MamaMia reports that Charlotte Dawson has been hospitalised after enduring “eight hours of unrelenting abuse on Twitter” following her much publicised outing of a Twitter troll who had tweeted “please go hang yourself” to the former model.
Dawson’s MO when it comes to handling Twitter trolls is automatically retweeting them, and throughout yesterday her feed was littered with abusive messages like “@MsCharlotteD You can’t ban us, you stupid whore! You’re just making it worse for yourself. Go and hang yourself, you utter waste of oxygen.” and “@MsCharlotteD PLEASE DO THE PLANET A FAVOUR AND GO HANG YOURSELF, FREE SPEECH BITCHES”.
Eventually Dawson, who, ironically, is an ambassador for anti-bullying program Community Brave, signed off from Twitter at 2am with a disturbingly prescient final message:
Earlier today a spokeswoman for Dawson said, “She is in hospital and she is OK.” Evidently words can hurt or Dawson wouldn’t be in hospital. Trolling is a normal, ingrained part of the Internet and, depsite the negative implications, can be positive, powerful (and often hilarious) way for people to have their voice and opinion heard. But continual bullying and intimidation has been proven to be dangerous – as the powerful new documentary Bully explores, and it’s almost an impossible challenge to combat bullying but protect freedom of speech.
With that said, calling someone a fuckhead or a fat mole is one thing, but using “free speech” as a defence for imploring someone to commit suicide seems symptomatic of high profile types like Andrew Bolt, or white supremacist groups, who have a history of championing absolute freedom of speech as a constitutional smoke screen from which to promote hate, discrimination or libel.
And so, while the hundreds of people who told Charlotte Dawson to “go hang herself” were within their rights to do it and haven’t broken any law, they have exposed themselves as terrible, vicious human beings – and there’s nothing anyone can do to fix that.
Photo by Lisa Maree Williams for Getty Images