To the Blogger Living Under the Bridge
(To the majority of my readers: I'm not wild about doing this sort of thing, but it seems I should address an issue sooner rather than later so we can move on with our lives. Bear with me, folks.)
Dear Thomas Garvey:
Once again, Tom, you remind everyone the downside of giving a public voice to any hateful idiot with an Internet connection. For someone who has expressed dismay about the impending death of print media, you do love to exploit unfettered electronic publishing.
Tom, I know I'm stating the excruciatingly self-evident when I write that you have proven yourself to be a despicable coward, fraud, and troll. At this late in the day, there's no way you can possibly deny this, not even to yourself. You are too transparent.
How can you respond to reader's comments with, "please shove that stupid comment up your ass - which, judging from the photo, is your best feature" (then refuse to apologize or allow her to respond), imply later that you are a "mature adult?" How can you claim to be a liberal and champion of high culture then take your entire online strategy from the FOX News playbook? How can you publicly challenge someone's review of a production you have not seen and expect to be taken remotely seriously?
Perhaps you don't know what I mean when I label you a troll. Perhaps you think I merely give that label to anyone who goes against the grain. Not so. Here's the M.O. of a typical Internet troll: posing as a member of the community, the troll makes a provocative statement or asks a provocative question in a blog's comments section. He (or she, though it looks as though most Internet trolls are male) then waits for someone to take the bait. When someone takes the bait and responds to the provocative statement, the troll attacks him or her as viciously as possible. When the discussion has been derailed and made about whether or not the poster is a troll, the troll declares victory.
This is your M.O. to a T, Tom. Please don't embarrass yourself by trying to argue otherwise.
Note that I have no objection to, say, your dislike of a particular director's work, or your finding flaws with the data for a graduate student's study. That's fine. I'm not interested in arguing with you. That would be, as Representative Barney Frank said, "like trying to argue with a dining room table." The differing of viewpoints is not the issue here.
The issue here is that the subjects you write about (both on your blog and through your comments on others') are red herrings. It's clear, Tom, that your goal isn't to discuss these issues or to expose problems in the blogging world, but to start flame wars, engage in ad hominem attacks (even at those who extend you undeserved courtesy and try to engage with you in a civil manner, to no avail) and lob invective, no doubt to generate more traffic to your site.
Fellow colleagues and bloggers have emailed you and received no response, while I emailed you, and received a predictable non-response: "Please don't email me again." I suppose when you're responded to in an environment where you can't get off on, you don't have much fight in you.
I wonder how, after acting so trollish on the public sphere, yet so craven when confronted in the private sphere, you can even pretend at this stage of the game that you're a brave champion of ethics and frank discourse? As a matter of fact, I wonder how you can act indignant over your hateful questions and comments toward others being either ignored or met with justifiable hostility when you evade answering direct questions from others (in both the private and public spheres)?
Okay, this is all a little disingenuous. I don't really wonder that hard. I know how: you do so because you can hide behind the Internet. You don't have to hold yourself accountable. Again, you are the cautionary tale and unfortunate byproduct of semi-anonymous electronic communication: a perfect example of the Penny Arcade comic.
You also live in Boston, a town far from several other bloggers. I wonder how much bravado and vitriol you'd display if you lived in New York, where you'd eventually have to face many -- if not most -- of us sooner or later. I'm guessing not much. Judging from your cowardice via private correspondence and your clichéd behavior, I'm reasonably certain that said bravado exists because you never have to face the people you're attacking. If you did, I suspect you wouldn't have the courage to own up to or repeat your disgusting conduct. (It's quite telling that one of the only bloggers you respond to with a modicum of civility is also from Boston.)
I find the blatant hypocrisy troublesome. You're someone who is clearly acting in an unethical fashion yet likes to accuse people of acting in an unethical fashion. You've been trying to identify yourself as a solution to the problem, but in reality you are a symptom.
Now I realize you may try to pull some nonsense claiming that by calling you out I'm either feeling threatened or against free speech. In the case of the former, trust me, this is not the case. I hope to have a face-to-face discussion with you in the not-too-distant future. In the case of the latter, you, Tom, are the one who is against free speech. As humor columnist David Wong wrote: "the troll's goal is to shut down speech, to either fill the channel with noise until no one can talk to each other, or to get everyone talking about him instead of the subject at hand. He's a guy in a coffee shop screaming nonsense over a bullhorn."
Yes, I realize I just quoted an article from a humor site that specializes in dick jokes and the awesomeness of superhero movies. I guess I'm just not highbrow like you. To be fair, I never claimed I was.
What's also upsetting is that you've cited a job as critic for The Boston Globe as part of your CV, which means clearly you're an adult (The Globe, to my knowledge, doesn't hire minors). Are you at all aware that the way you conduct yourself is shameful and inexcusable for someone your age? Not publicly, of course. I don't expect you to display any sense of self-realization on your blog or others'. But perhaps when you're alone and away from your computer. Do you lack that inner voice that most sensible adults (and even sensible children) have that suggests you may not be on the right track?
I do hope, for your sake, you gain a moment of clarity: that all of this deplorable behavior does no one, especially you, any good.
You should be ashamed of yourself.
A cranky scold,
James "Unimpressed" Comtois
Updated Postscript: A week and a half after this was posted, he offered his response, if you can even call it that, in the comments section. I can’t say I stand corrected.