Last night on MSNBC’s Politics Nation with Al Sharpton one of the guest invited to speak from the conservative right was tea party supported Kansas Representative Tim Huelskamp. The discussion pertained to presidential contender former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s tax return and the fairness of our federal income tax system. Mr. Sharpton welcomed Mr. Huelskamp and started with the interview. Mr. Sharpton asked if it was fair for billionaires to pay lower taxes than their secretaries. Mr. Huelskamp replied that he heard the President’s State of the Union address and it sounded more like a campaign speech. Mr. Sharpton acknowledged Mr. Huelskamp’s reply as a talking point and asked the question again. Mr. Huelskamp replied that according to the Internal Revenue Service secretaries don’t pay more than millionaires. Mr. Sharpton asked the question again. Mr. Huelskamp responded with a question of his own asking Mr. Sharpton how much was his income?
Finally, coming to the realization that Mr. Huelskamp wasn’t going to answer the question, Mr. Sharpton gave up and moved the conversation along. In response to Mr. Sharpton’s capitulation, Mr. Huelskamp laughed, as if to say mission accomplished.
At that moment, I realized that there was never any intent to discuss the issue at hand. While some politicians are more adept than others at avoiding poignant questions, Mr. Huelskamp made no attempt to hide his contempt for his host and flatly refused to participate with Mr. Sharpton’s agenda. One may wonder the Congressman even bothered to agree to participate on the show at all. In fact, I would say that Mr. Sharpton had experienced the talk show equivalent of an internet troll. An internet troll can best be described as someone who posts inflammatory or off topic messages in an online discussion with the primary intent of provoking an emotional response and/or disrupting the topic at hand. Mr. Huelskamp used this very technique to derail Mr. Sharpton’s conversation.
I recognized Mr. Huelskamp technique too well from all of my experience dealing with a number of internet trolls who come to my blog with no obvious intent but to try and deny me my opinion on matters with nothing more than their own opinion. For example, anyone who regularly visits my blog will know that while I’m really no fan of liberal politics, I am thoroughly disgusted by the happenings in conservative politics. I find way too many high profile conservative politicians racists and I am aghast at the number of people who are quick to support and defend these people who wear their racism on their sleeves. And with the amount of blatant racism that has been emanating recently from people like Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Donald Trump, Tom Coburn, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Rush Limbaugh, and many others, I have been inspired time and time again to write about these people and why their political views are really an anathema to what should be an open and truly free and truly equitable American landscape.
But inevitably, my posse of regular internet trolls will show up with their nonsense to refute anything said. Some examples of this drivel are: Black people are the real racist because black people need to get off welfare. Black people hate the truth because it’s true. You’re the racist because affirmative action gives black people an unfair advantage. Black people are always playing the race card when somebody says something about black people. Black people are dumb. You can’t prove that the comment about black people was about all black people. Black people have higher per capita crime rates so we need to throw all black people in jail. If black kids didn’t commit all the crime then black kids wouldn’t have to go to jail as adults. Black people need to get a job and quit living off white people’s work ethic. You’re an idiot because you are stupid! And there are so many tiresome others.
I used to try and engage these people. I used to think that if I can engage these people and defend my position with logic and evidence to support my position then they just might understand. But these people have no desire to understand anyone that might experience the world differently than they do. Just like Mr. Huelskamp on Al Sharpton’s program they refuse to listen and engage in a meaningful conversation and are more concerned with trying to argue. They have no point to make and wouldn’t recognize a point if it came up their rectum. Now, I’ve set my comment filters so that anything that comes from them is automatically denied and goes straight to my spam bucket. I’ve gotten very adept at updating the parameters for putting comments from trolls into the spam pool.
Every now and then I’ll go through the spam to make sure the filters are still working. Without fail I’ll see a posting from my posse. But it’s been a while. These days, I just don’t have the time to waste on internet trolls like I used to. One day, Mr. Sharpton might get there as well. But until then, he’ll have to waste time with people who know they have no way to justify their opposition and will settle for nothing more than to just try and waste everybody’s time.