg these people on” by mentioning you giving him his twitter name in the first place, have you spoken to Tom Green directly and do you agree with my hypothesis?
A We have and I hope you understand that I regard that conversation as confidential.
Q I understand that you have no intention of giving up your handle and I commend you for this. I can see that you will not be bullied! You have been slandered and disrespected in ways I could never imagine. After you commented on my article on my site Stop Global Airwave Abuse there was a disrespectful reply. Are these tweeters ebbing or are they still coming out of the woodwork?
The string ran out a couple of weeks ago as the O&A followers saw a shiny thing and flocked to look at it. Short attention spans?
Q I have done some research on the Opie & Anthony show and found that their demographics are between the ages of 18 and 40 and mostly men. Are you surprised, even though we do not know this as a fact, that most of this cyber bullying is done by men and within this age group?
A I can’t comment one way or the other around that generalization. Having said that , I concluded the bulk of the offensive tweet came from people in that cohort. I did learn something very important, though. What a lot of people miss around cyberbulling is that cyberbullying is a single message. I could sit at home and send you something offensive using the anonymity of the internet and think,”Got you”. Now multiply that one response by a factor of 100 or even 1,000. It is the cumulative effect of the messages that does the damage. I pointed this out in my classes by highlighting, uncensored, one rather vile tweet and pointing out that person must have felt pretty cool. Then I revealed a few and made the point: It isn’t one. It is many feeling exactly the same way as the one. What they don’t consider is their action is multiplied and how would they feel if the tables were turned on them and they were the recipient?
Q How have your students reacted to this disrespect shown or have you even spoken to them about it? Have you incorporated it into your media classes and if you have in what way?
A The day it started I walked into my class that afternoon, flipped on my twitter feed and said, Let’s talk about cyberbullying because it is happening right here in front of your eyes and it is happening to me.” It was an interesting class to say the least.
Oh to be a fly on the wall at that class. I am an alumnus of Professor Green’s college and would love to have had him as a Professor. As you can see he has a wonderful sense of humour and has remarkable resilience. I admire him very much. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Professor Green for taking the time to speak with me. I hope that this will make people aware of how quickly the social media can change the life of one person in a matter of seconds. It can be used for positive and negative, unfortunately so many times it is the latter.
“Never take a person’s dignity: It is worth everything to them, and nothing to you.” – Frank Barron