• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Twitter bullies push deaf politician to resign

The Local · 3 Dec 2012, 14:58

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.

Story continues below…

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
Germany to tighten checks of soldiers amid jihadist fears
Photo: DPA.

The German army are planning stricter checks of their soldiers as officials fear that jihadists could be using the armed forces as a way to train.

New train line to cut 2 hours off Berlin-Munich trips
Photo: DPA

It has been 25 years in the making, but on Wednesday the rail line that is set to mark a new era for travel between Germany's capital and its economic powerhouse went live.

AfD leader attacked and beaten in Mainz
Uwe Junge. Photo: DPA

The leader of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) in Rhineland-Palatinate was attacked on the street on Tuesday evening by a group of young men.

100 flights cancelled due to Frankfurt airport security alert
Travelers being evacuated from Terminal 1 of Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA.

UPDATE: Some 100 flights were cancelled on Wednesday at Frankfurt Airport after the major transfer hub went on alert because a woman had managed to evade security checks.

Record 125k people file suit against Canada trade deal
A leader of one of the groups opposing the trade deal stacks another box full of lawsuit documents, presented to the Constitutional Court on Wednesday. Photo: DPA.

More than 125,000 Germans have filed the largest citizen lawsuit in German history against the controversial proposed CETA trade deal between Canada and the EU.

Merkel: 'Germany will remain Germany'
Photo: DPA.

One year after Angela Merkel first declared "we can do this," leading to a huge uptick in refugees applying for asylum, the Chancellor reflected this week on her policies and the future of Germany.

Nazi beach resort ruin turned into luxury playground
Prora. Photo: DPA

One of the biggest relics left behind by the Nazis is undergoing a radical transformation on a German island, harnessing a property boom to become a luxury tourist destination.

Berlin plans to be first state to arm police with tasers
Photo: DPA.

Berlin's plans to arm police patrols with taser guns would make it the first German state to implement extensive use of the electroshock weapon.

Far-right AfD leader injured by flying frozen cake
Jörg Meuthen and a cake. Photo: DPA

The co-leader of the far-right AfD party was attacked with a cake while attending a political event on Monday. But the fact the dessert was frozen made the act "dangerous", according to the politician.

Underwater pensioner hunts boats on famed Bavarian lake
A passenger boat on Lake Starnberg. Photo: DPA

"I love chasing the ships, and what a great feeling it is when they sound the horn!" he gleefully exclaims.

National
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
National
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
7,389
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd