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I am a soon-to-be middle aged below knee amputee. I am also the Mommy to a very active little boy. I have learned that being a parent with a disability can create some unusual and sometimes humorous situations. This blogger is available for hire! Let's talk and learn how a blog can expand your business.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

TSA.. My Message Lost

I started my blog 14 months ago with the goal to reach out and network with other amputees. My intentions were genuine. I remember how I felt as I prepared for my amputation. I was desperate to connect with another amputee woman, to find a mentor, so to speak. My search yielded nothing.

I vowed that, when I survived the surgery and figured this whole limb loss lifestyle out, I would offer myself as a support, a sounding board and a resource to anybody who followed in my footstep. Throughout my blog I have been honest with myself, sometimes to the point of embarrassment. Until today, I have been excited about my blog and sharing my life with my readers.

Today, for the first time, I don't want to write. Yesterday, for the first time, I temporarily removed a blog post. I feel as if my words and my experience has been hijacked. I have been slandered, but it hurts more that harsh and demeaning slurs were thrown towards Robby.

I agreed to work with the Amputee Coalition of America to help gain publicity about the treatment of amputees by TSA. I have flown a lot since my amputation, but I have never had a uniform experience going through security. As any amputee who has flown can vouch, TSA does not seem to have a cohesive, standard approach towards dealing with amputees. Simply put the process varies greatly among screeners and is demeaning.

My horrific experience last month is merely an example of what happens to amputees every day. I agreed to do some television interviews in order to spur reform. My story was picked up and the situation has imploded.

Initially I was thrilled with the support that I was receiving concerning my blog post. I learned that many Americans are unhappy with TSA. I have also been contacted by numerous amputees who have been subjected to similar abuses of power. I thought that the ACA message was being received. I felt as if we were having success.

I was appalled when I read the comments and emails Sunday afternoon. All of a sudden the messages of support and of similar stories changed. I received hateful and highly personal insults. I still do not understand why my blog post, detailing my experience, would cause somebody to write to me calling me a "one-legged whore who should have died from natural selection."

My sweet Robby was referred to a "the retarded kid" and my parenting skills were questioned. I was told that I was "too ugly for a devotee" and that "amputees are freaky ugly." One particularly hurtful comment questioned whether Robby was my child because "who would want to f*ck that freak."

I was tired of reading the comments. I was tired of crying. I felt as if I was fighting a losing battle. My blog post, which earlier this weekend was received by supportive groups, has been turned into fodder for those who just want to insult others. My experience, my message, has been turned into a joke. I have taken down the post in an effort to "cool the waters" and to drop off the radar of those who merely want to hate me because I am an amputee, because I am a woman or simply because I exist. I will continue to write, and I will continue to speak out about amputee issues. I will not be abused on my own blog!

70 comments:

  1. I am sorry to hear this. Your blog post was sent to me by a friend. I work for TSA and he thought I should read what you wrote. I am sorry you have had bad experiences with TSA. All I can say is it shouldn't be that way, but I don't know the specifics so I can't really comment.

    People can be cruel and that is NOT ok,no matter who you are it just isn't ok.

    I hope things get better for you and your son.

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  2. I am so sorry the Internet trolls found you. Those scum-sucking freaks are talking about themselves. I understand your desire to let the troll comments die. Several of us stand in support of you.

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  3. Don't let thoughtless, ignorant people dictate what you should write. These people are not worth your time and energy.

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  4. Peggy,

    Unfortunately, I think the negative turn in your comments and feedback coincided with your story being posted on reddit.com for a larger audience. While the reddit communkty generally prides itself on having a left leaning, socially conscious perspective, many innocent people seem to get abused by its more immature members for no apparent reason.

    Stick to your guns, say a prayer for those who are ugly toward you, and move on knowing there are better people to meet and more important people in your life today.

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  5. I am sorry you had to go through that, not only with the TSA, but with your blogging. You are doing us all a service. Keep up the good work.

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  6. Anonymous, the reason is perfectly apparent. It's because they're left leaning and "socially conscious" (whatever that means). When mine was the last comment, all but one of the ones before it seemed quite sympathetic. In all internet discourse I've seen, the people who call themselves "progressive" and "of the left" seem to be the meanest and nastiest of all.

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  7. I just read your blog and my heart goes out to you, I cannot imagine what it is like for you to have to deal with TSA, but I do know what it is like to deal with thoughtless, heartless people..they are everywhere and they cannot wait to pounce on something, anything to hurt another human being. Not all "left leaning" people are thoughtless.
    There are those who will continue to support you. Keep up the good fight.

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  8. People who write such hateful comments as you received, Peggy, are neither Left or Right, but Extremists -- and probably mentally unbalanced, as well. I posted your article to Newsvine and was surprised to see that a few people were insulting. However, most were supportive and many of those who were not expressed their disagreement respectfully. I hope that you don't let the Extremists and disturbed folks get to you down too much, and that you keep on sharing your experiences and insights. Thanks, and all the best to you and your family, Carloz

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  9. Debbie from FloridaJune 28, 2010 at 11:11 AM

    I read about your experience on Newsvine. Situations such as this need to be publicized in order to stop it from happening again. If light isn't shed on their deplorable behavior they will continue abusing people while on their power trip. I am certain that the vast majority of people would be outraged with the treatment that you received from the TSA and the internet trolls. There are mean people everywhere. As Carloz said, "they are neither left or right, but extremists". Unlike Justthisguy who is busy pointing fingers at the left. Which, IMHO, are not the "meanest and nastiest of them all". Just look at Ann Coulter's attack on the widows of the 9-11 victims; or her & Karl Rove's personal attack on Max Cleland, the former Senator from Georgia who was a triple amputee Vietnam vet. Be strong and keep fighting the good fight.

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  10. Your story was about to break in a big way -- TSA heads were being sent links.

    You took it down because the comments became a pissing contest over who could say the most outrageous thing.

    Now your story will never be heard. What a shame.

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  11. Your post was beautiful and moving (and boy did it make me loathe the TSA even more)

    I'm sorry you had to remove it because some people don't know how to be civil

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  12. Also sorry to see the trolls found you. Sad side-effect of becoming widely read.

    Anyone who blogs or posts long enough will eventually draw them. Moderated comments are a pain but sometimes necessary.

    Don't let them distract you from what has obviously become an important forum.

    I feel for those who must submit to TSA thuggery and feel fortunate that I never have - and never plan to - line up for that abuse.

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  13. And frankly, my experiences with those on the left mirror what a few others said here. I have never seen such vile & outright hate and bigotry as I have from those on the left. I found many of they attacking my disability because they lacked the intellectual capacity to do anything more than attack me personally. Some even accused me of fabricating the fact that I have CP.

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  14. I'm sorry your blog post was the target of trolls. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there that gain strength and compassion from your posts. I never thought much about the hardships that amputees went through. This has been a real eye opener to me. Please don't let them get you down. Good luck with whatever you decide to do next.

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  15. Sorry to hear your post received so many hateful and insulting comments. For what it's worth I thought it was well-written and I admire your motives for and courage in sharing your experiences.

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  16. Hateful comments by sub-human scumbags reflect on them, not on you. Keep your faith in YOURSELF, Lady. You're worth it.

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  17. I hope you bring the post back. Internet trolls exist and they can suck for people not used to them. Please realize that it's very likely that 90% of the nasty messages you received were likely from the same small group of people pretending to be a large multitude. Most people definitely don't think like this and were glad for your post. Good luck

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  18. Hey sorry it was in California you had your bad experience. I've always been treated with respect at LAX, SNA, SAN, and ONT. Can I ask what airport you were at?

    I've given up flying with the family because it's too much of a burden for them at their age to wait for me to come out of security. I hope to hear the rest of your story later!

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  19. Tell the truth, sis, and shame the devil. Speak out for you and your boy. Only public outrage will change this. No amount of security is worth maltreating children.

    As for the trolls, shield your heart. They can say whatever they want....but they can't make it true. It's just photons on your screen, in unpleasant shapes.

    Perhaps you might find this inspirational:
    http://www.sacbee.com/2010/06/28/2853609/ny-woman-becomes-first-amputee.html

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  20. When you put things on the internet you have to have thick hide. There are people who will say means things no matter who you are. They are called trolls. The more your message gets out, the more you will receive harsh words. You have to ignore them and pay attention to the support.

    Second of all, those people saying that "the left" are saying mean things. Look in the mirror. You just judged a whole group based on a few. Now that's pretty harsh. Should I judge "the right" based on homophobic, closed minded, religious zealots? No. So keep politics out of this.

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  21. Hi,

    Your post was found by 4chan. The subsequently invaded and said deliberately inflammatory things about you and your son in order to get a reaction out of you. In internet nomenclature this is called trolling.

    Unfortunately, this will continue to happen. Each time your story receives attention, you will find your inbox flooded with troll posts. Unfortunately the only sure fire way to deal with the children (and they are children, generally aged 13-19 with a smattering of twenty somethings)is to ignore them.

    I hope this at least put the hateful comments in perspective. While it does suck, deliberately hurtful comments are a fact of life and the internet. They are MORE vicious on the internet than they would be IRL, however this is just due to the anonymous nature of internet communication.

    Simply put, ignore them, delete them, and move on.

    As for the TSA, lawyer up.

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  22. I hate to say it.. but that is the internet. You got posted on Reddit and there are a number of groups that populate that site, many many of them with an overt political agenda. It is the downside of a site that allows completely open dialog. Many of these groups are organized, some are just trolls looking for a fix. Regardless.. once a story like yours hits the major news sites like Reddit or Digg, the crazies will come out of the wood work. The best thing to do is to ignore them and continue on doing what you are doing. The only way they win is if you feed them more, or if you quit. Hang in there, you have a huge community of people who support you.

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  23. I am so sorry to hear about these people treating you bad.

    (I know all about trolls ruining a life. I cannot pay my bills and am practically homeless now because of what some thoughtless trolls once said about my security services.)

    Could I make things better by giving you a year subscription to my Zipline service?

    www.atenlabs.com/zipline

    :D

    Dan Tentler
    @viss
    CEO, AtenLabs

    ReplyDelete
  24. I hate to say it, but there are more than trolls out there. There are plenty of people involved with the TSA and their friends who are more than willing to do whatever it takes to try and stop people who bring out the scummy side of their business. This does not mean all people associated with the TSA, but there are more than enough to make life miserable for those who dare to tell the public what is going on.

    I hope the next time you blow the whistle on nasty incompetents who work for a large organization that you realize that they will try to get you to shut up and go away by any means, fair or foul. When your email box fills up with hate mail I hope you realize that each message is not only a challenge to your mission but a badge of honor that shows you have certain people frightened of your knowledge and your courage. Do not take it as personal, it is a cold-blooded tactic used by those who do not want their power and competence questioned.

    Good luck to you and your son. You must be doing a good job, otherwise certain people wouldn't be trashing you for doing it.

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  25. The internet is a hateful, awful place. Keep writing for your true audience and give a voice to the voiceless, it is amazing work. Never stop what you are doing.

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  26. I come from 4chan and I would like to say something on our defense.

    We are mean, we are cruel, we dont forgive and we dont forget. We do bad things but this...this is not our style. We attack Scientology, cat murderers, and melodramatic teenage girls, not this.

    I can assure you no such raid was planned by us hooligans over at 4chan, and most likely it was our nemesis, ebaumsworld.

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  27. It was definitely Reddit.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/reddit.com/comments/cjvoa/great_job_internet_amputee_mom_who_complained/

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  28. There are evil people everywhere, as I found out on my own blog. You might want to consider moving from blogger to wordpress. Their software gives you better options to control comments. Currently, I have comments "held" until I have approved that person once. If they don't get approved in short order, they get bored and go elsewhere.

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  29. People are going to post rude and mean comments on your blog. That's what happens when you put something on the internet. You're not always going to get nice responses. Learn to take both sides.

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  30. Please don't lose faith in the good people, to whom you belong. Thank you for speaking up and share with all of us who care. The majority is silent; at the end of the day, you make the world a better place. These scumbags can rot in the hell they've made for themselves; they live under cover, in the anonymity of the Internet. How coward and vile of them.

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  31. Sorry you had to deal with such heartless people. I hope that you can get past this, and continue on your journey, knowing that there are some people who relish in the pain of others. They're terrible people, they always will be, and they don't have a single thing on you.

    I wish you all the best of luck. John

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  32. Oh, and if I can make one suggestion, I would consider changing your options so that anonymous comments is off.

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  33. As a stranger with no real experience of similarity, i am sure it is no real consolation coming from me, but i am quite sorry for the hatred you have experienced and continue to experience. Keep sharing and pushing peoples buttons, if only because they are ignorant people with no real concept of what a true loss is, and what discrimination feels like.

    Matt in Canada/

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  34. Hey look, right above me, the wily asshole. See it's godawful plumage!

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  35. I came and read your story from the Reddit post. The story was sad and made me angry, but certainly not at you or your son. Your writing is wonderful and easy to follow and the way you express yourself made me feel as though I was there with you.

    Now that I have read this information I have a new found respect for the people in your world who must follow rules that were clearly not made with their situation in mind.

    Thank you for writing it and thank you for perusing a better result with TSA. I am so sorry that anyone thought it was OK to say those awful things to you. You are a very brave woman.

    Wishing you and your son the very best life.

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  36. The world is full of hateful people who will say anything to shock and anger.
    Listen to them, and they have won. Ignore them, and you will never be beaten.
    "Sticks and stones my break my bones, but names will never hurt me"
    Keep up the good work. Best of Luck to you.

    Lily

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  37. I'm so sorry.

    I hope you're able to get back to a place where this blog is a net positive experience for you. Best of luck..

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  38. Just another person chiming in to offer some support. I'm guessing that many of the insults you started receiving on Sunday were from TSA staff & other government employees, and should probably be taken as an indication that you're actually achieving something with this blog. At some point, I hope you'll restore the blog post you took down. All the best.

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  39. Please don't take anonymous cowards seriously, you are from what I can tell a beautiful caring and compassionate person. Your son is adorable. What your doing takes courage. You should really be appreciative of the anger. IT means your doing something right. You are thanks for fighting for justice. My Father in law is a amputee. He has traveled across the nation on his Motorcycle and is now in Europe. Thank you

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  40. Please put the post back up and ignore the lowlifes. The only way to change things is for someone to take a stand and bring the violators into the light. I understand how people's comments can be hurtful, but I have also learned to only listen to the opinions of those who know me. Please keep the pressure on the power mad scum who would humiliate others for their own pleasure.

    Jim Feeney - New Jersey

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  41. Given the average IQ of TSA workers, that could imply that there would be a higher quotient of trolls in their population.

    Darn shame what happened to you, both at the airport and at the hands of insensitive internet "users." It is hard for me to smile right at the actors in the Department of Homeland Security Theater, but feel compelled to do so simply to get the ordeal over with.

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  42. Quite honestly, whatever value your blog had, you destroyed it by taking it down. You write that you will keep blogging, but I fail to see the point. If you are willing to destroy your message, and validate the efforts of those who seek to victimize you in reprisal of your telling the truth, it really doesn't matter if you continue blogging or not.

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  43. As several others have said, the downside of the internet is that the trolls often come out to play. Personally, I don't understand the "entertainment" value of belittling and demeaning anyone, much less a stranger. Maybe it's because they know that they can say rude and hateful things without any negative consequences - like a little boy tearing wings off a fly.

    Moderating your comments (or approving prior to posting) helps to avoid this. If they can't see their graffiti going up on your wall, they'll move along to somewhere else to mark their territory.

    And no, liberals and leftists are not the worst about this - I posted a center/left comment on a predominantly right wing blog, and was savaged as a lazy, welfare-taking, idiot who knew nothing about the topic. In real life I'm a successful, long employed attorney who is nationally known in my field (which was the topic), and has never been on any form of public assistance. Yet the commenters couldn't coherently disagree with my criticisms, and they went into vindictive, false personal attacks on me instead. Both liberals and conservatives can be vicious trolls - its the one area of American bipartisanship that seems to work.

    I'm sorry I didn't get to read your original post - the TSA is a joke of an agency, and I keep waiting for the day that we wake up to the billions of our tax dollars that have been wasted on their security theater. I can't imagine how demeaning and unpleasant it must be to have to experience them as you did. I hope you'll repost your original article - I followed a link on the TSA blog in hopes of reading it.

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  44. I strongly suggest that you immediately put the post back up with the comments function disabled. The link to that story is obviously all over the internet, and every day that the link doesn't work, you lose thousands of readers...you lose your voice.

    Take control of your own blog and disable or moderate the comments! But don't let idiots silence you.

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  45. By the way, I run as support site for people who have had sarcoma. Over the years, I have posted the stories of many amputees. I discovered, as I am sure that you have, that there are many sick people out there with an amputee obsession/fetish. Any amputee who puts herself out there on the internet needs to be very careful when posting pictures, posting things that could identify her and her family members, and allowing comments to go unmoderated. In my personal opinion, the problem is so bad on the internet that I usually edit the word "amputee" out of people's stories so that it is not picked up as a search term and spread around by the freaks.

    What you are doing in supporting others and speaking up is admirable. But you need to have plenty of protective measures in place for yourself so that people do not take advantage. The problem is unfortunate but very real. I guess the response to your TSA story swung the other way in some sort of weird hate. I must say that I really don't understand that response at all.

    Similar screening problems are also faced by those who have had bones removed and replaced by titanium and metal parts. It seems to me that these surgeries are a common enough thing that there should be standard, respectful procedures in place for people who have had them.

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  46. Please, reinstate your post, but with comments disabled. Blogspot will allow you a great deal of flexibility in how you handle comments.

    What you wrote needs to be on the 'net - it tells us how callous the TSA process is, and how inhuman it's employees are capable of being.

    I'd suggest you turn on comment moderation in the future. And perhaps create and publish a comment moderation policy. As a "lefty" blogger I've found both practices very useful in handling the hateful comments that people love to toss around.

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  47. This may be hard to do, but you may consider that those hateful comments come from people with a handicap far worse than yours.

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  48. frosty2 makes an excellent point.

    I read your original post, and am sorry that I offered only silent support. I'll tell you now that I was appalled by the experience you recounted, and mentioned to friends that I'd probably be a dead woman had it happened to me, merely because my temper would have flared and the fit would have hit the shan.

    I feel terrible for what happened to you but I feel even worse for you son. It breaks my heart to see my children hurt, and to watch it happen to any child is just as heartbreaking. As adults, we can cope. We can see through the BS and act. Our children have no such powers, no such coping skills.

    What those "agents" did was traumatizing to your child, and they should be severely punished for it, over and above the punishment they deserve for their treatment of you.

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  49. This is really heartbreaking to read. There will always be ugly nasty people who have to hurt others to make themselves feel good - but somehow I still expect basic human decency to prevail. saying this stuff to you and about your child is just so sick it defies words. You could have all the skin burned off your body and you'd still have more beauty than any of the truly ugly people that said this stuff to you. They'd have to stand on a skyscraper to kiss your butt you're so far above them. I hope it doesn't get you down and for what it's worth - I just came to your blog via a link but I'll be sticking around - you are awesome and well, count one more to the # of fans you have.

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  50. I'm well aware that sometimes the internet can make it seem otherwise, but please, for your own sanity, keep in mind that most people have nothing but positive reactions when reading your posts. Soldier on, you're doing important work no matter what a few pathetic, hateful, random jerks might want to say.

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  51. Some of the negative comments are probably from some of those TSA thugs trolling the internet. Just ignore them.

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  52. Be strong & know that the hateful few are a small but vocal minority. Your blogging and work on the TSA issue is a service to several communities and I appreciate the courage it has taken to put yourself, your family, & your life out into the public eye in this manner. Please don't give thecruel & ignorant the power to affect you.

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  53. I pray that you find the strength - if you haven't already - to endure the stupidity of others. There are truly awful people out there, and, sadly, they are part of the frequently dark machine that will lead you to the light.

    Your story invokes feelings of sadness, anger, even rage in most of the folks who comment here. I hate that you have to wade through filth to find the comments that matter. This is your cross to bear. I sincerely hope that it comforts you to know this: that there are many here who would gladly help you carry your cross.

    Stay strong. We're here when you need us.



    tweaker

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  54. Sorry to hear that you that you wee on the receiving end of that kind of garbage.

    Talk about adding insult to injury.

    The best response that I've seen to this comes from Michelle Malkin. She will often publish the contents of the nasty emails along with the email address of the sender.

    With any luck, the dopes will get a taste of their own medicine in return.

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  55. I second Calladus' suggestion: put the post back up but with comments disabled, and an "update" at the top of the post explaining why comments are disabled.

    Leave the evil comments that made it through, so people can see the evil directed at you, and they know you aren't engaging in the all too common "reasoned discourse" that some bloggers do. That should explain the situation to anyone with two brain cells to rub together.

    You should probably disable anonymous comments on the entire blog for a while, too. Some of those trolls will probably resort to comments on unrelated posts if they can't comment on the one they want.

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  56. Peggy, you need to realize that what you are doing is 100% valid and needed. Regardless of what your message is, there will be those that react negatively towards what you are trying to do.

    You can either take their insults to heart, or simply remember that only when you actually start making waves and progress do these types of people come out (from under the cow droppings).

    If their only argument is to insult, ignore the idiots and keep on going. In fact use the insults as a badge of honor, if you weren't getting things done, no one would bother to insult you. Therefore, the more insults you get, the more your message is reaching those you want to reach.

    It would be nice if those people did not exist, but they do, so you can either drop off the radar and hope not to get noticed again or ignore them and reach those you really want to reach.

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  57. If you're searching for an amputee "mentor" of sorts, may I recommend Breda at thebredafallacy.com? She's a strong, inspirational woman, and a true sweetheart.

    As for the hateful loons who feel the need to mock and insult you for a physical condition that is beyond your control, they are cowards, plain and simple. It's easy to talk big, when protected by the feeling of anonymity that the internet grants.

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  58. Keep on going, lady. The TSA thing was an outrage, and lots of people are blogging about your experience.

    Probably most of those people who left nasty messages are trolls -- people who post comments just to upset you. Everyone who attracts attention gets them. They're viscious and graphic because they're powerless to do anything else.

    Ignore trolls. They do this stuff to get a reaction, so your best response is to not react in any way that could satisfy them. Just delete all their comments, put your post back up, and keep deleting their comments.

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  59. You were abused by the TSA and this message needed to be heard. I implore you to put the post back up with the same URL, but with commentary turned off.

    I'm sure the hate mail that mentions your child is scary and not fun. But for every negative message out there, you've made a positive impact on many other people.

    Please.

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  60. Keep fightin' your good fight! I'm not an amputee, but you aren't a second class citizen (unless you hate bacon, then you are) and don't deserve to be s*** on by any government agency just because they can.

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  61. debbie from FloridaJuly 1, 2010 at 10:40 AM

    To antitango:
    "unless you hate bacon, the you are".
    Too funny. Thanks for making me laugh on a rainy day here in Florida.

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    ReplyDelete
  63. You have a message to share - you need to keep sharing it. As I'm sure you've been told countless times in this post, the unfortunate thing about the internet is that it lends access to a larger audience - complete with an equal proportion of people who will be sympathetic to you, and people who just like to create as much chaos as possible.

    Since that's the unfortunate truth, the best thing to do would be to trudge on. Repost the post you took down, ignore the comments (deleting the comments would only hurt your image), accept it as another barrier to break down as you try to push forward.

    If anything, take the sudden, evil remarks as a sign of progress - people who spoke out on messages they believed in, from Martin Luther to Martin Luther King, Jr, all had to endure increasing levels of hostility in their lives. As the hostility increased, so did overall sympathy to their goals increase.

    You've done nothing wrong, so far as I can see - don't let anyone make you feel as though you have.

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  64. To reinforce what others have said, keep doing what you're doing.

    A long-time veteran of on-line political debates, I've found that I have to allow myself to completely drop all concern for what certain people write. You can delete comments, moderate comments, block them altogether, and you don't owe anyone an explanation. It's hard not to think about what people write, but I've never found that ruminating about some rude comment has ever done me any good. Even trying to figure out why someone would write such a thing is, in my experience, a waste of my time.

    Good luck.

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  65. Blogger Bob at TSA says that the TSA has reached out to you but you never responded. Please tell us that isn't true.

    He also says that TSA will be meeting with ACA soon. Is that true?

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  66. I don't know who Blogger Bob is, but I have spoken with officials from TSA. Yes, ACA is meeting with TSA (next week I believe?)

    As I've written before, this issue is more than just what happened to me. It has to deal with how amputees are screened in general. The screening process varies greatly between airports and individual screeners.

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