Thursday, March 11, 2010

We Get Letters

Last Christmas I posted an article about how a conservative caller to a radio show began weeping and asking deranged questions about whether his prayers to Almighty God might have accidentally killed a Republican instead of his intended target, Democrat Robert Byrd. Economist Brad DeLong linked it off his site, which brought a steady stream of viewers, some of whom were really very nice about keeping me updated to developments in the story and making suggestions I hadn't thought of.

It turned out that Talking Points Memo ran a follow-up, suspecting that the call was a prank. At that point, I posted a response in which I outlined reasons why it might be serious, as well as my suspicion that the Republican party had stoked the flames of hard-right paranoia and rage so much that attempting to parody those attitudes might be beyond the point where doing so could seem implausible anymore. As one helpful reader pointed out, unbeknownst to me, I'd essentially drafted a political corollary to Poe's Law, which states that, "without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of fundamentalism that someone won't mistake for the real thing."

I drag all this back up because it seems like Poe's Law struck again the other day, with an implied death threat in the comments section on the first piece on Wolverines' pathetic rap, "O.T.P. (One Term President)." Someone, responding to both that article and the subsequent post about Satellite High's awesome diss track, wrote a lustily violent reply about how real Americans like him were just waiting for stupid weakling communists like Satellite High and me to declare open warfare on America, because then they'd murder us all and stack our bodies in the town square like cordwood. The commenter then signed off as "Spoonman," which seems like a tremendously unfair thing to do to a Soundgarden song, but whatever. "Black Hole Sun" and "Fell on Black Days" were both better singles off that album anyway.

Because the diss track had been posted in several different forums on the SomethingAwful.com message boards, SA members who follow this site did some checking, and there is a poster on that site named Spoonman. Unsurprisingly, he spends a significant amount of his time posting in a forum called "The Firing Range," which is basically the SA's way of proactively ghettoizing the sort of people who'd pollute interesting discussions with softcore gun pornography and vigilante murder fan-fiction.

The forum itself has no shortage of that sort of thing, with people posting their daily weapon-carries like they were discussing the sort of outfits they put on in the morning. Encounters with minorities of any non-white color spotted in groups any larger than one are often described with hair-raised paranoiac alertness as to their sudden movements and how many bullets would be required to be loosed into their center mass, given the caliber of the poster's concealed-carry weapon and the number of bullets in the magazine. These are the sorts of people who enthusiastically cheerlead the existence of Castle Doctrine, as it gives those with disappointing lives another potential window through which ugly and impotent (sometimes) racially inspired revenge fantasies can explode into reality with crotch-engorging and self-actualizing power.

Take this winner, for instance. Seriously, click both of those pictures. Look at him. Just look at him. This guy basically fixes printers and network connections for some business of no consequence — a nobody in a department already derided by most professionals as the forgettable haven of nobodies — a probably spiritually and emotionally inert person doing a job of no real comparable worth to anything; biding his time until death and the moment that the sliver of posterity that remembers him begins the inevitable process of forgetting; hoping against hope that any day now Hans Gruber and Agent Smith start shooting the shit out of Midwest Phosphates Company and the well-armed butterfly named Morpheus that lives inside him can blast its way out of his shell and yippie-kai-yay some serious damage on the asses of all these terrorist commie Nazis.

I mention this stuff about the members of a message board forum because, knowing that, it's entirely possible that the hate-mail letter we got from Spoonman is completely serious, perhaps even from that specific poster. On the other hand, given Poe's Law, it's equally possible that it's a really funny troll written by someone with an ear for right-wing paranoia. Someone could have deftly mimicked a socio-political outlook that has become so crazy at this point that any document that one claims it produced is, on its face, totally plausible. Then he picked the name "Spoonman" because that song was playing on his iTunes at the time. Who knows?

I don't. Personally, I lean well to the side of "inspired troll," but you're welcome to judge for yourself:
March 9, 2010 4:23 PM

Anonymous said...

Alright my little commie a$$holes where do I begin....

This blog is weak! The reason being is you can't even make a cogent argument as to WHY you believe anything you do.... it is all emotionalism. "You FEEL something is amiss..." or those bad conservatives who made that nasty RAP song "hurt your feelings". Just attack anyone who actually uses facts to back up their beliefs. Look, I hate RAP, and you just reminded me why it seems to be the Genre of the stupid and the mentally deficient! Can you even pronounce M-E-N-T-A-L-L-Y D-E-F-I-C-I-E-N-T???

OK, so you know enough about word dynamics that you can actually rhyme words..... Wow, I betcha they give out Golden Globe awards to idiots like Kanye West and the other fags for that kind of massive skills huh?

Betcha those RAP skills of yours will really come in handy some day when some real American puts a bullet in your head! (Here's a tip.... try actully holding the weapon in the correct manner rather than to the side like a cheap street punk!) I guess you can rhyme your silly ass all the grave huh?

In your CRAPS, oh I mean RAPS, my bad....you just mouth the trash that Marx, Lenin, Engels, Pol Pot, Amin, Pelosi, and all the other Lib-tards tell you to say. No original thought there sport..... sad. But since you live a frairly lame life... I'm probably not telling you anything you didn't already know.... but if I am I'll spell it out for you - you SUCK!

Anytime your ass wants to mix it up in the streets with real Americans..... you bring your 'A'-game Sally! We're gonna stack you bastards up like cordwood! And then, that will be the day you are reminded that all the crap you got away with your whole life finally just ran out of steam. Oh well, enjoy it while you can.... 'cause we're gonna make you pay!

Proud to be Commie? Well, then don't be offended if I'm proud to send your Communist ass to a grave. Don't like it here? Don't worry, we can arrange the re-settlement fairly easy! Feeling disenfranchised? Get your ass on a plane and go to a Communist country that you think is wonderful. But you weak cowards can't do that can you? Why? Because those other great communists would probably put you in a Gulag (yet another fun and exciting invention of wonderful Communism...) and wait for your mangy ass to die a nasty death.... which if you think about it.... you can't really blame them, now can you? Afterall, what Commie likes competition from other brainless jackasses? They have to take care of their own jackasses first ya know.

signed,

Spoonman

(one of the many concerned Conservatives that will be using your corpse for fertilizer in our gardens one of these days! And don't think it ain't gonna happen Sally..... enjoy the freedom while you have it!)
What I can tell you for certain is that this isn't even my first online death threat. I actually got far more sincere and explicit ones when I lampooned a pop idol once. The piece is long gone, but the wounds... (pats theatrically at chest) they're still here. My apologies to the members of 98º.

Another thing I do know is that, while this might be familiar territory for me, this provided a totally new experience for Satellite High. A death threat is a very important time in a young man's life. He starts going through changes, and it makes him feel... different. I'm just glad that I could share this significant milestone with him.

8 comments:

  1. I have a lot of experience with all manner of trolls, stalkers, harrassers, detractors, in real and cyber life, and my instinct is that this poster is the real deal - in that he's absolutely sincere in his criticism and animosity. However, I also know from vast experience that this kind of threat is weasely. He's a coward.

    I wouldn't take it too seriously, but then again, just remember that 25% of any random aggregate of people is pure-t nuts.

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  2. don't listen to her this guy's gonna find you and kill you and you gotta start packin to defend yourself

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  3. you got a HST vibe to you mobute. keep up the good work.

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  4. Your stereotypes of TFR are pretty baseless. A large majority of its posters are liberal-minded, and I can't think of any of these reports of encounters with minorities, except when mocking other gun forums, where that sort of racism is more accepted. Myrtar is a dork though it's true.

    If it is the same Spoonman it is definitely a troll or a fakepost.

    If you're uncomfortable with people being prepared to kill another person in order to defend themselves, I can't really argue with that. However, it's just as silly to depict us as massacres waiting to happen as it is to envision allowing homosexual couples to adopt as some kind of attempt to convert children to homosexuality.

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  5. Your stereotypes of TFR are pretty baseless. A large majority of its posters are liberal-minded, and I can't think of any of these reports of encounters with minorities, except when mocking other gun forums, where that sort of racism is more accepted. Myrtar is a dork though it's true.
    I realize it's sort of intellectually lazy of me not to substantiate any of that, but I'm not going to spend $35 or whatever it is on forums memberships just so I can search for and then read stuff I know I once read. Suffice to say that I lurked the site way back and later split an account with a buddy of mine, and I remember no shortage of dog-whistle racism and menacing depictions of The Other. Part of the reason my attention was drawn to it was because my buddy is a gun owner (as am I, but I don't keep mine in the house), read TFR often and, despite its being significantly better than many websites out there, routinely made him go "ugh" with the stuff I mentioned. Now, maybe this was just years ago, and shit got cleaned up since then. I looked at my analytics and see you're Glaswegian, so maybe some of the dog-whistle elements to good ol' New World racism weren't as apparent to you.


    If it is the same Spoonman it is definitely a troll or a fakepost.
    Or 100% sincere and just from someone else who likes signing things "Spoonman."


    If you're uncomfortable with people being prepared to kill another person in order to defend themselves, I can't really argue with that.
    Nope. I accept that there are some circumstances in which its necessary to kill to survive. But I like to think that I have a good and proper ambivalence toward my feelings, as something as severe as killing ought to provoke. What I am not comfortable with is people who own guns spending their time spinning elaborate daydreams about how and with which weapon they will kill (but again maybe this has been drastically cut back). It's at that point that a tool of defense endures a kind of transference into a transformative/self-actualizing fetish totem. Look, we're all millions of times more likely to be in a car accident in our lifetimes than need to use a gun to murder an intruder, yet you don't find people plotting out in detail how they whang their face against the airbag and get jerked around and survive. But that's because being in a car accident is passive. It doesn't let you look like one of the Reservoir Dogs. You don't get to claim empowerment. Taking a blow to the face by your own vehicle doesn't make you a warrior in the same way that taking the life of a rival tribe member does. Hell, it doesn't even make you a Road Warrior.

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  6. However, it's just as silly to depict us as massacres waiting to happen as it is to envision allowing homosexual couples to adopt as some kind of attempt to convert children to homosexuality.
    If I'd written something denying that homosexuals indoctrinate children, then:

    • received a long angry conspiracy letter from a homosexual pledging his determination to indoctrinate children;
    • realized that the piece had been linked four times — in four different threads — on the same website, where the lion's share of that day's hits were coming from;
    • noticed that the homosexual commenter shared the same name as a poster from that website;
    • noticed that the poster from that website spent a lot of time in a Homosexuals Only forum on it;
    • and remembered reading years ago multiple gay posters who proudly indulged fantasies of brainwashing adoptees to create "an army of faglets,"

    then, no, I don't think it would be especially silly. The big difference here is that you're concocting an absurd fantasy because you're trying to think of something that would be shocking to allege was real. The fantasies I was talking about were ones I was stunned to see shared by multiple people over and over. I had no desire to know that people really daydreamed about these things. The agency for their creation isn't mine. It does me no good nor any credit to wrench these things out of the imagination and try to make them reality.

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  7. Sorry if I'm a little off topic here, but you reminded me of something...

    HANDguns are problematic.

    I'd be willing to bet that, aside from Columbine/North Hollywood/D.C. sniper-like incidents, it's almost always handguns used in U.S. gun-related violence. Handguns are concealable, can be used more easily at close range, and require less intent to aim.

    This NEVER comes up in debates about gun violence.
    WHY?

    I'd rather see people walking through malls with .308 Winchesters slung over their shoulders instead of 9mm pistols hidden somewhere on their person. It takes TIME and EFFORT to draw a .308 bolt action... and it takes a lot more intent to kill when you're having to look down a long barrel.

    Can I blame John Wayne yet or what?
    I bet he'd carry a TEC-9 like a lil' bitch.

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  8. I don't know how to bold on this, so I'll just respond in a block.

    There may very well have been that kind of dog-whistle stuff back in the day, and I know I saw it a few times when I started posting in 07, though I wasn't as active in TFR then as I am now, it has been cleaned up in the time since. There is the rare post that carries that sort of attitude, but those posters are quickly ostracised or otherwise corrected. And while I may live in Glasgow I was born and raised in DC, so I can recognise colonial racism when I need to.

    As far as Spoonman goes, I think we agree with each other, at least, your response says nothing that contradicts mine.

    On the question of elaborate fantasies I agree that is extremely creepy, but there is a necessity to consider the effectiveness of a weapon against another person in a variety of situations, since, if you are trusting your life to it, it needs to work as well as possible, and one needs to be prepared for it to work. The car crash analogy is reasonable if a person were able to have any control over those sorts of variables. While I admit how one would react to a confrontation where deadly force becomes necessary may very well all be reflexive or instinctual, there is at least an illusion of personal initiative and decision. While an air bag takes a fraction of a second to deploy, a mugging, say, will take quite a few seconds, during which decisions can become important. The results of a car crash, once the impact has begun, seem almost entirely beyond a person's control, while a gun fight or whatever you want to call it seems more controllable. Maybe I'm just agreeing with you and getting slightly confused.

    I admit my comparison was a bad one and I apologise for that, though I will point out that I didn't choose the issue of homosexual adoption as purely absurd or shocking, but rather because a lot of the debate around adoption by gay couples seems to swirl around the idea that gay people can have a corrupting influence on the children, in some way or another. Of course, it was unclear to me that the lion's share, rather than a fraction, of the hits were from SA, so with that in mind it seems rather considerably less silly, but my disagreement, it seems, mostly came from the TFR you know vs. the TFR I know.

    Thanks for the response, I appreciate it.

    ReplyDelete

Et tu, Mr. Destructo? is a politics, sports and media blog whose purpose is to tell jokes or be really right about things. All of us have real jobs and don't need the hassle that telling jokes here might occasion, which is why some contributors find it more tasteful to pretend to be dead mass murderers.