For most of his adult life, despite his tremendous successes, my father struggled, profoundly, with alcoholism and manic depression. So, this anonymous blogger, who appeared to be closely associated with a woman named Von Jennings (who was, at the time, running for Mayor of Alexandria), bestowed upon me the alliterative nickname “Fetal Freddy,” because he claimed that my disability, cerebral palsy, was the result of fetal alcohol syndrome.
Von Jennings, by the way, didn’t receive more than a few hundred votes and finished almost dead-last in the primary. Her unofficial, anonymous campaign blog has been silent ever since. And the other blogger, the attorney who liked to call me a “gimp,” died a couple of years later.
Again, this was years ago, ancient Internet history. I had called both of these bloggers out, repeatedly, for their bigotry and insensitivity, and in the end, in my opinion, the good guys won. But looking back on this, I don’t think I was entirely honest with myself or with my audience: I compartmentalized their public hatred against me as nothing more than desperate politics.