AH YES, LEFTWINGNUT TROLLS. I suppose they’re there, but they have to wait until I address old-fashioned, moderate Republicans. If they have a presence or a voice on Facebook and other social media on the Internet, it’s hard to find. Or it’s there but drowned out by the ubiquitous and rabid rightwingnuts and their bellicose blatherings and intellectually-challenged ‘opinions.’
If so, then the former are being found guilty by association with the latter and by not gainsaying them. 1
That said, the types of hate-based and hate-filled comments that are typical of rightwingnuts on Facebook are NOT indicative of their being the type of Internet trolls that I hinted at in my two previous articles, “My Facebook Page Is Now A Rightwingnut Hate Free Zone” and “Rightwingnuts Do It For Free On Facebook.”
In fact, both those articles took for granted that readers knew the terms troll and trolling and what they meant. For readers not conversant with the nomenclature, here is some explanation:
“In Internet slang, a troll is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement.” (Wikipedia)
I use the term troll (as I believe many people do) to mean the troller has malicious intent, although that was not always so. For a recent look on both old-fashioned trolling and the modern version, give a read to Kali Holloway’s article “Internet Trolls Explain Why They Do What They Do” for AlterNet.
This fantastic painting of by John Bauer is being used by Wikipedia for its entry on trolls: A troll is a supernatural being in Scandinavian folklore. In origin, troll may have been a negative synonym for a jötunn. In Old Norse sources, beings described as trolls dwell in isolated rocks, mountains, or caves, live together in small family units, and are rarely helpful to human beings.”
Trolls have a strategy
But are there those who troll for more than their amusement? Go to Google and type “paid right wing trolls” and there are more than 239,000 listings. The first is “The Right-Wing Trolls Have a Strategy. What’s Ours?” by Andy Schmookler for the HuffingtonPost site. He observes:
“Why do right-wingers come to a liberal site? It’s not an attempt to persuade, much less to learn. These men—almost all of them are men—only pretend to be involved in a discussion. They’re really on a guerrilla mission behind enemy lines to disrupt communications.
One can find discussions among right-wing trolls, sharing strategies for frustrating liberal commenters and techniques to circumvent the efforts of liberal blogs to ban them for their deliberate disruption and annoyance.
Some of the trolling forces of the right are neither free-lance nor volunteer: reports tell of ‘wanted postings’ for paid commenters—soliciting a kind of mercenary army to advance the political force that’s taken over the right.” 2
Andy has found sites where these folk congregate to conspire, and that there appear to be sites where they can be paid to carry out those conspiracies. Meaning my paranoia wasn’t paranoia at all!
A popular image used to depict an Internet troll. If this cartoon is based on someone or something, I don’t know what that or it is.
Some of your friends are trolls
But the doings of anonymous trolls are not why I wrote this piece: what I want to address are the righties on Facebook who have names and faces and engage in the same type of anti-discourse.
You know them: they are Facebook ‘friends’ or friends of friends scrolling though their timeline, or guys you went to high school with, or guys you work with, etcetera.
They have online Facebook identities that reflect who they are: their name, photos of themselves and their wives and their kids, where they went to school, etcetera.
They’re humans just like us …
This illustration of a ‘forum troll’ is by Woody Heam for his GU Comics site. He designed this for “people who consistently fail in their attempts to communicate in a meaningful way with this community.” Most of the traits above apply to Internet trolls of all kinds. (Click on the image for a larger version that is easier to read.)
Sadistic and wanton abuses
In my earlier post, I noted that Seymour Hersh’s 2004 New Yorker article “Torture at Abu Ghraib” addressed the US Army’s investigation of Abu Ghraib in Iraq. They determined that there had been “systematic and illegal abuse of detainees” that involved “sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses.”
When I posted a link to “Court Rules Bush Administration Can Be Sued for Its War on Terror Conduct” (Truthout, December 14, 2015) about recent court rulings that open the door into investigations of just far how up the chain of command the tacit or open approval went in the Bush administration, I received a comment from a ‘conservative’ that called for more torture:
“A little waterboarding and profiling of Muslims is far less an ordeal than what they put their terror victims through.”
Read that again, please: this Facebook ‘friend’ responded to the sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses at Abu Ghraib with a call for MORE sadistic, blatant, and wanton criminal abuses—and apparently just about any Muslims will do!
This was the last straw! I did not want such sadistic blathering’s disgracing my Facebook page anymore. So I ‘unfriended’ this person and several others of his stripe and declared my page to be a Rightwingnut Hate Free Zone, which is what the first article of this two-parter was about
And I was not referring only to the Islamophobia …
This clever poster is courtesy of the Skepacabra website.
A slew of anti-gay legislation
Here is an article titled “Oklahoma Rep*blican Wants to Forbid Suicidal LGBT Kids From Meeting Gay-Friendly Therapists” by Bethania Palma Markus (Raw Story, January 30, 2016). It addresses new legislation that Rep*blican Representative Sally Kern has proposed in her state.
“The bill states that no public school counselor, therapist, social worker, administrator, teacher or other individual will be allowed to refer anyone under 18 to any person or organization if the referral pertain[s] to human sexuality.”
Here is the back-end context that we straights with straight kids need to keep in constant rotation in our consciousness when reading horror stories like this:
“LGBT kids raised in homophobic households have higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide, and public school counselors who can connect them with the right LGBT-friendly groups and gay-affirming therapists provide a critical lifeline.”
Got that? Articles that I have read over the years have led me to believe that the phrase “raised in homophobic households” is unnecessarily confining, if not unnecessarily restrictive.
The manifestation of the bully on the Internet in the form of a troll is a topic of concern to me. The anonymity of the troll is especially scary: you get to be a bully and no one knows who you are and there are no repercussions!
I have always understood that LGBT teens have significantly higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide PERIOD. And so it is so and here are the figures:
• suicide attempts among the general population of American is 1.6%.
• suicide attempts among heterosexual teens it is 4%!
• suicide attempts among lesbian, bi, and gay teens it is 20%!!
• suicide attempts among trans-gender teens it is 41%!!!
Please reread those figures and remember—these are our children!
So, knowing this, why would anyone in their right mind possibly want a law that forbids professionals in the mental/emotional health fields from assisting fellow human beings who are our children?
That, of course, is a rhetorical question, because we all know that denying these fellow human beings any support is an unspoken part of today’s Rep*blican Party platform. Should you have any doubts and have not yet clicked on over to read Ms. Markus’s article, she notes:
“The state House bill, proposed by Rep*blican Sally Kern, is part of a slew of anti-gay legislation she wants to pass, which would sanction discredited gay ‘conversion’ therapy and prevent HIV-positive people from getting married.”
‘Nuff said? Well, not quite: I could also say that it never ceases to amaze me how other people’s sex lives fascinate so-called ‘conservatives.’
It’s downright … unnatural!
But that’s another story.
I didn’t do it! This jaypeg poster is from the article “Why Are Conservatives Supporting A Liberal Troll Like Donald Trump?” in which JASmius attempts to convince readers that Trump is a Dem in disguise on the righty website Political Pistachio.
Them there leftwingnut trolls
I see Internet memes (I prefer jaypeg posters) warning of “liberal trolls” but I have yet to see one in action. I assume that there must be some; maybe they avoid me and other progressive types because they know we’d be pissed off by them. This is not to say I haven’t seen insults hurled and names called by People of the Left in what used to be called flaming wars with People of the Right. 3
I typed “liberal internet troll” into Google and this was the first listing that addressed the issue: “Disturbing: Inside The Mind Of A Liberal Troll” by Jerry Novick. Here is the opening paragraph:
“As a Conservative columnist on the internet, I get my share of Liberal Trolls. They just seem to come out of the woodwork, as if they have some sort of ant-like antennae that tingles when a Conservative is using facts, analysis, and insight to put the Progressive ideology to shame. Then they swarm, using ad hominem attacks and cries of It’s Bush’s fault! as if that shields their leaders from taking any blame for their actions.”
Oh my! He gets comments that things could have been a former President’s fault and considers that the work of heinous “Internet trolls.”
I get sillier: he quotes a ‘liberal’ as saying “Whatever the truth is, I know it’s more complex than what is written here” and claims it to be a “mind-bender” (huh?) and part of a “troll-attack.”
That’s it: Whatever the truth is, I know it’s more complex than what is written her. That is the sum of the quote associated with this “troll” who “attacked” his opinion.
This and the other links on the Google page were too silly to dwell on.
Again, I assume there are leftwinged arsewholes out there making rude comments, it’s just difficult to find them—especially when righty writers offer the above as examples. And need to be addressed by ‘conservative’ writers with slightly thicker skin than Mr Novick. 4
Internet troll trilogy
Yeah yeah yeah, I know: this post is a bit all-over-the-map. I apologize for that: it’s actually a hodgepodge of sidetracked thoughts and reflections from the first two parts of my Internet Troll Trilogy, and doesn’t have the continuity and togetherness of those post—but I wanted to post them anyway.
As someone once famous once said, “La de da …”If old-fashioned conservatives have a presence on social media like Facebook, it’s hard to find. Click To Tweet
FEATURED IMAGE: This was to have been the featured image for this article until I found John Bauer’s painting (above). I found this great painting of a troll lurking beneath a bridge on the Mark Page Workshop page. It is an illustration for the “Three Billy Goats Gruff” children’s story. Mr. Page is Senior Concept Designer for Walt Disney Imagineering (sic). Check out his site and see the rest of his work while there.
1 The word gainsay is somewhat archaic and means to deny, contradict, or oppose someone or something. Needless to say, I like it.
2 Andy Schmookler is a former Democratic nominee for Congress in Virginia, political commentator, talk radio philosopher, and author of author of What We’re Up Against. The opening paragraph in his article above is a single sentence that backs up most of my positions in this article, “Years of interacting on the Web with right-wingers have taught me: to engage with right-wing trolls is to play into their hands.”
3 I prefer jaypeg poster to meme because it’s a far more accurate description of the captioned image and doesn’t cause those with a familiarity with the original definition of meme to cringe.
4 Yes, arsewholes is a silly word of my own coinage: the first part of British slang for one’s bum, the second a play on the second part of assholes. The latter refers to just one small part of the backside; my term to the whole heinie.