Don’t feed the trolls! It’s good advice that may apply even when the troll in question is the Majority Leader in the U.S. Senate.
One of the lessons you learn early when writing on the internet is that sometimes you are better off not responding to statement which seem calculated to create outrage. A study released earlier this year found that trolling correlated with “sadism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.” The study’s abstract concludes that trolling appears to be “an Internet manifestation of everyday sadism.” Simply put, trolls enjoy being jerks.
Something akin to garden-variety internet trolling has been happening on the national stage for the past month. Democrats have been openly trolling the Koch brothers. The NY Times reported on the left’s wholesale strategy to “unmask the press-shy siblings and portray them, instead, as a pair of villains.” This included “a digital campaign that will use Internet ads and videos” aimed at connecting candidates to the Koch brothers. It’s trolling for partisan gain.
Though the effort is widespread, Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) has been the chief troll. Four out of ten of Reid’s most recently uploaded You Tube videos have been about the Koch brothers. Then earlier this week Reid claimed the Koch’s were in league with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) to create a “modern Kochtopia” whatever that means. Reid may have finally gone too far with a web page devoted to attacking the Koch brothers hosted on his Senate website, something which may be against the rules which prohibit partisan activity.
After a month of taking cheap shots from Democrats on an almost daily basis, Charles Koch finally stepped up to the microphone to respond. His take was published by Wall Street Journal yesterday.
The central belief and fatal conceit of the current
administration is that you are incapable of running your own life, but
those in power are capable of running it for you. This is the essence of
big government and collectivism.
Will this stem the tide of Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)’s attacks? Of course not. On the contrary, Charles Koch has now stated in his own voice that he finds fault the current administration. Some mix of his words can now be used for more fundraising and, eventually, TV ads. Intentionally or not, he has helped legitimize Reid’s attacks.
For his part, Reid now has all the more reason to double-down. Trolls aren’t interested in reasoned conversation, they are there to make you miserable and, if possible, bring you down. Reid now has one op-ed to show for his efforts, why not go for two?
Senator Reid may or may not be personally enjoying his trolling against the Koch brothers, but there’s no doubt he and his party is hoping to benefit from it. The Koch brothers should be wary of taking the bait (though one imagines the impulse to respond to Reid’s idiocy is overwhelming). If Senator Reid wants to play the part of the grumpy old troll he should be treated as such and starved of the attention he craves.