This post will be part housekeeping, and then some exposition of the housekeeping.
First the housekeeping. Under our new system here, comment moderation is managed according to the folkways, mores and customs of Disqus. This system is now necessary because right around the same time I moved to my new theme, the number of comments that required moderation exploded. I have not yet identified which was the chicken and which the egg, but it doesn’t matter actually. What matters is that there are times when I post something, and a couple hours later there are hundreds of comments. Now when words are many, sin is not absent (Prov. 10:19), and when there are that many comments chugging along the chances are good that somebody is misbehaving.
Now I get an email for every comment that somebody reports, and here is where it gets a bit more complicated. Sometimes a comment is reported to me, and for the life of me I cannot figure out how that comment could be in any way offensive. I don’t think your sainted Aunt Millie could find a problem with it. And then sometimes the comment seems innocuous enough, but it is phrased in such a way that it is possible that the thread it came from provides the context that makes it offensive, but I don’t have that context, and it would be a pain to track it down. Then there are times when the reported comment is simply disagreeing with me, and I assume that a fan of mine is being overly-jealous for my reputation. My general practice is to clear all such comments.
Then there is the comment that really is a stinker. The offensiveness of such offerings ascends in proportion to the pseudonymery involved. I really appreciate (and depend upon) those who report such comments. I routinely delete these comments, dispatching them to Internet Sheol, there to lie down in the shadows with Assyria, Elam, and Meshech-Tubal.
Now here is the exposition, trying to explain why I do what I try to do. What is the thinking behind keeping some trolls or borderline trolls on the premises as long as I do? Keep in mind there are three realities operating.
The first is when I refuse to answer a troll according to his folly because I don’t want to become like him (Prov. 26:4). Sometimes his comment stands with no answer because I want people just to see the comment. Sometimes if the comment is really egregious, I simply delete it without answering it.
The second category is when I answer a troll according to his folly because it would be bad for the commonwealth if such an one became wise in his own conceit (Prov. 26:5).
The third is when I don’t answer a troll according to his folly because I am a techtard who is (too) slowly learning how to run his own blog machinery, and who very busy with other pastoral responsibilities as well (Prov. 32:1). You have no idea how time-consuming it is to run an empire of heresy and lies built on the suppressed voices of the dispossessed.
The first verse from Prov. 26 should indicate that “don’t feed the trolls” is a scriptural sentiment. But it is also a scriptural sentiment to point out that the next verse says that it is really not that simple.
Sometimes the troll is growing wise in his own conceits, and that is sufficient reason to take him down a few pegs. But other times the troll is not simply a disgruntled and disconnected soul with time on his hands — mom’s basement not being nearly the happening place he thought it would be. Sometimes trolls are well-connected, have regular ministry jobs, and other responsible people, some of them clothed and in their right minds, are affected by the conceits. So sometimes trolls are not standard-issue misfits — they are Christian men with families who love them, and who ought to be heartily ashamed of themselves, and who one day will be. And even if they do not come to repentance, some of those who were unduly affected by them will.
This means that the trollery cannot be simply evaluated on the content of the comment alone. Why did you delete DN but not PK, when they both said essentially the same thing? Well, one of the reasons, to make up an example, would be if PK is a high poobah down at the National Association of Evangelicals. His comment deserves to be axed, as DN’s was, but his position requires us to give it the time of day. This is actually one of the signs that our cultural leprosy is pretty far advanced — when craziness is tolerated at higher and higher levels.
In other words, in these degenerate times, no one person is in charge of who should be taken seriously. I wish I were, even though that means there would be a lot less to write about. For example, the fact that I don’t think Donald Trump should be taken seriously as a presidential candidate doesn’t mean that circumstances might require us to take him seriously.
In the same vein, as with all troll problems, some of those involved here are undoubtedly miserable losers. But others of them are miserable winners. You can chase a lot of metaphorical ambulances, and make your pile, but, as U2 found out, still not find what you are looking for.
So, taking one thing with another, I take full responsibility for what I write in this space, and take general responsibility for what appears below it. I built the bridge at a scenic bend in the river and sometimes trolls come and try to live under there. I do what I can, and so you may consider this a posted sign to warn those picnickers who stop by for a little Sunday afternoon edification. From time to time, I regret to say, a guy runs through naked, spitting and yelling.