Friday, September 16, 2011

Ignoring the Troll

It pains me to watch so many respectable Christians rushing to refute Pat Robertson's latest idiocy.

For those unaware, Pat rebuked a guy who's been dating while his wife is in a nursing home with Alzheimer's, saying that the guy should divorce her instead.


'Trolls' photo (c) 2011, Cali4beach - license:

So Christian leaders and thinkers, in a rush to show that Pat doesn't speak for Christians, have been writing serious rebuttals of Pat's comments. It's enough to make a (young) grown man weep.

Robertson's been saying ridiculous things for decades. It's all he does. There's a word we use on the internet for people who say ridiculously hurtful things just to get a rise out of other people... we call that person a troll.

The thing about a troll is this: it doesn't matter how good your rebuttal is, the troll won't hear it. They're just excited your talking to/about them. And the fact that you're even having a dialogue with them elevates their status in the eyes of an outside observer. A thorough and well-thought out response doesn't diminish their credibility, it implies that their ramblings are worthy of a thorough and well-thought out response.

The act of dialogue is, at its heart, an affirmation. Trolls don't need to be affirmed, they need to be starved of attention until they learn to behave like a grown-up.

I was raised in a pretty conservative Christian environment, and I've never met anyone who thought Pat was even close to representative of Christianity. So why are we so concerned to point out that "Pat Robertson Doesn't Speak For Me?" Why can he still push our buttons? The guy will meet his Maker soon enough, and he probably won't get straightened out until he does. What do you think your blog post, Facebook status, letter to the editor, or twitter comment is going to accomplish, other than keeping his name in circulation?

If you're a Christian and someone asks you about Pat, just shake your head and say "I'm sorry you had to hear that." And then have a conversation about something that matters or go do something worthwhile. Naming He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named just gives him power. Ignore him and he'll go away.

Or he'll just be ignored, which is just as good.

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