Local author Merritt Tierce is quite the media darling these days. After publishing her debut novel Love Me Back, Tierce has made the rounds on TV, been compared to Joan Didion by one critic, and perhaps most famously, told The Dallas Morning News about the time she donated Rush Limbaugh's extravagant tips to an abortion fund. After the DMN published the story, it quickly went viral, and was picked up by outlets like Gawker, Newsweek and Cosmopolitan.
Soon after her revelation, fans of Limbaugh came after Tierce with a vengeance. Her personal and public Facebook pages were inundated with hate mail, much of which was extremely violent. "You do realize that once a body as a beating heart, it's called murder right?" wrote one grammatically challenged commenter. "Better yet, someone should just murder you. I mean shit seriously." According to Tierce, Facebook refused to remove the post because it didn't violate their list of community standards, which supposedly exist to protect the platform's users against threats of violence.
"I suppose I should have seen it coming," says Tierce. "[Rush Limbaugh's] fans are legion, and they are people who are exceptionally responsive to the fomenting of hate." And the hate was certainly fomented. Moving beyond Facebook, Limbaugh fans took to Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble's website to spit their vitriol in the form of "reviews" of Love Me Back.
Never mind the fact that the book has been praised by literary giants like Donald Ray Pollock and Roxane Gay, there are currently 24 one-star reviews of Tierce's book on Amazon. Surely some of those reviewers didn't appreciate Tierce's style or the lack of a knock-you-over-the-head plot, but plenty of the reviews focus on the politics of Merritt Tierce, not the the self-destructive steakhouse waitress that is the book's protagonist.
"These comments are as focused on hating me as they are on opposing abortion. And while what they have to say about abortion is fairly rote, the misogyny and violent speech directed at me seems much more zealous," Tierce says. "As much as I'm reluctant to let them know they've disrupted any part of my life, it is frightening to be their target."
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It's important to note that Tierce is no stranger to the kind of unbridled misogyny that the right wing slings at women who dare help provide women with essential health care like abortion. Up until September of this year, she served as the executive director of the TEA Fund, the Dallas-based abortion fund that was the recipient of Limbaugh's dough. In that time, she really didn't experience much anti-abortion hate because TEA Fund has a low profile. "TEA Fund events are protested, but for whatever reason they didn't latch onto me personally like this before."
Now, the Limbaugh fans are making it difficult for Tierce to promote her book. "I don't want to miss legitimate communication from people because I am doing various events to promote my book right now, so I haven't wanted to turn off my notifications," she says. "My husband was screening my feeds for me for awhile but that is not practical, long-term. I'm not sure how people who are subjected to this without end get used to it."
Aside from the fact that Rush Limbaugh is the world's largest douchenozzle and no one should ever be listening to him about anything, it should go without saying that Merritt Tierce doesn't deserve threats of violence just because she donated money (that she earned, by the way) to an abortion fund, especially as her book is poised to become one of the most critically acclaimed works of literary fiction of the year.
Love Me Back is available at bookstores across the country and on Amazon.com.