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robertogreco : makingchange   1

How to Kill a Troll - Incisive.nu
"When it comes to actually changing minds, I think we’re stuck with love.

Recognizing the humanity of people who do awful things is one of the core challenges of being human. (We have enough trouble recognizing it even in people who are like us.) But it’s the only way out. Even when the worst trolls are beyond visible redemption, the way we handle them is visible to so many others who are still capable of feeling empathy or recognizing pain or changing their minds.

As Dr. King put it:
Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

That’s from a sermon I reread every few weeks. I’ll probably be reading for the rest of my life as a part of my struggle with my own deep-rooted anger.

There’s a segment of This American Life that illustrates the dynamic perfectly. It’s about John Smid, a man who used to run an “ex-gay” Christian ministry—called, paradoxically, Love In Action—and the activist whose willingness to be human, vulnerable, and rational gradually led Smid to understand the harm he was doing. The activist never talks about love, but that’s what this is. And it’s exactly what King was talking about:

While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community.

I have tremendous empathy for people who want to skewer and shame their attackers. I catch myself falling into it even though I know it’s an obscene waste of energy and time. It is utterly unfair that the targets of hatred and meanness and violence are nearly always the only ones who can break the cycle of mutually assured hostility. And it’s not the responsibility of the victims of this crap to act with grace.

I doubt that I’ll ever have much empathy for people who talk about women as “stupid whores,” or who try to shut us up with violence or threats of violence.

But my best shot in fraught discussions is try to remember that actions rooted in love are the most practical tool we have. It’s a position of extraordinary resilience, too, because it doesn’t rely on the back and forth of an exchange of blows. It’s steady, unexpected, and weirdly difficult to defend against—the rhetorical equivalent of stepping inside someone’s guard. And it can’t be faked.

Love is not all we need. But combined with civic firmness from platform-makers, drastically better law enforcement for actions that cross legal boundaries, and the simple rejection of vileness by the people who genuinely know better, it’s our best shot at evolving beyond this troglodytic bullshit.

This is how that MLK sermon ends:
Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.

Internet, I love you. Let’s try."
erinkissane  love  mindchanges  discussion  trolls  mlk  2012  wisdom  change  makingchange  canon  hate  misogyny  sexism  harassment  thisamericanlife  martinlutherkingjr  mindchanging 
july 2012 by robertogreco

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