Or, if you’re s stickler for proper terms of venery, a “priapism of trolls”.
No, not merely those specific CHUDs who stand on the highway overpasses along that Bridge to the Fucking 21st Century (arewethereyet!arewethereyet!arewethereyet!) and heave cinderblocks into traffic, but all of those at all levels who carry their disease.
That singular virus that politically lobotomizes these dead, squishy things and animates them into aggressively parroting the language of men for the sole purpose of sniping, sabotaging and propagating disruption.
But not randomly.
At least the little felon who lobs rocks at cars for kicks is patternless. He wants to feel that smiting-action-at-a-distance rush of destroying something far away. Like Homer J. says, that “surge of power, like God must feel, when he's holding a gun.” But he can get that adrenal kick from putting a hole in anything.
Trolls exist to derail the train, but always in one direction. Always to the right, which means their actions are not random, opportunistic chaos.
Trolls are purposeful.
Trolls have a plan.
So let’s better define who and what is a troll and who/what is not.
Digby, as usual, reaches into style heaven to pluck down a clearer picture and describe them in their Aspect.
When Time Stood Still
I've noticed something interesting among the family rightwingers lately: they have simply disappeared Bush and the Republican congress from their minds. It's the weirdest thing. You talk politics with them and they are already going on about how the Democrats are ruining the country with their big spending and high taxes. You ask about Bush and they look at you blankly and start talking about the Clintons.
They are fully back in minority victimhood mode without missing a beat. And there is a sense of gleeful excitement about the whole thing --- "heh, heh, I just hope I live long enough to see what that horrible woman is going to do to this country."* If you mention Iraq, they shrug their shoulders and start babbling about John Kerry and the draft dodging Clinton. Some lament that the Democrats wouldn't let us win it (we should have "glassed 'em.") For the most part, they seem absolutely thrilled to be in the minority and they are already doing the only thing they have ever really been good at --- carping about Democrats from the sidelines.
For their Attribute, let us turn to Wiki for a definition of the term “the ELIZA effect”; one familiar to the Big Iron Tech veterans out there.
Emphasis added by moi:
The [ELIZA] effect is named for the 1973 chatterbot ELIZA, which parodied a Rogerian psychotherapist. ELIZA was programmed to ask questions about whatever topics the user mentioned:HUMAN: "I don't have anything against my father. He was okay ..."
ELIZA: "Tell me more about your family."
ELIZA was found to be surprisingly successful in causing emotional responses from users. However, none of ELIZA's code was designed to do so.
Upon observation, researchers discovered users subconsciously assuming ELIZA's questions implied interest in the topics discussed, even when they consciously knew that ELIZA did not simulate emotion.
The ELIZA effect is a special case of the logical fallacy of affirming the consequent:If something is motivated by X, it behaves in manner Y.
This program behaves in manner Y.
Therefore, this program is motivated by X.
Even if the program is motivated by X, it does not follow that the observed behavior Y resulted from motivation X. Furthermore, it cannot even be demonstrated that the program is ever motivated by X. Indeed, in many cases, motivation by X is impossible (example: "The program thinks I am attractive".)
The ELIZA effect is a lesser logical fallacy than anthropomorphization, as the computer user knows that the computer is not a human or a complete artificial intelligence. The user nonetheless implictly assumes the behavior has the same causes as the same behavior would have in a human. The assumption is a fallacy because the computer cannot experience human motives. While the programmer may have had the motivations the user assumes, this cannot be deduced solely from the programmer's response: the program's behavior may be an unintended side effect.
The ELIZA effect ends if the user consciously recognizes that the computer cannot be motivated in the assumed manner.
Trolls are no more or less than wingnut ELIZAs.
Like our local Hate Radio (WIND 560) that brags on a sign as big as the sky "Liberals Hate Us" as their sole reason for being, trolls are intellectually and emotionally dead. Reflex-meat that exists solely to echo Conservative bigotries and goad a useless fury-response from sane people.
Because you cannot reason with a troll: you can only sweep it aside.
They live fully submerged in a conservative bilge tank. All they know of “Teh Liberal” is lurid fiction, squeezed through the spleen of Rush Limbaugh, the venom sacs of Charles Krauthammer and the bright ties and pudding-soft tones of David Brooks.
All of their granite-headed certainty despite the fact that the Troll has been wrong about Every. Single. Fucking. Thing.
For years, and all while the unserious, Sans-A-Beltway Left has been mostly right.
And the magic ingredient that makes it all work is as simple a salt: This ridiculous dance works is because, frankly, most of them are idiots.
Dumb as doorknockers.
And as harmless as doorknockers…until a bunch of 'em are collected into a sack and used to beat Liberty to her knees.
Which is why Media Trolls are the biggest unreported story of 2006.
And so forth.
Because this ocean of Redtards aren’t just a waste of carbon: properly pandered to, they become a profitable demographic.
Properly stampeded, they become a Movement.
And so in this wingnut Universe of simultaneously universal certainty and universal stupidity -- where words stop being words, and questions stop being questions -- we see the rise of Media Trolls.
In the name of “objectivity” Media Trolls will reflexively gut-punch anyone Left of center as unserious or shrill or weak or marginal or unwilling to see the wisdom of The Center…which is defined as whatever square foot of pundit real estate they happen to be squatting on today.
And yet a troll is a troll because while it cannot be tricked or drugged or even accidentally trip over penning a paragraph of anything clearly praiseworthy of doings on the Left, it will happily turn right around and waterboard the King’s English until it pukes up sentences that, over and over again, miraculously omit simple, blinding truths about the astonishing incompetence, perfidy, corruption, theocratic obsessiveness and narcissistic insanity of the Right.
Sick of getting punched in the face by Christopaths and segregationists, the Mainstream Media has trained itself to heliotropically follow whatever Conservative Talking Points are the Revealed Truth of the Day from the RNC.
Trolls are not interested in real truth. The truth is just noise to them. Instead they dig through their linguistic rucksack to find new ways to vector their propaganda.
When they run out of new way, they’ll make do repeating old, long-discredited lies.
And their audience does not care, because they are trolls too.
An echo chamber, where “You talk politics with them and they are already going on about how the Democrats are ruining the country with their big spending and high taxes. You ask about Bush and they look at you blankly and start talking about the Clintons.”
It’s not that they’re mistaken; it is that they are no longer fully human.
This is Troll.
This is a Concern troll.
As is this.
And this is a "Some Democrats say..." troll
And the big story – the invisible story – is that our press will not report on this huge and mortal threat inside their own perimeter.
Will not lend any of their constitutionally-protected light to the cause of illuminating the fact that the media lets evil men hide in the shadows their own trolls cast, and from Noron to Kristol to Jeff Gannon to the lowliest troll barnacling the belly of Eschaton, they are all the same, and the rest of the press keep making the same stupid mistake over and over again.
As Clinton and Kennedy and Colbert and Stewart has shown each in his own way, instead of giving the liars and the hellmakers shitting up our First Amendment a pass because people like Chris Wallace have business cards that say “Journalist”, the only way to deal with a troll is mockery and a sharp elbow to the throat.
The Catholic Church moved serial child molester Oliver O'Grady from parish to parish to parish for years and let him wear the collar and call himself “Father”, but no Deity worth Her ichor would have this monster as a priest in Her church.
And Alphonse Capone called himself a “business man” even as he slaughtered and terrorized his way into gangster history.
Hell, even I have creamy, 100 lb. cover stock business cards that read “Ephram Zimbalist Beefhammer – G-Spot Cartographer and Personal Orgasm Coach to the Stars” “.
But that doesn’t make it true.