Police investigating controversial Twitter account
Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
While some found the account offensive, another faction of UNH students found the restriction of their right to freedom of speech to be even more offensive.
“I don’t think it’s right for anyone to say whether [the author (s) of] this account does or doesn’t have a right to say what they want,” Gregory Hadley wrote on Freid’s Facebook page.
An aggressive verbal tug-of-war ensued on Freid’s Facebook page, with members from both parties commenting on the issue. The commentary evolved into personal attacks on Freid. The overarching concern from proponents was that, legally, the authors of the handle were entitled to speak their minds, and also that they had done nothing wrong. Proponents argued that the account was meant only to provide humor. In addition, dozens of other UNH students, many of which were women, retweeted the authors’ original tweets, and then added their own tweets to the account.
Several students commented that the account was only intended to be funny, and that Freid made a mountain out of a molehill, so to speak.
The original intent of the Twitter account has not been confirmed, as the anonymous creators did not respond to questions via email.
“I thought it was wicked funny. That sucks,” senior Shannon Poges said. “People take things way too seriously to try and shut it down. Just don’t read it if it offends you.”
“I’ll sure miss the humor - even if it was extremely vulgar,” junior Sean Moreau said.
Freid responded that, “A big piece to working on issues like this is to be addressing root causes of sexual violence, domestic assault, rape, etc. We shouldn’t just be dealing with the aftermath, we should be trying to prevent it. We’re facing a problem of epidemic proportions when 1 in 4 women on college campuses will experience rape or sexual assault during their time as an undergrad.”
In addition, Freid said that specific people were in fact targeted in the early stages of the account. Pictures that UNH girls posted of themselves on Twitter were incorporated into the tweets. There were 10 to 15 of these tweets with pictures.
Student Scott Dashy replied that “This idiot’s tweets do not endorse, promote, or even imply rape. By your logic, anyone who makes any ‘questionable’ remark can also be endorsing rape, and is thus a threat to women and a rape supporter.”
While many students agreed with Dashy’s points that the account was meant only to be humorous, several also felt that he (and others) went too far in attacking Freid.
Junior Emily Bird said, “I think that the comments following Alex’s statement were extremely uncalled for and rude. I give him (Alex) props for saying what he felt and for sticking up for others, even though no one may have needed sticking up for in the first place. To read the comments following his statement and have them be from fellow students at the university is embarrassing. I think that the Twitter account did have humor to it and that it needed to be taken at face value and in the correct context. However, both sides need to take a step back and realize that the controversy is causing more of a problem than the account originally was.”
UNH alumni Eric Hadley, who compiled most of the Facebook commentary into a Google document (which was picked up by barstoolsports.com on Sept. 6) stepped in to share his perspective.
“Many of UNH_D’s tweets are asinine and the activities described do not strongly correlate with a female’s sexual drive, but many do. At its best, UNH_D verbalizes some of the little lessons one comes to learn about the interplay of the sexes. …it is a light dish of immature humor and is not dangerous at all,” Hadley said.
Hadley graduated from UNH last December with a degree in political science, and said that his reason for becoming involved was that this was a “glaring free speech issue.”
“Silencing someone means that everyone loses out,” Hadley said.
He also said that, while he believes Freid’s heart was in the right place, the controversy could have been handled in a more effective way, perhaps with getting a dialogue going, rather than attempting to have the account shut down.
“Overall, though, I think that it’s a positive thing for everyone because it got people talking about the issue,” Hadley said.
Freid has experienced both positive and negative responses to his activism. He said he received several messages from survivors of sexual assault who did not feel comfortable speaking out themselves, and who appreciated that Freid stood up for them. In addition, he said he has heard that many students have brought up and discussed the issue in classes.