Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Lifestyle

We mean business
Contact us today to get results

In defence of trolls. Because someone has to

By johnboy - 12 September 2012 76

trolls

This is a fight I’d largely have preferred to stay out of, but having been dragged onto Mark Parton’s show to answer for my crimes this morning it seems I’m in it, so I may as well lay out my thinking.

The Daily Telegraph is rolling out a bandwagon, in their words to “Stop the trolls”, in my words to entrench privilege and ensure only the big end of town may be heard.

First, let’s understand our terms.

Urban Dictionary has this to say:

The art of deliberately, cleverly, and secretly pissing people off, usually via the internet, using dialogue. Trolling does not mean just making rude remarks: Shouting swear words at someone doesn’t count as trolling; it’s just flaming, and isn’t funny. Spam isn’t trolling either; it pisses people off, but it’s lame.

The most essential part of trolling is convincing your victim that either a) truly believe in what you are saying, no matter how outrageous, or b) give your victim malicious instructions, under the guise of help.

Trolling requires decieving; any trolling that doesn’t involve decieving someone isn’t trolling at all; it’s just stupid. As such, your victim must not know that you are trolling; if he does, you are an unsuccesful troll.

When Jeremy Clarkson says something outre on Top Gear and gets in all the world’s papers he is trolling.

When John Howard would say something innocuous to middle Australia and get dirty hippies to throw eggs at him he was trolling.

Both of them did very well out of it.

One could say that the ancient role of Devil’s advocate is a form of trolling.

On the other hand people are often simply stupid, ignorant, mean spirited, or just arseholes.

They’re arseholes in person, they’re arseholes online. Pseudo anonymity might let them show off their inner arsehole in ways they normally wouldn’t. But it doesn’t make them less arseholes, just more easily identified.

Not all arseholes are arseholes all the time. One of you out there might be so saintly that you’ve never upset anyone ever, but not many.

If we’re going to outlaw being an arsehole it’s going to be a bugger of a job finding anyone to staff the prisons.

On the subject of incivility. The correspondence of Sir Thomas More (a martyred saint of the Catholic Church) and Martin Luther (Founder of the Lutheran Church) is famous for their foul language.

Incivility in the written word has not been invented by thoughtless fools on Twitter.

But what we’re seeing from the Telegraph is people who are already rich, famous, and the friends of powerful people attempting to ensure only flattering things may be written about them.

The great and good already have extensive recourse to the courts when people say things about them they do not like, now they want pre-emption?

When they’re finished policing Twitter, Facebook, the rest of the internet, why stop there?

That strikes me as far more disgusting than any troll.

And so we come to what Voltaire didn’t say:

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.

Also I’d like it if you could stop; trolling, being ignorant, mean spirited, stupid, or just an arsehole.

But I don’t think we should lock you up for any of those things.


UPDATE: 13/09/12 09:19: It occurs to me having raised Sir Thomas More his speech in “A Man For All Seasons” is highly relevant:

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!
Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?
William Roper: Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!
Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
76 Responses to
In defence of trolls. Because someone has to
caf 1:44 pm 12 Sep 12

The medium through which the message is delivered should be irrelevant – so if these proposed “freedom from being offended” rules are brought in, they should apply equally to newspapers.

I’m sure the Daily Telegraph would love that!

Skidbladnir 1:42 pm 12 Sep 12

I believe the old-world phrase that gives context to the GIFT (Greater Internet F***wad Theory) is ‘give someone a mask and they’ll show you their true face’.

Online, we’re all anonymous, but the degree of personal restraint varies.

But internet trolling is related to both the method of fishing and ‘under a bridge’ troll.

c_c 1:31 pm 12 Sep 12

SnapperJack said :

The News Ltd papers have always had a problem with the Internet. When it first began in the early 1990s their newspapers ran campaigns to get it either banned or heavily censored, calling it “a new delivery service for explicit pornography”.

Just a little ironic

http://pericles.ipaustralia.gov.au/atmoss/falcon_details.show_tm_details?p_tm_number=984744&p_search_no=1&p_ExtDisp=D&p_detail=DETAILED&p_rec_no=3&p_rec_all=3

http://pericles.ipaustralia.gov.au/atmoss/falcon_details.show_tm_details?p_tm_number=984609&p_search_no=1&p_ExtDisp=D&p_detail=DETAILED&p_rec_no=1&p_rec_all=3

Snarky 1:16 pm 12 Sep 12

… and just to make it a little more interesting, one prominent “victim” of rude twitters seems surprised some people can’t take a joke.

Rollersk8r 1:07 pm 12 Sep 12

The coverage is ridiculous, blown out of all proportion. Facebook and Twitter have been completely mainstream for what, 7 or 8 years, but we’ve only just worked out you can use these mediums to say outrageous and disgusting things to people you wouldn’t ordinarily have access to???

It’s attention seeking, plain and simple. Publicising the fact despicable comments have upset high profile people only means the “troll” wins. You deal with it by ignoring it, blocking the person, deleting the comment etc.

Beggars in Civic have abused me for no real reason. It’s unpleasant but I’ve never considered taking them to court over it – I’ve ignored it – got plenty of bigger things to worry about – so why should it be any different online??

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 1:05 pm 12 Sep 12

Henry82 said :

If he can’t take the heat, then don’t have twitter. People who had mean things to say existed before social media, just there was usually a secretary in the way.

agreed. No one is forcing anybody to sign upto twitter, or to continue reading if you dont like what is being said.

And where does it stop? when will the police start knocking on my door for calling a polotician a halwit in the comments here?

thumper109 1:00 pm 12 Sep 12

Eloquently stated, jb…

SnapperJack 12:58 pm 12 Sep 12

The News Ltd papers have always had a problem with the Internet. When it first began in the early 1990s their newspapers ran campaigns to get it either banned or heavily censored, calling it “a new delivery service for explicit pornography”.

When News Ltd tabloids such as the Telegraph start moral crusades such as this they take emotive terms and interchange them with other less threatening language thus making it all seem very scary and threatening. When home video first began, an urban myth went around that there were “snuff movies” where people were murdered on screen. Movies such as this were tagged “video nasties”. When the Hawke government introduced the X rating for non-violent erotica in 1984, the Sunday Telegraph began an hysterical campaign with the front page banner headline “OUTLAW THE VIDEO NASTIES”. Within a few weeks X rated videos were banned in every state and territory except the ACT, bans which remain in place to this day.

The fact is that Rupert Murdoch has described himself as “a born-again Catholic” and when it comes to issues such as this, both his – and his newspaper’s – reputation precedes itself.

Thumper 12:54 pm 12 Sep 12

They’re arseholes in person, they’re arseholes online. Pseudo anonymity might let them show off their inner arsehole in ways they normally wouldn’t. But it doesn’t make them less arseholes, just more easily identified

Nailed it.

arescarti42 12:40 pm 12 Sep 12

I don’t quite follow this. The crux of the issue as I see it, is that the Daily Telegraph is using the terms ‘Trolls’ and ‘Bullies’ interchangeably, which they shouldn’t. The article read as though they were against what you’d usually call cyber bullying (i.e. abuse, intimidation, harassment through electronic forms) which is not something most people would support.

Trolling is completely different, and if done right, is quite a skilled art form.

Felix the Cat 12:39 pm 12 Sep 12

If Trolls/Trolling becomes outlawed then RA will have to shut down.

Comic_and_Gamer_Nerd 12:39 pm 12 Sep 12

Most people do not even know the meaning of word troll.

they should more be focused on the repreenisble human trash that frequents you tube comments. Litterally the bottom of the interwebs.

Henry82 12:17 pm 12 Sep 12

If he can’t take the heat, then don’t have twitter. People who had mean things to say existed before social media, just there was usually a secretary in the way.

EvanJames 12:13 pm 12 Sep 12

Yep, pretty-much agree

c_c 12:11 pm 12 Sep 12

Context matters. What I write on a forum and what I write with a byline, elicit very different reactions even when they say the same thing.

Were Andrew Bolt merely voicing his views on Twitter, it’s likely he would be on the receiving end of News Ltds latest campaign, rather than enjoying the protection that comes from working for the Murdoch lavisthan.

I’m inclined to use some choice words to describe Jack Waterford whose trolling, um, I mean journalism in part drove one public servant to suicide.

1 2 3 6

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site