Today, Australian actress, comedian and activist, Magda Szubanski wrote a twitter thread that was eloquent, to the point and damning. And heartbreaking. Magda is part of a Victorian Government ad campaign encouraging Victorians to stay home during our COVID-19 second wave. After donating her time to make the ad (the fee she received was donated to the Red Cross Beirut fund which she only pointed out after people were saying she was financially benefitting from pandemic) she has been criticised by people, and that criticism has been nasty, personal and insulting.

Today, her twitter commentary was fair and squarely aimed at Pete Evans who apparently is a health professional, epidemiologist, virologist, public health expert television chef. Evans, in full flight indignation took to his FB page yesterday to exclaim how horrified – HORRIFIED – he is at the TVCs, calling them offensive and disgraceful.

Interestingly, he has not called any of the people making comments on his FB post offensive and disgraceful, despite the way they have been fat shaming Magda, calling her unhealthy and making personal attacks. There was more than one reference to the movie ‘Babe’.

Pete Evans knew what he was doing. He didn’t specifically mention Magda’s weight – in fact he didn’t mention Magda by name. But he did use an image of her from the advertisement in his post. That was enough to summon his flying monkeys to glide in and do his dirty work. Which they sycophantically did, tripping over themselves to be the loudest and most eager to do Evans’ bidding. Anyone who so much as suggested that perhaps the comments about Magda were inappropriate was told to pull their head in.

In true gaslighting form, Pete Evans has claimed that he didn’t in fact fat shame Magda. He followed up his earlier post with another, where he has centred himself as the victim – a martyr if you will – because he is being called out for his prick-ish behaviour.

It is disappointing to see that communities that are built around shonky foundations of wellbeing become nothing more than breeding grounds for hate, shaming and discrimination. Leaders of the groups decide who the latest target will be and then unleash the hounds to do the nastiness. I’ve seen it, had it happen to me first hand, and pushed back on it at every single point I’ve been able to.

This behaviour isn’t new.

I don’t want to give Pete Evans more air. But I will because people like him are dangerous, and his behaviour is nothing short of poisonous. I’m not specifically referring to alternative health lunatics – although they are a particular brand of toxic. Unfortunately, we see it all too frequently these days. These are the methods employed by LCHF bullies. We see it in the diabetes world. It happens when people style themselves as (super)heroes, stopping at nothing to advance their cause, and anyone who dares disagree is shut down.

Today, we saw real ugliness on show from Evans and his supporters. We saw how social media can – and frequently is – used to form a pack mob that unfairly shames and targets people. But we also saw grace from Magda. Which, I hope, is what will be the lasting memory of any scenario like this one.