Free speech is a myth. Technically we’re allowed to say what we want and won’t get arrested for it, but we constantly have to self-censor our speech, including our political opinions, for many reasons. You’re allowed to express some opinions, so long as they’re the right opinions. But if you lose your ability to pay your bills as a result of your honest and open speech, then you’re not really free. A handful of social justice warriors in Silicon Valley are able to decide what we can and cannot talk about, and when we can’t openly express controversial opinions in the public square, then we have lost our democracy.
I was a high school history teacher for 11 years and during that time I learned the hard way that my opinions were the wrong opinions. After getting an unpaid suspension for starting a blog called AidanFromWorcester.com, which expressed opinions on issues that the school did not approve of, I decided to create an anonymous blog that would act as the voice of the people – Turtleboy Sports. Turtleboy started as a hobby but has grown to a website with millions of monthly followers and is now my business. I hire bloggers who pen under nom de plumes because anonymity gives people the freedom to express opinions that many others agree with, but are afraid to say out loud out for fear of consequences. Turtleboy is popular and has grown so quickly because we say what many other people are thinking. I left teaching in November of 2014 after a blogger from Buffalo wrote a libelous blog about me, alleging that I sexually assaulted a woman in front of 60,000 people at a Patriots-Bills game. The blogger was successfully sued for libel, but so many of my students read it that it became impossible to teach anymore. After the school received hundreds of calls and death threats they offered me a full year’s salary to walk away quietly. I took the money and used is to turn Turtleboy from a hobby into a business. Turtleboy has broken major stories that the mainstream media couldn’t because we have better sources. We’ve exposed corruption involving the Massacchusetts State Police and politicians that led to the resignation of the 4 highest-ranking members of the MSP. The blog has helped expose contractors and con-artists, drug dealing state troopers, brought criminals to justice, shut down a death factory of a puppy mill, reformed school districts, and exposed insurance fraud, non-profit fraud, sexual abuse, food stamp fraud, fake hate crimes, and many other stories that the mainstream media would never touch. When I left teaching I felt liberated and free for the first time, but because our bloggers are unapologetic, brutally honest, we get a lot of pushback. We entertain by not only reporting news, but by using language that some might find unsavory. As a result outside forces have used various methods to try to silence the blog. Turtleboy has been the subject of countless boycotts. I’ve been unsuccessfully sued for libel many times; including by a former advertiser who was upset the blog didn’t endorse him for Mayor. I’ve gotten too many death threats to count, had “fuck you” keyed into the hood of my car, and been angrily confronted in restaurants. I’ve had a Facebook page with 112,000 followers removed for wishing people a Merry Christmas, and had 32 business pages taken down since. The blog has been blacklisted by Google AdSense, and my house and phone are permanently banned from creating Twitter accounts. All of these things have combined to cost my business hundreds of thousands of dollars in just a couple years. But they will never stop Turtleboy because I refuse to censor and give up the rights that our Founding Fathers sacrificed their lives for because people who disagree with us use fear, intimidation, and economic warfare to silence us. When we self-censor we don’t contribute to public discourse in the public square, and in doing so we lose our democracy. This is the story of Turtleboy.