Hypersensitivity and Trolls: A Codependent Dysfunction

Introduction

My first posts at Times and Seasons were about epistemic humility, which is the awareness of the limits of knowledge. One of the common responses I got at the time was to ask how conviction was compatible with such an emphasis on uncertainty. The quote I led with (“The wise man doubts often, and changes his mind.”) seemed like a perfect setup for the ominous lines from Yeats’ The Second Coming: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity.”

The answer is that even if one accepts the adage that “all models are wrong,” one ought to go all in and accept the entire adage: “essentially, all models are wrong, but some are useful” [emphasis added]. Copernicus’ model of the solar system was wrong because he believed the orbits are circular. They are not; they are elliptical. But he still got heliocentrism right, and later on Kepler[1] added in the elliptical orbits. Newton’s theory of gravity was wrong in many respects that were later corrected by Einstein’s general relativity, but Newton’s model was still a great improvement over Aristotle’s.

These models are obviously more useful in a simplistic sense: if you want to get to the moon it helps to have an accurate representation of astronomy and physics. But there’s more to it than that: this sequence of imperfect and flawed models can point the direction towards still greater truths. And so, rather than erode conviction generally, epistemic humility tends to shift conviction away from outcomes and towards processes. Conviction hasn’t disappeared. It has just found a new focus. Everything we believe is wrong, but the erroneous beliefs can be stepping stones leading to something greater. In that case, we can replace mistaken loyalty to individual and erroneous beliefs with dedication to the path of which these stepping stones are comprised.

It is no coincidence that the examples I chose involved multiple thinkers contributing to the same fundamental problems (Copernicus and Kepler, Newton and Einstein) across generations. The systematic biases of individual human beings (who all have their egos to protect and bread to win, which can warp intellectual clarity) mean that human knowledge expands best when it is undertaken as a communal endeavor.

Using scientific progress as an example again: Science is the sausage. A community of scientists, engineers, bureaucrats, politicians, administrative staff, publishers, and so forth is the factory that makes the sausage. Because monocultures are brittle and limited, the communal factory works best when it plays host to a wide diversity of opinions and perspectives and boisterous interactions among them. This diversity is what helps the community detect and eventually correct dead-end alleys (like phrenology, aether, or élan vital).

The process is decentralized because no one person can be aware of all the activity taking place across the entire community, let alone hope to command or even coordinate it. But—when the community is healthy—it is also organized and purposeful at a level above the individual participants. Out of the cooperation and conflict of many individuals, progress can be made.

This is the vision I have in mind when I write blog posts or articles to advance arguments that I believe in. The ultimate success or failure of theories I espouse isn’t within my control. The best I can do is be diligent and careful, and I have a hope that in doing so I am acting out my role as one neuron alongside a billion others in a social brain in which we each have our role to play.

The much-observed partisan animus that runs through so much of today’s discourse on controversial topics threatens the health of this system by creating insular sub-communities that each hold to their own dogmatic orthodoxies and do not interact productively with each other.

That’s what I want to spend the rest of the post talking about. It’s a strange post for Times and Seasons in that nothing will be essentially related to Mormonism, and I usually post that kind of thing to my Difficult Run blog. But I want to put this one here because, sometimes wittingly and sometimes not, I’ve trampled my way across fairly controversial ground on several Mormon topics. I’ll continue to do that (here, at Expand, and at Difficult Run), and so I’d like to share some thoughts on debating sensitive issues while trying to avoid the spirit of the devil.

Hypersensitivity

The left is increasingly obsessed with hypersensitivity in the discussion of serious issues. (Fear not, fair readers, I have sweeping generalization and harsh pronouncements for the right as well.) One clear example of how this works at a popular level is the propagation of pseudo-scientific “trigger warnings.” The concept of a trigger warning is noble: it is a kind of disclaimer at the top of an article to warn people who may have an episode of PTSD (or anxiety, etc.) triggered by the content that they are about to read. Trigger warnings generally relate to depictions of sexual abuse and violence.

One problem with trigger warnings is that they are not based on any empirical evidence or on sound psychological theory. This has not prevented them from proliferating in the blogosphere, where they have become conventional in certain communities. (Typical examples here and here.) Another problem is that there doesn’t appear to be any limiting principle to what content should deserve a trigger warning. My favorite example of a non-satirical trigger warning was one for “colonialism.”

The trigger warning trend may have crested already. After trigger warnings became a serious issue on college campuses this year, a series of criticisms were unleashed from sources like the LA Times, Guardian, New York Times, and NPR. In many circles, trigger warnings have become something of a joke.

I bring them up simply as an illustration of how good intentions can lead to insidious outcomes. If you write about a controversial topic (including, apparently, anything having to do with colonialism) and you don’t use a trigger warning, then your argument can be dismissed without consideration by those who believe trigger warnings are essential. In practice, this has limited effect (because trigger warnings are not universally accepted), but it’s typical of generic form of argument that looks something like this:

  1. It is wrong to harm people.
  2. Offending people is a form of harm.
  3. Your argument offends.
  4. Therefore your argument harms.
  5. Therefore it is immoral of you to make your argument.

Obviously the left doesn’t have a monopoly on outrage, but it is clearly the leader when it comes to using the indictment of offensive / harmful speech as a way to pre-emptively shut down debate, as the rise in university disinvitations of speakers over the last decade illustrates. (These speakers are likely to be conservative rather than liberal by a ratio of nearly 3:1.) For more information on the trend, known as the New Intolerance, Mary Eberstadt’s presentation at First Things is great.

This trend isn’t hard to explain from a pragmatic point of view. The deployment of hypersensitivity as an offensive rhetorical weapon is paradoxical (since it turns apparent victimhood into a trump card), but its effectiveness is obvious. Compared to righteous outrage other methods of disagreement—reason, evidence, statistical analysis, pragmatism, etc.—are obsolete. Outrage is the atomic weapon of intellectual dispute, and this makes its adoption hard to resist.

Trolling and Codependence

The right demonstrates a correspondingly paradoxical dysfunction of its own: bombastic and insulting rhetoric that appears strong but is vacuous and counter-productive. The response is understandable but childish: if a conservative is going to be labeled as a racist or a bigot as matter of routine, then why bother making an effort to speak clearly and carefully? It is far simpler to give up on communication across an ideological gulf and direct comments to one’s own side. (This explains the rise of talk radio and the alternative media that dominates the right wing of American politics.)

This replaces discussion with something like performance art. It is common for commentators (professional and amateur) on the right to intentionally make points or phrase arguments in extreme and inflammatory ways that they know will provoke an outraged reaction from their opponents. Emotionally, the resulting outrage fuels a sense of in-group solidarity. For some on the right your conservative bona fides are directly proportional to the degree of public hatred that comes your way from the left. Logically, the resulting outrage vindicates the right’s critique of the left as being hypersensitive and intolerant.

It is performance art in the sense that the person on the right may appear to address the left or engage in debate, but actually just wants to provoke outrage in order to validate the dismissal of the left as irrational to the point of malevolence. The immediate problem, as someone who identifies with the right, is that we risk turning pointless provocation into an intellectual fetish. It is the legitimization of trolling.

The deeper problem is that hypersensitivity and trolling are codependent dysfunctions. The more the right veers into trolling, the more the left’s hypersensitivity is vindicated as a call for compassion in a sea of aggressive callousness and hostility. The more hypersensitive the left becomes, the more the right’s trolling seems like an appropriate rebellion against a suffocating climate of intellectual conformity.

We often remark that political and social discourse is becoming more polarized. This is one of the chief mechanisms of that increasing polarization.

Conclusions and Practical Applications

In one sense, the main conclusion is obvious. Liberals should be less sensitive and conservatives should be less trollish. But this is easier said than done.

First, there is the intense pressure we always feel (whether we admit it or not, even to ourselves) to conform to the standards of our “team.” For a conservative to eschew confrontational language is to court accusations from fellow conservatives of being a cowardly or willing collaborator with the liberal thought police. For a liberal to eschew hypersensitivity is to court accusations from fellow liberals of being a cowardly or wiling collaborator with the conservative oppressors. It is never easy to cross one’s own tribe.

Second, there is the fact that compromise satisfies no one. Conservatives should abandon trolling, but not to the extent of conforming to liberal hypersensitivity. It’s never acceptable to give offense maliciously or callously, but none of us have the ability—in theory or in practice—to write a perfectly inoffensive piece about meaningful, controversial topics. It cannot be done, and the pursuit of this impossibility is intellectually suffocating and should be abandoned. Liberals should abandon hypersensitivity, but not to the point of abandoning concern for civility and compassion in how arguments are expressed. We need a boisterous medley of conflicting ideas, but not a bedlam of toxic and shallow provocations. This is not a solution that anyone will get excited about.

I spent more time talking about hypersensitivity because I think a call for less civility is a lot less intuitive than a call for less trolling. But that is a real part of what I’m saying. Civility is a good, but it is not the good, and unbalanced appeals to total or complete civility are a waste of time at best and can be much worse. When there is no upper bound to civility, one side can always win every debate by constantly ratcheting the bar one notch higher than whatever their opponent writes. For this, and for many other reasons, we should try our best not to mistake tribal values—things like blunt forthrightness or careful nuance—for universals.

I’m not convinced that there’s one perfect point of balance where all of these values are given their due consideration and the correct approach—all factors incorporated—emerges as the one, true voice. Or, if there is such a perspective, I am pretty sure that it is God’s and not ours. I strike the balance as best I can, but I anticipate that other people—just as smart and just as good—will find the balance in other places. There are conservatives I admire and respect who are much, much more direct and abrasive than me, and I value their voices. There are liberals I admire and respect who are much, much more careful and nuanced than me, and I value their voices, too.

The best we can hope for in this world, I think, is to strike our own balance as best we see fit while striving to develop a broad palate for rhetorical styles and approaches. Whatever we individually feel is the right amount of sensitivity and nuance in an argument, we ought to stretch ourselves to occasionally consider arguments that exceed that amount in either direction. We need to reach beyond our comfort zone when we consider alternative ideas. It’s the only way to counteract the fragmentation of our social meta-brain and preserve the healthy diversity that can benefit us all.

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[1] In the original version, I attributed elliptical orbits to Galileo instead of Kepler. Old Man (comment #6) spotted the error.

23 comments for “Hypersensitivity and Trolls: A Codependent Dysfunction

  1. Josh Smith
    December 8, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    “I’m not convinced that there’s one perfect point of balance where all of these values are given their due consideration and the correct approach—all factors incorporated—emerges as the one, true voice.”

    You mean other than Jim Lehrer?

  2. Wilfried
    December 8, 2014 at 2:30 pm

    Thanks for a welcome and insightful analysis, Nathaniel. Just one thought: your analysis seems very applicable in dual, antagonistic environments, such as left versus right, liberal versus conservative. In politics it seems typical for countries with only two major parties, making opposing bloc-ideologies, where one has to win all and one has to lose. It seems that in countries with multiple parties, with none dominant and where negotiations and compromise are always necessary to form a (fragile) governing majority, confrontational rhetoric and provocations are subdued and controlled, because one always needs another, and because opponents may become allies in a next round. So, would a search for balance not also require more fragmentation?

  3. December 8, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Wilfried-

    So, would a search for balance not also require more fragmentation?

    I haven’t spent a lot of time living in countries with parliamentary systems, so my thoughts are tentative. But, in the interest of discussion, this is what I’ve got:

    It seems to me that the differences between parliamentary systems and the US are, in terms of ideological ramifications for society at large, somewhat over stated.

    The US is already more fragmented than it might first appear. It is true that there are only two significant parties, but the political debate is more fragmented, with formal and informal coalitions forming and dissolving within and across the two major parties. Libertarians, for example, form small but important constituencies in both parties. (Civil rights issues, as exemplified by the ACLU, are typical of Democrats. But the two most prominent libertarian politicians of the last decade have both been Republicans: Ron and Rand Paul.)

    I’m also not sure if European governments are really as multipolar as it first appears. The words “conservative” and “liberal” certainly don’t survive cross-Atlantic translation, but–while the meaning differs–the broad contours of left vs. right appear to survive at least somewhat.

    In other words, the European system might elevate the fragmented nature of political discussion somewhat, but I’m not sure whether the discussion in the US, subsumed within a two-party system, is really that different. (I’m really not sure about this one at all, however, and would welcome your input.)

    I absolutely think that fragmentation–in the sense of realizing that real-life opinions never fall into neat categories–is important, but I’m not sure that fragmentation in that sense is incompatible either with a 2-party political system or with useful generalizations about left vs. right.

  4. December 8, 2014 at 3:01 pm

    “For a conservative to eschew confrontational language is to court accusations from fellow conservatives of being a cowardly or willing collaborator with the liberal thought police. For a liberal to eschew hypersensitivity is to court accusations from fellow liberals of being a cowardly or wiling collaborator with the conservative oppressors.”

    You just explained something that has bothered me over the years to the point that I’ve drifted away from online discourse.

    Both things are true. That is why I’m a dangerous feminist empathizer to conservatives and ignorant of the negative impact of conservative thought to liberals. (Despite painfully experiencing that negative impact daily.)

    But I’m left asking: why do we need it? Why do we need those who are willing to brave the inevitable pain of the course you suggest? I’m not sure it’s worth the cost. I suspect that, left to their own devices, those caught in the bipartisan cycle of destruction will eventually learn for themselves.

    Also, I suggest there are many, MANY careful and nuanced conservatives, and abrasive liberals. Left-winged talk shows are just as offensive, and there are right-winged bloggers who take great care to be empathetic. Just no one notices the former, because they feel their offense is justified, and no one hears the latter, and most of them eventually move on to more valuable pursuits.

  5. Carl Youngblood
    December 8, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Very insightful post. Thanks Nathaniel. I just want to clarify some things about “trigger warnings.” I definitely agree that they are over-used but I think there are some legitimate situations in which their use is good, such as in posts that discuss graphically violent or traumatic experiences, where readers may be suffering from some type of PTSD. I think that this is good courtesy.

    I also would say that using hypersensitivity as a way of shutting down dialogue is uncivil and therefore that it is still always appropriate to enjoin civility.

  6. Old Man
    December 8, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    I am revealing my historical hypersensitivity and revealing my trolling dark side, but Galileo never accepted elliptical orbits. That was Kepler’s baby. But I like your post.

  7. Carl Youngblood
    December 8, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    SilverRain, I still think that conservative voices dominate talk radio in a way that liberals haven’t figured out how to do you. I agree that offensive voices can be found on both sides, but I think conservatives have surpassed liberals in this particular art.

  8. Carl Youngblood
    December 8, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Sorry, meant to say “how to do yet.”

  9. December 8, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    SilverRain-

    But I’m left asking: why do we need it? Why do we need those who are willing to brave the inevitable pain of the course you suggest?

    Well, we have three options:

    Option 1: Just don’t talk so much about politics.
    Option 2: Talk about politics within the usual tribal framework.
    Option 3: Talk about politics while rejecting the usual tribal framework.

    I would rank these, in order of desirability, as 3, 1, 2. I think others might argue it’s really 1, 3, 2, and I find that reasonable as well.

    The reason I put #3 over #1 is just that I think politics is kind of like voting: technically our input is insignificant. No individual voter has ever decided a major election in the United States, and none ever will. (Even if an election were to come down to 1 vote, how do you really decide who is the decisive voter?) And yet from the individual votes of thousands or millions of Americans we choose who will make, judge, and execute our laws. The responsibility is diffuse, but it is real.

    Well, I believe that out of millions and millions of individual discussions about politics people gradually ever so gradually shape their opinions about politics and society and culture. So the responsibility is even more diffuse but just as real: and I want to do my part (my very, very, very small part) to discharge that responsibility.

    Also, I suggest there are many, MANY careful and nuanced conservatives, and abrasive liberals

    This is definitely true. I have an entire list of thoughtful conservatives that I read regularly. And I could easily show you some pretty disgusting examples of left-leaning trolls. It takes all kinds, as they say. But there is a general trend on the left towards hypersensitivity-based outrage and on the right towards trollish provocation that is both (1) legitimate to observe and (2) helpful to reveal the underlying dynamic.

  10. December 8, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks, Old Man. I fixed the post to give Kepler his due, and added a note to give you yours. :-)

  11. December 8, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    Nathaniel, I believe you and agree with you: the power of discussion is really the only hope we have, individually, to effect change.

    The problem is that I don’t observe that either one of us is right. I find those who reject the tribal framework tend to speak on the outskirts, equally mocked and rejected by both sides. They certainly don’t get air time. There is no one fans ignore more than someone who doesn’t root for either team.

    Carl, I don’t find that. I not only reject politics, I reject media, too. It’s pretty much the same thing. I find that a majority of airtime is liberal-leaning. That doesn’t sound like conservatives have a mastery on it to me. I think, rather, the conservatives are just more visible because the majority in media rushes to hoist them up and make a target out of them. And they, knowing they’re going to get skewered, want to get as many arrows in their carcasses as possible.

  12. December 8, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    SilverRain-

    The problem is that I don’t observe that either one of us is right. I find those who reject the tribal framework tend to speak on the outskirts, equally mocked and rejected by both sides. They certainly don’t get air time. There is no one fans ignore more than someone who doesn’t root for either team.

    That definitely describes the past, but there are lots of folks like you out there (I hear from quite a lot of them), and it gives me hope that it doesn’t have to describe our future.

  13. Carl Youngblood
    December 8, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    SilverRain, I think I would agree that the media in general leans liberal, but I think that talk radio is another beast entirely and I agree with Nathaniel that it is dominated by conservatives. I agree with his description: “It is far simpler to give up on communication across an ideological gulf and direct comments to one’s own side. (This explains the rise of talk radio and the alternative media that dominates the right wing of American politics.)” I think that the alternative media (in which politeness and civility is much less valued) has a much greater following among conservatives than liberals. Here is some Pew research that backs this up: http://www.breitbart.com/InstaBlog/2014/10/21/Pew-Research-Liberals-More-Trusting-of-Media-than-Conservatives

  14. December 8, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    I find that those who tend to reject tribal frameworks are mostly engaged in self-delusion. some in this thread may be honorable exceptions.

  15. December 8, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    That’s encouraging, Nathaniel. I’ll take your word for it for now. I want to believe! ;)

  16. Steve Smith
    December 8, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    “We need to reach beyond our comfort zone when we consider alternative ideas. It’s the only way to counteract the fragmentation of our social meta-brain and preserve the healthy diversity that can benefit us all.”

    I like this.

    My one issue with this piece is that right/left, liberal/conservative seem like overgeneralizations, and even false dichotomies to an extent. American politics is significantly more diversified than this. It almost seems that left/right don’t really have much of a meaning other than as an epithet that someone casts on someone who doesn’t agree with their point of view. At least I don’t hear people identifying themselves as right-wingers or left-wingers.

  17. December 8, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Great work, Nathaniel.

    Last weekend Sam and I saw The Good Lie, a movie depicting Sudanese children who witnessed the murders of their families, walked for days and days to a refugee camp, wait their for 13 years, and finally got a chance to live in the US. On a cursory search, I couldn’t find how much of the individual lives depicted were real, but the basic events are.

    Upon watching what these people went through, it is laughable that we have the luxury to claim PTSD for just about anything. I’ve seen so many claims as to make the term mean nothing more than “I was super duper bothered one day and if you bring it up (or allude to it or remind me of it or say any words that start with the same letters) I will positively freak out!” Which does a disservice to many.

    As for trollish behavior, I think it’s an equal opportunity response. If anyone says anything that might be seen as implying anything in the church isn’t perfection personified, they get hammered by the “faithful.” (And I’m not talking about being inundated with sound, civil counter-arguments.) But try having a discussion with a progressive (it’s not liberals with the problem…) about self-reliance, the economics of running a business, or refraining from sucking babies into sinks and it takes about four seconds for it to become nothing but ad hominem.

    Last week an educated, intelligent, and very liberal childhood friend posted a FB status about how proud he was of Obama and how disappointed in his friends who were racist enough to oppose him. I asked him what racist things he had seen. He proceeded to make a list of 13 things that proved racism — none of which was in any way related to race. (For example, he said those referring to him as Emperor Obama were racist, apparently not knowing (or not caring) that the reference was to the fact that Obama had said he could not personally stop deportation of illegal aliens because he was a president, not an emperor. And then he did it anyway. Had the man never made the statement, I’m still unsure what subliminal racist message is attached to the title “emperor.” But this item was #1 on his list of racist proofs.)

    Certainly I’m lumped in with all other racist conservatives in his mind. The fact that my best friend in elementary school the entire time she lived there was his Navajo foster sister didn’t change his mind. (She lived with them for two years on the church’s old “Indian Placement Program.”) There simply is no other explanation but racism.

    Civility is a good, but it is not the good, and unbalanced appeals to total or complete civility are a waste of time at best and can be much worse.

    I really like this, Nathaniel, partly because I’m fascinated with how we deal with conflicting values. Often Mormons speak as if honesty is the good, too. But I think we’re deluded in that. :)

    My only quibble would be equating hypersensitivity with civility. I don’t think that is really what’s exhibited. The politically correct tolerance and sensitivity is very selective and conveniently ignores the side not being tolerated or accommodated. There’s always another side in the opportunity cost equation.

  18. December 8, 2014 at 7:33 pm

    Adam G-

    I find that those who tend to reject tribal frameworks are mostly engaged in self-delusion. some in this thread may be honorable exceptions.

    I am neither post-tribal nor delusional enough to think I am post-tribal.

    I am, however, looking for a different tribe.

  19. Sue
    December 8, 2014 at 8:14 pm

    Thankyou, I really needed this today. I was an ultra-conservative 1 year ago but today I probably am considered ultra-liberal by some (I actually don’t like it as a label because it says I believe certain things politically)
    How did I flip/flop? Have a faith crisis, search church history, and realize how childish II was in the doctrine of the church. It is fear. Fear was my motto for my conservative standing based on my LDS correlated beliefs. I was afraid to look outside the “box” of my belief (that would be considering our “truth” was not so “truthful” and that our revelation was not direct from God)

    I was so afraid to see another point of view (as mine was from those who talk with God) as I might “lose” my faith. I now see personal history of conservative views as apocalyptic fear based because I was suppose to “stand up for truth and righteousness” as the end would come soon anyway. Silly now.

    I think someone should put a “TRIGGER WARNING” on lds.org for me right now (sarcasm intended but I do acknowledge i do have fundamentalist trauma that I am dealing with) .

    Now I don’t like to consider myself conservative or liberal because then I would have label that I actually “know” something about something. I liked the idea of “process” as a pattern for growth and advancement- like the “hero’s journey”.

    I like to always test my thinking with lots of view points because of my closed mind – I doubt my faith and my doubts. . My family thinks I am crazy (my parents), fallen astray, and losing who I am. After a conversation with my dad last night about how “right” he is and how unwilling he is to see anything different and I should just return to my “old” ways of seeing things, I hung up the phone and thought, “no dad, there is no going back once take a journey to see the oneness we all posses with an openmind..

  20. December 8, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Thank you, Nathaniel, excellent post. You explain beautifully why I never discuss politics on Facebook. :) And several more important things, too.

    “My only quibble would be equating hypersensitivity with civility. I don’t think that is really what’s exhibited. ”

    I’d agree, and say that hypersensitivity is often used as a cover for gross incivility. We should indeed aim at civility when possible (it isn’t, always, though it’s certainly possible a lot more often than it happens now), but IMO that should be combined with tolerance of listening to others’ POVs, even when offensive or insensitive.

    Earlier this year I read Jonathan Rauch’s “Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought.” It is about pretty much the same issues as this post is, it is excellent–I’d call it my best book of the year–and I’ve been scattering quotations hither and yon ever since. It’s a book that I wish everyone would read, liberal or conservative–or whatever.

    (I don’t want to troll for clicks, but if you happen to want to read my gushing review of the book, google “howling frog kindly inquisitors” and it will come right up.)

  21. December 9, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Nathaniel,
    Do you see a difference between satire and trolling? To me, they occupy the same headspace. Satire is, possibly, trolling done well.

  22. December 11, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Bravo, Nathaniel! I’m as politically liberal as they come, but I find my eyes rolling more and more at the hypersensitivity out there. Or as one of my favorite commentators, Jonathan Chait said, “The left lost numerous state legislatures and the Senate in the last [U.S] election, but at least they made sure no one said anything they aren’t supposed to on Twitter.”

  23. D.Michael Martindale
    December 14, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Satire is so removed from trolling, it’s not funny. (Except, being satire, it is funny.)

    Satire is the sharp instrument that skewers sacred cows. It’s the funhouse mirror held up to take us down a peg when we take ourselves too seriously. It’s the child crying out the emperor has no clothes. (Oops! Was that a racist comment because I said emperor?) It’s the catalyst that abases those who exalt themselves.

    Satire performs a vital function in society, whereas trolling is just baiting someone.

Comments are closed.