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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Troll Cherry Commemoration So I got up really early this morning like I always do and I hopped over to the Comments to see what everyone had to say and there he was. My first troll. Now, in the last letter Yankeedoodle wrote to me, just before I started filling in, he told me that when a troll comes by I should ignore him and the regular readers would ride him out of the Comments on a rail. That’s good advice and in the future I intend to heed it. But, you know, whether it’s in the Comments section of Today in Iraq or in the back seat of a car at JFK airport, there’s something magical about that first time. And I didn’t want to let it pass without notice. Here’s my first troll comment, verbatim: FUCK YOu Pooty POOT!!!! what a bunch of crap. stupid people. jon 10.18.04 - 6:01 pm # Note the creative use of typography. Clearly a free spirit. My first reaction was a swell of pride. I’m reaching people. And not just people who already tend to agree with my views, but someone in opposition. I wrote something that actually made jon take a break from selling used cars or manning the Slurpee counter or whatever he does with himself all day, something that motivated him to actually sit down at his computer and log into that hellpit of liberalism that is the Today in Iraq Comments board and tell me that I am stupid. That all of us are stupid. And he said it with passion. That’s the kind of far-reaching influence I was hoping for. My second reaction, though, was to want to ask him if he’s some kind of Bolshevik or Nazi (I have a hard time distinguishing the two), not as an insult but as a serious question. I mean, he’s referring to the article about Vladmir Putin, who said that a vote against Bush is a vote for the terrorists, which is clearly a naked attempt by the leader of another nation to influence our elections. I don’t see how any patriotic American could react to that positively, whether it was in Bush’s favor or Kerry’s. Seriously. Since jon says that I’m stupid for my negative response – that what I said was a bunch of crap – I have to conclude that jon must hate democracy and it therefore follows that he hates America so he must be a commie or a nazi or maybe even an islamofascist. So I was just going to reject his comment out of hand. But then, studying it further, I found reason to question my analysis. There are deeper ambiguities here and, unrepentant liberal that I am, I can’t help but consider different views. Maybe his issue isn’t with my response to Mr. Putin’s blatant interference with our internal affairs. Perhaps he even agrees that this was over the line. Maybe his problem isn’t with what I was saying, but how I chose to say it. For one thing, I used profanity. That wasn’t very nice. And normally I’d apologize for it, but, you know, there are certain situations where a bit of strong language just seems to be appropriate; and a shameless attempt to skew our elections by a man who is doing everything he can to transform his own country’s pathetic excuse for a democracy into an outright dictatorship seems to be one of those times. So fuck that. But then it struck me. It was the Pooty Poot. That has to be it. He saw the name, jon did, and he thought to himself, “What kind of a bunch of crap is this? Those stupid people! Who would come up with such a condescending and infantile nickname for the leader of a powerful and sovereign nation such as Russia!” And in outrage he wrote his comment. And the thing is, I would have to agree. Coming up with patronizing nicknames for others - even if they reveal a certain earthy wit and insight into personality (think Turd Blossom) – is indicative of a defect in character. It’s the sort of thing that comes from an essential haughtiness, a view of all others in the world as secondary to one’s self, as mere objects that can be renamed according to whim. So jon must think I am that kind of stupid person for coming up with such a bunch of crap nickname. But wait - that would assume that jon is an uninformed dumbass, too ignorant to know that Pooty Poot is the nickname bestowed on Mr. Putin by none other than our very own President. But that can’t be true. It’s just not possible that someone who not only operates a computer but can even log onto the internet could be that uninformed. I mean, it was just a couple years ago that our whole sycophant Washington press corps was falling over themselves to suck up to Bush so they could get a nickname too. Anyone so involved with politics and the world that he would actually come to this blog would know that. Wouldn’t he? Of course he would. And then I figured it out. I have wronged jon. He isn’t really a troll. He agrees with me. His comment wasn’t aimed at me or the readers of this blog. “What a bunch of crap”? He must be referring to Putin’s statement. “Stupid people”? He must mean anyone who would actually allow an incipient dictator to tell them how to vote. It’s the only possible explanation because no patriotic, informed, thinking American could possibly be so filled with partisan bile that he would applaud a foreign authoritarian for trying to influence our elections with groundless propaganda. Right? Right. So the moral, dear readers, is this. No matter how much it might appear on the surface that someone is a lame, capitalization-challenged idiot with nothing productive to say, if you think about it long and hard enough, you will find a point where you agree. It’s sort of like staring at your own name until it no longer makes sense – an ability we all have, but which, with time and practice, can be honed to a real art. And you should hone it. Because if George W. Bush is elected president in two weeks, the ability to reason up into down and black into white is going to move from mere parlor trick to essential survival skill. Thanks for helping me to this epiphany, jon. You just drop by any old time, now, hear?

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