Reality kicks in for US trolls.

Written By: - Date published: 9:35 am, October 18th, 2019 - 17 comments
Categories: blogs, David Farrar, Media, national, Social issues - Tags: , , , , , ,

It has been an interesting few days looking at political reality kicking in on politics and the net in the UK and the US.

The first story I read yesterday was in the US, about one of the lying dimwitted conspiracy nutcases who claimed that the 2012 Sandy Nook school massacre never happened, but was instead a hoax

A US jury has awarded $450,000 (£350,000) to the father of a boy killed in the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook school, in a defamation lawsuit against a conspiracy theorist writer.

In June a Wisconsin judge ruled that James Fetzer had defamed Leonard Pozner by claiming he had fabricated the death certificate of his son Noah.

Mr Fetzer, who co-wrote Nobody Died at Sandy Hook, said he would appeal.

Noah, aged six, was the youngest of 26 people killed in the shooting.

In the Dane County court in Wisconsin, Mr Pozner thanked the jury for recognising “the pain and terror that Mr Fetzer has purposefully inflicted on me and on other victims of these horrific mass casualty events, like the Sandy Hook shooting”.

Now this is just one of the many many cases coming down the legal route against conspiracy arseholes like Alex Jones and a number of others. With the relative freedom of the net and the a wide interpretation of free speech protections of the US first amendment, these conspiracy dickheads appear to have been making up false ‘facts’ and asserting that they were true simply because they’d said them.

Mostly I think that this done purely for profit as clickbait. This is a familiar pattern for us in NZ as well – it was the standard mode of behavior for the late and not mourned Whaleoil blog.

Their problem is that the precedence in US law don’t support this. There are numerous ways where making up such false facts is not protected by the first amendment. If it is done for a penurious advantage and/or done with malice, and it certainly doesn’t prevent private defamation actions about false facts by non-public people from succeeding. 

Anyway, I suspect this will go to appeal through to the Supreme court regardless on one or more of these cases even if that court would probably really prefer not to hear it. And that will inevitably spiral back into the public life and across US net where the more rabid right wing trolls and their political backers have been over-using the false fact toolkit.

It will probably wind up much like it did here. Our false fact creators on the local net seem to have mostly wound up bankrupt with their blogs sold or bankrupt walking around with bracelets on their legs. All under a looming civil cases and large legal bills for the remainder.

On a side issue, if you like to promulgate and propagate false facts. Then wannabe trolls should make damn sure it is done in the style that David Farrar at Kiwiblog does it. I’d characterise that as:

  • Make it absolutely and repetitively clear that it is all just personal opinion – even while framing it as facts.
  • Preferably by just commenting on it as being just the personal opinion of others. This fits the mischief meme of the site.
  • Backtrack rapidly if sufficiently challenged and just state that free speech can’t hurt anyone. After all by that time the dog whistle has been achieved.

At least how I see many commenters from all sides viewing his performances, both in his blog and everywhere else. It also seems to arise as a result of his other role with selling polling to National to assist with the framing of their chaotic utterances.

At least that is how I see it.

Of course that may not help you on this site as we’re only really interested in your actual opinion. Evasive troll game playing behaviour causes repetitive flame wars and bores the crap out of everyone reading the site.

The moderators tend to frown in it. Authors will often moderate it out of their posts if it diverts from the points that they made. 

17 comments on “Reality kicks in for US trolls. ”

  1. Sanctuary 1

    "…At least that is how I see it…"

    I see what you did there.

  2. marty mars 2

    The trolls that spread the message need a bollocking too – we see it even here with 'crisis actor' comments and 'dolls' for dead children comments – those cowards are even lower than the dims who create this dross imo

  3. ianmac 3

    "Backtrack rapidly if sufficiently challenged and just state that free speech can’t hurt anyone. After all by that time the dog whistle has been achieved."

    Should the report back on the Labour "sex scandal" show that the journalists were so wrong, will it matter to the spreaders of that false news? The often repeated "story" has done its job and now Bridges can just scream "whitewash" and the damage has already been done. No penalty?

    • Peter 3.1

      Exactly how the story damaging New Zealand First MP Clayton Mitchell panned out yesterday. In the way it was presented an impression was created about him that remains regardless of the truth. Obviously the story was deliberately framed by professional journalists to be how it appeared.

    • Sacha 3.2

      Backtrack rapidly if sufficiently challenged

      Exactly. Imagine the slimy creep as a schoolboy.

  4. Dukeofurl 4

    Common techniques Journalists use to 'frame a story ' are described here.

    Some are innocuous but others use manipulation

    The Inverted Pyramid

    The Lede/Lead

    Finding The Right Angle "Political stories are filled with opposing angles. It’s truly amazing the myriad of angles that are taken from one set of facts.

    Gold Coins” Along The Path Where they spice things up to keep you reading

    • Ask a provocative question
    • Include a “pull out” quote
    • Inject something humorous or shocking
    • JO 4.1

      There's also the marvellous and well known metaphor of the elephant in the room. . . This article is from 2017 but some things don’t date.

      'Facing the rise of Newt Gingrich in the 1990s and bewildered by how he and other liberals could not make logical sense of conservative ideology (what do gun rights, low taxes and banning abortion have in common?), Lakoff found an answer in conceptual metaphors derived from two contrasting family models explicated by Diana Baumrind as authoritarian (“strict father” in Lakoff's terms) and authoritative (“nurturant parent”), as described in his 1996 book, Moral Politics."

      His 2004 book, Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate, drew on a wider range of cognitive science and gained a mass audience, but failed to fundamentally change how liberals and Democrats approach politics, as was richly illustrated by the recent election of Donald Trump.'

  5. Dukeofurl 5

    Hers a clear Farrar manipulation/falsehood

    The Quote says this " National side expressed their interest in settling the case before it goes to the Auckland High Court on November the 5th."

    While Farrar says, telling big lies as its the Nats who have a weak case and wanted to settle.

    "If Winston had a case with any substance behind it beyond speculation and conspiracy theories, he wouldn’t be willing to settle."

    Its can get very expensive if the opposite side makes an offer before trial and you dont make a counter offer back , you could find higher than 'costs' judgement against you

  6. It's been fun to see National and Simon Bridges getting hammered on twitter, everything they write is relentlessly fact checked and found wanting.

    I don't know what's happening on RWNJ facebook, though I suspect it's a toxic cesspool.

  7. McFlock 7

    And Pennsylvania cops with possible nazi-adjacent tattoos aren't allowed to display them while working.

    Another small victory.

  8. Macro 8

    Meanwhile the current impeachment saga is essentially the result of the chump in chief labouring under a well discredited and stupid conspiracy theory that the DNC server is in Ukraine.

  9. Peppermint Sly 9

    I'm not interested in debating Sandy Hook's validity, just the trial procedure and the effect of the case.

    What is interesting about Fetzer vs Posner is that in the trial according to a journalist present, Posner's lawyers:

    1. Never attempted to prove a link between alleged PTSD and Fetzer's statements

    2. Didn't quantify damages related to the PTSD.

    Yet the jury awarded $450,000.00.

    Jim Fetzer was never allowed to present evidence to the Jury that Sandy Hook was in fact not a legitimate event. He claimed the defence of truth, and he was not allowed to detail it. Posner's team were allowed to present image exhibits of his son Noah etc.

    What's interesting is that the verdict is to punish an alternative interpretation of a historical event that hurt feelings. There was no link between statements in the book and any actual damages.

    This is not a good precedent. Think about it.

    Now, people could potentially be sued for alleging individuals lied about the Iraq war. Or that there were 'no' weapons of mass destruction. Or that a feminist was really a TERF. Or that LBJ was involved in JFK's assassination. Or that climate change is caused by the fossil fuel industry. Or that certain companies in the United States funded the Nazis. Or that there was a massacre at Deir Yassin committed allegedly by Israel. Etc.

    It simply isn't tenable to have different versions of events subject to such penalties. Imagine if FOX News could sue any left-wing person for presenting a different version of their narratives?

    According to Fetzer, the FBI didn't record any murders in the State Sandy Hook resided in. That's weird. Doesn't mean it didn't happen. But that's surely the basis for a contention in speech?

    There is precedent for this sort of thing:

    Operation Gladio was real.

    "‘The official figures say that alone in the period between January 1, 1969 and December 31, 1987, there have been in Italy 14591 acts of violence with a political motivation’, Italian Senator Giovanni Pellegrino, president of Italy’s parliamentary commission investigating Gladio and the massacres, recalled the very violent period of Italy’s most recent history. It is maybe worth remembering that these “acts” have left behind 491 dead and 1181 injured and maimed. Figures of a war, with no parallel in any other European country."

    "He (Judge Casson) gradually started to understand that he was dealing not with private, but with state terrorism, paid by tax money. Under the name ‘strategy of tension’ the massacres aimed to create tension among the entire population…"

    What would be worse then a hoax, which wasn't actually tested in court, would be if this was real. In Italy, genuine attacks were carried out using taxpayers money to create societal tension. Not only that, many of the attacks were framed on left wing Red Brigades, but were Deep State reactionary in origin. Imagine if everyone investigating Gladio could be sued for allegedly hurting feelings.

    It would be a bad day for the left if any narrative competing with those of the Right were subject to penalties.

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