Saturday, February 13, 2010

Slaying Trolls

I am still trying to free up enough time out of the process of establishing myself as a professional freelance writer to perfect this Blog and bring in more readers. Please bear with me, you dear and gentle few, as I do that.

One problem I have not had much of, yet, on this Blog -- simply because I do not post enough to keep a large regular readership -- is that of trolling. When the happy day arrives that I have enough regular readers to be assailed by trolls, I intend to deal with the problem differently than many bloggers do. I think a lot of them are too tolerant of this nuisance, which is really worse than merely a nuisance.

I will insist that persistent trolls identify themselves by their real names, as well as by location. Does this place them in danger? I must say that I don't care. The odds that anyone would track them down and go postal on them are significantly less than the near-certainty that cowardly trolling will destroy the freedom of the blogosphere.

If you feel you must hide your identity, you are actually aiding and abetting the very sort of people who might track commenters down and try to harm them. It is by standing up to these people that you can defeat them -- and there is no other way it can be done. A common troll trick is to claim those who confront them are threatening violence against them -- but as my identity is right out there front and center, that is obviously the last thing I could or would be dumb enough to do. They are the ones in the position of tracking people down with the intent to do violence -- which they well know, may indeed be part of the reason they hide their identity as they do, and even may be why the notion of doing such a thing comes so readily into their minds.

I use my own name when I comment on blogs. Just as it is visible -- along with my home city of Phoenix, Arizona -- on this Blog. Why do I do this? Because I believe it is important to be accountable for the remarks I make. If people don't agree with me, they know where to find me.

You don't need to remain anonymous in order to express yourself. As a matter of fact, by hiding behind a cyberspace alias, you cheapen and devalue every view you express. If nobody knows who you really are, for whom you may be working, or where you're located, then why the hell should they really care what you think? You're a nobody, floating around in the flotsam of nothingness.

Over at Gay Patriot right now, there is a very obnoxious and persistent troll calling himself "American Elephant." He has a blog, which my fellow-blogger Cynthia Yockey of A Conservative Lesbian believes to be nothing but a fake. It certainly seems, to me, that even if it expresses his real views (and I have no reason to believe it doesn't), he compromises the credibility of everything he has to say by hiding his real identity when he comments on blogs.

I think he's working for some fundamentalist church or far-Right social conservative organization, probably for pay. Unlike those of us who must toil every day for a living, he certainly seems to have a lot of free time to post his bilge. Unless he's still living in his parents' basement (I suppose, a distinct possibility with this type), he is on somebody's payroll. Those who read Gay Patriot have a right to know whose it is.

Generally speaking, I disagree with those who say Gay Patriot is a "self-hating" blog. We ought to be careful applying that label to others on the gay Right, because there will be those who will also use it on us. I have found much on that blog that is very worthwhile, and have enjoyed both reading and commenting there. But skulkers and back-shooters like the cowardly "Elephant" are poisoning the discourse there.

Those of us he keeps attacking are beginning to unite against this sort of crap, and sooner or later we will find out who he is and for whom he is working. Then we will expose him. This may take some time and effort, but it must be done for the sake of honest discourse. It is crucial that the blogosphere remain dedicated to freedom of expression. But when that freedom is abused by cowards who sneak around lying and attacking others, it sets the stage for the busybodies who have already started coming out of the woodwork with proposals to regulate Internet speech. If free speech in the blogosphere is regulated, the blame must largely be borne by people like "Elephant."

Perhaps that's exactly what they want. If so, shouldn't the rest of us know it?



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