The Internet can be a mean place. That’s especially true for public figures who face a never ending onslaught of tweets and web comments (often anonymous) pulling them apart for what they say, wear and look like.

CNNs Sally Kohn plays ball after Bieber comparison

Credit: Twitter @eloracnasus

Sally Kohn, a liberal commentator on CNN who’s also openly gay, set an example Thursday night for how one might respond when under fire.

It started when Todd Kincannon, a former official in the South Carolina Republican Party known for saying weird things online, arbitrarily tweeted at Kohn to say she had a “nice haircut.” He referred to her sarcastically as “sir.”

A follower of Kincannon’s chimed in to say Kohn’s Twitter photo reminded him of singer Justin Bieber‘s mugshot, which was made public earlier in the day. Kincannon responded to his follower, saying he wanted to “steal” the joke. At that, the follower tweeted out a photo of Kohn’s photo and the mugshot side by side.

Some context here: When Bieber first rose to fame, a well-known blog was started to poke fun at his look. It was called “Lesbians Who Look Like Justin Bieber.”

Anyway, how did Kohn respond to the comparison?

She tweeted at Kincannon: “I mean, the pictures side by side even made me do a double take…”

BOOM. Threat neutralized.

Kohn had won KinCannon over, who tweeted back, “I have to give Kohn credit. I used her to make fun of Justin Bieber today and she was a good sport about it. Major props!”

KinCannon followed up, tweeting that he was “now officially a Sally Kohn fan.”

Follow Eddie Scarry (@eScarry) on Twitter