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Patton Oswalt is not known for his grace when it comes to online trolling.
For years, the comedian has made it a habit to hunt down and serve anyone who dares come after him online. But on Thursday, a story that began with Oswalt clapping back at a Twitter heckler ended with a heartwarming display of humanity.
Dude, I already know: ‘cuz “...one more second of you on screen and my heart would belong to Patton Oswalt.” I get told this at least twice a week by Trump supporters. It always makes me smile and I’m grateful and blessed. https://t.co/nrivTIf6u7— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) January 24, 2019
In response to a tweet of Oswalt’s mocking President Donald Trump on Jan. 23, Twitter user Michael Beatty said: “I just realized why I was so happy you died in Blade Trinity!”
In response, Oswalt retweeted Beatty’s words and wrote back:
Dude, I already know: ‘cuz “…one more second of you on screen and my heart would belong to Patton Oswalt.” I get told this at least twice a week by Trump supporters. It always makes me smile and I’m grateful and blessed.
Normally the comedian would have left it there. But after popping by Beatty’s page, he realized that Beatty was going through a tough time. “Aw, man. This dude just attacked me on Twitter and I joked back but then I looked at his timeline and he’s in a LOT of trouble health-wise,” Oswalt wrote, alongside a retweet of Beatty’s GoFundMe. “He’s been dealt some shitty cards — let’s deal him some good ones. Click and donate — just like I’m about to.”
Aw, man. This dude just attacked me on Twitter and I joked back but then I looked at his timeline and he’s in a LOT of trouble health-wise. I’d be pissed off too. He’s been dealt some shitty cards — let’s deal him some good ones. Click and donate — just like I’m about to. https://t.co/6zRdZ430WG— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) January 24, 2019
It turns out that Beatty, a Vietnam veteran, suffered a long hospital stay over Christmas. On his GoFundMe page, he explains that he was in “critical condition w/Sepsis,” before coding twice in the ER. He’s managed to recover well, but his “meager retirement check” is not enough to cover his expenses. The GoFundMe goal was set on Jan. 13 for $5,000.
A few people were sarcastic, pointing out the flawed logic in supporting the GOP-backed campaign to end Obamacare, only to be left with no option but a GoFundMe to pay for medical expenses. Oswalt took these comments in turn, agreeing with the sentiment but urging people to “un-fuck what’s been fucked.”
I know, but that’s how Trump and the GOP fuck with their own supporters. Let’s un-fuck what’s been fucked. https://t.co/gjm4JAz24u— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) January 24, 2019
Because the cynical will always exploit the idealistic. Karl Rove used to mock evangelicals behind their backs ‘cuz he just wanted their votes. So we have to snuff out cynicism with ACTION. I’m also guilty of cynicism but I’m trying. It’s a hard way but it’s doable. https://t.co/hb1egD5R0f— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) January 24, 2019
Beatty was blown away by Oswalt’s about-face from sarcasm to kindness. Oswalt himself donated $2,000 to Beatty’s cause. In sharing Beatty’s story and GoFundMe, he saw the $5,000 goal realized and vastly surpassed within hours. As of the writing of this article, the GoFundMe has reached $31,000.
Beatty responded to Oswalt less than an hour after their exchange. “Patton. You have humbled me to the point where I can barely compose my words,” Beatty wrote. “You have caused me to take pause and reflect on how harmful words from my mouth could result in such an outpouring.” He thanked him for his kindness and said he would pass some of the donated money on to his cousin, who also needs some help.
Whew! Is your cousin the one who had sepsis or was it you? Either way I’m glad the $$$ goal was met. And PLEASE understand that people like @AOC are battling so you DON’T have to depend on GoFundMe to live with dignity and vigor. (And I’m working on getting to Alabama...) https://t.co/KlphvXn1gE— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) January 24, 2019
Oswalt asked Beatty to use his newfound perspective to consider that people like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who Beatty has criticized in the past, are working to make healthcare affordable enough that seeking help through a GoFundMe isn’t necessary.
Beatty reached out to thank all of those who donated and sent him their support and compassion. “I want to thank everyone who came to my aid with generous outpourings – and also to @pattonoswalt without whom I would not be the recipient of so much love and support,” he said.
I want to thank everyone who came to my aid with generous outpourings- and also to @pattonoswalt without whom I would not be the recipient of so much love and support. I'm not a man who ever cries but I had to wait to send this. And to quote Stuart on Big Bang "meat tonight"! pic.twitter.com/r4Kc9zYk7E— Michael Beatty (@MichaelBeatty) January 24, 2019
Oswalt finished the evening off right, retweeting another grateful message from Beatty and urging him to use the extra funds well. “If you want to pay this forward, maybe find a GoFundMe for a furloughed government worker who’s feeling the pinch,” Oswalt wrote. “Or maybe a big-ass haul o’ goodies to your local food bank?”
What a great way to end the day. If you want to pay this forward, maybe find a GoFundMe for a furloughed government worker who’s feeling the pinch? Or make a big-ass haul o’ goodies to your local food bank? Something? Anything? https://t.co/FSEowiBuyn— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) January 25, 2019
Beatty and Oswalt remind us that just because we don’t agree doesn’t mean we can’t lift each other up—even on Twitter.
Nahila Bonfiglio reports on geek culture and gaming. Her work has also appeared on KUT's Texas Standard (Austin), KPAC-FM (San Antonio), and the Daily Texan.