On Sunday, Packers receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling received social-media death threats after a key fumble cost his team a game. On Tuesday, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers defended his teammate.
“I would say that’s extremely unnecessary,” Rodgers said of the death threats, during an appearance on The Jim Rome Show. “I understand the rooting interests in the game and how important it is to so many people, and it’s really important to us, too. But I think that’s very unnecessary. I’m sorry he had to go through that. I’m sure if I was checking social media, I’m sure there would be plenty of games where that happened to me.”
It’s more than extremely unnecessary. It’s extremely illegal. Statements that if made in person or in writing would trigger prosecution often are met with a shrug when they’re made in a tweet. It shouldn’t be that way; dating back to early 2012, when 49ers receiver Kyle Williams received death threats after multiple miscues in the NFC Championship loss to the Giants, those who make those threats should face criminal charges.
“My advice to our guys would be to maybe put down the social media, whether it’s coming off a great game or coming off a game where you made a mistake,” Rodgers said.
Apart from that not being realistic, it also keeps the player from being aware of the threats. Most presume that death threats aren’t credible, that anyone who would intend serious harm on another would simply commit it without advance warning. That doesn’t make the threat anything other than what it is — a violation of the law, aimed at terrorizing the person who receives it.
Social media has become a cesspool because decent, civilized persons have allowed it to become a cesspool. When a line is crossed into comments that don’t find refuge in the First Amendment, action should be taken.