A college student said she was bullied after she posted a photo of her posing alongside Vice President Mike Pence.
The student from Scripps College—a liberal arts women’s college—said her peers believed her photo with Pence “constitutes direct violence and oppression against marginalized groups.”
In an article she wrote in her school newspaper detailing her experience, McKenzie Deutsch, explains how she feared being “shunned” by her classmates and professors if she posted the photo. In the end, she decided to post the photo and hoped for the best—but her fears came true.
The comments soon turned to harassment, with many resorting to calling her crude names.
“Shortly after posting the photo, I began receiving vicious comments and private messages accusing me of not caring about LGBTQ rights and attacking me for getting anywhere near the Vice-President. Close friends and distant acquaintances alike lashed out in fury, subjecting me to lectures, rants, and name-calling—all while ignoring the photo’s plainly apolitical context,” she wrote.
In her article titled “When a photo with the VP is ‘Violence'” she recalls how one comment criticized her for standing next to someone who is “a threat to human rights everywhere.”
Another person said she was “ignoring the plights of marginalized people to achieve personal gain” and “smiled with [her] oppressors.”
“Did you manage to ask him why he thinks women are second-class citizens?” one asked.
In her school article, Deutsch questioned how things had reached a point today where a photo can spark so much anger.
“How did we get to the point where taking a photo with someone is an act of violence?” she wrote.
She said her peers believed the best way to respond was to “confront, accuse, and lecture” instead of having an adult conversation.
“How will we ever be able to have adult conversations if no one is ever willing to listen to those who have opposing philosophies? How can we coexist when we write off our political opponents—as well as those who dare to take photos with them—as morally bankrupt?”
Deutsch said she felt as if she had to share the liberal politics of her peers “in order to be treated with respect or considered a decent person.”
She said things should not be the way they are now, stressing the need for genuine dialogue.
“No one seems to remember what their teachers have taught them since Kindergarten: Be respectful of others,” she added.