This post has vague references to violence and the death penalty.
This is not the first time I've talked about arguing with Internet trolls.
It might not be the last.
Sometimes I think a part of me is broken, and it's the part of me that would look at someone's utterly ridiculous comment and EVER think "maybe there's actually a reasonable person inside of them that I can coax out!"
That turns out almost never to be the case.
And it's almost never the case with people who aren't even trolling, either.
People just completely miss my point, so, so goddamn always.
I had an argument with someone quite a few months ago that got under my skin and somehow still does.
In a way I'm grateful for it because I think it betrays a problem deep inside me, such that a mind-parasite like that guy could so easily latch onto.
Whatever that thing is, I should figure it out and address it.
But until then, fuck that guy.
Fuck him for thinking his ineffectual rant had at any point defended his belief in the death penalty, and that I was the one whining.
Fuck him for thinking that innocent people being sentenced to death are "irrelevant" outlying cases.
Fuck him for calling it a strawman who would believe those cases don't matter because I referred to the fact that he called those cases irrelevant.
Fuck him for then USING a strawman to accuse me of suggesting I am completely fine with the death penalty but only wanted someone OTHER than the government to dole it out, when I said the literal opposite of that.
Fuck him for not understanding the VERY SIMPLE difference between the entire system of convictions and the death penalty itself. Neither is inextricable from the other. Many countries have easily done this. It's not difficult. A five year old could do it. It's called just not having a death penalty.
Fuck him for telling me to "lay out" an alternative to the death penalty when my entire argument was in fact laying out the groundwork for that alternative.
Fuck him for even thinking that this was something I had the onus to prove to him, like he was the sole arbiter of the future of all convicted wrongdoers.
There's a lot more. We could talk about the psychology of punishment, of systems of might makes right, of how to describe the moral hypocrisy of a society that has very conditional beliefs as to when to accept retaliatory violence on a schoolyard, let alone in a courtroom, what kind of violence it chooses to enact upon someone locked up and disarmed.
And that's all before we even get to the rate of convictions and how many people have been exonerated postmortem with better evidence gathering means and forensic science.
There was a good few weeks were I spent like an hour a day, sometimes more, just trying to figure out how to respond to someone so impossibly stupid, without insulting him, without being disrespectful, and debating with myself if this guy was even worth that effort and if I should just hold nothing back and write the slam dunk that he basically handed to me because his entire modus operandi was to try to sound smart (the irony in me using that term notwithstanding) without saying anything that to the discerning eye isn't pure mental vomit, and watch him try to just squirm out of it.
I would probably not admit that to anyone, anywhere else. Why would I?
It's embarrassing. I wasted hours of my life arguing with someone, who was just so completely wrong in every conceivable way it was even possible to be wrong. He was so wrong he contradicted his own beliefs.
And I don't even think it was because he was that stupid.
It's because he wasn't even trying. He didn't care about being right, at all. He had no shame in that.
And I keep falling for that.
I let him have that last word and there's some part of me angry that I walked away and didn't finish him off, rhetorically speaking. Maybe that's the part of me that I need to destroy. It's the part of me that cares too much what other people think of me, and it's the part of me that is constantly surprised that there are so many people in the world who say and do dumb shit.
Many of those people even resort to trolling to mask the fact that they feel stupid about a stupid thing they've said and just don't want to look weak, or whatever.
I also find it at least a little dismaying that I chose to have this conversation, and other similar conversations, to show myself that I can handle this kind of tough dialogue and that I can have a thicker skin. This guy had been borderline insufferable and arrogant throughout the entire conversation. I can handle the pointless insults; those just roll off. The stuff that really bothers me is how I try to be humble and inquisitive while all it can take is a single pointed question to set off alarms in someone's mind, and they start projecting hardcore. It's no surprise that he accused me of whining while his rant was basically an ineffectual whine against progress. It's no surprise that he told me to lay out my argument while my entire line of questioning was to try and understand his own.
I've heard this called cognitive dissonance.
Okay, well, the self-contradiction part was the cognitive dissonance part, mainly. I think. I'm not a professor.
The point is, people fall into all kinds of mental traps.
And I guess constantly replying to people like this is one of my own.
But maybe in the future it doesn't need to be.
I don't need to prove myself to guys like that.
I only need to prove myself TO myself.
And maybe the surest sign that I did the right thing is the surest reason I should use in the future to remove a person from my life.
If I ever feel pressured to think THAT hard about forming the right combination of words just to get someone to have a fair and reasonable discussion with me, I should probably just not ever speak to that person.