It was probably three decades ago that I read a short story that has stuck with me ever since. I was reading a lot of science fiction at the time, and this story was in some random anthology that I probably got out from the Indianapolis Public Library.
I do not remember the author or the title and I have never been able to track the story down. The story is set in the not-too-distant future. Through a random accident, a family traveling across the country in an RV is mistakenly caught up in some Death Race 2000-style contest, and the other drivers keep trying to kill them. Finally, and mostly by chance, the family just barely escapes, killing one of the other drivers in the race in the process. They are relieved to have survived, only to hear on the radio that the driver they beat was the reigning champion and they are now new #1 vehicle on the circuit. In surviving the race, they won it, and now all of the other drivers are after them.
The story ends there.
I think of this story whenever I hear about someone who, through no real fault of their own, has been thrust into the media spotlight. You randomly get retweeted by someone with lots of followers? Congratulations! Here comes an army of trolls to ruin your life! Survive some horrible tragedy? Now you get a million conspiracy whackos harassing you and your family because they think you’re part of some government false-flag operation.
It comes to mind now especially as I read the news this morning that the right-wing nutballs and grifters are going after the Parkland kids.
It is both inspiring and horrible that high school kids who survived a mass shooting are taking it upon themselves to fight the gun lobby and the ammosexuals. At the same time, I have to admit that when I first read about these kids taking up the fight, my first thought was something along the lines of “Oh man, they’re going to get hammered on social media.” The same bunch of creeps, assholes, and bigots that come after any woman or person of color who expresses an opinion are now gearing up to go after these kids and their families and make their lives hell for speaking out and taking a stand.
If we are not going to protect kids from getting shot in school, maybe we can at least circle up and protect them from this bunch of right-wing shitheads?