On Tennessee, Twitter trolls, and Trump


So it happened again. And it will continue to happen. Every time I write a scathing dissent on The Tennessean’s coverage of the University of Tennessee or every time I pen a moving passion piece on my devotion to the Big Orange,  I  gain followers from “Vol Twitter.” Then I write something Pro-Hillary Clinton, and they unfollow.  Then I write something on UT and they come back; leave again.  Repeat the cycle over and over over the last few years.

Stop it.

I’m not changing.

And more and more it’s beginning to anger me — and let me address why. It’s the expectation that because I hollar “Big Orange!”  and because Rocky Top is my favorite song that I’m supposed to be politically ignorant enough to waste the most precious of rights in the United States — the right to vote — on a twat like Trump. I’m supposed to believe that he can actually build a wall around Mexico.  (He can’t.)  Or I’m supposed to believe that Rand Paul’s “tax code” will ever actually happen or work.  (It won’t.)  Or I’m supposed to believe Ted Cruz can actually abolish the IRS. (Again, not happening.)  Or believe that the answer to gun violence is to 86 any gun laws and stash loaded guns everywhere, while simultaneously believing
that abortion laws will suddenly, miraculously, stop abortion.  Required to believe wholeheartedly that the government has the right to tell me which interpretation of a Higher Power to subscribe to and/or which Biblically-unfounded form of Jesus to worship — only the one good red-state Republicans approve of.  And I’m somehow supposed to be confused about who it was that wrote the Constitution — and here’s a hint, it wasn’t Jesus Christ. That’s what is expected of you, or demanded of you,  if you’re a Tennessee Vol fan. (Or SEC fan, right?)

Although the contradiction in that is another testament to the ignorance of those that spew it. Because why?  Because this: Even though Barack Obama got his ass kicked in Tennessee twice, he carried Knox County both times. The students at University of Tennessee don’t even believe what you’re selling, Tennessee Vol fans, so why am I expected to?

Nobody likes their politics mixed with their football. But that’s the difference.  I run my Twitter account as me — I use my name, I use my picture, and I’m a real person with opinions and a lifetime of knowledge acquired trying to form those opinions. Unlike most of these “football” turned Hillary-hating accounts which use a fake Avatar and hide behind some Tennessee title in their profile, I don’t use fabricated names  or camouflaged photos under the pretense of masquerading as a “Tennessee football”  account. Despite the protests of multiple followers, some suddenly started talking about politics a year ago and usually — ok, always — with detrimental tweets about Hillary Clinton.

Like “how can Hillary control the country when she couldn’t even control her own husband.” (Real tweet, btw. Former “Peyton Head’s” guy.)  To which I promptly asked the man that ran that account if he were seriously suggesting infidelity was the fault of the person being cheated on and not the person doing the cheating. At which time I wished that he never found himself on the other side of his wife having an affair, lest his professional capacity be called into question because she couldn’t keep her britches on.

It’s nothing but chauvinism, misogyny, and sexism wrapped into some Big Orange football paper and tied with a “Go Vols!” bow — and it’s aggravating, infuriating and insulting. And if you don’t subscribe to the small-minded beliefs:  unfollow. Which is fine by me,  but yet the Big Orange Bros will never stop shoving their political beliefs down your throat. When asked: “Are you a poli-sci major?” It’s almost always met with, “No.”

And, retweet. Which translates:  ATTACK!

I was a declared political science major before I even really understood what it was, I’ve mentioned many times that I was campaigning for Michael Dukakis on the playground, and — as I always say — I come from a loooong line of Southern Democrats who didn’t abandon the party that saved the nation during the Great Depression simply because they suggested that black kids go to school with our white ones. I’m closer to 40 than I care to admit and still live life through books.  I can read 147 in 8 months out of the year and still take time off for college football and postseason baseball.  I live vicariously through other people’s babies because I don’t have any of my own, and that’s why I’ve come to love them no matter what jersey they wear. I pull for these kids no matter what schools they are at and I love them all, defend them all — and I’ve been attacked by the Tennessee Twitter trolls for that very thing. And I found their actions shameful, juvenile, disgusting and well beneath the reputation of the University of Tennessee. I’ve seen the Tennessee Twitter trolls bitch because at the end of the game, some coach extends a first-class, Manning-esque statement or their fans wish us well, and I’ve seen them respond with: “Wait, that’s not how Twitter is supposed to work!”

Like Twitter is supposed to be solely the cyberspace of people that are angry at life, who get online to anonymously project hate and verbal vomit onto others that they don’t even know.

I don’t work like that. Not all of us do.

Some people don’t hate people that we don’t even know. Some of us love kids that play ball no matter who they play for. And some of us are eternal aunts (with state championship-winning nieces, by the way) and it’s because we always dreamed of adopting children.  Because there’s so many in this world that still need love, we don’t see the point in bringing more into it — so don’t ask me, or those like me, to turn my back on any just because they wear the uniform of a team playing against mine.

Some of us don’t get our kicks online (and those that do need some damn exercise) and we don’t go around spewing hate in the name of the Big Orange simply because we are secretly resentful over the fact that we’ve never played a down of football in our overweight and uncoordinated lives. (And by overweight and uncoordinated, I mean the majority of the men that are Twitter trolls.)

I’ve seen the whining. I’ve seen the attacking Butch Jones.  I’ve seen the overgrown and in need of exercise men on Twitter complaining when we didn’t win a football game. Or worse, bitching, moaning, critiquing and chastising our players —  like a loss really hurts you more than it hurt Josh Dobbs.  And when they dabble in politics, most of the misogynistic
Big Orange-tinged rantings which are strictly sexist tweets moonlighting as Hillary Clinton-hate sound as ridiculous talking about the political course of our nation as I would if I tried to tell Jalen Hurd what to do with his footwork.

Stop it.

We’re already at war with The Tennessean — where they print everything I write and submit (including two recent letters in the Sunday edition) but refuse to print anything I pen in defense of The University of Tennessee and the pending civil litigation that is alleged so often as truth by The Tennessean. So we already know that they’re biased against our beloved state school, we already know the verbal jabs and character attacks on our team are putting a bad image out there, but assholes like you men online (you know who you are) don’t help.

And I particularly hated that Twitter account that tweeted chauvinistic and common insult to Hillary Clinton and loosely attached it to Peyton’s name (although I stopped caring about his opinion once he, thankfully, changed it) — because Peyton Manning has never disrespected anybody in his life. Even when he should.

There are women like me that are willing to fight back — liberal, Democrat, feminist women —  against the slurs being lobbed at the University of Tennessee, but if a chunk of the Tennessee fan base really wants to do the University a favor, some of them could stop acting like such immature, ignorant assholes online. 

Hell, I was attacked last basketball season for simply being a friend of — and defending — Ashley Judd.  Most were harmless, but still. The troll attacks are just juvenile and petty.

Or, to use a word that seems to be the only insult your beloved party’s presidential nominee knows, the defining characteristic of a “Loser!”

And the demand that I’m supposed to subscribe to the mouth ramblings attempted to pass for words that are spewed by that half-illiterate, oranged face dick with a third grade vocabulary, is dull and depressing.

I demand better from anybody wearing orange. Because all I’ve ever seen pouring out of that University is kindness. I won’t let some dimwits online darken that reality.  And if you’re an irrational Hillary hater, stop following and unfollowing me.

I’m not changing. You could say I was raised to be a Democrat, but it’s more accurate to say I was born to be one. And like a true Vol fan, I don’t abandon anything I love.

Candice Mathis


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