Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On Internet Trolls and Stalkers...

The following guest post is by (O)CT(O)PUS of THE SWASH ZONE. Although (O)CT(O)PUS and I often hold opposing views he is a respected blogging colleague and a friend. He and I share a common concern with trolls and stalkers that seem to be becoming more prevalent. His views on this are spot on.


Let’s face it.  There are times when the  blogosphere resembles a war zone.
Anonymous trolls, predators, stalkers, and comment assassins – they pop up sight unseen like whack-a-moles.  Some merely argue in bad faith; some rise to the level of
road rage; others leave behind taunts and menacing comments. Some incidents are more memorable – meaning more disturbed and disturbing – than others. For over a year, a persistent predator has been stalking this community.

Years ago, I recall, another predatory troll visited my email box early one morning on Christmas Day. On a holiday celebrated by millions of families, here was one lone predator with malice on his mind.  How strange (and troubling), I thought.  After reporting this incident - among others - to law enforcement, the stalking ceased.

What are the signs and symptoms of a truly disturbed personality behind the anonymous moniker? Momentary outbursts of bad temper do not qualify as disturbed behavior. At various times, all of us have strong viewpoints and our moments.

The signature trait of disturbed behavior is simply this:  a pervasive, pernicious, and long-term pattern of predatory behaviors that rise to the level of obsession.  The predator who stalks this community meets
these criteria. Consider the frequency and level of vitriol in comments received within the last 24 hours alone (edited for brevity):
6:59 PM, August 18, 2014:
Not with all the Jew haters on here, smells like shit, group shit
7:48 PM, August 19, 2014:
You are no liberal defender of civil rights when you help protect and hide antisemitism. You censer those ideas differ from yours and claim it was the troll aspects, or insults that you objected to, yet you allow your buddies to call names to anyone who differs from your thinking, and then you all have a good laugh. What a hypocritical jackass.
7:51 PM, August 19, 2014:
I've seen Octo on the blogs for years. He is one of the biggest trolls and intentional instigators of blog disruption I've ever read. What a fucking hypocrite he is.
7:58 PM, August 19, 2014:
To bad you have to lie to make your false points, but it does show your shit character, just as protecting your antisemite buddy does. Yes, your anti-Semite buddy, documented as such on Shaw's blog, yet you both protect him. Fuck you asshole
For over a year, my Spam Box has filled with messages like these, presumably from the same anonymous commenter who stalks one of our readers across Cyberspace and accuses him of anti-Semitism.

Is subject reader, in the crosshairs of subject troll, really an anti-Semite?  The
accusations are delusional and irrational – as manifest in all obsessive- impulsive behaviors of this type:
Recurrent and persistent thoughts and impulses that are experienced as intrusive and inappropriate and cause marked anxiety or distress;
Thoughts, impulses, or images are not simply excessive worries about real-life problems;
With poor insight: For most of the time, the person does not recognize that the obsessions and compulsions are excessive or unreasonable.
In these email missives, the anonymous stalker never offers a single citation no links, no quotes, not one shred of evidence, nothing!

The Internet should never be used as a medium for character assassination or as a venue for holding Kangaroo Court.  Even more offensive is when a nameless, faceless person levels unfounded accusations while hiding behind a mask as an anonymous stalker. When the accused never even has a chance to face his accuser, this is the most gutless, cowardly, and unethical act of all.


  1. Here is a recent article on trolling and trolls:

  2. I've seen comments by him in different names. He is totally obsessed with Les being friends with Shaw.

    And hi Tao. good to see you on here...

    1. Thank you dmarks....I read Les' blog and Shaw's blog everyday...I don't comment any longer.

  3. Les, the troll is an equal opportunity creep. He fills my comment moderation in box almost daily as well with his obsessive hatred for you and me. Of course that sort of behavior reveals a mentally disturbed character. Mentally healthy people do not do what this troll does.

  4. Mentally healthy people do not do what this troll does.

    That's for certain Shaw.

  5. Good article Tao. Thanks for the link.

    A short except from the article:

    The Internet may be losing the war against trolls. At the very least, it isn’t winning. And unless social networks, media sites and governments come up with some innovative way of defeating online troublemakers, the digital world will never be free of the trolls’ collective sway.

    That’s the dismal judgment of the handful of scholars who study the broad category of online incivility known as trolling, a problem whose scope is not clear, but whose victims keep mounting.

    “As long as the Internet keeps operating according to a click-based economy, trolls will maybe not win, but they will always be present,” said Whitney Phillips, a lecturer at Humboldt State University...

    To continue reading you can go here.

  6. dmarks... it is difficult to know who "he" is. Trolls are aplenty and certainly I have a few that target me everywhere. It's just the price one pays for not "staying on the reservation" or having independent views. As well, trolls, and their boorish behavior are not limited to any particular political or philosophical view or party.

    1. And aside from its crazy tactics, the idea that you, Les, are anti-Semitic is so loony. I suppose the Steve/Kewee troll might appear as a little less of a fool if there were truth to its obsessions.

      The other of which, its anger over the (of course platonic) friendship between Shaw and Les is like that of an insanely jealous and jilted lover. Not any sort of rational action or concern.

  7. This post is not the first time a liberal cephalopod has come to the defense of conservative friend. Years ago, I wrote this post:


    What crime did my conservative friend commit to merit the opprobrium and rage of reactionary voices from the Far Rightwing Fringe? The fact that we were, and remain to this day, “friends.” There is a partisan subculture that accuses liberals of political correctness. In rebuttal, I wrote this 4 years ago:

    Yet, the same rightwing critics employ a far more sinister version of political correctness. They make use of litmus tests to enforce ideological orthodoxy in thought, speech, and personal associations. They will not hesitate to browbeat fellow conservatives into submission with condemnation and excommunication. How ironic! The rightwing accuses the left of using political correctness to impose social conformity; yet, the same rightwingers use coercive means to enforce groupthink within their ranks …

    In short, reactionary ideas and talking points have infected public discourse to such a degree that it is poisoning how we treat each other in our daily lives. It is a political subculture that shuns dialogue and the democratic exchange of ideas in favor of outright elimination of the opposing side through suppression, condemnation, ostracism, or extermination.

    Although I may disagree with my conservative friends on the finer points of governance (sometimes even heatedly), there is no daylight between us regarding the core virtues of honesty, integrity, responsibility, and citizenship. I hold my conservative friends in high regard and will always keep them as friends.

    The use and abuse of the Internet is NOT A TRIVIAL CONCERN. There have been numerous documented cases of online bullying and harassment; some victims have even committed suicide.

    That is why I regard online trolls, bullies, and predators as little more than Cyber-terrorists.

    1. Well said, octo. You are a class act.

  8. Thank you (O)CT(O)PUS. It has always escaped me why some people think having political and or economic differences of opinion makes those who disagree with them mortal enemies.

    There are many conservatives I'm sure who do not, just as there are many liberals who do not as well. If we are to ever close the gap between "left" and "right" it will those who fall in this category who make it happen.

    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to cross post your article here at RN USA. This is something that should be spread across the blogosphere, repeatedly...

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. (A revision of the deleted comment)

    Not enough can be written about misogynistic attacks on women in Cyberspace. Several years ago, our mutual friend and colleague, Shaw, was a victim of online abuse. The offending missive was removed after I posted a condemnation. The perpetrator later claimed it was the work of an impersonator. Highly improbable, IMO!

    Please recall an incident that made national headlines seven years ago (sources: BBC News, and The Washington Post): The story of Kathy Sierra, a best-selling author of books on software design.

    What is so controversial about software development, you ask? Nothing, unless the victim happens to be a highly successful woman; but jealousy alone cannot account for the actions of depraved trolls. How reprehensible were the attacks on Kathy Sierra?

    "I hope someone slits your throat," one person wrote: On her blog, threats of rape and death by the thousands.

    One known provocateur posted her home address and social security number online, thus exposing her to the potential for real bodily harm and identity theft. Under siege, Kathy Sierra canceled all public appearances.

    A prominent British journalist received this Twitter message: “ Women that talk too much need to get raped.” Still another wrote: “ Shut your whore mouth now, or I’ll shut it for you, and choke you with my dick.

    More examples:

    The Cult of the Angry Young Man.

    Nine teenage suicides linked to online bullying.

    Partisan hacks and henchmen who label liberals as “Libtards” and wish us dead!

    The Cult of Groupthink who assail our conservative and libertarian friends and label them as “RINOs.”

    The Internet has devolved into an ugly place that brings out the worst of humanity. Most incredible of all, the predator who tormented Kathy Sierra rationalized and defended his depraved acts as “free speech.” Sound familiar?

    Online bullying is NOT free speech. Menacing people with threats of rape and violence is NOT free speech. Defamation, slander, slurs and smears, vilification and vituperation – these are NOT free speech. When comment boards turn shrill, when trolls hijack discussion threads and drive people away, these online interactions can no longer be considered free speech.

    As anonymity removes all social restraints, this phenomenon creeps into our public life and changes our culture. The only way to reverse this trend is to do our part – by keeping anonymous trolls from our discussion boards.


As this site encourages free speech and expression any and all honest political commentary is acceptable. Comments with cursing or vulgar language will not be posted.

Effective 8/12/13 Anonymous commenting has been disabled. This unfortunate action was made necessary due to the volume of Anonymous comments that are either off topic or serve only to disrupt honest discourse..

I apologizes for any inconvenience this necessary action may cause the honest Anonymous who would comment here, respect proper decorum and leave comments of value. However, The multitude of trollish attack comments from both the left and right has necessitated this action.

Thank you for your understanding... The management.