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I came across an article by John Scalzi the other day: The Sort Of Crap I Don't Get. I read the harassment that this food blogger receives. There's a dedicated Twitter feed where people make fun of the shape of her child's head? (Why?) There's vitriolic, ongoing nastiness aimed at her, a knitting blogger--basically at any prominent woman online.
It sounded so familiar. What Jetsunma's gone through, is still going through, has happened to other women. Consistently. Men don't face that kind of ongoing, non-stop blasting. Cassidy's the farthest extreme: he made in-person contact, went beyond trolling to threats, and he has a history of violence towards women (two years in prison for assaulting his ex-wife, and it was pled down from worse). The volume was also extreme: 100-300 abusive Tweets aimed at her a day once he got out of prison.
But there was more.
You see, we were surprised last year when the FBI dragnet went out, arrested Cassidy ... and then arrested some guy in Oregon named Andrew Wilson.
Somewhere along the line we'd picked up a full time troll, the way you pick up gum on your shoe. There was a copycat Cassidy out there. He'd imitated Cassidy's style of vague innuendo, his ugly avatars were designed to startle, much like the graphics on Cassidy's blog, and he also spouted off similar buzzword quasi-Zen with a crude spin (you know, "If a bird shits in the forest, does it make a sound?" stuff). He used a different Twitter account, but Cassidy used so many socks it was a puppet forest; Cassidy was a sockpuppet Hydra.
And Andrew Wilson stalked Jetsunma the exact same way Cassidy did. There were death threats ("I'm coming tulku k-k-k-kill you"), declarations of determination that he would hound her to the ends of the earth, and a huge volume of nasty messages on Twitter.
So the FBI went after both of them. While we scratched our heads.
Now Cassidy makes a kind of con-artist-stalker-wannabe!tulku-wife-be
Well, you know trolls. There's a certain type of dedicated troll that has to vent their spleen. They pick a cause and funnel all their personal angst at that cause. I read an interview of a fellow who dedicated his life to going after pedophiles, and it seemed noble at first blush. I was all for it. But then he targeted Livejournal Lolita discussion groups, fiction writers who dealt with child abuse, and even forced Livejournal to close support group blogs for victims of child molesters--and he didn't care, no, not one whit about the actual victims of child abuse. Which was strange. His attitude was he'd take "any means necessary," no matter who was caught in the crossfire.
I wish I still had the article. It was nuanced and interesting. By the end, the article's author suggested that the guy was a nut job who'd found a niche to act out. A full-time troll can't admit when he's wrong, or that he's made a mistake, or that he's (very obviously) gone too far.
The way Andrew Wilson tells of his arrest, it came out of the clear blue sky. His death threats and years of cyberstalking had nothing to do with the FBI showing up at his door. So long as his target was "bad," Wilson could justify his own bad behavior, even when his Twitter friends told him he was "stupid" to stalk Jetsunma.
It's heart-wrenchingly sad, the way he tells it, how he panicked when the FBI showed up and barricaded the door with cat trees and furniture (Nota Bene: he gets points from me for the cat--I love cats--and double for the cat tree, minus eleventy billion for being a stalkerish stalking stalker).
However, I have to say that, as a veteran speeder and cop show fan ... doesn't he know that if you see that spinning police light in your rearview mirror, you pull over? You don't start a high speed chase.
Likewise, if the FBI show up at your door, you let them in and offer them tea (or coffee) while you figure out what the heck's going on. Barricading the door makes them think you're Ted Kaczynski (especially if you've been making death threats over the internet). What would have been a tense conversation (and polite refusal of tea) becomes a handcuff handshake--with maybe a boot in your back as you say hello to the floor. Even if you know you're guilty, be smart enough to at least act innocent. (Politeness goes a long way.)
If you're guilty and damned well know it, I imagine keeping a cool head is hard to do. Which is why it's always the guilty who flee and/or barricade the door with cat trees.
That visit from the FBI (who questioned him thoroughly about his contact with an ex-con and kept his computer a year) didn't give Andrew pause for long. Nope. The death Tweets stopped, but the nastiness continued, with the usual mocking of a woman's weight, looks, and any personal information Jetsunma shared. She shut down her Twitter but felt stifled, so started back up and did her best to ignore him. Since she's a spiritual leader, he adds cult leader to the list of usuals, because that's what you call someone who's built a temple, sparked several charities, and been officially enthroned by a 1,200 year old tradition. But what do those Tibetan Lamas know? His Holiness Penor Rinpoche was no one important, especially not when compared to, wait for it, I'll try to say it with a straight face ...
... a Zen master.
Couldn't do it. That never fails to make me giggle. You see, Andrew Wilson is not just any troll. He's a Zen troll.
How'd that Zen realization hold up while he was throwing around those cat trees?
I guess we're supposed to ignore that part. Because, yessir, Mr. Wilson out in the hills of Oregon is bringing people to great realization with his ... Zen monastery? Nope. Face to face teachings...? Nope. Bodhidharma-like mediation facing a wall...? No.
His Tweets! (And a blog.)
And I leave you to contemplate that part.
ETA: Lo, if you've failed to achieve... Kensho, is it? ... from his Tweets, you have other options. For $2,000 he will deliver a full set of his teachings via Skype. What a mouth-watering deal.
Also posted at http://icarus.dreamwidth.org, comment wherever you please.