Bases loaded. Here’s the wind up and the pitch. It’s a curve ball on the outside corner. Strike three, you’re out! A controversial call, people say. The clip spreads like wildfire on social media. “Outrageous! That pitch was outside! This is everything that’s wrong with umpires today!”

It starts with calls for the umpire to apologize. Then it should be a resignation. The umpire’s home address and phone number appear in online chat boards. Then the harassing phone calls start. Death threats follow soon after. Pictures of the umpire’s children are posted online.

Doesn’t really matter anymore whether it was a ball or a strike, does it?

However you feel about Dr. Susan Buchanan’s comments at a recent village board meeting, I hope you will agree with this simple truth: Dr. Buchanan does not deserve to be harassed and threatened. The story has changed. It changed as soon as the reactionary right-wing propagandists at InfoWars got hold of it. It changed as soon as the YouTube comments were flooded with vile and inexplicably anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. It changed as soon as people started posting pictures of Dr. Buchanan’s children online. Make no mistake, harassing a person and threatening their family are serious crimes, even if the anonymity of the internet makes it easy to get away with.

I call upon everyone in Oak Park to stop arguing balls and strikes on Dr. Buchanan’s statements at last week’s board meeting. I call upon everyone in Oak Park to rally behind Dr. Buchanan and defend her against the national and international campaign of harassment, threats, and terror to which she is being subjected. 

Rev. John Edgerton is the lead pastor of First United Church of Oak Park. He is proud to count Dr. Buchanan among the members of his church.

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