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Home > Media

War on Trollers

13 January 2006

This week it was reported that US officials are opening personal mail coming into the country from abroad, whenever they see fit. This should be shocking, but since the words 'as part of the fight against terrorism' now trigger narcolepsy in most Americans and probably most foreigners too, it sort of isn't. Is shock without any modicum of surprise still 'shock' per se? Is there actually some concerted, organised effort to divorce such actions from the reactions they should naturally produce in people? Would we be truly shocked if we discovered there *was* such an effort? At any rate, it's par for the never-ending course of paranoiac down-clamping, 'protecting' freedom by curtailing and compromising it at every turn. Which process is not unlike attempting to preserve the panda by hunting, shooting and pickling it. In some giant godforsaken panda jar.

So it's no great shakes that also this week someone has winkled out a hidden clauselet in the US Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act, which bans everyone from being annoying on the Internet. Well, presenting as a pain is still allowed, but it must be under your own name. Looksee: 'Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.'

Aside from the hilarious prospect of everyone who has ever called anyone else a motherfucker under the nom de plume of 'hairybiker777' being tracked down and clapped in irons, it rather begs the question of who decides what constitutes 'intent to annoy'. Would 'intent to mildly irk, belittle, get on the tits of or cause to flounce' be exempt? And shouldn't it be 'whomsoever', anyway? Regardless, it can only be bad news for anonymous bloggers, anonymous commenters with something other than 'I fully support George W. Bush and the Iraq war-or-generic-conflict in entirety and perpetuity' to say, and anyone who is ever an annoyance for noble purposes or childish ones.

Unenforceable as this silly little section might be, it's yet more reason to feel like you're helplessly watching as the US chews its own legs off from the toenails up. It almost makes you want to adopt a troll.

In order to distract ourselves from this flagrant adventure in constitution-buggery, we attempted to embrace the idea of penalties for online annoyingness. Because in all honesty, all that wishy-washy freedom of speech stuff aside, we want these semi-human scum to be punished till they squeak.


1) Posting of 'LOL', 'lol', 'ROFL' or 'LMAO' incurs 50 hours' community service. Posting of 'ROLF' will usually result in lenient sentencing as displays clear evidence of gently subversive wit. Use of 'LOL' or 'lol' as a matter of course, or in lieu of punctuation, when there is no logical reason to be laughing out loud, incurs an indeterminate duration in Gitmo Bay.

2) Blogging bitchily about colleagues incurs 24 hours in village stocks. Additional penalties according to severity of bitchiness to include fruit-pelting (fresh to putrid accordingly) and birch-spanking.

3) Doing that thing where you type a massive long string of letters to bugger up the formatting of a messageboard to incur 60 lashes of the cat by the first mate.

4) Directing acquaintances of lesser intelligence to 'the best blonde joke ever', in order to amuse oneself with their subsequent mewling bewilderment, incurs anthrax enema. (People of lesser intelligence are *not* to be ridiculed. They have feelings too, and seats in Congress.)

5) Persistent use of animated smilies incurs mandatory execution by lethal injection, hanging, stoning and kicking really hard in the shins.

Comment on this article: letters@thefridaything.co.uk

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