Don't Feed The Trolls

Unless LISNews is the only place you get any form of news you probably read about This Plan by a State Rep. in KY. You probably read bloggers up in arms over the plan, you probably read about how clueless he is, and maybe you even read a few jokes about Kentucky. So if you actually read that first article in the Kentucky Herald-Leader you should've noticed this:

Couch readily acknowledged on Wednesday that his bill raises First Amendment issues regarding free speech, so he won't be pushing it. But he wanted to call attention to the phenomenon of unkind and often untrue comments about people being posted online by Kentuckians hiding behind the cloak of anonymity.

And he also added "I think right now (online posting) is pretty much just on its own. It's a machine that's going to go its own way," Couch said. "The state can try to pass some rules, but I don't really think it would do anything."

Certainly he's a bit misguided, and this is probably the wrong way to call attention to idiocy, but if you read this story it should be clear to you that this was never an issue. I never posted a link because I knew that even if this was a real attempt to pass a real bill it didn't stand a chance to be passed. How could anyone even think that for one second this would go anywhere?

So anyway, my point here is just to answer the question "How Do You Decide What To Post On LISNews?" I get asked that every once in a while, and normally I don't have any good answers. I just post what seems interesting. I'll post something I think others will find interesting, and occasionally I'll post something that I think will bring on some interesting discussions. The great thing about LISNews is there are another dozen or so people that have posting powers, so even if I don't think something is interesting there's a chance it'll still get posted.

A state legislator trying to call out trolls didn't seem interesting to me. Even the reaction isn't interesting because it's exactly what could've been predicted. But I suppose if his goal was calling attention to trolls, mission accomplished. The problem is, of course, his goal was to call attention to trolls. The number 2 most important rule of The Internet should be Don't Feed The Trolls. Number one, of course, Don't Feed The Spammers.

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Anonymity does have it concerns. You know I tried to track this guy down. What starts off as an idea today often becomes new constitutional interpretation. You have to ask yourself whether such things as "Miranda Rights" existed prior to the 1960s. They did not exist insofar as we presently know them. Such things follow the same methodology of camp rule list construction. Rules get created in response to incidents that happen.

If anything, this legislative proposal is not the problem but merely a symptom. Within American culture we have no clue what to do with social order lately, it seems. Another symptom of this problem is the concern over voter identification relative to Muslim women who have covered faces. When we have methods in place for authenticating voters how do we handle freedom of religion concerns when it violates custom when picture identification is to be compared against a physical face? Nobody has a good answer to that. The closest I can come to describing the problem is that the world is a big place and America is having to awaken to that again after twelve years of very insular, very introspective societal slumber prior to 9/11.

Introducing legislation that has little to no chance of surviving constitutional scrutiny is a very bad idea. For a legislator I could not track down through a number of means of communication, this merely made him look pretty bad. If there was an attempt at cultivating an image of being responsive to constituents this publicity stunt did little to help. He's possibly found a good issue but he did not have the tools to even begin to approach it effectively. He was the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Would I have had this gentleman on LISTen? Yes, if I could have got in contact with him. As it seemed I would have had to visit Kentucky to reach him did not make things simple. I almost would have wanted to not talk about the legislation at all but instead hit the cultural issues he's trying to define. When we have Michael Gorman, John N. Berry, and Tim Couch all grasping for straws at symptoms found on the periphery of an issue the question is begged whether something bigger is there.

What's the standard for LISTen? That is something we mentioned on the most recent episode. I've gotten no feedback yet as to audience views and am glad to hear from them. I am willing to review anything some might send via fax. I can also receive voicemails about show content by calling 646-495-9201 and leaving a message at extension 61340. LISTen's standard is much the same as that which Blake exercises.

It amuses me how folks can so easily type things out but won't talk out loud about it. It is not like it is too difficult to contact LISTen. Multiple avenues exist. The difference probably is that talking to somebody about an issue feels more real than simply writing about it. There is something fairly counterintuitive about this in the context of a print-based culture. One would imagine trolls inhabit podcasts and vodcasts rather than print. And yet it is the other way around...
Stephen Kellat, Host, LISTen