You know, there was a moment during last Friday night's "interview" with Milo I-Hate-Myself-Opolis on Real Time with Bill Maher that struck me--and it was not all the times Bill seemed to surprise himself by agreeing with the little darling. I have no doubt that Mr. Maher's views are complex and, while I don't agree with them all, find myself relating to him more and more since the recent presidential election. And, oddly, if anything, I'm learning how to be more, not less accepting that everyone is wholly entitled to their...ah....opinion.
No, it wasn't their mutual love-fest over "annoying liberals" and what not--it was the moment that I realized something: Milo is a flaming homosexual who looked distinctly feminine and wore a sort Bar Bush caricature of pearls and so many pretty bangles his arm must have weighed twenty pounds. And that was news to me. I guess I had thus far successfully not given a flying eff-word about the guy. I had no idea and imagine my shock when the first words out of his pretty mouth were: "Oh I never hire gays. You can't trust them to ever be on time."
As an author, I've learned a little bit about the concept of a "troll." I've been trolled--by so-called reviewers and bloggers and readers with agendas and while it was easily one of the most painful, professional incidents I've ever endured, it also went a long way towards teaching me a lesson about life--relative to its "fairness."
These folks never once contacted me directly, to engage with me on a level anywhere above about 6th grade but they had zero qualms trashing me, my book(s), and my innocent efforts to market them online, to their friends and followers. This is how an internet troll works, you see, and that "fairness" lesson was well-learned (oh, it's the one about how our universe owes each of us exactly zero and how we cope/deal with that is a measure of our relative maturity and future success).
But I also learned a bit about the "wait ten minutes" principle.
That's the one that so-called radio "shock-jocks" live by. They piss people off daily because for the most part, they don't mean it, and are doing it for shock value and/or potential salary raises based on their social networking reach. It sells. Like sex, kinda, only meaner and less fun.
So when Mr. Cheekbones a.k.a. Milo went into his initial rant over Leslie Jones, I firmly believe that we fed his sorry fire ourselves with our Outrage and our Disbelief and our Abject Horror. He was precisely a nobody (unless, I guess you were one of the female journalists he helped threaten during gamer-gate but I digress. One Outrage at a time...). When Bill Maher ushered him into the relative light of legitimacy with that so-called interview and subsequent (& right glorious) Overtime session, he started to Become Someone.
Alas, because of that outing, so to speak, his uglier tendencies (and the sad fact that he thanked his molester-priest for giving him his stellar blow job skills---I am NOT making this up, I swear it) emerged and now, we can all go back to pretending he never existed. I, for one, am super stoked to get back to my Milo-Who-Cares frame of mind. Because trolls require constant care and feeding in order for them to feel legit. Take that away (via our collective attention) and they shrivel under the weight of their own deflated egos.
But I will say one other thing occurred during that interview that truly epitomizes our strange new world order. When he said "I don't hire gays, they're never on time," and then immediately followed that up with "but women are worse" or something along those lines which elicited a boo-hiss from Bill's audience, his response is EXACTLY what is wrong with the free speech argument that's been hijacked by hateful people. He said "Oh, don't be so sensitive" and rolled his overly smudgy eyes.
Let's extrapolate that for a hot second. You are walking down the street, minding your own business, pondering what's for dinner or how your day at work went, or just how nice it is outside and some person walks up to you, points their finger at your nose and says "You are ugly, stupid and worthless and don't deserve to live."
You are shocked. The last thing you did that might be considered moderately not nice was to "forget" to scan a bunch of bananas at the self-check out. But you are willing to give the person the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he is off his meds, or has you confused with his ex-wife. "Excuse me?" you say.
And the person sneers at you, and tells you your breath stinks, your taste in clothing is worse than his grandmas and that you should get your sorry fat ass to the gym and then back in the kitchen where you can be of service to your husband in the way God intended it.
"Hold up," you say. "I'm not even married."
"No wonder," this stranger continues. "You're fat and probably read romance novels for fun."
"All right, that's enough. You don't even know me. You have no right to say..."
At which point this person rolls his eyes, flaps a hand and says in aside to someone, "Gosh, don't be so sensitive. Get over yourself. You're all the same."
What about this is "ok?" Why would anyone condone such strange, hateful behavior? Making a comment that is meant to provoke (oh women are never on time anyway) and then mocking those who are provoked is the laziest form of being "a personality." It's being a jerk.
Hate speech is not free. It costs you, me and everything that we stand for as a mature, civil society of adults. I try to engage face-to-face and if I don't have something nice to say I bloody well don't say anything. Which is why this seeming acceptance (by a New York publisher, a huge political action committee, and others) of such obvious disregard for basic human politeness --and why it took blatant support of pedophilia (and to be clear "just about boys" which is yet another bloggy rant) to make them understand his troll-ishness for what it was---is so completely depressing.
Be nice, people. You don't have to agree on everything--or even on anything, but the cost of hate is high and not worth the price of admission.
Happy Hump Day.
P.S. What his "troll-ishness really is?" A sad cry for attention. Deny it and he goes away. Just watch.
P.P.S. What he said (it rhymes with "Lo Tuck Pourself")
P.P.P.S. This guy didn't say this to give you an excuse to be an asshole. Sorry. Think first. Then talk.