Monday, April 14, 2014

Reading comprehension

The S.O. and I had a rather amusing experience on Facebook recently. We both have a tendency to clump -- to share en masse various memes, links to articles, cartoons, whatever. Like everyone else who clumps, we don't put huge amounts of thought into it. It's more like "That's a good Maddow quote. I'll share it," or "Those otters are cute." It's the type of stuff everyone passes on and almost no one pays any real attention to.

Anyway, as part of a clumping exercise the other morning, the S.O. shared a meme about every single Republican Senator voting against equal pay for women. The meme apparently referred to the Paycheck Fairness Act, a Senate bill which the Republicans have blocked debate on three times (at last count) since its original introduction. I repeat, the S.O. shared a meme, one of those e-cards with the vintage art work and a grand total of 19 words on it. Unless a meme contains an egregious error, like calling Donald Rumsfeld a draft dodger when the man is a U.S. Navy veteran, no one ever comments on them. Why bother? Was there an egregious error in the meme the S.O. shared? Well, you could quibble that voting as a bloc to prevent debate isn't exactly the same as voting against equal pay, which is the kind of hair-splitting I'd be inclined to do (I tend to obsess about precision in language). That type of quibble would also signal that you had been paying attention to the issue and had at least a minimal grasp of the facts.

That is not, however, what the troll who did decide to comment on that rather vacuous meme chose to do. Instead he started off with a thinly disguised insult -- "My father taught me the meaning of work" -- as a segue into how leftists expect people to get paid the same regardless of merit or willingness to do any work at all. This is a theme he's brought up in other threads (there's overlap between our groups of Facebook friends) and it is annoying as hell. It doesn't take a semiotics expert to interpret that particular sign. I know the meaning of work = you're a lazy bum. This was followed by a typical Obama is a hypocrite because the women in the White House earn less than the men do. The S.O. made the mistake of responding to the ad hominem attack, and I'll admit it bothered me, too, so I jumped into the discussion.

I opted to go after the hypocrisy statement as well as a rather glaring ignorance of basic American law the troll had displayed -- he said Obama could just write a law to increase wages for White House staffers. I did a careful explanation of the problems inherent in interpreting aggregate data, described how the civil service system works, acknowledged that women unfortunately are still over-represented in lower pay grades, and noted that when direct comparisons are made (every GS-7 with every other GS-7) civil service workers are paid the same regardless of gender. Being a sarcastic bitch, I also tossed out a snide comment about his High School apparently not offering Civics back in the '50s because Congress passes laws, the President signs them.

He came back with an outraged response about how dare I insult his beloved alma mater?! That's when I had to explain what sarcasm is. I wasn't insulting his school; I was insulting him. I should have known. The poor man is an engineer as well as an avowed Libertarian, two categories of human renowned for their poor sense of humor and inability to pick up on subtleties in language.

The S.O. had done another response, too, and the troll had also responded to that one. Each of his responses included an explanation of how he really hadn't meant what he'd said in his previous response, he'd actually meant something else. After about the third response, I got bored. Granted, we were forcing him to discard more and more generalities and memorized talking points and to actually get into the messy weeds of reality, but even when the troll you're arguing with is a troll you actually know in real life (as this guy is) after awhile it gets old. I told him feeding time was over and I was off to do more productive things with my time.

If I had any doubt whatsoever that at the core of every Libertarian male lies a misogynistic asshat, he removed all doubts. You could practically see the spittle on the keyboard from him ranting at the S.O. that "your wife can't read." Way to go, sexist jerk, instant dehumanization by turning me from a person to a possession.

I used to have a remarkable knack for getting people to show their true colors. It's nice to see that even in cyberspace, I've still got the touch.

4 comments:

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  2. "egregious error"

    My my, aren't you the prissy bitch. :-)

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  3. That's Ms. Bitch to you, Billy. ;-)

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  4. Some of us never learn not to respond to trolls. But it is fun to torment their little minds. These days I am picking on the Loony Left trolls who insist that America is the source of ALL evil and that Putin is the Messiah saving poor Russians in Ukraine from evil Nazis and worse, from NATO, EU, CIA etc

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My space, my rules: play nice and keep it on topic.