Why I Feed The “Trolls.”
First, let’s get something out of the way. “In internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as a forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.“ — Wikipedia. That’s how the word has commonly been used on the internet, and a small atheist blogging group that doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in the real world can’t single-handedly change that definition. A troll isn’t someone who criticizes you or disagrees with you. A troll isn’t someone who gets angry with you because of your harassment. An internet “troll” is a word with a specific meaning, and until that meaning changes or expands substantially, that is how I plan on using it.
So I’m not feeding trolls. The people I’m criticizing are real human beings with views and opinions that have repercussions in the real world for many others. They are in no way just trolls (although they do act like trolls at times). Yet people frequently tell me to leave these issues alone, and to just move on. In this post, I’ll going to tell you why I don’t want to, at least not at this point.
1. At the meta level, this isn’t about feminism, Rebecca Watson, or silly coffee invites. It’s about ideology interfering with science. This is an issue that I care about deeply, and it doesn’t matter whether the interference comes from gender-feminist atheists or from Creationists. Besides, they’re using the same tactics and behaving the same way. While I don’t want to see anyone hurt, I strongly oppose the dissemination of misinformation and dogma in the name of science. What’s going on is wrong. I believe this with my whole heart, and I stand by those words. I hope that I would do the same even if I believed every shred of feminist dogma myself (but alas, I don’t).
2. Gender feminism and sociology, at least in the way they’re being presented on the internet, are illogical and not supported by the evidence. This runs counter to everything that a pro-science movement is supposed to be about. If you’re not familiar with the issues, read this article to get up to speed. While I may not agree with every word — I rarely do — it clearly outlines just a few of the problems that we’re facing (aside from ridiculous requests and general histrionics). One of those problems, as stated above, is science denialism.
3. I’ve been lied about and targeted, but the atheist-gender feminists chose the wrong person to attack. I’m stronger than they think, and I’m ready to stand up to the injustice that’s been done to me and to others. Besides, I don’t have much left to lose.
4. I value logic, freedom of expression, freedom of association, and free inquiry. To see these things perverted to accomplish political ends makes me angry, and I want to do what I can to make it right.
5. I value opinions that are different from my own. It is only by considering such opinions that I can make personal progress and learn. And I’m tired of seeing valid opinions dismissed due to stereotyping and reverse discrimination.
6. I can’t tolerate the infantilizing treatment that some of the male feminists in the community show toward women (nor can I tolerate their anti-gay and anti-trans leanings). You’re not a feminist just because you say you are. You’re a feminist because you respect women as a group, not just the ones who agree with your particular version of feminist theory, which isn’t even a real “theory” in the first place. When you say, “Listen to the women!” that must mean all women, not just the tiny percentage that identifies with your particular political agenda.
7. I can’t tolerate the constant bashing of female scientists who do important work, while praise is heaped on public figures who fill seats at conventions (and often behave abominably). Such figures may be compelling, funny, and entertaining; but they’re also feeding dogma and misinformation to young people. And they’re denying young people the right to question the world around them. These speakers belong at feminist conventions, not scientific or skeptical ones.
8. I’m most certainly not “manufacturing drama,” but I am collecting blog hits from the irrational behavior and manufactured drama of other internet netizens. Note: I don’t keep a penny of what I earn. Everything either goes back into our network, or will eventually be donated. Blogging and online research are an amusing pastime, and I hope that some find what I write either entertaining or informative. I also hope that I learn something in the process. But it’s not my “job.”