In my view, men who abuse women are the pond scum of humanity. I say that with apologies to actual pond scum, which no doubt serves a useful purpose or nature would not have created it.
Not so the human pond scum of men who threaten, intimidate, beat and even kill women, something they do because they have small minds, small penises or both.
Accordingly, I hope the “man” who called the offices of Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands last week and threatened violence on both the staff and those who were set to participate in the annual Walk a Mile in Their Shoes awareness and fundraising event is caught, convicted and suffers the consequences.
In my view, those consequences should include jail time, as I would consider him a domestic terrorist. Or at least a would-be domestic terrorist.
Threats like this must be dealt with forcefully, lest they inspire others to do the same. May the caller have plenty of time in prison to think about his actions and their impact on innocent people.
That said, I did not agree with the decision by Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands to cancel the annual Walk a Mile in Their Shoes event in the wake of the threat. Not at all.
While I respect both the organization and the position they felt they were in, we simply cannot let punks win. Cannot let them control us. Cannot let them call the shots.
Especially so with nameless, faceless, gutless punks. To indulge them just encourages them, and I think we all know it.
If individuals (be they staff members or marchers) feared for their safety and did not want to participate in this year’s Walk, that’s fine. Everyone should decide for themselves, and no one’s decision should be questioned.
But those who wanted to march should have been able to do so at the State House and under the proud banner of Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands. We cannot allow that important organization’s annual march to be disrupted, much less cancelled, by a punk with a cellphone and a fake number.
We, they, all of us have to stand up and say not just no, but hell no.
And when it comes to doing that, I was very proud of our community’s response: The Midlands marched anyway.
While the official annual march starting at the State House did not take place, several mini-marches were quickly organized to make sure the punk didn’t win.
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott hosted a march in the parking lot of his agency’s headquarters to show support for and solidarity with survivors of sexual violence. He made his position clear, saying:
“We’re going to continue to be out here, so anybody who makes those threats, we’re going to find them and they’re going to get arrested. They’re not going to stop us from supporting victims of sexual assault.”
The state Department of Corrections also held a march with several hundred employees and others participating, including First Lady Peggy McMaster, who told WIS: “It’s just good we’re doing things like this to raise awareness.”
SCDOC Director Brian Stirling led that march while wearing a pair of women’s heels (as many other men have done), continuing the tradition of the guys endeavoring to “Walk a Mile in Their Shoes” to show support. “I’m in a lot of pain right now, but it’s worth it,” Stirling said, according to WIS.
Going forward, this incident should make everyone redouble their efforts and have the 2020 march the biggest ever. That includes yours truly.
While I have not marched in the event before, I would be glad to slip on the stilettos alongside Sheriff Lott and others and take a walk on the wild side in support of this very important organization.
Again, I have great respect for Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands, the work they do and the threat they felt under. But we must never cancel this march again. Pond scum just spreads.
Fisher is president of Fisher Communications, a Columbia advertising and public relations firm. He is active in local issues involving the arts, conservation, business and politics.