To Be Attacked by a Cyber-Space Troll, installment four

By Mark Richards, 2019

In the previous installments of this diatribe I expressed how my family and I have found ourselves in the unenviable position of becoming targets for the Fake News pundits, and some fanatic English cyber bully. The cyber thug opened his attack with a series of interviews with some questionably one sided ‘witnesses’ that attacked us with accusations and twisted truths based on more mistakes and deliberate lies than any sort of evidence – apparently a standard for this sort of cultural molestation.

The new generation of low-life Sirens seem to be seeking to solve their lack of ability to ‘debate’ by simply calling the rest of us names and disturbing titles. The problem is that their tactics works, as the general public isn’t always aware enough to question the wildly nasty accusations or accept the idea that not everything you may hear or read in the media is true. The more emotionally crazed the accusatory attack, the more the public is willing to go along with the threatening words being thrown around, rather than looking deeper into the motives and agenda of those making the loudest noise.

One may realize that Yellow Journalism has been out there for over a century, and we have only to look at any of the propaganda from either of the World Wars to see how well it works. But to any rational person it comes as a real shock when they find themselves as the targets of such attacks. Many have started to wonder if our civilization can survive this new age of cultureless, discourteous, harsh, impolite, tempestuous, fear mongers; seeing the negative force of such foul minds overwhelming everything from free speech to all other basic human rights and ‘truths.’

What I teach the men in my prison Debate Group is to never lower ourselves to that name-calling level. When our opponents emphasize their emotional and intellectual inferiority by trying to reduce the debate to name-calling and ‘fear tactics,’ we much be even more inflexible in our professionalism. The only things that can save us – or our cause – when a ‘louder’ opponent attacks, is our positive character, spirit, and calmly superior methods. If we can re-establish ourselves as the only real professional in the conversation – distinguished from the rude amateur – then the profane and enraged aggressor slowly is silenced by the weight of weakness within their own negative energy. As one professor assured me years ago, “No fool wins forever.”

Already mentioned in my last writing on this subject were the general concepts of the use of witnesses who have something to gain by their contrived testimony, and the reason that someone would perform such an attack on myself and my supporters. These ideas will be enlarged on in this and future reports, as our defense becomes more aggressive.  A sad point is that such a vicious attack would not take place in an environment that did not hold contempt in such high regard.

In a lecture at the Harvard Kennedy School in 2017, Arthur Brooks, of the American Enterprise Institute, analyzed the state of public disclosure, saying: “We don’t have an anger problem in American politics.” Though “Contempt” was not the subject of the lecture, audio engineers chose those comments to feature in a promotional video on Facebook.  Within a very short time, the video had received over 12 million views – making Brooks think he might have touched a nerve. (Cheaney, Janie B.; “Heaping doses of contempt” WORLD Magazine, September 15, 2018, page 16.)

In modern American political conversation, it’s not persuasive reasoning that tallies up likes and retweets, but the ability to “skewer” or “destroy” an opponent. Scoring often matters more in everyday life than peacemaking, kindness, or forgiveness.

Most of us know what contempt feels like, and the pain it causes. Now ask yourself honestly: Have I ever listened only to an attack? Mocked anyone who believed and acted differently? Brushed off someone trying to warn you of some perceived threat or danger that you didn’t believe in? It may be a fleeting emotion you regret later, but how do you feel about it when someone does that to you? Can you draw a line between despising the actions and despising the person? (Cheaney, Janie B.; “Heaping doses of contempt” WORLD Magazine, September 15, 2018, page 16.)

This sort of cyber contempt has become such a problem internationally that the United Nations has assigned human rights investigators to comb cyberspace to track how websites can stoke hatred and possible violence as part of expanding forensics into the role of the digital world in modern conflict. The influence of online anger and propaganda has been assessed for nearly a generation and is now part of the routine casework by security forces around the world. But the UN – whose reports are often crucial for possible international prosecutions – is now trying to catch up after years of relying mostly on firsthand reports from the field.

Rights investigators and monitors have used information from open-source Internet sites – including videos, satellite imagery, and inflammatory posts – to strengthen traditional fact-finding in flash points and the tragic headline stories where cruel words have forced people into suicide or acts of violence against others. Yet the public seems oblivious to the damage that such attacks can cause.

In 2018 the UN dispatched a veteran human rights official to Silicon Valley to build relationships with technology companies. Felim McMahon, who directs the technology and human rights program at the University of California at Berkeley law school’s Human Rights Center, described the United Nations’ pace of reform as “turning several battleships tied together.” The UN human rights office, however, has now realized, “We need to have our small teams, not just in the field, but on the Internet,” McMahon said, going on to add, “This is essentially putting the UN at the cutting edge of this investigative opportunity. In terms of arriving at the scene of a crime, they are going to be the first ones there.” (McLaughlin, Tim; “UN increases monitoring of hate speech on Internet,” Washington Post, November 27, 2018.)

The former commissioner of the UN High Commission for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, ramped up efforts at dialogue with tech companies. Hussein feared that the UN risked becoming irrelevant if it didn’t make inroads with global tech giants such as Facebook and Microsoft. The Internet is a “fantastically powerful “tool for “empowering people and enhancing their human rights on the one hand,” said Scott Campbell, a long-time officer at the UN commission. “On the other hand, the Internet has been used as a medium through which hate speech can be propagated with previously unthinkable speed and scale…sometimes with absolutely catastrophic effects.” (McLaughlin, Tim; “UN increases monitoring of hate speech on Internet,” Washington Post, November 27, 2018.)

You have only to suffer such an assault once to understand what they are talking about.

To be continued…