How trolls turn our tragedies into partisan food fights

Almost immediately after a terrible event – sometimes while they’re still going on – we find someone throwing a political argument at us – sometimes some random yokel on Twitter, sometimes a semi-professional blame-thrower like Sirota. Naturally, the public square is full of people who hate leaving any argument or attack unanswered. Before you know it, just as you’re getting your head around some sudden tragedy or abomination, you look up and your Twitter feed has become a food-fight of competing “how dare you!” shrieks.

This phenomenon is problematic for a lot of reasons. One big one is that each time this happens, the public debate becomes a little less focused on the terrible event – “X” – and a little more on what somebody said about “X.” Perhaps this is my cynicism showing, but I’m no longer surprised that people say terrible and stupid things after awful events. I’m starting to get skeptical about the need to treat obnoxious post-tragedy comments as newsworthy. Half of these are cries for attention, anyway.

Recently a conservative blogger pointed out some cretin attempting to raise money, making light of the death of a figure that many on the Right respect. Some folks wanted to blog more about this cretin and denounce him and call him out for his outrageously vile behavior, etc. Of course, the cretin wanted attention, and it’s quite likely that his ultimate desire is precisely to get a bunch of conservative bloggers talking about how terrible he is – because that will bring his fundraising effort to the attention of more people. I would define vindication as his pathetic fundraising effort dying a quiet death – a reminder that no one wants to give him money to continue being obnoxious, no one really cares what he says or thinks, and that in the grand scheme of things, he doesn’t really matter.