Civility isn’t fancy-talk for “being nice.” It’s the essential quality we require to live together in complex social structures built on our jumpy, irrational primate brains.
– from Erin Kissane’s smart, challenging, and ultimately brave “How to Kill a Troll”
Since bystanders matter, one of the many reasons I like Kissane’s post is that it gives marching orders to bystanders:
The majority of gamers are neither participating in the attacks on Anita Sarkeesian nor commenting in her support. They are standing idly by.
Trolling, harassment, and stalking are by definition never justified. Not by the amount of money someone raises, not by whether or not she’s a public figure. Not ever.
When people in your community express disagreement via threats and harassment, they make your entire group look like whiny, pathetic losers. You don’t have to write a big squishy essay to draw the line. All you have to do is take 30 seconds to note that harassment and stalking is wrong and doesn’t represent your community—and then let the idiot fringe drown itself in its own impotent squealing.
That’s how we get to have nice things.
Kissane also quotes from an MLK sermon that “I reread every few weeks. I’ll probably be reading it for the rest of my life as a part of my struggle with my own deep-rooted anger.
There is, in other words, a flawed, flesh-and-blood human behind the post, and Kissane doesn’t tout herself as more saintly than the rest of us. She’s as pragmatic about Dr. King’s tactics as, say, Dr. King was: “Even when the worst trolls are beyond visible redemption, the way we handle them is visible to so many others who are still capable of feeling empathy or recognizing pain or changing their minds.”