A strikingly happy yet sad day
During my Keynote at the American Association of Geographer's annual meeting, I was in court getting an extended restraining order against a GOP stalker
Even at the height of my imagined-would-be-future-career, I never imagined myself being invited to give such a talk.
I want to continue working in climate and disaster research, and maybe secretly hoped some day I would be respected and accomplished enough to be invited as an AAG special event speaker, but that was something 15-30 years in the future, I thought.
I suggested a panel at first, somewhat afraid I couldn’t live up to the standards that other presenters would bring - like the two other keynote addresses this year by best-selling author Naomi Klein and geologist/astronaut/NOAA scientist/all-around-superhero-rockstar Kathy Sullivan.
I have been a member of the AAG since I was an undergraduate at Syracuse. I’ve won some of the AAG’s highest honors for my graduate research and science communication - including the Gilbert White Award for Best Thesis, and awards for best graduate poster/presentation at regional and national meetings. Needless to say, the AAG was a major part of my academic life.
This was the honor of my career.
As soon as the AAG began advertising the event, the woman who had been stalking, harassing and smearing me for months, Christina Pushaw, used her multitude of fake accounts to target the AAG, its members, its sponsors — anyone connected with the event.
She harassed and stalked the Executive Director, tagging and messaging them repeatedly until they had to block the accounts. She harassed and threatened the event organizers and members; she released the personal contact information of the event sponsors; she started an online stalking and harassment campaign to try to get them to cancel the event.
She admitted that was her goal in an email she sent through one of her aliases on March 5 (all of this was thoroughly documented in a previous post here). She said she was “dedicated to taking down RJ,” referring to me by my initials.
The AAG refused to acknowledge her after she started calling, messaging and harassing members of the organization. She encouraged others online, likely some of them other aliases of hers, to harass the AAG, as well.
I’ll repeat again that I’ve never been convicted of any crime, in any state, at any point in time ever. Period. Full stop. That doesn’t stop them from making those claims, however defamatory they may be.
Despite Pushaw’s relentless harassment and stalking of AAG executives and sponsors, the AAG stood by me. Academic communities do not abandon their scientists because of smear campaigns by GQP “consultants.”
We did, however, have to take extra security precautions to protect the AAG staff, and switched to a different format to prevent the continued abuse of the event. We had to nix the live Q&A to prevent her from hijacking the event and harassing the attendees.
Note: I donated my speaking fee to an AAG scholarship program for women in STEM majors at community colleges, the Darrel Hess award.
Pushaw even went on to start this bizarre conspiracy that a survey to gather questions to work into the presentation, as discussed with Gary in the email above, was somehow nefarious. She posted how I created the survey myself as if that somehow revealed some grand conspiracy. Of course this was shared by one of her alias accounts/accomplices, @MaxNordau, who has been posting obsessively about me for months.
Note: The “site” (survey) did not come down. It’s still up, actually. I spoke with the AAG organizer’s about it (again) and they were totally fine with me soliciting questions through an online form, though of course several people submitted abusive messages to it and further harassed the AAG for this really unhinged “conspiracy” thread by Pushaw and “Max.”
We mostly ignored them. I was actually unaware that this was even one of her conspiracies until today.
The AAG and I continued working for weeks to develop the materials to put together the presentation, sans live Q&A. I asked other experts to contribute, like Dr. Michael Mann, climatologist at Penn State University. We incorporated mixed media, and prepped the presentation for its scheduled time at 9:25 AM EDT, Friday, April 9, 2021.
Two days before the presentation, however, I found out that Pushaw had somehow learned of my home address, and claimed online she lived “just miles away.”
She attempted (and failed) to get a no-contact order from a court in D.C., who reviewed her sworn statement and did not grant the request. Instead, they scheduled it for a hearing… in six months. She later tried to claim it was granted online and that I was “banned from messaging” her online. That’s false. But funny enough — I’ve never messaged her, I’ve never responded to her many threatening and harassing emails, and I’ve never engaged with her on any level, unless she was using an alias or fake account pretending to be someone else.
After reading the document she actually submitted and sharing it with my legal advisors and other journalists to confirm that I was not missing something in her deranged letter, they agreed with me that action needed to be taken to protect my safety and the safety of my family.
So I immediately filed and was granted an emergency order of protection by the Montgomery County Commissioner’s office, which required I appear in court to provide evidence of why the emergency order should be extended in two days.
At 9:00 AM.
April 9, 2021.
At the same time as my keynote.
So this morning, I attended my own keynote in a courtroom while I waited to present the stack of evidence against this increasingly unhinged woman.
I was fortunate to be able to go early, and I provided a thorough history of this woman’s stalking, harassment, defamation campaign against me, gave the records to the judge (of which there were many), and he granted the order.
She didn’t even show up to the hearing to defend herself.
There’s also an order out for her arrest for violating the emergency order issued against her earlier in the week by publicly threatening me online, continuing to stalk and harass me, harassing associates of mine (she told Chris Cuomo he “created a monster”), and attacking me for reporting her to the police for her multitude of crimes.
She’s a wanted criminal, has been found by Maryland Courts twice to have stalked and harassed me repeatedly online, and continued to lash out after getting the first restraining order.
She tried to dox me online (again) by telling people what police district I lived in, and encouraging people to make false police reports against me. And she did all of this after I reported her to police and received a restraining order against her.
And I had to do my keynote in a courtroom to protect myself from her.
The AAG event still managed to go on without a hitch, was widely shared and well-received, and my life will go on.
But that I was deprived of this moment, or that it was even tainted by the criminal activity of a conservative “media strategist” who has repeatedly tried and failed to destroy me, my reputation and my success, is so terribly unfair, and yet another injustice I’ve had to deal with this year because of Florida politicians and officials.
Perhaps now she can control herself and stop stalking and harassing me. Hopefully she will turn herself in, as I was forced to do while fever-sick with COVID-19 for a crime I didn’t even commit.
These types of people tend to escalate, though, and her failure to do the job she was paid to do in getting the AAG to cancel my event (failed) and to “take down RJ” (failed), she’s likely ostracized herself from her own radical wing of alt-right groups.
That makes her a danger to me and my family. I am glad the court saw that.
That Pushaw spends her time peddling conspiracies online about how the entire medical establishment, the entire media establishment, scientists from across the country and I are all part of some insane coordinated effort to destroy Ron DeSantis is a testament to the state of her mental health. Ron DeSantis is destroying himself without anyone else’s help, though recently with some aid from pedophile Matt Geatz.