Gather ’round, young social media enthusiasts and those who enjoy a spirited political debate. We have a lesson today, and our teacher is Jabar Gaffney.

Following the Redskins’ overtime loss yesterday to Dallas, the Washington wide receiver provided another great moment in fan interaction. You see, Gaffney has a Twitter account, which for most NFL players is an avenue to interact with fans in a peaceful, sometimes playful manner. Some players even tweet X-rays of their injuries, while others question the veracity of events that have changed the world. Yes, great fun can be had in 140 characters or less.

Kidding aside, many players use Twitter harmlessly, and as irreverently and meaninglessly as the many peons who follow their every tweet about upcoming public drunkeness at Iowa games.

Then there are the Gaffneys, who entertain with their sheer stupidity.

After a 27-24 loss that dropped the Skins to 3-7, a Cowboys fan directed a tweet to Gaffney’s account that read “lmao 3-9.” It was the cyberspace equivalent of a heckle from an opposing fan, the kind that any reasonable player completely disregards.

Gaffney, however, is not a reasonable player, and Shutdown Corner captured the intelligent conversation that followed.

We’d let it die there, because Gaffney seemed to realize the stupidity of his actions and comments, and deleted the tweets from late Sunday night. But he can’t delete the flawed thinking in his mind, and somehow those thoughts keep creeping down through his fingertips and onto a keyboard.

Gaffney’s good will when he deleted what remained of his friendly Twitter exchange was nullified by this tweet from just over an hour ago.

There’s an essential tool called a mental filter. It’s a foreign concept to some NFL players like Gaffney that I wrote about back in May while discussing Rashard Mendenhall’s poor timing and lack of a basic social conscience that resulted in his 9/11 tweets. A mental filter takes the thoughts in your mind that aren’t suitable for public consumption, and keeps them in your mind. You’re still entitled to have those thoughts and opinions, and you can even discuss them in certain company with friends and family.

But broadcasting them on a whim over Twitter to thousands of followers and by extension the Internet and media is unwise, and generally in poor taste. Clearly no one really believes that Gaffney wants this fan–or anyone–to die. In his own twisted way he was joking, the kind of joking that has no place between a fan and a player, and especially not a fan and a player interacting online for the world to see.

So yes, Jabar, your freedom of speech limits your right to tell others to kill themselves on the Internet.

If we continue to get more Gaffneys on social media in the NFL, then maybe the league really should seriously consider a Twitter ban.

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