WASHINGTON – Ashley Judd seemed shocked to discover that a basketball arena is not a safe space.
At least, not safe from an old man who asked for a photo.
In a Facebook post on Saturday, the actress described how she was “frankly scared” by an “older man with white hair” who asked to take her picture and then told her he was a Trump supporter.
She never described him as threatening or even said he had raised his voice.
In fact, he was apparently docile enough that she was expecting to swap stories with him about his hometown, where she had shot a film.
But once he had said he liked Trump, she said it became clear to her that “his affect was angry.”
And she observed, “I feel very sad that this happened, and frankly scared.”
The incident apparently occurred at the SEC tournament game in Nashville on Saturday, and since the posting, she has gotten into a bit of a Twitter war, targeting “fans who voted with Ku Klux Klan.”
Judd, known for her devotion to the University of Kentucky Wildcats, gained notoriety as a political activist after her protest speech following the inauguration of President Trump, which Business Insider said made the actress “the breakout star of the Women’s March on Washington.”
Toward the end of her lengthy Facebook post, Judd lamented: “I also feel both for myself and everyone else who has both participated in and is on the receiving end of a hostile act like this which seeks to intimidate. It’s not nice. I’m so sorry that our public spaces can be like this.”
She added, “Just think about it – whoever [sic] would want to run for office with this kind of thinly veiled attack on each other?”
Those sentiments, however, are in stark contrast to the very public speech she gave in January, which National Review columnist Victor Davis Hanson described as “an incoherent rant” that “variously compared Trump to Hitler, alleged that he had incestuous desires for his own daughter, and then indulged in rank vulgarity.”
Judd said the Saturday encounter began when an “older man with white hair came up to me at my seat today at a basketball game. He said, ‘May I take your picture? I said ‘Yes.'”
After he took the photo, he said, “I’m from Big Stone gap,” and Judd said, “I love Big Stone Gap! What a beautiful town. I loved making the movie there.
“I went on to say how good the cooking is, mentioning, of course, the pineapple upside-down cake and pumpkin pie!”
How did such an affable encounter turn into something Judd would describe as angry, hostile and intimidating that left her “frankly scared”?
With what Judd interpreted as “open hostility,” the man then said, “We like Trump.”
That’s when she decided his “affect was angry, and he certainly didn’t respond in anyway to my general enthusing about his little Appalachian town.”
After the mention of Trump, Judd decided it had become “clear that his entire approach to me and aggressive sticking his phone 6 inches in front of my face to take my picture was a part of his plan to treat me with rudeness, aggression, and disrespect.”
She then mused angrily, “I could’ve easily retorted to this man, for example, with, ‘Well, I know everything I need to know about you now, Sir, you voted with the KKK.'”
Judd said she also considered responding with, “Sorry to discover Big Stone gap is full of misogynists like you.”
“But I didn’t,” the actress wrote. “Instead, I turned to my uncle who, by the way, is a Baptist preacher and a Democrat – yes, those things occur in the same person and in the same family – and said, ‘I need a hug.'”
Since that incident, Judd has gotten into a bit of a Twitter war, with one person tweeting: “How dare you assume that an ‘older man with white hair’ voted for the KKK. He just stated a fact, you a mean-spirited assumption.”
She replied, “How dare he assume I am _____ and intimidate me. And. Um. KKK supports Yrump. Sooooo he voted. with the KKK. Don’t tweet me. Annoying.”
Someone else tweeted, “Come on – can’t you just let basketball be basketball.”
Judd replied, “How about, fans with integrity don’t like fans who vote with KKK.”
She also retweeted, ” Please don’t wear UK blue and vote with white supremists [sic]. Or reveal how widely you lost the popular vote. Message?”
Another fan tweeted: “It pains me to see that horrible example of a woman, @AshleyJudd at the Kentucky game. She’s an embarrassment to our state & #BBN.”
Judd responded: “I’m sorry you feel that way. #basketball should be a space we all hang out together & love our team.”
Judd’s Facebook post in full:
I’d like to share with you and experience I had today. It’s uncomfortable and scary for me and I have a hunch that some of you have had experiences like it. It may be attempting to put me in a different position as a so called public person, and the reminder is, like all of us, I’m just human and navigating this at times terrifyingly polarized post election climate.
Before I recount the incident, I want to be very clear that I believe something like basketball is a neutral space – actually, it’s not neutral. It is unifying. It was a positive place – a time and space in which we come together for a common purpose and with a common love: college basketball and the chance to root for our team, and to be a part of the wacky, unpredictable culture of March Madness. Our memories go deep, the wild stories continue to amaze, and everyone’s hopes run so high. We root for the underdog, wait for the upsets, and believe our team can go all the way. I firmly believe college basketball is #NoPoliticsHere space and actually can be a bonding and healing space
An older man with white hair came up to me at my seat today at a basketball game. He said “May I take your picture? I said “Yes.” And before I could offer for him to be in the picture with me, 6 inches from my face, he took my picture with his phone. He said “I’m from Big Stone gap.” I said, “I love Big Stone Gap! What a beautiful town, I loved making the movie there.” I went on to say how good the cooking is, mentioning, of course, the pineapple upside down cake and pumpkin pie!
In my mind I was getting ready to ask him about the national parks and if he ever spends time in especially the Thomas Jefferson National Park – but something inside of me was already clenching and I concluded by simply saying “I like Big Stone Gap. ”
He said to me with open hostility as he was backing away, “We like Trump.”
Of course, it’s very clear now that as I was being friendly and talking, his affect was angry, and he certainly didn’t respond in anyway to my general enthusing about his little Appalachian town. And it’s also clear that his entire approach to me and aggressive sticking his phone 6 inches in front of my face to take my picture was a part of his plan to treat me with rudeness, aggression, and disrespect. Who knows, maybe he’s already done something undignified with the picture or maybe it was just a pretense so he could say something menacing to me.
I feel very sad that this happened, and frankly scared. We absolutely need apolitical spaces in this country where we come together for something that is beyond who voted for whom and the platforms, beliefs, and agendas of respective candidates.
I could’ve easily retorted to this man, for example, with “Well, I know everything I need to know about you now, Sir, you voted with the KKK.”
Or perhaps another shot, such as “Well, I voted with the popular vote which you lost by the widest margin in American history.” And dragged in his charming town like he had – “sorry to discover Big Stone gap is full of misogynists like you.”
And his “we” in “we like trump-” he’s one guy and invoking the royal “we” is a tactic used to intimated. And I could have said, “We? Half the folks didn’t vote; and more than half who did voted the other way. Pull out the issues check list and show me who your threatening “we” is, person by person.
But I didn’t.
Instead, I turned to my uncle who, by the way, is a Baptist preacher and a Democrat – yes, those things occur in the same person and in the same family, – and said “I need a hug.”
Y’all know who I am, what I believe, and what I fight and risk for.
You also know I like college basketball. And in college basketball that’s all you’ll ever hear me talk about. College basketball. Period.
I ardently hope that the same goes for you and everyone else in America.
I also feel both for myself and everyone else who has both participated in and is on the receiving end of a hostile act like this which seeks to intimidate. It’s not nice. I’m so sorry that our public spaces can be like this. Just think about it – whoever would want to run for office with this kind of thinly veiled attack on each other? Good people have no incentive whatsoever to run for office in this country when things like this happen.
Where are some of your #NoPoliticsHere spaces, and how do you defend and protect them graciously?