The Writer and the Troll

Thanh Nien News published a bizarre article in response to a Facebook comment left by a blogger. Generally, news articles are astutely written, carefully researched and vetted to avoid publishing false information. The online comments below the article are emotional ramblings left by trolls designed to flame the readers passions.  Apparently it’s the other way around at Thanh Nien News.

Flag of former North Vietnam (from 1955 until ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The article “Daring to Imagine a Different World” has an apropos title regarding imagination.  Hari Chathrattil even imagined an expletive laden response to one of his other articles that never happened. You may say he’s a dreamer, but the term libeler is more accurate.  Paul Blake’s actual comments are reproduced on the Asia Teacher blog in a post titled “Too Much Imagination” .

The concept of freedom of speech is constantly being defined.  We know we have it when we are free to criticize our own leaders.  If in your country, you’re only free to criticize foreign leaders, you’re probably not dealing with such a free press. Within those limitations, its safe to dash off articles that consist mainly of quotations from other writers to avoid any sort of accountability. But articles like that aren’t likely to be highly regarded.

“Everyone is in favor of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone else says anything back, that is an outrage.” ― Winston Churchill

Now I doubt Hari Chathrattil intended to falsely attribute statements to Paul Blake, but instead reacted a bit emotionally to one of the byproducts of free speech, criticism. A concept that may be a bit foreign to him.   It’s great to discuss subjects such as The Vietnam War, Hitler, 9/11, or even today’s anniversary of Pearl Harbor.   But referencing them to inflame passions tends to completely obscure any actual discussion that was occurring.  Once the passions fade and Chathrattil corrects the record, it would be interesting if he actually read Mr Blake’s comments, understood them, then reacted accordingly, pointing out where he agreed with the writer and where he differed.  Then maybe we’d see the student teaching the teacher instead of the troll flaming the writer.

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