The death threats in the virtual world meant that I had to worry about my safety in the real one.
A suspicious package was delivered with your name on it, I was told.
I received the call whilst sitting at my desk at work. My local Police Detective, with whom I’m regularly in contact, and whom I’m sure must be sick to death of hearing from me so frequently, said that the tenants living in my old apartment, who had been forewarned about possible threats, received a suspicious package.
The Bomb Squad was apparently contacted. The package was carefully opened – it had a rather unique odour, I am told.
In it, was bacon — yes, bacon — meticulously wrapped in Gladwrap. The tenants had been away on holidays and returned home only to be greeted with bacon in the mail. Oh, how they must have cursed me in that moment.
I sunk back into my seat at work, a sudden feeling of nausea came over me, the feeling you get just before you want to throw up. Everything around me, the noise, my colleagues, my computer screen faded into the distance. It suddenly went quiet – it dawned on me then. These guys weren’t just keyboard warriors. These were not mere empty threats.
Some imbecile had summoned up enough energy to wrap bacon in Gladwrap and send it in the mail. I mean, WHO does that, seriously?
Weeks before it, there had been internet chatter on right-wing websites – bigots based in the US and across the globe were discussing how they could mail bacon to my home address without getting caught (luckily they were under the impression that I still lived in my old unit).
But why, you ask?
Bigoted, and more recently Neo-Nazi and white supremacist, groups have been trolling me — on and off — for years. There’s been periods in which they closely monitor my online movements. They often take screenshots of what I say and some have even produced a YouTube video over-analysing my tweets (I’m honoured folks, really, you shouldn’t have). I’ve had at least five imposter accounts set up on Twitter and 2 on Facebook in the last year – each account would use almost identical versions of my name and photo.
The worst of the online cyber-bullying started after I weighed into the public debate about the notorious Woolworths T-shirt – which had an Australian flag and ‘Love it or Leave’ splashed across it.
Whilst I received some stock-standard vitriol following those series of tweets, the barrage of abuse really ramped up once the Australian Defence League (ADL) singled me out on their Facebook page, some three months later. They mischievously cropped a screenshot of my tweets suggesting that I was somehow against the Australian flag. Talk about delayed reaction or opportunistic fear mongering.
Cutting a long story short, the ADL post opened the floodgates to a torrent of online abuse. This was in fact a turning point. Hate, well and truly, begets hate.
A 22-year-old Queensland woman, seeing the inciting ADL post, sent me an absolute barrage of abuse.
After a lengthy police investigation, she was charged for using a ‘carriage service to menace, harass or cause offence’. She was sentenced in May to 180 hours community service. The sentence was considered to be groundbreaking. I have since lodged a compliant via the Australian Human Rights Commission, which is currently on foot, and have considered other legal options.