Friday, October 19, 2012

For Whom the Bell Trolls

When I was eleven or twelve almost before the Vietnam War ended, I remember being at a restaurant with my parents.  I had come across the recent edition of LIFE magazine and was leafing through its pages.  There was a large section of photographs from the Vietnam War.  There were photos of countless bodies in ditches, no longer distinguishable from each other; there was a man getting his head blown off, there was a naked young village girl terrified, crying and running away from carnage and destruction; there were more photos of blood, injury, death, and mayhem, but I just remember the impact they had on me, and don't recall the details.  Suffice it to say that the photos evinced hell on earth, literally.  

I remember being frightened and upset at the horrors of the war that so many people were protesting at the time.  I asked my father if I had to go to war too.  He said very matter-of-factly, "You're an American, you will serve your country when you turn eighteen." I was aghast and scared. So that's what was in store for me, to go to that place?  That hell on earth?  I don't believe I was alone in having had that fear and loathing about getting drafted. I remember feeling the solidarity of Youth everywhere, there was a prevailing sense of hope and unity.  The young people of the day protested, they burned their draft cards, and were very vocal, everywhere, about questioning authority, opposing oppression, upholding civil rights, and denouncing war.   

But today, in the brave new world in the year of our lord 1984 c.e., the tide has changed to the complete antithesis of how it once was.  There is a prevailing "horde-mentality" now, I see, and the people who are the most vocal, who prostest the most, and who are the most critical and involved, are the Trolls.  And most Trolls, I've found, to be the Tea Party types, the racist, bigoted types, the christo-republican types, and the fascist-youth types (or all of the above combined into one package, or admixtures thereof). They are zealous flag-wavers and patriots who fervently, fanatically believe they are doing the will of god, or some of them aren't flag-wavers at all, they're just bigots drunk on a god that hates homosexuals.  

The tactics of these Trolls are usually predictable.  Many of them are undereducated, they have poor grammar and spelling, and they resort to ad hominem as their primary mode of "activism." The somewhat more sophisticated ones (which isn't saying much) have another tactic other than relentless bashing: the tool in their impoverished, unintelligent arsenal (there's a British pun in there somewhere) is the "hypocrisy" ticket. The "hypocrisy" argument goes something like this. You, a level headed, intelligent, compassionate person might say something like: "Your bigotry cannot be in accord with the will of a loving god."  They will come back and say something like: "Your <sic> a bigot to <sic>, because you to <sic> hate us and what we stand for."  And that seems to be the be-all end-all argument that brings it all back to the contra-Troll's head.

Ignorant hordes of Trolls are running rampant, and they are the most vocal bunch.  What can you do? Fighting back is futile, debating them is futile, reasoning with them is futile.  One thing is for sure.  You should not cast your pearls to swine, lest they trample on them, and come trample over you.