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If an essay written by a young feminist scholar in support of trans rights is violent and harmful, then haven’t we leveled all violence such that everything has become swept up by it, and the very notion of violence has lost its meaning?Certainly, at the very least, we need to distinguish between levels of violence.The split between what people wrote to both Rebecca Tuvel and to me in private, and what they felt compelled to say in public is one indication that the explosion of personal insults and vicious attacks on social media is symptomatic of something much bigger than the actual issues discussed in Tuvel’s article.In private messages, some people commiserated, expressed support, and apologized for what was happening and for not going public with their support.I have to admit, I didn’t want to enter the Facebook shit-storm and face the wrath of the “mean girls” either.

What of the PTSD caused by domestic violence, rape, and hate crimes?

Some who joined in the protests later admitted in private that they hadn’t even read the article.

And at least one person who signed a petition demanding that retract the text in question, later, when the media tides were turning, wanted to remove her signature from the damning letter.

The article was vetted by reviewers and editors, and published, after all.

The feeding frenzy in response to Tuvel’s article couldn’t have happened without social media.

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