September 29th, 2006

Anger makes strange bedfellows: trolls and jihadis

I’m back from DC and naturally have a backlog of things to do, the way it always is when one goes away. So I wasn’t online much today, and the troll commentary has managed to pile up on the previous thread. I’ve left it all there so far, although I may delete it later. As I know I’ve said before, sometimes I leave such comments up because they are so very instructive about the techniques and thought processes of a certain segment of the Left.

Why would trolls think such “argument”–amounting mostly to ad hominem attacks and insults–would convince anyone of the truth of their cause? On the face of it, that doesn’t make sense. But the argument of a troll only masquerades as argument; it’s not really meant to convince. It’s meant to harass, and to strut a sort of macho aggressiveness (my strong sense, even if saying it is not PC, is that the vast majority of trolls are male).

Trolls exist to disrupt a blog. That’s their entire raison d’etre. Trolling is a strange and sorry way to spend any of the precious hours of one’s life, but there you have it.

It must have its own rewards for the troll. Every time a person responds to a troll, the troll feels good. Every time the blogger has to write a post like the one I’m writing now, the troll feels good. Every time a blogger has to change from one form of comments to another in order to increase banning capacity (as I’ve had to do previously, and will probably do again soon in a major reorganization of the blog when I get some time) the troll feels especially, exceptionally good.

It’s interesting that the previous thread, the one that drew so many trolls (or so many sock puppets–take your pick; I don’t even feel like taking the trouble to check who’s who right now, although I can easily do that) was about the ubiquity and free-floating quality of Muslim rage. When you think about it, there isn’t much reason that Leftists and jihadis should have much in common, although politics (and hatred of neocons) does make strange bedfellows. But one of the things both groups share is their rage, and their pride and even glee in expressing it.

42 Responses to “Anger makes strange bedfellows: trolls and jihadis”

  1. david foster Says:

    It’s not only the trolls. Much political “discourse” today seems to have abandoned any serious intent to change anyone’s mind–after all, people are rarely convinced of anything by being told how evil and stupid they are.

    If the purpose of such discourse is not to convert, then what is it? I think there are two major categories:
    1)Labeling: projecting “I am one of you” to those who can help or hinder an individual’s career. This happens, for example, in a book review of a nonpolitical book that nevertheless manages to get in a drive-by attack on GWB.
    2)Emotional venting: raw explosions of rage that someone would dare to see things in a different way.

    Both of these are being encouraged by various trends: (1)by the politicization of so much of society, and (2)by the increased emphasis on feeling vs thinking, making it difficult for many people to even imagine framing a logical argument vs an emotional outburst.

  2. brad Says:

    WELL OH YA david!! You *&^$)&^#@(*^&%$$#, so there.

  3. harry Says:

    This is all a load of CRAP! I dont know why I have to PUT UP WITH THIS!

    The reason you’re not friggin getting the message is because your not figgin PAYING ATTENTION!
    ____________________

    Seriously though, its also hard to try to argue reasonably with those who will not be reasoned with and will not accept your sources or facts.

    This, of course, is why we have cluster munitions.

    I shouldnt have said that. I’m gonna catch hell from the trolls for that one.

  4. obvioustroll Says:

    Okay, I have to vent for a minute: I have to complain about your repeating the common misuse of the term “troll” to refer to the flamers who dominate political discourse.

    Back when I first hit the net, many years ago, you could still discern the passing of the seasons (well, semesters) by the ebb and flow of the ignorant and the arrogant on usenet, and trolling was a method of putting such people in their place. It was done with subtlety and skill and the term “trolling” (originally, “trolling for newbies”) was a reference to *fishing* not the billy-goats gruff – as in, you threw out some conversational “bait” and you would see who you could reel in.

    The idea that my previously noble hobby has been associated with the very garbage it was originally inspired to taunt is, well, disheartening.

    To answer the question I just *know* is on your lips – no, I haven’t trolled anybody since 1994 or so. My nom de guerre, “obvioustroll” is a sardonic reference to people who frequently accuse me of trolling, simply because (according to them) no honest, sane person could have the political beliefs that I do.

    Mike “An Obvious Troll” Heinz…

  5. letmespellitoutforyou Says:

    There’s been a dismaying number of posts like this lately. Weren’t we supposed to ignore the trolls?

    Love the hair, by the way.

  6. pete Says:

    Oh now I get it. A troll, in neocon speak, is anyone that disagrees with the islamophobic right’s disasterous policy and gross incompetence. Well that makes it nice and simple. Thank you.

  7. Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) Says:

    Oh now I get it. A troll, in neocon speak, is anyone that disagrees with the islamophobic right’s disasterous policy and gross incompetence. Well that makes it nice and simple. Thank you.

    Pete? The same Pete that spammed death stats in just about every thread? If so, I’ll toss in my two cents: you are a troll. And my definition of “troll” is clearly a lot more narrow that most people on this site (that is, most of the people they would call trolls, such as Steve, I wouldn’t, really).

    What I call a troll is someone whose primary intent is to disrupt or altogether stop discussion (such as spamming, something you’re known for), or to simply annoy people (another classification you fit in).

    Arguing (even with the site host) is all well and good; it’s when arguing ceases to be your primary concern (wasn’t it you who said something along the lines of “sometimes all you can do is rub their face in their own shit”? that’s an excellent example of a troll personality) that you become a troll.

  8. cjd Says:

    As opposed of course to the stellar competence of using the non-word “disasterous”. You’re welcome.

  9. Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) Says:

    Oh, one more thing. I haven’t been around this site in a few weeks. My apologies if you’ve grown out of that, recently.

  10. pete Says:

    “As opposed of course to the stellar competence of using the non-word “disasterous”. You’re welcome.”

    I sayed et b4 an I says et agin. Any1 whoo be obsez’d wid korect’n da speelin and da gramer en da komentz secshun of um blog IS AN INANE DRONE!

  11. pete Says:

    “What I call a troll is someone whose primary intent is to disrupt or altogether stop discussion (such as spamming, something you’re known for), or to simply annoy people (another classification you fit in).”

    Yes I suppose calling you to task for your words and deads would stop the discussion wouldn’t it. I suppose pointing out that your support for the vile actions of our government would be annoying wouldn’t it.

  12. Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) Says:

    Alright, let me ask you some questions. Do you expect that you are saying anything that they haven’t heard before? Do you expect that anything you say will change their mind? Is making a point more important than where you make that point?

  13. pete Says:

    “Do you expect that anything you say will change their mind?”

    Changing minds is always a low yield endeavor in the short term but is often fruitful in the long term.

  14. Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) Says:

    Changing minds is always a low yield endeavor in the short term but is often fruitful in the long term.

    …you think if you laugh at them long enough they’ll change their minds? Or were you going for the brainwashing approach (say it often enough and someday they’ll believe it)?

  15. pete Says:

    Neither. Are you have an argument with me or yourself? The latter are very dangerous to one’s mental health.

  16. pete Says:

    In case bad grammar and spelling makes your skin crawl here ya go.

    Neither. Are you having an argument with me or yourself? The latter is very dangerous to one’s mental health.

  17. Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) Says:

    Neither. Are you have an argument with me or yourself? The latter are very dangerous to one’s mental health.

    Well, I’m trying to figure out some way that you would expect to be adding something beneficial. If you were going for one of those, then at least your fact-finding would be useful in some way (even if that way were contrary to the objectives). But if you’re simply out to point out facts with the hope that they’ll do the mental math at some later time, that brings us right back to whether you are telling them anything they haven’t heard before (and thus directly determines whether you are adding anything at all of value). Can you answer that one?

    And tell me you did not just say that thinking something over (which is what you are doing when arguing with yourself) is “very dangerous to one’s mental health”.

  18. pete Says:

    Do you really not see the value in what you call ridicule and humor in changing the minds of others. Just listen to right-wing talk radio. They have been doing it effectively for years. It is really the only tool in their shed. It is not the ridiculed whose mind is the target audience for change.

    The type of argument you are having with yourself can not be misconstrued to be thinking. You ask questions and then give a limited number of possible responses based on what you think others must be thinking. Why don’t you just ask what they are thinking rather than having those conversations with yourself.

  19. Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) Says:

    Do you really not see the value in what you call ridicule and humor in changing the minds of others. Just listen to right-wing talk radio. They have been doing it effectively for years. It is really the only tool in their shed. It is not the ridiculed whose mind is the target audience for change.

    Does shoving a dog’s nose in its own crap really convince other dogs of anything, apart from possibly making them think you’re a scary and mentally unstable individual? Last I checked, that was for the “benefit” of the dog getting a face-full of crap.

    I can’t say that I’ve listened to right-wing talk radio (or TV show, for that matter), so I’m at a bit of a disadvantage here. Do they actually talk to people on the other side, or just make fun of them for their own amusement, and perhaps to lure fence-sitters who might be listening in, while those being ridiculed never even listen to it?

    You strike me more as the turn-or-burn “God is angry!” (what the banner he was carrying actually said, in big letters) idiot that drops by my university every so often (fortunately, “every so often” amounts to once every year or two). I can’t say that I remember what God is angry about, but him calling everyone who didn’t agree with him idiots (and other synonyms you can come up with) sure left an impression on everybody (and not a good one).

    The type of argument you are having with yourself can not be misconstrued to be thinking. You ask questions and then give a limited number of possible responses based on what you think others must be thinking. Why don’t you just ask what they are thinking rather than having those conversations with yourself.

    You are a remarkably hostile individual, especially considering that I’m probably the first person on this site in quite some time to take you seriously and actually give you an opportunity to change their mind. My apologies; I did not realize that the comments text box would be so easily mistaken for a scantron.

  20. pete Says:

    I could be wrong but that appears to be one heck of a lot of projecting you’re doing there Justin.

    Once again if you want to know what someone is thinking you should just try asking.

    If you want others to give away their tactics just for the asking that’s another matter.

  21. Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) Says:

    I could be wrong but that appears to be one heck of a lot of projecting you’re doing there Justin.

    Truly? I guess I’ll have to take your word for that, since you’ve made absolutely no effort at all to correct my mistakes, or even to indicate where said mistakes occured.

    Once again if you want to know what someone is thinking you should just try asking.

    I’m not going to ask the same questions twice. Answer them and maybe give me a positive impression of you, or don’t. Right now I’m getting the impression that you’re more interested in making an enemy of me than actually communicating any information.

  22. pete Says:

    I answered at least four of your questions Justin. Please review.

  23. Good Ole Charlie Says:

    pete:

    I’ll put in my two cents…just where did you answer Justin (date and time) and what questions did you answer.

    I have to admit that your foaming at the mouth does not make for clear expository writing. Try shortening your prose and forget the polemics…just for a while.

    Thanks, pal…

  24. Patrick Chester Says:

    pete the troll, wrote:
    Oh now I get it. A troll, in neocon speak, is anyone that disagrees with the islamophobic right’s disasterous policy and gross incompetence. Well that makes it nice and simple. Thank you.

    Actually, trolls tend to whine that the one labeling a troll calls “anyone” who disagrees with them a troll. Don’t know why, perhaps it’s a pathetic attempt to divert attention from it’s own rantings by trying to make the accuser feel guilty or defensive. Alas, it only seems to be effective in the troll’s mind.

    HTH. HAND.

    Plonk.

  25. OldManRick Says:

    Many years ago, I saw a movie “Dead Birds” about the primitive tribes of New Guinea. One of the sequences of the movie that struck me most was the ritualized tribal warfare. Both tribes would line up on different sides of a stream and shout insults, threaten and false charge the other side. Occasionally, a weapon would be thrown across the stream and dodged, but weapons were more valuable than words so no effort was made to organize a volley that could have some actual effect.

    This would go on for hours with no injuries and finally the two sides would disperse, go back to their villages, and brag about how they had really defeated the other side.

    Many comments threads seem to turn into a “Dead Birds” battle. Both sides hurling invective, incomplete/biased/easily refuted quotes, talking points and poorly reasoned arguments, then going back to their safe community to brag about how they gave the other side a beating.

    The sad thing is that the parallel of “Dead Birds” and comment threads both show that the tribal nature of man has not changed in four thousand years.

  26. pete Says:

    “I’ll put in my two cents…just where did you answer Justin (date and time) and what questions did you answer.”

    one answered 09.30.06 – 1:44 am

    two answered 09.30.06 – 2:11 am

    I have to admit that my response
    on 09.30.06 – 2:55 am was not really an answer to Justin’s questions which were mainly rhetorical and laced with some of what you called “foaming at mouth”.

    “Try shortening your prose and forget the polemics…just for a while.”

    Actually my posts were short and sweet Justins were long and indignant.

  27. pete Says:

    “Actually, trolls tend to whine that the one labeling a troll calls “anyone” who disagrees with them a troll.”

    Wow! Do you really not see the irrationality in what you just wrote.

  28. pete Says:

    I liked the dead birds post. But the problem here is not one of reason but rather one of empathy. If America keeps telling the rest of the world that our’s is the only pain that matters then soon we will face a formidable enemy. The rest of the world!

  29. Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) Says:

    two answered 09.30.06 – 2:11 am

    Actually that wasn’t an answer at all. That was an incomplete process of elimination. You managed to correctly infer that there were more possible answers than those I gave. You failed to realize that this is not a scantron: and you can actually write in other answers.

    I have to admit that my response
    on 09.30.06 – 2:55 am was not really an answer to Justin’s questions which were mainly rhetorical and laced with some of what you called “foaming at mouth”.

    It’s true that most people would consider my questions there rhetorical. You, however, should not. I DO expect answers from you, because the answers relate to the validity of your earlier points.

    To date you have answered exactly one of my questions, and vaguely hinted at the answer to a second. You have several to go.

  30. pete Says:

    Justin

    Your analysis of my answers and your insistence that I answer your questions are indicative of someone stuck in the concrete operations stage. You should have transcended that stage by age 11 y.o..

    You do not get to ask all the questions nor do all of your questions warrant answers. Surely you should have learned that little life lesson by age three.

    Move On.

  31. Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) Says:

    Your analysis of my answers and your insistence that I answer your questions are indicative of someone stuck in the concrete operations stage. You should have transcended that stage by age 11 y.o..

    You do not get to ask all the questions nor do all of your questions warrant answers. Surely you should have learned that little life lesson by age three.

    Oh. So you’re the only one who gets to ask all the questions? I would have thought you’ve have grown out of that by now.

    Thanks for that, though. It’s remarkably amusing how you get angry when anybody asks you any questions, yet expect everybody to answer yours, and get abusive when they do not. You are a troll through and through.

  32. Ymarsakar Says:

    The Left and the Islamic Jihad don’t know what true hate and rage is. They are amateurs in those fields. They try, and they fail, with pitiful and destructive results.

    Every nazi, kkk, and criminal organization needs people that love power and love to abuse it. Every organization of that caliber, needs people to do the dirty work because some flaw in humanity produces pleasure by abusing our weaker compatriots and seeing them suffer. Trolls are simply the dredges of American civilization, where we have no torture organization, no mob organization, for the cruel and the sick to join and corrupt. They find a certain lack in their lives, too much peace and prosperity, not enough challenge. Not enough chaos and death.

    They live their lives peacefully, and it must grate on their souls. For do they not deserve better than peace and prosperity? Do they not deserve to carve out an empire from which they may stand tall and proud, having pride in their strength and achievements however brutal or oppressive?

    Humans have a lot of violent people for a reason. Without war, there is little outlet for that rage and need to expand. A lot of people just aren’t cut out for peaceful co-existence. That has always been true for the human race.

  33. Ymarsakar Says:

    Btw, when there is no Ymar to attack on neo-neocon’s site, that doesn’t mean they go away. Just a heads up.

  34. Ymarsakar Says:

    The sad thing is that the parallel of “Dead Birds” and comment threads both show that the tribal nature of man has not changed in four thousand years.
    OldManRick | 09.30.06 – 12:11 pm |

    The sad thing is that they are actually at our village, Neo Neocon’s site. This ain’t no river in neutral territory, and they aren’t welcomed guests.

    The tribal nature of man is more or less true, but that example actually shows a good solution, compared to the bad solution we see here.

  35. troutsky Says:

    I visit every once in a while to check on the mood in the opponents camp.I may leave a sardonic comment every once in a while because it seems to make me feel better somehow. (pathetic perhaps, but i crack myself up) Am I a troll? If so you can just scroll on down. There obviously is no contract one must sign here saying one will only contribute insightful and intelligent comments!I’ll try to keep the sarcasm to a minimum in the future. Try. On the rare occasion i find an interesting thread going here i attempt to engage but find I am often not even allowed to have an opinion because of my politics.

  36. submandave Says:

    Neo,

    If you go down to any infamous locale of revelry such as Bourbon Street in NO or Beale Street in Memphis on a Friday or Saturday you will likely encounter at least one group of people with huge signs emblazoned with Bible verses. Frequently these folks will use a bull horn to tell you how you are going to Hell and all the horrible sins you are committing. I have always thought of Blog trolls as their internet enabled cousins.

    Yes, these “tactics” are not only futile but largely self-destructive if one assumes the goal is to convert or convince. I have always suspected, though, the real objective is the pursuit of self affirmation. I’m right, I’m better, I’m good and you are all that is otherwise. Every sign carried is a testimony to the individual that he is saved. Every troll post (and reply) is a testimony to the individual that he is right.

  37. submandave Says:

    Ymarsakar – “The sad thing is that they are actually at our village, Neo Neocon’s site. This ain’t no river in neutral territory, and they aren’t welcomed guests.

    troutsky – “On the rare occasion i find an interesting thread going here i attempt to engage but find I am often not even allowed to have an opinion because of my politics.

    First, Ymarsakar, on what basis do you assume that you are part of this “village” and on what basis do you presume to dictate who is welcome and who is not? Since Neo posts this blog on an open site and imposes no obvious restrictions on who may reply my assumption is that this “village” is open to any and all who wish to visit.

    Second, troutsky, while judging from you note we might not agree on many political points, I, for one, would welcome and encourage you to say what’s on your mind. I often get a bit of the cold shoulder when posting to some of the more traditionally leftist blogs I sometimes read, but I try to keep my posts on topic and non-confrontational (even if some replies are otherwise). Like trolls, I just ignoe those with nothing constructive to contribute.

  38. neoneoconned Says:

    see you lot still cannot deal with those who disagree. grow up

  39. Justin Olbrantz (Quantam) Says:

    see you lot still cannot deal with those who disagree. grow up

    I thought you were banned. I guess they’re dealing better than I thought.

  40. Ymarsakar Says:

    First, Ymarsakar, on what basis do you assume that you are part of this “village” and on what basis do you presume to dictate who is welcome and who is not? Since Neo posts this blog on an open site and imposes no obvious restrictions on who may reply my assumption is that this “village” is open to any and all who wish to visit.

    As you admitted it yourself, this ain’t no river far from the homes of the two antagonists’ side. Obviously this is the logistics base of one side or another, and it isn’t the same as if both sides agreed to meet at a Neutral place, in order to expend their rage, only to return to regular life and existence in peaceful calm.

    The only way to get peaceful calm at Neo-Neocon’s site is either ignore the trolls, ignore the arguments, or just don’t get into arguments that often. But obviously we can’t go back to some “village” of Neo’s if we get tired of slinging mud. Again, this ain’t the river in your story, and you have already admitted it.

    I after all, did not bring up the story about two sides slinging insults at each other. You did. You delineated the circumstances for conflict and the geography of that conflict. Your point ostensibly, was to say that this has been going on for awhile. My point is not all that complex, in that I say that this (your scenario) all went on because it worked as a solution, and that what goes on now is different than what was portrayed in your story.

    I’m not talking about me, if you paid attention to your own story, you know. You didn’t mention me in your story, so obviously if I’m talking about how your story applies here and now, I’m not talking about me. It’s best to get rid of the bad logic, first.

  41. Ymarsakar Says:

    Correction time. Submandave chose to start an argument concerning a subject that he did not initiative, so he wasn’t the one that started the story. Which puzzled me, given that if it was his story to begin, why did he think I was talking about me and my village.

    Anyways, OldManRick was the one who told the story. So the correction is that subman was not the one who spoke about the story in question. Change all references to the author of OldManRick’s story, to oldmanrick instead of subman.

    This, changes the points only a little of course. Instead of sub bringing the story up, it was Rick.

    It doesn’t matter who is part of the village or what people understands the story to be. It has already been admitted that this was someone’s village, just not necessarily my own.

    Since obviously “neo-neocon” is not a bastion and outpost of the Left, it is obviously not the Left’s outpost. So to be consistent with Rick’s story, we have two sides slinging insults at each other over at one side’s village, instead of at a neutral river.

    That’s what is sad. if it was just a neutral river, if we had as simple as a forum in which one part was devoted to argument and another devoted to comments about the post, it would not be as harsh.

    Just to recap, every instance that I refered to “you” in my previous comment, to your story and you brought it up and so forth, should read as “Rick brought it up and Rick’s story”.

    Everyone else can remain unchanged.

    It’s just weird that someone wants to have an argument about a story that they didn’t even tell. I knew it was a possibily, but I didn’t think it probable until I checked.

    Many comments threads seem to turn into a “Dead Birds” battle. Both sides hurling invective, incomplete/biased/easily refuted quotes, talking points and poorly reasoned arguments, then going back to their safe community to brag about how they gave the other side a beating.

    Neo-Neo really doesn’t have a ‘safe’ community, to all extents and purposes. At least not safe from verbal abuse. There’s email, but that is not a base of logistics, not a community. It would have been better if sub had actually told the story, then he might have understood what it was all about without having to believe that it was about me and my village. It doesn’t matter if I’m part of this village or not, so long as this is a village of anyone’s.

  42. Ymarsakar Says:

    With a name like neo-neocon, honestly, why would anyone believe that this is a Leftist base of operations anyways? Come on, a little bit of sense here. Just as the Daily Kos ain’t my village or the village of the Republicans in this little tit and tat war, Neo-neocon isn’t the base of Leftists and Democrats.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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