In June, some of Pete Evans' biggest fans threatened to kill me.
Or, even better, have me kill myself.
I'd written a piece for Mamamia about how Evans' social media posts were veering far away from pictures of delicious salads and towards reposts from and links to the beliefs of Holocaust deniers, anti-COVID conspiracists and known racists. The story I wrote contained only images and captions taken from Evans' own Instagram account. The original headline was, in retrospect, more than a little provocative: Pete Evans Is Not A Truth Teller. He's Just A Narcissist Who Makes Nice Salads.
Evans didn't like it. He posted a screen-grab of the headline and my byline. Not an actual link to the story, but just the headline. And just like that, his army came for me.
I'm not asking for any sympathy over the torrent of abuse I received next. I'm a woman who writes on the Internet, so being called names is not a novel experience. And I'm sure Pete's followers would argue I started it, which I did. Even so, the level of vitriol, and the calls to 'neck yourself, you dumb b*tch,' were unusually numerous and consistent. Being the subject of that level of abuse is not fun, however often it happens. It plants a tough little nut of fear and anxiety in the pit of your stomach that sprouts and spreads with each new notification.
Watch: Pete Evans on 60 Minutes. Post continues after video.
But I blocked and deleted, blocked and deleted, and quickly, Pete's army moved on. To Magda Szubanski, after she appeared in a public service announcement on behalf of the Victorian Government. To Dr Siouxsie Wiles, a New Zealand microbiologist who publicly criticised Evans. Every time, it was the same tactic. Evans posts a headline or a snatched video grab, says little, and his troops mobilise. Pete posts a popcorn emoji, and sits back to watch the fun unfold.
Pete Evans is not responsible for the actions of his followers, but for someone who preaches "love and light" as his ubiquitous sign-off, he wields a particularly toxic power to intimidate those who criticise him.