Former Russia Today journalist, Abby Martin, who’s show Breaking the Set asked the questions most journalist would dream of, has faced a recent tirade of online abuse of the highest order for challenging the hero worship of American idol, Chris Kyle, the main protagonist in the recent movie American Sniper, by wearing a t-shirt that said ‘fuck Chris Kyle’.
Fans, or rather fanatics, of Chris Kyle, have been posting messages on Facebook and Twitter calling for Abby Martin’s rape and murder, for daring to question the American war porn account of deceased soldier, Chris Kyle, in the movie American Sniper. The movie, starring Bradley Cooper and directed by Clint Eastwood, made the case that Kyle was a hero that saved countless American soldiers lives at the barrel of the rifle he used during his four tours of Iraq. He is renowned for allegedly having the most confirmed kills of a US sniper. In tense scenes throughout the film, it justifies the killing of women and children for ‘the greater good’ in protecting the lives of US soldiers.
The response is chilling.
It’s amazing to think you call out a war porn movie like American Sniper for what it is, sick propaganda, and people respond like this. Where is the media and Hollywood outrage and denouncement of this? Justifying the murder of children ‘for the greater good’ is never right, we should have been asking ourselves the question of why we were there and why these children were radicalised in the first place? Perhaps they watched their mothers or brothers and sisters get blown up by drones or cluster bombs? Instead people want to rape and kill a journalist for asking the questions or challenging the narrative that 99% of the mainstream media wouldn’t dare to ask.
These online trolls accuse Martin of disgracing the memory of their idol, citing the fact that he died for her right to freedom of speech and to wear skirts, which is ironic but not because Abby Martin was exercising her freedom of speech, but because Chris Kyle was killed by a veteran with mental health issues on a shooting range in America, a year or so after he left the military. That’s not an issue of freedom of speech, but a serious issue surrounding mental health and the post traumatic stress of our armed forces peronnel subjected to endless tours of a horrific war zone that our political leaders created purely for business interests. Nothing to do with freedom. Anyone that wants to challenge that should listen to the impassioned words of Patrick Stewart.
The threats are ironic as these right wing rantings would be from the same people that think it is appropriate for Pamela Geller to hold a cartoon exhibit of the Prophet Mohammad but not for Abby Martin to wear a t-shirt that besmirches their false god. The same people would, I am sure, also agree that the illustrators at Charlie Hebdo had the freedom to offend with their depictions of Mohammad, yet they do not see that this right extends to Abby Martin or others stands out as rank hypocrisy.
The freedom of speech extends to us all, including the freedom to disagree. No one has the right to threaten another for disagreeing with that speech. The challenge is to have a better a better answer to the thing you disagree with.
In the mean time, people like Abby Martin will have to face down these trolls, a problem becoming ever more prominent in the Internet age, particularly for women and young people, which says much about how far we have come, our misogynistic underbelly and how civilised we are in the year 2015. Social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter have much to do in combatting online abuse, though the former has a much better report feature than the latter, too much time goes between a report and action being taken.
With nationalism on the rise across the globe as media outlets continue to bombard us with patriotic babble and meaningless slogans such as ‘support the troops’, delusional behaviour like this will only increase. So much for the freedom of speech and the freedom to disagree.