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Ghahraman speaks out about online trolls

Written By: - Date published: 8:21 am, September 11th, 2018 - 134 comments
Categories: greens, Media, the praiseworthy and the pitiful - Tags:

There is an interesting article in the Herald this morning where Green MP Golriz Ghahraman responds to questions put by Jennifer Dann and is asked about the online treatment that she has received in the past 12 months.

It is clear that some on the right have a major problem with her and she was exposed to a baptism of fire last year.  I covered some of the background in these posts, Right loses its shit after former criminal lawyer discovered to have acted for bad people and
Deranged Golriz Syndrome.  Short version, the attacks were beat ups.  It also looks like there was a degree of coordination happening.

Things have quietened down somewhat. But it was interesting to read her take on what happened.

On the sexual nature of online attacks she said this:

Yes it’s very sexually explicit at times. You get called a c-word constantly. It’s like that part of our anatomy is the worst thing they can think of. That’s why Marama Davidson was trying to claim it back. Other women MPs have told me about their experiences; Marama mostly gets trolled when she talks about race; Louisa Wall gets it when she talks about transgender issues. I get it all the time but mostly when I seem to be confident. They hate it when you’ve achieved something. That’s when you’ve got to be knocked down.

On the trolling she has been subject to she says:

The trolling began immediately after I announced my candidacy for Parliament. They tend to fall in two camps; one camp is the Dirty Politics commentators who are being paid to take a certain position. Their attacks are followed by a horde of their followers in a coordinated way. Then there are the people who are just really angry about where I’m from.

She was asked if allegations that she had faked her refugee status had hurt and she replied:

It did. What advantage would I get from that? Being a refugee has never helped; it’s just obscured everything else. I’d love to focus on my justice portfolio – I studied human rights at Oxford and have a decade’s experience as a lawyer – but instead I have to keep proving my right to be here. My family can never go back to Iran. My grandma died late last year. Dad was really close with her; he’s suffered the guilt and shame of not having gone back to look after her or attend her funeral. No-one wants that.

She was also asked about the attacks on her for representing a Rwandan war criminal and replied:

With these trials, one side isn’t saying genocide is good and the other side’s saying its bad. The idea is to find out who is guilty of what. Cycles of ethnic violence occur in places like Rwanda because the genocide is blamed on every one of a particular ethnicity. Being able to hold individual leaders to account in a fair and transparent way could help end these cycles. My last UN job was prosecuting members of the Khmer Rouge. The aim is to leave a legacy of the rule of law for the next generation.

It will be interesting to see if this article sparks further examples of Deranged Golriz syndrome.  The attacks on her in the past 12 months have been particularly bad examples of how toxic New Zealand politics can get.

134 comments on “Ghahraman speaks out about online trolls ”

  1. gsays 1

    I get a bit upset when folk aren’t considerate here on TS and I am anonymous.

    I have a new found respect for these folk who inform, agitate, organise around progressive issues and for those who speak truth to power.

    They have a courage I lack.

  2. Gosman 2

    The other reason Golriz gets a lot of flak is because of double standards. To give but one example, she wants to use the immigration laws to stop people like Molyneux and Southern coming here because she dislikes what they might say but criticises Australia for doing the exact same thing to Manning (presumably simply because she agrees with her).

    • Simbit 2.1

      I’ve liked her ever since I saw my racist HR manager bagging her on Twitter.

    • Draco T Bastard 2.2

      The other reason Golriz gets a lot of flak is because of double standards.

      There were no double standards.

      she wants to use the immigration laws to stop people like Molyneux and Southern coming here because she dislikes what they might say

      We have laws against hate speech and our immigration laws actually ban people who will most likely commit a crime from coming here.

      Molyneux and Southern peddle hate speech and thus if they’d come here and spoken they’d have been committing a crime.

      Manning, on the other hand, wasn’t going to commit a crime and had been found guilty of exposing crime.

      • Enough is Enough 2.2.1

        They did come here and speak in the media – extensively.

        Why were they not arrested?

        • Draco T Bastard

          Because they restricted themselves once their lawyers cleared up the law for them?
          Because they didn’t have the platform that they expected?
          Because they were talking to the media rather than in an echo chamber?

          But, yes, that was poor wording on my part.

      • Chuck 2.2.2

        “Molyneux and Southern peddle hate speech and thus if they’d come here and spoken they’d have been committing a crime.”

        I don’t think I have read such an inaccurate sentence like this for some time. DTB you clearly misrepresent the definition of hate speech. And no it is not just because you don’t like what is being said.

        Golriz is very special though…would be a great hit in Hollywood.

      • “We have laws against hate speech”. Sorry but you’ve golrized your facts there. No NZ legislation even defines hate speech. Please provide evidence of which ones do.

    • McFlock 2.3

      because she dislikes what they might say

      [citation needed]

    • You_Fool 2.4

      So that would be the same bias as the entire National party then

  3. Dennis Frank 3

    The most obvious thing about trolling is that it is an enabled phenomenon, right? The platform provider enables trolls whenever they fail to incorporate a moderator to eliminate them. I understand the tedious nature of such gardening – nobody likes having to pull weeds out all the time.

    So it gets down to how much pollution you’re willing to tolerate in your social ecosystem. Does the lynch mob mentality organise random trolling into pack attacks, or does it organise policing via crowd-sourced group-think in response, or both?

    She seems to have noticed that traditional kiwi male reticence has percolated down into her generation: “What makes your relationship work?” “He’s got a political science degree so he’s actually quite political as well. I like the fact he talks about politics in his stand-up comedy; not many New Zealand comedians do. We’re both really verbal people which you don’t always find in Kiwi men.”

    [lprent: Yep, which is why we ban trolls for a period of time. Pulling weeds is more fun when people you can pull them out by the roots with vindictive thoroughness. ]

    • Gosman 3.1

      The issue you don’t address is how do you define a troll? If you eliminate everyone who objects to the central points made by someone then you create an echo chamber. Golriz Ghahraman is also a public figure that frequently makes incredibly controversial statements. To think she shouldn’t be criticised for that is not only naiive but potentially dangerous. If she gets special treatment why not others?

      • Dennis Frank 3.1.1

        Yes indeed. A suitable moderator will perform a similar function to the editor of a newspaper to maintain quality of content. However I feel we ought not to be confined by traditional private-property thinking. There’s a public interest component to social media that ought to be factored into platform design.

        As regards Golriz, fairness ought to prevail (no special favour). Criticism can be helpful when valid, as it will be consciousness-raising for the recipient. It closes the feedback cycle. Negative feedback stablises behaviour just as it stabilises ecosystems.

        • greywarshark

          I think there is a hole there. Negative feedback can stymie behaviour that would have had good outcomes. Stabilising can mean stasis, next step stagnant, and then decline which is negative for us. We don’t want to live in a stagnant pool. Si conclusion – negative feedback can be destructive and self-defeating instead of improving planning or performance.

      • ianmac 3.1.2

        “The issue you don’t address is how do you define a troll?”

        Not hard Gosman. You are clearly a troll. You are not here to represent a credible alternative viewpoint. You are here to provoke a pointless debate/distraction and to dig out the spiteful spin for the seamy side of alternative politics.

        James and Gosman are trolls. Freedom of speech. Yep but you can best be ignored.

        • Gosman

          Except you haven’t explained why my views on Ms Ghahraman don’t hold weight. The issue here is Ms Ghahraman feels she is being victimised yet much of her criticism is around her positioning on subjects not on her background. Critiquing her on her background can be justifiably dismissed as trolling. Criticising her actions and responses now are not.

          • arkie

            Bad faith

          • ianmac

            Your views on Golriz Gharaman are totally meaningless. How you manage to attempt turn the trivial into a real issue is baffling – unless of course she is just a vehicle to disturb readers on this site. More likely.

        • RedLogix

          Actually no, the Gos is a perfect example of someone you disagree with, but a lack of discipline means you allow your emotional response to define the interaction.

          • McFlock

            But if gos continuously provokes an overwhelming negative emotional response from multiple individuals, is it intentional or is he just lucky that way?

            The former is trolling. The latter most likely means that he’s a massive dickhead.

            • RedLogix

              Are you guys all telling you’re unable to manage how you respond to him? Even in law provocation isn’t much of a defense these days.

              • McFlock

                Provocation isn’t a defense for criminal behaviour. It’s still a dickish thing to do incessantly, though.

                One normally hesitates to simply appeal to authority, but given that Gosman has just been banned for “astroturfing and trolling” I suggest that he was, in fact, a troll.

                • RedLogix

                  That was our glorious sysop engaging in some warm fuzzy weeding, but even he admits to being a tad random about it.

                  The thing that gets me is that people like Gossy are everywhere, they have a direct mode of expressing themselves that tends not to care too much how you feel about it. I work with people like this all the time; they’re called Project Managers. It’s a huge mistake to keep reacting to them, instead of the issue.

                  • McFlock

                    Hey, personality type and jobs are like dating. There’s probably something out there for pretty much everybody.

                    But most jobs aren’t suited to everybody.

                    If gos were direct, I wouldn’t have as much of an issue. But half the time he lets people go well down a thread and when they come close to resolving it he goes “but that wasn’t my original claim”, resting on some nuanced ambiguity. If he were direct, he would have said that four comments earlier, and there most likely wouldn’t be an ambiguity in the first place.

                    Trolling isn’t just about anonymously saying stuff that would make the demon child from the Exorcist blush. Some trolls look for a different reaction, derailing threads and basically making everyone end up playing their tune. The point is that it’s about power and reaction, rather than generally good faith debate.

                    I very rarely get the impression that gos is trying to engage in good faith. And when I do, I usually end up being disappointed as the thread progresses.

          • Incognito

            But isn’t that a hallmark of trolls that they aim for a reflexive, instinctive, and emotional response? In other words, they prefer ‘style’ over substance.

  4. SaveNZ 4

    If the Greens want to attract voters back to them they need to concentrate on issues that do not include themselves and how hurt/shocked/whatever they feel when they get negative and abusive feedback so much so some of them want to reclaim the word cunt. I’m sure parking wardens and police get abuse too, so do nurses and teachers apparently, but they are not paid 3-5 times as much and have a lot less power than an MP. So middle NZ is not exactly feeling sorry for them.

    Green MP’s need to stop talking about themselves all the time and how they personally are feeling and getting excited about the task forces and talk feasts with others or some bee in their bonnet (WOF for rentals when not mentioning the state houses are overflowing and the government is doing nothing about it and making it worse in some ways) and actually get out there and do some good for the environment and Green movement and make change in that area that will help people, not just be a out of touch.

    If Marama believes they need more quality rentals for example, go out there and buy one and rent it out cheaply, or renovate and buy more state houses for the state or what have you.

    Current plans rely on 15 years of future and seemingly much worse rental shortages before in their fantasy worlds they get better (a miracle because the numbers are not there to support it, as they are not allowing for population growth).

    Solving housing by stupid headlines that actually are future housing not current housing, is not cutting it. Likewise sermonising while doing little to nothing, or worse, being in a bubble only a few group thinkers share, is worse.

    Likewise Ghahraman, what has she actually done since being in parliament. I have no idea because all headlines are about herself, how hard it is to be a refugee blah blah. Personally if she took those barrel bomb makers to the human rights court and did something real to stop polluters and tax havens for example I’d feel great about her, until then, I just feel she’s like many in this country, constant talk fest much self referential, and being completely out of touch with many people’s day to day reality in this country .

    • Dennis Frank 4.1

      Unrealistic. Parliament was set up to be a talk-shop. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Then there’s the marketing: they have to sell themselves to voters via self-promotion. It’s how democracy works. And also, when the interview is carefully designed with questions that make it all about you, how can you wriggle out of that format. Why would you even try? You know that good relations with the media will fuel your career progress, so give em what they want.

      • SaveNZ 4.1.1

        I think the voting public and whats being shown is the opposite, voters don’t like the Greens approach over the last few years. In my view they have alienated the traditional Green voter that do not like the ‘sell themselves’, “self promotion” approach by individual MP’s. I’d say many a Green voter don’t even watch MSM anymore and growing… weird decisions that seem bizarre like giving Natz their questions etc which denying they could ever go with them, giving more water rights away, being pretty quiet on TPPA which is a big distinction from Labour, too many messages that are confused and not enough “real” stuff happening. We ain’t gonna save the planet by talking about it, so if the current Greens think that, then they are mistaken. This is their chance to actually push through Green environmental policy, but will they take it.

      • greywarshark 4.1.2

        It reveals how middle class the Greens are. The theme is, if you do the right thing, which is what they have decided in consensus and devil take the hindmost, then all will be well. It is utopian, it’s all about the earth and dragging people into the polity makes them scream, that is the Greens. It may be about the earth, being Green, but they aren’t earthy – they are too bloody well-spoken. Sex and money seem to be the basic things in life, and power follows money usually. Perhaps give the Greens more money and they would come down a peg to everyday responses; or would it be less money and they could survive and keep in touch with fokways in a meaningful way.

        Shane Jones liked porn so much that he ordered I think 19 videos. The Greens may approve of that, being fettered only by respecting others and in private okay but the payment should have been private too.

        National only care about the money – he’s trying to pull the wool over taxapyers’ eyes and we must keep this from the children.

        Labour was distressed; torn as they are between the idea of working girls being part of the sacred labouring classes, and their traditional preference for motherly tea ladies and women helpmates in the class struggle.

        NZFirst has a confusing time of it with the blue rinse set trying to keep their permed coiffure in place, and the old guys mulling over what happens if you take two viagras at a time.

    • solkta 4.2

      On the 125th anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, Green MP Golriz Ghahraman talks about politics and how trolls work to silence women online.

      So women MPs from the party that is most favoured by women voters as a percentage of their vote should not talk about this because housing?

  5. solkta 5

    FYI you are missing an “h” in “Gharaman” in the first sentence.

    [Ta now fixed – MS]

  6. Sanctuary 6

    I thought this was a post about Barry Soper.

  7. ianmac 7

    And on the topic imagine the fortitude of Golriz Gharaman. Withstanding the spite of bigots must be so wearying. Great woman.

    • Gosman 7.1

      How is demanding people be stopped from coming here by the Immigration department in one breath and then complaining about Australian immigration stopping people from going there in another evidence of greatness?

    • Carolyn_Nth 7.2

      Yep. Interesting that Davidson gets trolled on race issues, and Wall on transgender ones. Looks like when female MPs stand up and speak for the most marginalised of people, they get viciously attacked by packs of right wingers – and some of these packs seem quite organised.

      I have been amazed about just how long these obsessive and vicious attacks of Ghahraman have been going on. And even here, there’s some who have been very quick off the mark, and can’t wait to put the boot into Ghahraman some more. Interesting to see.

      However, the strength, calm and resilience she shows in the face of such nastiness is amazing.

      • phantom snowflake 7.2.1

        It’s clearly a class issue. The “New Oppressed” class i.e. Old White Men are longing for just a little power to be granted to them by their brutal, younger, brown female overlords. *choke*

    • + 1 yep she’s a kiwi hero

    • SHG 7.4

      I imagine that withstanding the fact checkers on her creatively-embellished personal and professional histories would be the wearying bit.

  8. Hooch 8

    All I can think is it boils down to the rights policy of disengaging voters knowing their own supporters will always vote. Golriz’ demographic cuts across young, female, not white, the very people they expect not to vote and they see her as a threat being able to engage with these demographics.

    The problem is any publicity is good publicity and name recognition in politics is huge. So getting her name and face across many different platforms continuously is not good a strategy on their part.

    • SaveNZ 8.1

      All well and good if you think identity politics works and people only vote on demographic lines… personally see MANY examples of how this is not working in real life, and actually alienates more people. There is something a bit patronising when there is an assumption that voters are that simplistic.

      Look at Georgina Beyer, she got the conservatives and middle NZ voting for her and beating off Paul Henry for National… not because she is transgender/a minority, but because she was the better candidate in voters eyes.

      • solkta 8.1.1

        There was a significant increase in the percentage of young people voting in the last election. The 18 – 24 age group was up 6.6 percentage points and the 25 – 29 age group was up 5.5 percentage points while the oldie age groups increased only marginally. If you look at the graph in the link it shows the increase in participation directly correlates with how young the voters were. The 6.6 percentage point increase for the 18 – 24 age group is an increase of 10.5% in the number of people that age who voted.

        (that is 6.5% not 65%)

        This is clearly a result of having candidates who can better connect to the younger demographic like Ghahraman and Swarbrick, and Ardern as Labour leader.

        • Siobhan

          I’m wondering, that’s an increase in Voters as % of total enrolled

          Do you happen to know how we are doing in terms of youth not enrolled?

          As best as I can see there are in the 15-24 years: male 309,707,female 292,586

          Which is 15-24 not 18-24, but still, it may indicate well over a third of this age group are not even enrolled.

          I found this which seems to indicate my figures are not far off..

          “As of 23 August, 246,498 people aged 18-29 had not yet enrolled – 30 percent of the almost 800,000 eligible voters in that age group.”

          I’m wondering if the likes of Ghahraman and Swarbrick, and Ardern are making any inroads with people outside their own limited socio economic profile?

        • SaveNZ

          Didn’t help the Greens though! So just shows how identity politics is not working, those that seem desperate to attract those voters seems to not benefit over all from the strategy. Same went for Mana. Treat people as people and evenly and it works better likewise choosing MP’s for party list..

          Jacinda was like a breath of fresh air because she did not fit the identity politics mould, aka a Pakeha small town girl who seemed to genuinely care about people and didn’t use identity politics but her personality to impress. The more the media try to make her into a manufactured politican the less appealing she will be.

          In NZ people like real people, not constructs and the more real the person, the more open the person and more realistic the message the more people like them. Them, not what they represent as an image or through marketing.

          So that is why we can get an ex sex worker transgender still beating a closed off bore in provincial NZ.

  9. Antoine 9

    My view is that Ghahraman shows more signs of being a refugee wanting to support other refugees, than a New Zealander wanting to support other New Zealanders. If that makes me an online troll then so be it.


    • Good – yes you are an online troll – respect for owning it.

      • Antoine 9.1.1

        You could engage on my point instead of name calling?


        • marty mars

          Engage on your point? I did. Your view as you expressed it does make you an online troll. You said it. I agreed and congratulated you on your honesty. No point discussing troll views. So all good.

    • reason 9.2

      Refugees are most often good for a country … being grateful for a new safe life … working and contributing.

      A Canadian investigation / documentary found their refugees paid more in tax than Chinese millionaire investor immigrants.

      Why ?

      Because the Chineese getting their millions out of china using shell companies and Hong kong vehicles are quite often corrupt or cheats …. ie NZs largest $40 million proceeds of crime seizure off a Very rich crook .

      the rich crooks are creative though …. hat tip to Chalkie

      “Wellington Electricity Distibution Network — Acquired in April 2008 by Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings for $ 785 million.

      Oddly enough since CKI took it over Wellington Network has made nothing but losses.

      Of course those losses are not real and CKI did not pay $785m for as duffer.

      Wellington Network is infact highly profitable, with an earnings margin consistently around 30% ….

      So CKI manages to pay virtually zero tax in New Zealand and is owned by an entity in the Bahamas, where like BVI ( British virgin Islands), the tax system is a warm bath for companies to float in the dark and listen to the sound of money – no company tax, no witholding tax, no capital gains tax, nothing.” … Chalkie aka Tim Hunter

      Crafer farms , Orvidia … etc etc etc

      Give me a good honest refugee any day Antoine ….

      When are we going to finish our conversation about Legatum 😉 ?? ,,, A billionaires stink tank and troll farm ?.

      • Antoine 9.2.1

        > When are we going to finish our conversation about Legatum 😉 ??

        There was no such conversation


  10. infused 10

    I thought the Greens wanted to bring the word C*nt back? (yes that’s the reason a lot of the trolls seem to be using that word).

    But her posts are so stupid half the time (on Twitter) she really opens herself up.

    • Dennis Frank 10.1

      Interesting. You seem to be implying that it’s possible to say something intelligent in less than 140 characters. If so, it would suggest that not all twitter users are braindead after all. Really??

  11. greywarshark 11

    It’s not so much that NZ politics can be toxic, it is about the basic part of that toxicity is caused by minds being toxic and acting and speaking from a position of feeling entitled to behave that way. Probably they have a group around that feel the same as him or her. Quite often there are women who actively support that attitude but don’t say it in public.

    • JanM 11.1

      It’s creepy, isn’t it. I assume they’re the same ones that tail-gate you in their oversized Remuera tractors and walk straight at you at shopping centres and supermarkets.
      I’m not sure how people grow up to be so toxic, or why they think being so vicious is smart or acceptable in any way. It’s almost as if our society is breaking down when so many people think that winning takes total precedence over how you play the game. No wonder we have such high rates of depression and violence!

  12. chris73 12

    There’s a number of reasons why she gets flak.

    1. Shes an MP
    MPs get flak, male or female, left or right

    2. She a list MP thats never won an electorate seat
    List MPs that’ve never won an electorate seat are looked down on as lesser MPs (and rightly so)

    3. Shes an MP for the Greens
    The Greens have a reputation for being holier than thou, ever so superior, middle class wombles (not all of course) so anyone in the Greens gets tarred with the same brush

    4. Guy Williams isn’t that funny (though that may just be my opinion) but whether that has any bearing on her…who knows

    For me the issue wasn’t that she didn’t mention defending war criminals or that the Greens didn’t put it on their web site

    She wants the Greens to be elected so she can get in so she puts herself in the best light possible (prosecuting war criminals is something everyone thinks is a good thing) and I’ve got no issue with that

    Defending war criminals isn’t something thats universally praised however so that was kept quiet and, again, no problems there

    The problem was that when it was pointed out to her instead of owning up to the mistake herself it was blamed on someone in the Greens that didn’t update the website (or some such nonsense)

    Perception is everything in politics and Ms Ghahraman seems to come across as (shall we say) maybe not being as completely forthcoming as she could be as well as seeming to be more interested in refugees than the people of NZ as well as looking like shes using NZ politics as a launchpad for the UN

    However this is probably my own bias coming into play

    • Dennis Frank 12.1

      Well I’m a GP member & it seemed fair enough to me. A moderate dispassionate appraisal. I’d prefer it if people were to focus on the technical defects of platform design or even the pack psychology of trolling instead of her as person though.

    • joe90 12.2

      And the likes of Joyce, Finlayson,Goldsmith, Woodhouse, Ngaro, Hudson, Lee, Bakshi, Yang, Parmar, Hayes, and Korako; do you look down on them, too?.

      • chris73 12.2.1

        I’m sorry, I thought this post was about Ms Ghahraman being trolled

        • joe90

          It’s about double standards, casual racism and bigotry.

          • chris73

            So do a post about that, I’m saying why she gets trolled and its not all to with double standards, casual racism and bigotry which , sometimes, are words rolled out to avoid taking responsibility for your own actions

            • greywarshark

              i>2. She a list MP thats never won an electorate seat
              List MPs that’ve never won an electorate seat are looked down on as lesser MPs (and rightly so)

              Rightly so? What sort of an assertion is that? Seems based on circular reasoning or a lot of people feel that way so Chris73 will attach himself to them so he doesn’t have to reason for himself.

              The list MPs have not been elected by a majority in one electorate, but that doesn’t mean that a list MP isn’t as valuable to their Party and to the country as a thinking politician as the elected member. Also the list MPs can be allocated to other electorates so in this case, giving Greens a presence and someone who can service their supporters there, and it gives them practice in MP duties, problems and successes. Almost an internship!

              • alwyn

                ” Also the list MPs can be allocated to other electorates so in this case, giving Greens a presence and someone who can service their supporters there, and it gives them practice in MP duties, problems and successes. Almost an internship!”

                Are they going to start doing this?

                Some MPs, for other parties, seem to actually have Electorate Offices.
                Brett Hudson, a National List MP, has one on Johnsonville.
                Ginny Anderson, for Labour, has one in Petone.

                I’ve never been able to find a contact point for any of the Greens though, apart from their Parliamentary offices. Can you provide their offices outside of Parliament where they can be contacted?

    • Gabby 12.3

      Well Bingles only won in Clutha Southland chrissy, where a swede would romp in if it had a blue rosette stuck on it. Hardly a seasoned campaigner.

      • chris73 12.3.1

        Still better than losing an electorate seat or, even worse, not even running in the first place

  13. Tiger Mountain 13

    well, the “filthy few” above, certainly demonstrate even here on a relatively civilised online forum, how accurate Golriz comments are!

    • chris73 13.1

      At least note that none of my comments have been disparaging about her gender or her ethnicity, just the veracity of her statements to date

  14. greywarshark 14

    I wonder if this theory would help in understanding the hostility shown to Golriz.
    The smear of a sneer seems to give many commenters fuel to get through the empty hours of their day unalloyed by any positivity or noting anything of value to brighten it.


    The empathizing–systemizing (E–S) theory suggests that people may be classified on the basis of their scores along two dimensions: empathizing (E) and systemizing (S). It measures a person’s strength of interest in empathy (the ability to identify and understand the thoughts and feelings of others and to respond to these with appropriate emotions) and a person’s strength of interest in systems (in terms of the drive to analyse or construct them).

    According to the originator of the hypothesis, Simon Baron-Cohen, the E-S theory has been tested using the Empathy Quotient (EQ) and Systemizing Quotient (SQ), developed by him and colleagues,

    Wikipedia notes seem to say that there has not been enough independent information and analysis about this. It sounds useful as a tool though.

  15. Gabby 15

    I’m sure she’s passed on anything illegal to the police.

    • Dennis Frank 15.1

      Yeah, to the usual response.. “Sorry, not enough resources for trivial stuff like that. Gotta be chasing crims. Neoliberalism keeps churning em out faster than we can put em away & jails are full up already. Goddam system. Bitch of a thing.”

  16. Incognito 16

    This is a very good post but it obviously intertwines (online) trolling with Golriz Ghahraman, the Green Party MP. I think it would be good to have a separate post on trolling, to tease it out more & better and disentangle the online behaviour from discussing (party) politics.

    There are loads of good articles online on trolling. So, here’s my short version for starters:

    1) The binary classification of troll vs. no-troll is a myth.
    2) There is no universal definition of trolling; it’s (a) subjective (experience).
    3) Online behaviour such as trolling depends on (personal) circumstances and context.
    4) Bad online behaviour leads to more bad online behaviour.
    5) All online behaviour gives or aims for a (psychological) reward.
    6) Most behaviour is habitual/conditioned.
    7) With the growing ‘Human Interaction Deficit’ trolling is not going to abate any time soon; it will get worse.

    • lprent 16.1

      Pretty much. It helps if you have decades of experience at recognizing it. A lot of the time I’ll leave comments up because they say something worth arguing and on topic (which is why all of Gosman’s toplevel contributions aren’t at the bottom of this post). But stupid dogwhistling doesn’t achieve that.

      One of the important things to do is dealing with the perception of risk levels. Like the courts, I separate conviction and sentencing. The latter to make it more random. People who like to troll will often assess the risks and if they are known will attempt to game them. If nothing else by trying to divert the debate into arguments about moderator fairness.

      I’m unfair by design. Sentencing for me is pseudo random. It depends on my mood and how annoyed I am with reading the overall debate (ie most of the time I don’t read this for enjoyment – I read it because it needs to be read for moderation). I also throw in deliberate unfairness to increase risk levels. No-one is ever sure if it will be a few days or a few years ban. Or if I just decide to expend time eviscerating a troll with troll like behaviour until I have their blood pressure through the roof (never seem to have time for that any more 🙁 ).

      It all helps with people self-moderating.

      • Incognito 16.1.1

        Remind me to never play a round of poker with you 😉

        • lprent

          You are in luck. I don’t bet unless I think I am strategically extremely unlikely to lose.

          Poker is largely a matter of luck about the cards (if you aren’t cheating) and playing bluffing / dominance games – which are usually pretty damn transparent. Bores the hell out of me as it really doesn’t change anything of significance.

    • chris73 16.2

      From what you’ve read is there any difference between the trolling you may get on politics vs trolling you get on other topics?

      Like more or less vitriol, more intelligent or less intelligent trolling, taken more or less seriously, more or less humor or is the trolling basically consistent over different topics?

      • Incognito 16.2.1

        As far as I can tell, trolling is not specific to the topic, e.g. politics. It basically is human behaviour and needs to be viewed in the realm of human psychology. Which is why I suggested a discussion on trolling should be disentagled from politics in order to get to better understanding of the underlying phenomenon. Golriz Ghahraman was always going to distract from such focus just like so many other complex issues where person-specifics detract from discussing & dealing with the issue in an effective way after the personal case or person has drawn attention to it and highlighted the need for action. The case of Metiria Turei is a case in point.

        That said, certain topics do attract individuals or groups of individuals with an agenda and they may troll for reasons that go beyond the basic reason-reward system of the ‘ordinary’ troll.

        There are many topics that are extensively discussed online and that inevitably evoke trolling, e.g. CC, politics, fluoridation of drinking water, vaccination, medically-assisted suicide, etc.

        A troll needs an audience and the larger the audience the better – more low-quality rewards – but even ‘esoteric’ topics with much smaller online audiences have trolls. In the latter case, people can be quite passionate about their topic and this, in turn, can give the troll fewer but high-quality rewards.

        Short answer: trolling is ubiquitous.

        Final thought: the nature of trolling is probably more dependent on the community in which it occurs and the level & quality of moderation. How often have I not read here on TS “we need better trolls!”.

  17. adam 17

    Well that was quite depressing, thanks MICKYSAVAGE.

    It seems even a post about the sexist and attack nature of right wing commentators on the internet, brings out the sexist and attack nature of right wing commentators on the internet.

    Maybe they wanna have a wee look at their sad little lives if all they got is shallow and contrive angst to throw at young women MP they happen to disagree with.

    If you disagree with someone, fine. At least have somthing to have a go at them about, rather than the fake angst of a puffed up male ego – because quite frankly, I’ve heard two year olds with better arguments.

  18. Brutus Iscariot 18

    Well, i seem to remember Todd Barclay getting a lot of shit being approximately the same age (justified), and Seymour too when he was under 30, including mockery of his physical appearance.

    So the arguments around “persecuted young woman” ring a bit hollow. When you enter the political arena, you are opening yourself up to scrutiny and abuse no matter your gender or side of the aisle.

    So playing the gender card on GG is actually quite paternalistic and arguably sexist – she’s a big girl who knows what she’s doing. By all means argue for more civility in our public discourse, but make sure you do it without reference to gender…and after that make sure you live by the same standards yourself.

    • reason 18.1

      Todd Barclay ??? …. a tobacco pimp and dishonest little king rat ….

      It was good how he, Bill English and john key could all do the team sport of synchronized lie telling.

      Good of you to bring up Nationals standards Brutus ….

      Those glory days are gone …. Now a hard days trolling is as good as it gets … for Nationals dirt-bag constituency

  19. Timeforacupoftea 19


    If you are male the best thing you could do is have children to Golriz and a least your offspring would have a far better chance of fitting the normal middle ranks of being a New Zealander and don’t care a toss what the far left 5%er’s like Ghahraman thinks says or spews. The same goes to you Gosman although I have no idea where you stand right or left but you do seem to fight for central points. JUST ALL BREATH !

    move on

  20. David Mac 20

    Guy Williams should be Prime Minister.

    He spends his working day pondering how to make people laugh and his evenings discussing how to induce omni-equality.

    We all know his brother and Dad, so brutally ordinary they are you and me.

    Guy for PM.

  21. AB 21

    Amusing to read above all the piss-weak justifications for the poison that gets thrown at Ghahraman.
    You’ll never understand right-wingers until you realise how large a part sexual sadism plays in their psyche. Here’s the thing – they hate her for being leftish (though she’s actually fairly moderate) but she’s also kinda sexy too, and the dissonance burns out their brain wiring. Funny to watch, but I guess not so funny for her to experience.

  22. Doogs 22

    It does seem that there is some fuzziness about trolls and trolling, and the whole concept is open to much subjectivity, However, Wikipedia has given me the best definition that I have found anywhere.

    “In Internet slang, a troll (/troʊl, trɒl/) is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive,[1] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses[2] and normalizing tangential discussion,[3] whether for the troll’s amusement or a specific gain.”

    These people are the ‘red herrings’ on any post. They constantly feel the need to be noticed. They enjoy the power of disruption. There is often little or no substance to their blather, and it is specifically designed to derail, offend, misrepresent or inflame. Trolls have no value whatsoever other than to themselves. They likely have an inflated sense of their own value and importance in the scheme of things, and they frequently bullishly demand proof or citations of others, even when their own comments are unsubstantiated opinions.

    Trolls will never go away, because they learned at a very early age that to have some kind of power or control over others it is necessary to be mean, nasty, awful and disruptive as a first response. These are the kids who throw things at others, trip people for fun, use abusive names, tell lies to those in authority and generally make themselves popularly unpopular.

    It takes very little effort to be a blog troll. All you need is a right wing view, a fertile imagination and a desire to be an arsehole to everyone who doesn’t agree with you.

    • Incognito 22.1

      Good comment but I disagree with a few points and since this is a contentious, important, and reoccurring topic I’d like to elaborate.

      Trolls have no value whatsoever other than to themselves.

      I think this is incorrect. A troll needs an audience but they also need a ‘victim’, at least one. Then there are also self-appointed troll-hunters or troll-killers (no, I don’t mean site moderators). And lastly, there are the ones who give the ‘victim’ support (and sometimes encourage the hunter-killers). I think we have seen plenty of examples here on TS. To me it strongly resembles the so-called drama triangle: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karpman_drama_triangle

      I disagree that trolling is seen as some kind or personality disorder that originates in (early?) childhood.

      Anybody can be or become a troll. It depends on a lot of external & contextual factors how one behaves online. For example, if I’m cranky and I read a certain comment here on TS, possibly by somebody who has ‘bothered’ me for some time, I might just fly off the wall and let rip in trollian fashion. At that moment I become/am a troll. It is that simple.

      This write-up of a scientific study (see link herein to the original study) may interest you: Research shows that anyone can become an internet troll

      Some folks express genuine concerns but are perceived as (concern) trolls. Here on TS we have one or two of those floating around – it’s difficult to tell whether they are genuine or trolling. It comes down to certain (idiosyncratic) style.

      It takes very little effort to be a blog troll. All you need is a right wing view, a fertile imagination and a desire to be an arsehole to everyone who doesn’t agree with you.

      Being a troll (or an areshole) is not dependent on holding a right wing view. That’s just too silly for words! Although we enjoy the company of RWNJs here on TS, they are not trolls by default. And as RedLogix @ pointed out, if one cannot adequately deal with and respond to a comment it does not make the commenter a troll.

  23. Gosman 23

    There is a difference between helping to represent War crimininals (which is a necessary and honourable thing to do) and getting photographed with a suspected War criminal with both of you smiling at the camera like you are long lost friends catching up after a number of years. I don’t believe many of the representatives of the defendants at Nuremberg bothered to get themselves photographed with their clients in such a manner.

    [lprent: Thread dropped to the end of the post as being stupid drivel. Check your other notes to see the associated ban.

    I’d comment that I work with code so my notes are all of the way through Jira, Confluence, and git. I often don’t want to, but I do it because it needs to be done. Lawyers work with people who are going through court and they have to represent them. Getting them comfortable is part of the job. Work is work and you do what is required to achieve it. Being in a photo is hardly illegal and says nothing about what is going on.

    On the other hand your comments to me just looks like a rapid astroturf. As you know I work with trolls and my work there is malevolent – I don’t like them and I like to educate dimwits like you who do it. ]

    • SPC 23.1

      After a war, no. None of the lawyers working for the UN in the Rwanda were Hutus or Tutsi …

      • Gosman 23.1.1

        Ummm… what has that got to do with the lack of judgement Gharaman displayed in getting a smiley faced pic with the suspected War criminal she was helping to defend?

        • mickysavage

          So much angst over a simple photo. Do you really think it is as significant as the right make it out to be? I have had my photo taken with thousands of people, some of who have interesting reputations.

          • Enough is Enough

            It is far from a simple photo. In fact many people find it quite offensive.

            • Dennis Frank

              It’s a perception/reality thing. I can see why you & others react like that, because you can’t imagine doing it yourself. My first reaction to seeing it was similar (but not as negative) likewise. But consider the other side, from a professional perspective. You’re in your early years establishing a reputation.

              The photo is part of the proof you did the job, documentation, could go in the cv. Proves toughness: who’d willingly represent someone like that? As lprent explained it above: “Lawyers work with people who are going through court and they have to represent them. Getting them comfortable is part of the job. Work is work and you do what is required to achieve it.”

              Nor do we know why the photo was taken. Could’ve been to establish a good working relationship as he pointed out, could also have been a press photographer requesting the shot for a news story & emailing her a copy later, we ought not to assume we know she set it up.

            • mickysavage

              I don’t see why. I have acted for some really colourful characters. Wanting to make sure their rights are respected is not some sort of acceptance that what they may have done is right.

              • Enough is Enough

                what the fuck has acting for some colourful chararters got to do with posing in a photo with an alledged war criminal?

    • Johnr 23.2

      Was the suspected war criminal found guilty?
      Might I remind you that plenty of people have been photographed with suspected war criminals Bush, Blair et al.

      • Gosman 23.2.1

        Not while they were being tried for said War crimes.

        For your information he did get convicted of the crimes.

    • McFlock 23.3

      This photo? Long lost friends my arse.

      Another lie from gos .

    • corodale 23.4

      Forgive me for following that logic through. If little Goseman actually believed his own BS, then no surprise if someone goes through his dirty politics office will a little white phosphorous.

    • mpledger 23.5

      When you are young and a women then you are conditioned to smile at every occasion when you are in the spotlight – it’s part of the “have to look my best” phenomenum because women, even very important women, are still judged on how they look.

  24. Blazer 24

    Golriz invites scrutiny and critique because she is a show off.Plain and simple.

    [lprent: So are you. Banned for 4 weeks for simple trolling. Thread dropped to the end of the post. ]

    • Gosman 24.1

      She show’s no contrition as well. There would be no harm in admitting that getting a photo taken with the suspected War criminal was on reflection a bad idea. She could explain it away as youthful inexperience and being involved in something important for the first time. Instead she made out like it was all part of doing a noble job of fighting for human rights.

      • Carolyn_Nth 24.1.1

        Contrition? You mean like that shown by John (pony-tail-pulling, dirty politics) Key, Simon (no) Bridges, Judith Collins, Paula (cut) Benefits, Gerry Brownlee….

        John key smiling in photo with war criminal.

        Why on earth should Ghahraman just back off from principles and facts to appease obsessively nasty appease trolls?

        • Gosman

          Was George W Bush on trial for War Crimes at the time of that photo?

          • joe90

            Dubya’s special don’t ya no, so no charges and no trial for him.

            WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Monday will adopt an aggressive posture against the International Criminal Court, threatening sanctions against ICC judges if they proceed with an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by Americans in Afghanistan.

            President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, is to make the announcement in a midday speech to the Federalist Society, a conservative group, in Washington. It will be his first major address since joining the Trump White House.

            “The United States will use any means necessary to protect our citizens and those of our allies from unjust prosecution by this illegitimate court,” Bolton will say, according to a draft of his speech seen by Reuters.


            • Gosman

              That that would be a “No GWB was not on trial for War crimes at the time the photo with John Key was taken” then.

              • arkie

                Your bad faith is showing

                • Gosman

                  Who appointed you the “Bad faith Police”?

                  [lprent: He didn’t. However I am. Banned for 2 weeks for astroturfing and trolling this post. Dropping your contributions to the end of the post as being uninteresting diversion drivel.]

          • james

            In the world of Carolyn_Nth – just because she calls someone a war criminal – they are.

            States it as fact.

            No need for charges, or a trial.

            There is a differece between someone on trial for war crimes – and someone you dont link and ‘think’ they should be charged.

        • Chuck

          “Why on earth should Ghahraman just back off from principles and facts to appease obsessively nasty appease trolls?”

          These two words do not go together… Ghahraman – Facts.

          All politicians attract unwanted attention. Ghahraman is trying to make a name for herself and climb the Green Party hierarchy. In doing so she, unfortunately, has a tendency to blur the lines…

      • Gabby 24.1.2

        Why should she gozzer? Smilin for the camera ain’t no crime. Heck, Ponyboy smiled all the time. even at the ennathaday.

    • Orom 24.2

      This is a very troll like response! A “show off”? What is a “show off”? Oh I see! It’s someone who dares to put their head over the parapet! We are fortunate that we have in our country someone of Goriz’s calibre and no amount of nasty alt-right trolling can dump on that.

      • Blazer 24.2.1

        A ‘showoff’ in the vein of Paula Bennett…’who would have thought little old me would become a minister of…’
        Golriz is always into self promotion and self aggrandisement.

        Savenz says it best…

        ‘Green MP’s need to stop talking about themselves all the time and how they personally are feeling and getting excited about the task forces and talk feasts with others or some bee in their bonnet (WOF for rentals when not mentioning the state houses are overflowing and the government is doing nothing about it and making it worse in some ways) and actually get out there and do some good for the environment and Green movement and make change in that area that will help people, not just be a out of touch.’

        • Carolyn_Nth

          Geezus. For some the Green Party can do no right. They support more increases in state housing than Labour, but what exactly more can they do at the moment, without Labour on board.

          The likes of Davidson don’t talk about themselves any more than other MPs. Your bias is showing.

          Here Davidson is quoted as wanting a rental WOF for state housing and private rentals.

          I doubt at this stage the GP will have been able to get agreement for more state housing than Labour is prepared to give so far.

          And, I agree Labour are dragging the chain on this.

          • Marcus Morris

            With you Carolyn. What I find intriguing are the lengths that Gosman, Blazer and their fellow “thinkers” go to make something out of nothing to justify the actions of the appalling trolls that Golriz is talking about. I can only imagine that, at the time “the photo” was taken (I have never sen it) the defendant would not have been found guilty (there seems to be some uncertainty about this, but so what) the defence lawyer was putting a positive spin on the situation her client was facing by looking cheerful – not allowed by some that’s clear. On the other hand….

        • SaveNZ

          BTW – my point is that is how the Greens are coming across in media stories which may or not be true.

          Aka they might be doing amazing work outside of that but nobody knows about it, because practically all media stories seem to be about themselves. I don’t know if that is real, fiction or they are being lead by interviewers to say the same things each time and then the sound byte played again and again. If so they need to have some sort of strategy to get off self referential topics or the same topic (Marama with (WOF/Te Reo/Cunts), Ghahraman with (her own persecution/her family refugee status) – they can’t just talk about that for 3 years and think the public are going to vote for them. Especially if it is what they mostly talked about the previous 3 years as well.

          The Greens were formed by traditional activists and Ghahraman and Marama need to start to channel in some ways some sort of actual activation that results in policies that has a quantifiable effect and they need to do it as fast as they can. Likewise the rest of the Greens.

          Banning the bag is a good start. Everyone who goes to the beach, swims, fishes or what have you can pretty much can relate that the beaches and oceans are increasingly polluted by plastic and rubbish and it has to stop. Doesn’t matter if you are 5 or 65 it’s a policy that the majority of people will like.

          With housing the WOF is going down a rabbit hole because the main problem is a shortage of rentals people can afford on local wages and being able to buy enough power to heats it. The WOF apparently comprises of 63 middle class check lists from a committee type approach that bought us the discredited Meth levels run by the council that bought us leaky buildings.

          Can’t remember what was in the WOF 63 lists, but one was having no foliage around the letter box or something like that. It’s a Marie Antoinette moment to be concerned about about letter boxes in WOF when people are now looking to be living in emergency tents or 1 room hotels and you plan to take even more houses out of circulation due to technicalities and increase the costs at a time when you want to try to reduce the costs of providing housing.

          Having a source of heating like heat pump or fire, tick, insulated, tick. Then leave the other 61 items alone and concentrate on the mythical affordable housing built to be lived in and do some figures to see if you can build, buy and maintain it on the minimum wages of the working poor which as many in that situation know, you are nearly as badly off on a benefit as working for low wages these days… Competition is rife for everything at that end, and maybe start to look at the demand side for housing that could be done with the stroke on a pen.

          Also look at how people in NZ are on zero hour contracts and can be made redundant at the stoke of a pen with little to zero compensation, so how can you plan housing with a precariat culture right across the board?

    • Roy cartland 24.3

      So it was before any conviction? Hence, just a man.

    • Prickles 24.4

      Golriz is a very intelligent young woman who has courage beyond her years – due in part, I imagine, because of what she has experienced in her life thus far.

      Being prepared to speak out about matters she cares about and are of importance to those around her is not showing off – it is simply displaying confidence. I very much doubt that were she a man rather than a woman such a comment would ever be made. If she was a he then s/he would probably be spoken of in glowing terms – and probably described as “gutsy”.

      • Marcus Morris 24.4.1

        Spot on Prickles – why does Serena Williams suddenly come to mind – not that I wish to exonerate her from the awful display of bad sportsmanship that was on show yesterday.

    • adam 24.5

      Can I say Lprent, love this dropping to the end of post approach when you hand out a ban for trolling, astroturfing etc..

      Long may the practice continue.

      • lprent 24.5.1

        It was specifically there for people who try to grab top comments to try to frame the debate. I use it when I think that the thread drifts off the post.

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