Hilariously stupid article by James Osborne at FoxNews: Obama’s Effort at Online Transparency Stymied by Internet Trolls
President Obama’s pledge to provide open dialogue on his Web site is being tested by Internet trolls — gangs of activists who try to derail discussions — and now the White House faces unique challenges as it tries to manage the posts without infringing on the right to free speech. [emphasis added]
Hmmm… maybe not strong enough. Let’s flesh it out in the first paragraph:
President Obama’s pledge to open the White House up to the public through online forums faces an irksome challenge: a plague of Internet “trolls” — troublemakers who work to derail cyber-conversations through harassing and inflammatory posts.
Yeah, that’s better.
Three and a half million people participated in the event, but the “trolls” had their way: Following a coordinated campaign by marijuana advocates to vote their topic to the top of the list, questions on the future of the U.S. dollar and the rising unemployment rate were superseded by questions about legalizing pot as an economic remedy.
Osborne then goes on at length to discuss the problem of trolling in general and give specific examples in the history of the internet of trolling, before finally explaining:
While Obama’s marijuana advocates wouldn’t technically be considered trolls, who are defined by their lack of definitive positions and a simple desire for disorder, these special-interest groups do muddle the president’s message and related discourse.
So… the problem with the marijuana activists is that they’re trolls (except that they’re not) and they muddle the President’s message (except that it’s in a forum where the President is asking for the people’s ideas).
But the reason that Osborne is coming down so hard on the “trolls” is to watch out for the interests of the White House. I mean, after all…
Unlike privately run Web sites, whose managers are free to remove nettlesome material, the White House finds itself searching for a way to combat these disruptive users without infringing on their right to free speech and inciting cries of censorship.
Ah, I see, James. So how upset was the White House about this “disruption”?
[White House Spokesman:] “People were informed that this was a community-moderated system, and people should remember that even though they may not like the viewpoint behind someone’s question, everyone has a right to their opinion.”
Verdict: James Osborne, super-moron. (It’s pretty sad when you can thoroughly fisk an article with the author’s own words.)
The fact that people asked the question they most wanted answered was the whole point.
The fact that some organizations suggested that people participate is, well, perfectly normal. That’s part of activism everyday, everywhere. Every organization in existence tells their members to call the White House or write Congress about issues of importance, sometimes giving them online forms to do so easily.
Everytime I hear one of these wankers complain about marijuana activist “trolls,” I find their outrage hilarious, particularly since they have to avoid acknowledging and explaining the obvious fact that the “stoners” were more politically aware and active than other special interests.
Update: Scott Morgan helpfully explains to Osborne what a troll is.
In one of Obama’s recent online forums, I saw this question: “How many donuts can I fit on my dong?” That was a troll, and it got deleted. This is a movement, and it isn’t going away. Our issue is bigger than the organizations backing it. It didn’t win Obama’s forum because marijuana reformers know something about online organizing that other interest groups don’t. It won because it is this defining question that quickly separates petty hypocrites from bold leaders, that distinguishes self-evident truths from antiquated propaganda, and that pits common sense against the mindless drug war hysteria that maintains a frigid stranglehold on our political culture, rendering impotent the promise of change that inspired so many hopeful Americans to lay their hopes and dreams at the steps of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.