One of the more reaffirming internet stories of the past year was that of the way the online community rallied to the aid of Seattle voting rights activist Andy Stephenson, raising $50,000 in 11 days to pay for surgery to treat his pancreatic cancer. One of the more disturbing internet stories of the past year was the way some vile righties deflated the feel-good story — and successfully slowed both donations and Andy’s treatment — by launching a vicious, heartless smear campaign charging that Andy scammed his donors by faking his illness.
Well, I suppose Andy has once again proven his detractors wrong. He died Thursday at the age of 43.
I never met Andy, and was only peripherally aware of him and his activities. From all accounts he was a great guy, and a tireless activist. I share my sincere condolences with his family and friends.
But I also share their anger, as Andy’s illness and the right-wing response is a vivid example of how dirty politics can have potentially deadly results. In a post to Democratic Underground entitled “Say hello to a bottomless rage,” William Pitt displays what I believe is an appropriate response to right-wing tactics that delayed Andy’s treatment, and possibly cost him his life.
Throwing sand into the gears of the PayPal donations blew Andy off the surgery rotation, causing him to have to wait a lot longer for his operation.
Spewing the claim time and again that the whole sickness was a fraud, very publicly and on as many blogs and boards as you could find, robbed Andy of the hope and will he needed to overcome this thing.
I think you fuckers should be forced to dig his grave. I think you should be buried with him.
I kept my mouth shut about you these last weeks because every time I said something about you or to you, you got a stiffy from the attention and ramped up your viciousness again. That’s over with now.
I am going to make you famous in all the worst kinds of ways. I know your names, I know your addresses, I know your IP numbers, I have screen shots and copies of every vile statement and threat you ever made. I know everything I need to know. Get ready for the ram.
Frankly, I hope William can follow through on his threats.
A memorial service for Andy will be held at Town Hall in Seattle at 1119 Eighth Ave., on Saturday, July 16, at 2 p.m.