Are these trolls? Actual threats? How can anyone tell the difference, anyway?
Up until the moment on Thursday he allegedly murdered five Capital Gazette employees, Jarrod W. Ramos was in many ways a kind of media consumer known to every journalist in America. He hated the newspaper, and he set up a pseudonymous account on Twitter to say so, again and again. There, the surly nonsense he directed at the newspaper’s reporters sat alongside the ominous allusions to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, all of it adding up — to what, exactly? A troll campaign? An actual threat? How could anyone tell the difference, anyway?
Journalists who aren’t murdered get stuff like this in their inboxes and voicemails and Twitter mentions all the time. It was hard to know last night whether this was a reassuring thought or a terrifying one. At HuffPost, reporters have been doxed more than once. They get death threats. They’re photoshopped into gas-chamber cartoons. They receive obscene abuse in virtually every medium, many examples of which are reproduced uncensored here.
Showing up to work the next day requires people to convince themselves that none of this stuff is truly serious, that the guy on the voicemail didn’t really mean it when he said, “Your fucking cunt nigger ass is going down, you dirty nigger beast.” This particular occupational illusion was shattered on Thursday, which maybe explains why there was little comfort to be found in the news that Ramos was allegedly acting on a specific vendetta against the Maryland newspaper. Maybe journalists aren’t safe after all, they were left to wonder. Maybe one of the threats in their inboxes is real.
What follows is a handful of examples of reader correspondence from recent years, culled from HuffPost staffers’ various accounts. We’re publishing them to give you a sense of what happens when you print stories that other people find objectionable. None of the below is exceptional. Are these trolls? Actual threats? How can anyone tell the difference, anyway?
“Get Ready, ’Cause Your Fucking Cunt Nigger Ass Is Going Down, You Dirty Nigger Beast”
“Follow The Lead Of Spade And Bourdain... Do The World A Favor”
“I Hope An Illegal Alien Kills One Of Your Parents, Siblings Or Kids”
“Your Story Was Sadly Mistaken. Please Correct It By Killing Yourself ― Preferably By Getting Gang Raped By Niggers”
“Get Raped By A Somali, You Hideous Hook Nose Jewess”
“The Only Good Democratic Socialist Is A Dead One”
“When It Comes To A Journalistic Holocaust, Only The Media Is To Blame”
“Please Hang Yourself”
“I Would Suggest That It Is Too Bad HuffPost Reporters Weren’t Shot Up”
“Do You Think Your Father And Sister Killed Themselves Because They Were Related To Someone Who Worked At Gawker?”
“We Might Kill You Because We Do That Kind Of Thing”
“I Hope You Trip And Fall On A Pen That Pierces Your Jugular And You Bleed All Over The Floor”
“You Are Going To Hang High From The Nearest Tree After You Have Been Tried For Treason”