Yesterday a blog post came across my Twitter stream from Leo Traynor, an Irish writer who blogged about why he left Twitter (and subsequently came back). The story, entitled “Meeting a Troll…“, is deeply, deeply disturbing and horrific. I read this blog post and felt physically ill for hours at the depth of depravity and darkest human psyche and motivations.
Mr. Traynor (and his family) were victims of a vicious anonymous attack that began on social media and then extended to physical threats at his house. The true tragedy, though, is that while the situation was resolved, it certainly is not a happy ending.
Go read it, and then come back, for nothing I say beyond this point will make sense (or have as much of an impact) unless you hear his story in his own words.
I sent in a comment at the end of the blog which went for moderation, but as of this writing it has not been approved. I can only assume that I am not the only one who may have wanted to comment but as there are no comments (yet), he does not wish to engage in public discourse on the subject.
Given what has happened, I can understand that. However, I cannot read something like that and not feel compelled to react. I honestly can not say how deeply disturbed this left me – not just because of the barbaric nature of this 17-year old’s behavior, but the leniency with which he escaped any kind of punishment.
We define terrorists as those who cause others to live in terror, for fear for their (and their loved ones) lives. Those would hide behind the mask of anonymity and cowardly convey threats for the sole purpose of reducing their victims to non-human status. This was no troll; this was a terrorist. The fact that he was a friend’s son and under 18 is irrelevant.
I find it difficult to pretend that a 17 year old does not know the difference between right or wrong to this level. The horror that his parents felt, the shame at the sociopath that their son has become, does not magically excuse or replace his actions with forgiveness.
I hope that the conclusion written here does not accurately or adequately convey the reality of the conversation he had with his friend and the scumbag son. As described, his cavalier attitude (“Thanks for giving me a break, dude“) is galling. For the months living in fear, the equivalent of crosses burned on the lawn on your doorstep, the disproportionate response (in a negative way for the victim), to simply whitewash it with a manilla folder is to prolong the victimhood.
This can only lead him to believe that this behavior doesn’t actually matter, it doesn’t count. Anything – including death threats and terrorist activity – can simply be waved away with a “dude.” There are no consequences, no penalties, no behavior so egregious that can’t be waved away with a cup of tea and a stern talking-to.
It is no wonder that many of young adults his age engage in flash-mob robberies, attacks on innocent people, and – as shown here – commit heinous atrocities with campaigns of fear and terror because there are *no* consequences [Update: Another vicious beating of a woman by a group of teens came up today].
I just hope that his parents have the moral strength to do what Mr. Traynor could not do himself – take their sociopathic monster of a son to the Garda and show that crimes of this nature have consequences.
I hate what he did to Mr. Traynor and his family. I hate the fact that he – and those who participated with him in his ‘game’ (you know he didn’t keep these exploits to himself, so there were likely complicit accomplices) can feel free to terrorize other Jews since no one will have the audacity to stop them.
Ultimately, Mr. Traynor took a road that he preferred to take. I honestly hope that it works out as he expects. Perhaps he was ‘caught in time,’ that his behavior will improve – though that’s not saying much – and he can return to social media outlets in peace. But please, don’t sugar-coat his behavior by calling him a Troll, don’t minimize the atrocity by pretending it “doesn’t count” just because it was on Facebook or Twitter. We’ve learned the hard way just what happens when behavior ignore is ignored like this.