• Germany's news in English
 
Twitter bullies push deaf politician to resign
Photo: DPA

Twitter bullies push deaf politician to resign

Published: 03 Dec 2012 14:58 GMT+01:00

Julia Probst, 31, was elected to the Baden-Württemberg state parliament for the Pirate Party last year, after gaining the public's attention by blogging what she lip-read footballers and trainers saying to each other during the 2010 World Cup.

Her microblogging feed, under the handle @EinAugenschmaus, was so popular that she was named one of the most important people on Twitter by US broadcaster ABC in 2011. But last Wednesday she became the target of bullies mocking the way she spoke, Tagesspiegel said on Monday.

An activist for inclusion, Probst made her first live television appearance talking about the future of the Pirate Party on “log in" a show aired by German state broadcaster ZDF last Wednesday. Like many people who are deaf, her voice is different from a person with full hearing capacity - and for some viewers, this warranted ridicule.

User @Xylophilon, tweeted that she must have no idea “how stupid she seems” when she spoke. And that if she were smart she would step down. “If not then she should get used to people laughing at her,” they wrote.

Following the outburst, Probst announced that she would probably relinquish her candidacy for the 2013 parliamentary election. Her Twitter account, boasting around 22,000 followers, has been suspended.

She wrote on her blog that she recognised being in the public eye made her a target to some degree, but that her voice was taboo. Adding that although she did not like it, she was considering speech therapy to reduce how vulnerable she was.

Support has flooded in, in the form of hundreds of encouraging comments on her blog, and from fellow Pirate politician Anke Domscheidt-Berg who tweeted that she hoped Probst would return to politics.

“We need her,” tweeted Domscheit-Berg about the football fanatic politician.

The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

16:20 December 3, 2012 by Bulldawg82
This is a shame. It just goes to show that the only thing that matters to voters is looking and sounding good. In America, you can forget about an unattractive or a person with a speech impediment becoming a successful politician. Apparently it's the same everywhere.
16:54 December 3, 2012 by lucksi
Where did she grow up? In some kind of feel good community where everyone is equal?

Yes, bullying is wrong, but she is over 30. That cannot have been the first time she was ridiculed for it. And mean annonymus people on the internet? Well, that's unheard off for some internet illiterate party like the Pirates I guess.

I'd say I feel bad for her, but that is normally the last thing people with a handicap want. But at least she got a wake up call what it means to govern people. All people. You have to take the dregs with the rest. And sadly, there is no IQ requirement for internet use.

(Actually, I wonder if she is now against anonymity on the net after that run in with bullies)
17:39 December 3, 2012 by Englishted
Don't let the trolls get you down .

Just pack in twitter it is only soundbites for idiots.
20:11 December 3, 2012 by Lisa Rusbridge
She's probably aware that people have said this rubbish before. If she has anything that she believe is worthwhile to contribute to the political arena then she needs to ignore the haters and forge ahead no matter what. I don't know who in Germany this woman has to look up to as far as politicians with disabilities, but in the USA there is a whole list them. Start at the top first to look for a hero, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt is the absolute top. FDR was paralyzed due to childhood polio and still went on to do great things. His led a fascinating life.

(And yes, I'm aware that FDR and the USA was not pro-Germany, but look to his overall life and his accomplishments, and how he could have sat in one room staring at a wall his entire life, but instead changed the world because of what he believed).

Or in other words, don't let the turkeys get you down!
20:45 December 3, 2012 by simski
If she wants to stay in politics, she should probably get used to people slinging mud. You can't let imbeciles on twitter influence your life decisions.
21:18 December 3, 2012 by wood artist
@Lisa Rusbridge

I think a little history lesson is in order. Neither the US nor FDR were "for or against Germany." Both the leader and the country had problems with what was happening in Germany under the leadership of the Nazi party, a position that a whole lot of people around the world also took. Like the US, Germany was struggling with the global depression, although Germany was also suffering from the impacts of Versailles, something FDR never denied. He was openly supportive of the programs such as building the autobahns and other infrastructure projects because he was trying the same ideas in the US.

With a few exceptions, most people hoped for the best for Germany, and no less than Churchill initially praised much of what happened in the early days of the Nazi regime.

What the US and FDR didn't like was the actions that came "later" and I think they had every right to feel that way. FDR would be a great role model for this young woman, although perhaps Helen Keller might even be better. In any case, let's not re-write history too much, because the US position clearly evolved as a reaction to the things that happened.

wa
21:50 December 3, 2012 by bwjijsdtd
Julia, quitting would be the worst thing you could do ... doing so would only give the other side another victory ... Never quit, never give up ... never surrender ...
02:17 December 4, 2012 by Lisa Rusbridge
@ wood artist,

Thanks for the history lesson and ignoring the message.

>>What the US and FDR didn't like was the actions that came "later" and I think they had every right to feel that way
02:27 December 4, 2012 by Eric1
Come on, she isn't a child. Politicians are bullied all the time. Look at the Democrats and their allies in the press are always bullying and threading Republican politicians all the time. One has to have a tough spine unless you are a Democrat and the press with defend you.
23:14 December 7, 2012 by Englishted
@Eric1

Do you want to equate everything on this site with the U.S.A. or is that the limit of your knowledge ?.
01:26 December 8, 2012 by glenhope
Julia, don't let the B*tards grind you down. Perhaps they are scared of you blogging the silent words of abuse on their lips. Keep up the good work and forget about resigning.
12:03 December 9, 2012 by George Palmer
Please, please stay in politics. You know far more than most. How cruel these idiots are to belittle you. Go now and they have won. It means the lunatics run the asylum. Politics needs brave people like you Julia. And you are lovely.
18:35 December 10, 2012 by wxman
Pay no attention to them. You are far more attractive, and probably intelligent, than most hearing women.
Today's headlines
'50 Shades of Grey' to premiere in Berlin
The book comes to the screen Photo: DPA

'50 Shades of Grey' to premiere in Berlin

Smut sensation "50 Shades Of Grey" will receive its international premiere at the Berlin Film Festival, it was announced Monday. READ  

Man tries to open plane door over Munich
Photo: DPA

Man tries to open plane door over Munich

A man tried to open the emergency door of a plane as it was approaching Munich airport, police reported on Monday. READ  

Reporter sacked over Pegida 'interview'
Last week's Pegida protest in Dresden, which drew a crowd of 15,000 Photo: DPA

Reporter sacked over Pegida 'interview'

An undercover reporter who allowed himself to be interviewed by a rival TV network whilst taking part in an anti-Islamization demonstration in Dresden has been sacked, Spiegel reported Monday. READ  

'We have to take care of Isis victims': minister
A Yazidi woman at a Hannover demonstration against Isis in August.

'We have to take care of Isis victims': minister

The government plans to set up a trauma centre for victims of a mass rape campaign by the Islamic State (Isis) militant group, Overseas Development minister Gerd Müller said on Monday. READ  

Adidas sells three million World Cup shirts
World Cup-winning manager Joachim Löw accepts the award at a gala in Baden Baden on Sunday Photo. DPA

Adidas sells three million World Cup shirts

Football fans have snapped up a total of more than three million replica kits of their world-cup winning heroes, Adidas announced, with much of that boost coming in the run-up to Christmas. The team were also honoured as Germany's "Sportsmen of the Year" on Sunday. READ  

Good news for your Christmas overdraft
Photo: DPA

Good news for your Christmas overdraft

Shoppers who go into the red on their bank account over the Yuletide period have received some early festive good news, with a plan to clarify Germany's complex rules on overdrafts. READ  

Amazon pledge: Xmas pressies will arrive
Striking Amazon workers outside a distribution centre in Leipzig on December 8th. Photo: DPA

Amazon pledge: Xmas pressies will arrive

Online retailer Amazon said on Monday that walkouts at distribution centres across the country wouldn't affect Christmas orders as the strike spread across Europe. READ  

Armed heist at Berlin's top department store
The aftermath of the raid at Berlin's luxury department store Photo: DPA

Armed heist at Berlin's top department store

Stunned shoppers looked on in horror as masked robbers made a daylight raid at Germany's most exclusive department store on the busiest shopping day before Christmas. READ  

Security tests find holes at Frankfurt airport
Security checks at Frankfurt airport in July 2014. Photo: DPA

Security tests find holes at Frankfurt airport

Weapons and dangerous objects were successfully smuggled through security checks 50 percent of the time at Frankfurt airport, in a probe by European Commission inspectors, it emerged on Sunday. READ  

Breakfast stumble costs Berlin giraffe her life
Kibaya before her fatal fall Photo: DPA

Breakfast stumble costs Berlin giraffe her life

One of Berlin Zoo’s most popular attractions has had to be put down, after tearing a muscle in her leg. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
Offer: Unlimited airmiles through December 19th
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,128
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd