Bryn Mawr Fencing meets Tuesday and Thursday afternoons. On Thursday, practice went unusually well for me. Apparently, the three major fencing tactics (direct attack, parry-riposte, and feint) can be thought of as rock, paper, and scissors. Once you know of this concept and apply the psychology of the original game to a fencing bout, it’s a lot easier to score touches. Perhaps it was coincidental, but while fencing G. on Thursday, I managed to get completely into trickster mode.
Trickster mode, to explain to non-Homestucks (SPOILER ALERT!!!!), is a sort of really manic mood causing extreme silliness and really stupid audacity, and, in the comic, truly horrible cyberpunk outfits. For three of the characters affected in the comic, trickster mode is engaged by violent assaults, such as having a pumpkin smashed on one’s head (What pumpkin?–hehe), but the index case licked a magical red and green lollipop called a juju (meaning otherwise unclassified magical object). For me, it’s generally caused by getting into some mental or physical conflict, such as fencing or a comments forum, and manifests as constant giggling, even or especially when physically hit, and an unbelievable capacity for being very cheerfully annoying. (For more explanations, google “Homestuck Trickster.”) Fencing has always made me somewhat like this, but this was the first time since about tenth grade when I was able to completely let it out. I’d just had too much experience with verbal combat.
In 10th grade, I was a conservative. If you knew my parents, you’d understand. The main source of current events at our house for a number of years was the John Birch Society’s New American; my brothers and I were basically not allowed internet access. Eventually, for financial reasons, my parents let the subscription lapse, but the internet is full of crazy right-wing bullshit. To this day, if I check my old Gmail, my mother still sends me articles about abortion and gay marriage that border on hate speech. Titles like “Lies about Abortion Giant’s Health Services Continue.” Once there was an article blaming a “gay lifestyle” for what was just generally abusive parenting. (This is about the only reason I don’t think they suspect I’m gay–though unfortunately, they do know I’m pro-gay, and have made a point of subtly trashing it every time I’m at their house.) So, in my 10th grade class, there was this kid who tried to convert me to liberalism. He succeeded, but not exactly with formal logic. That was left to others, like the local edition of the Times. He did convince me by example that the results of conservative policies equaled a lot of assholery. This kid would challenge me to debates during study hall. He wasn’t very bright, at least not obviously. Once, he challenged me to the same debate two days in a row. (I wonder now if this was actually concealed brilliance.) I was careful to give the exact same responses as the day before, and he gave the same responses as well. I managed to force him to admit defeat, but ended up feeling sympathetic all the same. The only real winner was the study hall monitor, who seemed greatly amused.
When the topic was something other than the healthcare law (this was Spring 2010), though, I had little sympathy, and consequently tended to get into trickster mode. (Though I didn’t call it that, cause I wasn’t a Homestuck yet; I didn’t actually call it anything at all.) However, you can’t giggle while dealing out devastatingly witty remarks, or you lose the effect; you have to deliver your verbal daggers in a searing deadpan. I learned to tie my diaphragm to the ground, and twisted my smile into a contemptuous sneer. My laughter became silent, and darker. I’d learned words could kill, and I’d developed a taste for blood. And it was easy to find. After 10th grade, I have never had another real-life victim (I must call it that, though I was almost as scared of him as the reverse), but I discovered comments forums.
You can learn to care for some opponents. At a certain point, you don’t want to even metaphorically kill. You know you can win, but you don’t want to. You want that dance of daggers; you want to taste your own blood as well as the other’s. You learn to pull in your blows, to prick instead of stab, to leave an opening so that you too can be a little wounded, because you love your enemy enough to keep them alive to dance another day. But those are only some opponents. Some are so full of hard black hate that they become black holes, and any of your sympathy is wasted. They want you to bleed to death, and are only made stronger by your blows. To defeat them, you must harden yourself. With words, you can’t be hurt unless you personally care about them. With a true troll, a black hole of hate, you have to harden yourself, and truly go in for the kill. You can’t actually kill a really high-level troll, but you can make it overly embarrassing or impossible to respond.
Most people say, “Don’t feed the trolls.” I say, “Feed the trolls–with poisoned food.” Because poison kills, only use it on real, certified trolls–the users who have names all in caps or really supercilious names, and who post really offensive cocktails of slurs that somehow barely slip through the mods. There was this one user the other day, “JOHNSPEAKSS,” who, on an article about the Prop 8 case, kept posting incoherent rants about gays and abortion. Couldn’t even come up with a gay slur worse than “pansy,” but his persistence and vehemence were extremely alarming. It was the perfect storm: a highly angered and rather unintelligent troll, someone who could be attacked without really any qualms since his positions were pretty inexcusable, and who seemed quite defeatable–who might even be made to defeat himself. That was eventually what happened, after four comments on my part and 3.5 hours. No ad hominem, and I got him on abortion, through his own anger. When possible, use your enemy’s anger against them. I, Purple Flag, had d made a comment saying that I was going to be pro-abortion until an economically viable method of ectogenesis was developed. Here’s the rest of the conversation (it and more can be found on page 10 (it was a much “dicussed” article) of the comments at here:
So I got him to get really angry and contradict himself–and then all I had to do was point it out. Ah, the Lawful Evil side of my personality.
But understand, this is an arena deprived of any reason other than force and consistency. Neither JOHNSPEAKSS nor I are reasoning from the same set of premises. Therefore, I can never get him to a logical conclusion that I agree with. All I can get him to do is make an error in his own train of reasoning–here “I support abortion when it’s convenient for me.”
Speaking of bad reasoning:
- A Tennessee dog owner sent his dog to be euthanized because he thought the dog was gay. According to experts, the dog most likely wasn’t even gay. Fortunately, it was adopted by someone who presumably is fine with gay dogs and won’t put it in reparative therapy.
- The Westboro Baptist Church filed an amicus curiae brief on the Prop 8 case, and apparently thinks that the Bible is a textbook both on constitutional law and archeological science. (I already linked the article above.) This may well advance our case significantly.
- Brian Fischer, among others, is foulmouthing the BSA for finally realizing that most gays aren’t lustful pedophilic cockmonsters, and using the most ridiculous terms to do so. And somehow HP is still giving him the dignity of being called a “pundit” (which, on the site, is also an official term for commenters with a track record of good writing skills, and a rank I hope to make someday), and not just a pompous hateful stinking asshole.
- The Republicans keep on trying to pass and implement austerity measures even though they’re consistently shown not to work. But then, they think Ayn Rand is Jesus and the Bible is Atlas Shrugged. Though I can kind of understand the second mistake. It’s about as long and half of it’s a sermon.
There are some good things that happened, too, but it’s nearly 12:30 am and I want to sleep because I have a tournament at 7:00 am. And this is already a horribly long post. Now if only I could write assigned essays this easily!