February 8, 2012
This whole YouTube vlog has really opened a lot of avenues of critique and condemnation. I’ll admit I was nervous. People are more active in places like YouTube that, say, a blog like this. More people are willing to comment and criticize a vlog than a blog. That being said, I got a chance to engage in one of my favorite pastimes.
The troll is a skittish creature. It jumps into a comments thread and leaves a badly-spelled jumble of words that should probably be an argument to what you’ve just written or said. The traditional strategy for dealing with trolls is to ignore them. Feeding a troll is like giving food to a stray animal. That animal will stay and love you. In this case, the troll has found a new source of food and you are its unwilling vending machine.
Of course, I feed the trolls. I leave little morsels of comments for them. I let them have a taste.
Then I poison them and burn their bodies behind the shed. Sort of.
The recent video on Sarah Walls got a lot of attention, but a percentage of the comments on the video were by people who comically missed the point of calling out a racist for being a racist. They insisted she was right. They brought out things like their own dislike of Mexicans, how being a Navy veteran meant you could not be dumb, and how Mexicans are the real racists because they refuse to admit they come from a culture of violence and rape.
And no, none of those are exaggerations.
I answer back. I ask questions. I poke holes in their theories. After all, THIS little ol’ Mexican-American never killed or raped anyone and, as far as I can tell, is eloquent and can string together a coherent, logical argument. Faced with this and other facts, a troll will usually try and justify his or her prejudice and previous observations. This backs them into a corner. They get defensive. At this point, the troll will do one of two things.
It will end the conversation (sometimes launching one last volley of self-righteous anger), or it will launch into a full-blown attack.
Either one is a good thing. If it leaves, game over, but you had the last word. It if attacks, it shows its weakness. It exposes its hatreds and prejudice. The angrier it gets, the more it shows what it really thinks. It’s your job, though, to keep a level head. Maintain composure. Don’t give in to the hatred.
Focus it. Like a laser. Powered out of spite. That targets the idiot.
I enjoy answering trolls. I’ve got three heads on my wall from the last three days. One admitted he was racist but claimed he had a good reason. Another insisted he couldn’t have an intelligent conversation with someone unless his opponent could speak English because Mexicans can’t think critically. The third basically said I was racist for pointing out a racist critique.
I do this for two reasons. Bursting people’s racist world-view and exposing them for the angry, ignorant pricks that they are brings me infinite joy. I can’t stand someone trying to justify prejudice, no matter how good their “rationale” may be. For anyone who stands by and lets this happen in the real world, there’s one more bigot who gets away with demeaning entire cultures. Secondly, it’s good practice. Even though, as the saying goes, you should never argue with idiots because they will take you to their level, it’s good practice for my teaching job. Every class, there is at least one person who wants to try and make a point and relies solely on hearsay and bad evidence. Quickly pointing out the holes in arguments like this keeps me sharp.
Besides, do you honestly think I’m going to let some closeted bigot get away with insulting my friends and family and try to justify it with “science?”
Oh. Hell. No.
That being said, I’m going to wash away those thoughts with a beatboxing baby.