Frequently people will use the existence of threats, including death threats, over the Internet as proof that their cause is more just because their opponents are violent and _________ (fill in the blank with racist, misogynist, etc.). Most folks firmly believe that only their side is getting these death threats, since they only really talk to and read people on their side. But as a libertarian that makes common cause with all kinds of groups, what I see is that EVERYONE that says something even mildly controversial gets Internet threats. The gamergaters get threats and the anti-gamergaters get threats. BLM gets threats and police defenders get threats. Heck, I get threats, mostly on climate and immigration issues, and I am a nobody. And here is the latest source of death threats: Katherine Timpf dissing Star Wars
More than a month ago, I made some jokes about Star Wars on Red Eye, a satirical political comedy show that airs at 3 a.m., and it has resulted in me being verbally abused and told to die by a mob of enraged fans for the past four days now. ...Then, this week, one Star Wars super-super-super fan who calls himself “AlphaOmegaSin” made a ten-minute (!) video brutally ripping me apart. The YouTube comments on his manifesto were even better. You know, stuff like:
justin 12 hours ago Maybe a SW nerd needs to sneak into her dark room, dressed like her bf, rape her, but she doesn’t know it’s rape because she thinks it’s her BF.
needmypunk 16 hours ago I hope she gets acid thrown in her pretty little face.
sdgaara2 1 day ago Wouldn’t it be great if she was beaten to death with “space nerd sticks”
etc. etc. Now, I understand there are a few folks out there who have had to deal with scary and legitimate stalking episodes online. But in the vast majority of cases, does anyone really treat these as serious threats? Like actually get scared? I know I don't. I would suggest that most folks respond just like Ms. Timpf did -- they treat them as a badge of honor and of proof of the rightness of their cause and the bankruptcy of their intellectual opposition. I have done the exact same thing. We have a term called humble brag, e.g. "I was so stupid last night -- Johnny Depp came by my table to say hi and I didn't recognize him." We need a term for this -- "victim brag", maybe?
I have come to the conclusion that there are a core of people on the Internet that are simply morons, and will react stupidly to about anything. We should stop ascribing any significance to their showing up in an online discussion. The fact they show up making their stupid threats has no more meaning than the fact that ants inevitably show up when you drop food on the ground. You wouldn't write an article that "ants hate me because they swarmed all over the potato chip I dropped." Let's treat Internet trolls just like we do these insects.