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Trolling from the shadows

Published: 
Friday, January 5, 2018

It has been said that politics is a civilised (bloodless) version of warfare in which opponents use every strategy of battle, including the ignoble, like subterfuge, trickery and deceit, to win and retain power.

This is nothing new, and as history has shown, people are occasionally prepared to tolerate objectionable deeds if they believe politicians are being driven by an ideology founded on principles that promise to make the lives of all our citizens better. After all, the alternative—war, bloodshed and the collapse of civil society—is no alternative at all.

It all falls down when politics is no longer about an ideology based on uplifting the lives of people, but simply the practice of the dishonest and distasteful and nothing else. This sadly is now the case in our Republic. Can it be said that on either side of the political divide there is any visible ideology, policy or plan, or any evidence of a genuine intention to develop our country and improve the lives of our citizens? No.

What we have instead is the “new politics” of naming, shaming, alleging, and counter-alleging. Lies, untruths and innuendoes are the order of the day, as each side passes through the revolving door of Parliament and office, driven by nothing except personal gain, vanity, ego and addiction to the trappings of power.

Anonymous trolls, bankrolled by politicians or simply driven by ignorance and sycophancy, take to the airwaves to spew bile, distortions and propaganda. Fake profiles are created on the unregulated social media to defame public figures and even regular folk. Anyone who takes a position publicly is vulnerable to and will be attacked.

Recently a new low has been reached with lewd pornographic videos disseminated with the attached lies that the people in the videos are named public persons, when they are most obviously not. The intent is to put the lie out there so that enough people will start to believe it.

Now, with the damaging photograph allegedly of a high-ranking judicial officer released to the media, questions need to be asked: who are the people really behind this? What is their agenda? What really do they want? There is much more here than meets the eye, whatever the view one takes of the judicial officer’s alleged conduct.

These people need to be exposed and stopped because unless they are they will achieve the mayhem and chaos they desire. And that must be what they want because they are not motivated by ideology or a desire to uplift, but only by the spite and malevolence that are the hallmarks of their “politics”.

Public office holders are accountable and are to be held responsible for their wrongs and errors and lapses in judgment. But the process to achieve this has to be dignified and measured, or else everything breaks down. There must be informed discussion and resort to due process, not the “mash up the place” approach of hidden operators with their anonymous smear campaigns and deliberate lies. This leads to defensiveness and sometimes a refusal to do the right thing. The system seizes up and ultimately will collapse.

Those charged with responsibility to keep the country afloat are not up to the task. The telecommunications regulator seemingly discriminates against a chutney singer while the social network trolls damage lives and reputations without censure. If we are going to take a stance, let us not be hypocritical about it, but then again this is now acceptable in our world of new politics.

Mickela Panday

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