Lawmaker Shuts Down Bigoted Internet Troll By Calling His Grandma

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A young man posted homophobic and racist slurs on an openly gay congressman's Facebook page. He also made the mistake of making his grandmother's phone number public.

Rep. Brian Sims and Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. Wikimedia Commons: Keete 37

Internet trolls are all about playing nasty, petty games, but Pennsylvania House Rep. Brian Sims is not.

When a young man attacked Sims on Facebook with both a homophobic and racial slur, the lawmaker did some minor sleuthing, and an opportunity to teach a lesson presented itself.

“What caught me about it was there wasn’t a reference to something I said or something I’d done or some policy,” Sims told HuffPost. “And when I looked at his page there was very little there ― but he’d posted a telephone number a number of times.”

Journalist James Michael Nichols noted that, as an openly-gay politician, Sims is used to being the target of ignorance, and he's not one to let bigotry slide. The lawmaker dialed the number listed on the man's Facebook profile. The troll's grandmother picked up.

”I explained to her exactly who I was and what he had done,” Sims explained. “Like any grandma she was very embarrassed at having this kind of convo and very ashamed at the actions of her grandson. The conversation ended with me telling her that I wanted to hear from him.”

Sims did eventually get in touch with the young man, but he told HuffPost that he'd rather not go into detail about their phone conversation. According to the congressman, it unfortunately "didn't resolve anything."

“It is the ultimate calling card of a coward to ― under the guise of night and behind a keyboard ― to use the kind of language that in person would cause most decent people to respond in anger and frustration,” Sims said. “The reason people do things like this is they don’t have the courage, the education or gumption to do this kind of thing in person.”

While the troll's conversation with Sims may not have inspired an immediate 180-degree life shift, it probably gave him something to think about next time he's scrolling through Facebook and wondering how to get on people's nerves.

Banner and thumbnail credit: Flickr user Jessica Merz

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