Hug a Troll


Troll Week. Trolls have reared their wart-riddled, bulbous faces throughout this Halloween Week it seems. I’ve been following Ricky Gervais’ defence of atheism on Twitter in the face of a fair bit of trolling.

My daughter Isley referenced a fine vlog ‘There’s Only One Thing To Do When The Internet Calls You Fat’ which turned the tables on trolling. Instead of the classic ‘Block’, comic Lindy West actually sought them out (“So, I broke all the troll rules. Like I read every comment. I clicked on every user profile. I read every personal blog I could find. I read every Twitter feed. And I found these little rays of clarity.”). The more she found about them, the more empathy she felt.

West’s perspective reminded me of an even deeper embrace of trolling by one of my favourite analysts, India Knight, titled “Troll away, vile trolls, you’re doing us a service” (paywalled)…

  • “Online, as in the real world, we’re all free to say what we like, no matter how stupid or offensive. That’s a beautiful thing, and we should not lose it over ugliness. I look forward to reading Starmer’s guidelines, but I would respectfully point out that free speech has no ‘boundaries’ That’s kind of the point of it. People say things that garner applause and laurel wreaths, and other things that evoke disgust and condemnation. They’re all part of free speech. You can’t start carving bits away, online or elsewhere.”

This unwavering support of America’s very first right is the same spirit in Obama’s and other’s defence of free speech in the aftermath of the notorious anti-Muslim video in his address to the United Nations…

“Our Founders understood that without such protections, the capacity of each individual to express their own views, and practice their own faith, may be threatened.”