The historian Mary Beard has claimed that she was on the receiving end of a "torrent of aggressive insults" after weighing into a debate about the ethnic diversity of Roman Britain that was initiated by Infowars' Alex Jones.
Beard took to Twitter to argue that there had been African and Asian Roman Britons – some of them in positions of authority – after Jones became incensed by a BBC Schools cartoon of a mixed-race Roman family.
The professor then claims she was hit with a slurry of abuse regarding "everything from my historical competence and elitist ivory tower viewpoint to my age, shape and gender (batty old broad, obese, etc etc )," she wrote, in a piece for the TLS.
Alex Jones had initially wrote that "the left is literally trying to rewrite history to pretend Britain always had mass immigration" in response to the BBC's portrayal of a Roman family with a black father who was also a soldier.
Beard described the video as "pretty accurate", adding: "I think, for example, that the BBC character was loosely based (with a bit of a chronological shift) on Quintus Lollius Urbicus, a man from what is now Algeria, who became governor of Britain; you can still visit his grand tomb at Tiddis."
What ensued was a five day Twitter storm, containing several arguments between Beard and other users, and mountains of arguments among other users on different sides of the debate.
Unfortunately, Beard did not link to the misogynistic abuse she received. She accused one troll of sending her "a cartoon image of a frog putting his 'hand' over a woman's mouth," noting: "This was about par for the course in gender terms."
One tweet which is similar shows an image of a cartoon frog covered in Nazi iconography.
Black Swan author Nassim Nicholas Taleb also weighed into the debate – taking a somewhat confrontational tone with Beard and then launching an assault on UK academia, which he claimed had been hijacked by the "politically correct police".
Citing genetics research that has identified very little evidence of sub-Saharan DNA in the 'native' UK population, Taleb accused Mary Beard of being a "bullsh**ter" and argued that there was "no more use for her".
In turn, Beard cited analysis of that research, which cast doubt on its importance as it also showed little of Norman genes in the native UK population, despite it being indisputable that large numbers of Normans came to Britain in at the beginning of the last millennium.
"It feels very sad to me that we cannot have a reasonable discussion on such a topic as the cultural, ethnic composition of Roman Britain without resorting to unnecessary insult, abuse, misogyny and language of war, not debate," said Beard.