A British newspaper on Saturday published names and photos of several men for making online comments about Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg that it deemed unduly harsh.
The Bristol Post’s “doxing” of the Thunberg critics came a day after the 17-year-old doomsayer addressed a Youth Strike 4 Climate protest at the College Green in Bristol, England. In deference to the event, which attracted thousands of people, the city closed roads, diverted buses and dismissed students from school.
Thunberg has gained worldwide fame for her advocacy of sweeping government action to address climate change. Her admonition to world leaders at a U.N. Climate Change conference in New York last September has since become nearly iconic: “How dare you?”
In the Post article, senior reporter Tristan Cork said that each time the local paper posted coverage of the climate strike to Facebook, users responded with hundreds if not thousands of mostly negative comments.
Cork took particular exception to mean personal comments about Thunberg.
He linked to a September column in the Irish Times headlined “Why is Greta Thunberg so triggering for certain men?,” in which the writer lamented the “anger and hatred” that “middle-aged” men have directed at “a child with Asperger syndrome from behind the safety of their computer screens.” But Cork suggested anti-Thunberg “fury” had “arrived in Bristol with a vengeance” of exceptional scale.
“Most of that abuse was just that — abuse, sharing unkind memes about her, calling her a ‘puppet,’ questioning her own actions travelling the world, or just calling her names,” he said. “But some people went even further — further than just abusing Greta Thunberg and the young people taking part in the school strike.”
Bristol Post reporter appalled by “apparent calls for violence” against Greta Thunberg
Cork went on to single out six men who, in his estimation, were the worst offenders. With the apparent approval of the Post, he published their full names and Facebook profile pictures, two of which were from 2015 and showed the men holding beers.
Among other alleged offenses, Cork faulted the men for making “apparent calls for violence” against Thunberg. He cited assertions that she should be “burnt at the stake” or that her parents “need to slap her with a brick.”
The naming and shaming of Thunberg’s critics by Cork and the Post was in keeping with a moralistic tone often deployed by liberal defenders of the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated activist.
In October, another British publication, the Independent, interviewed two feminist academics who argued that anti-Thunberg sentiment is the result of male sexism.
“Thunberg obviously scares some men silly,” Camilla Nelson, a media researcher said. “The bullying of the teenager by conservative middle-aged men has taken on a grim, almost hysterical edge. And some of them are reaching deep into the misogynist’s playbook to divert focus from her message.”
However, some conservatives have countered that the left cannot have it both ways: deploying Thunberg to fight their ideological battles while simultaneously declaring her effectively off-limits in the culture wars.
In a September essay, National Review editor Rich Lowry lamented that Thunberg is a “pawn being used by adults for their own interests.”
“Kids are powerful pawns,” he said. “The catchphrase ‘for the children’ has a seductive political appeal, while kids offer their adult supporters a handy two-step. The same people who say, ‘The world must heed this 16-year-old girl’ will turn around and say to anyone who pushes back, ‘How dare you criticize a 16-year-old girl?’”
- Greta Thunberg.: Screen grab