Image mashup created by Cicero
This is an article I intended to write a few days ago, before the Jezebel story broke, and before the putrid retaliation found in Wilson’s Jezehellsbells post diverted my pen elsewhere. In retrospect of that, this may feel like a trite subject to grapple with, but I think the subject matter is essential to understanding Wilson and his behavior.
Wilson recently tackled the subject of ‘Trolls’ when talking about the method to his housekeeping and moderation on his blog. He talks about how he handles ‘trolls’, when he won’t respond to them, when he will, and again, when he won’t respond to them. As far as I can tell, he’s using the term ‘troll’ to mean people who comment on his blog and don’t agree with what he writes, who don’t fall in lock step to his march. But that’s not what an internet troll is (and, after all, Toby Sumpter has already labelled those of us who are in opposition to Doug Wilson to be orcs, not trolls). An internet troll is, according to the Urban Dictionary definition,:
One who posts a deliberately provocative message to a newsgroup or message board with the intention of causing maximum disruption and argument.
Or if you prefer Wikipedia:
In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion, often for their own amusement
Now,.are there some who have outlandish claims with no evidence at all they can furnish against Wilson? Sure. But that doesn’t describe the typical, dissenting commentator Wilson is referring to here. In fact, Wilson himself is the prototypical troll, it has been his brand for decades now.
Let’s take a trip back in the Way Back Machine to not that long ago, when Doug Wilson made the claim that “Christian Women Are Prettier” In this post he makes the claim that Christian women, and in particular HIS Christian women who attend his church, are prettier than everyone else. Those who aren’t are “lumberjack dykes” or an “avid reader of Cosmopolitan and thinks she knows 15K ways to please a man in bed.” (AKA, according to Wilson, “easy lays”). Now this is offensive flat on its face. Sorry you plain, hard working Christian women, you aren’t properly reflecting your glory. Now, Wilson defenders I’ve engaged with on this have claimed that Wilson wasn’t talking about outward physical beauty, but inner beauty that radiates outward. Unfortunately for them, Wilson’s own words belie them:
This is not the apostolic equivalent of “make sure you have a nice personality.” This is not compensation for plain looks with a vivacious spirit. This is what the Bible teaches about the source and origin of all true and lasting beauty. This is the real thing.
Let me anticipate a basic objection. This is my reason for writing about this in the first place. When I posted that sketch of a godly wife, one of the reactions was to point out that some women are not in a position to “have it all together.” They have really sick kids, they are hampered by sickness themselves, life is tough, they might not have the money for a nice dress and perfume, and so on. But this immediate retreat to the hard cases is simply a technique for refusing to let the Scriptures speak to us. If I were to say, as I do say, that husbands ought to work hard and provide for their families, how is it on point to start yelling about a man you know who was laid off at the factory, broke both his legs the next day, and cannot begin to look for work for another couple months yet? The standard is set for us by God, and we work toward that standard as best we can. When obstacles and trials come, as they inevitably do, we are to carry our own burdens, but we are also to make sure we help one another in the process.
But it is no help at all to declare war on the standard itself. That is a false comfort, a lying trick, and a snare for keeping perpetual victims in bondage. It is an empathy that kills. It is therapeutic Ophrah-speak, and all the prisoners in the penitentiary are being trained to talk that way.
This is another way of saying that some Christian women are sadly in the process of being deprived of their glory. They are listening to the serpent again, and they have falsely muddled the serpent’s faux-sympathy with Christian compassion. And the fact they are doing so registers in their faces. They are taking, to use my wife’s pithy expression, ugly pills.
Despite the subject matter, these statements are ugly on their face. It demands outward, physical beauty and that may simply be unavailable to many. Carl Trueman illustrates in excruciating detail why these statements are full of the ugly pills Wilson’s wife talks about. What does this have to do with trolling? Because these are huge, overreaching claims made for outrage, for attention, so Wilson could post a followup article about how reasonable he really is, without really backing down from anything.
This is standard practice for Wilson, he’ll send out some inflammatory salvo, wait for the controversy to come in and claim that everyone who disagrees with him is too simple to understand what he really said. The earliest and most extensive example I can think of for this is Black and Tan, the followup to his love letter to the Confederacy and chattel slavery, Southern Slavery as it Was. The other great example may be Federal Vision theology, which none of its detractors can ever quite properly define. It’s a moving target, as soon as those who oppose it get a bead on it they are told that got it all wrong and that’s not really what they believe. It’s a form of theology so ethereal and undefinable that it’s worthless and its only cause that I can determine is to cause strife and division in the church (Perhaps bringing more churches under the headship of the CREC?). Pure trolling.
Despite never commenting directly on Wilson’s blog, Wilson’s hatred of anonymous writers (at least, those who are not writing in direct support of him) is well known, and my offensiveness ranking is probably pretty high:
Then there is the comment that really is a stinker. The offensiveness of such offerings ascends in proportion to the pseudonymery involved
But you don’t need to use a pseudonym to troll, sometimes it works best when you’ve made a name for yourself and have influence and control. Then you can really stir the pot and make people angry. Wilson has a history of trolling. He has trolled those who believe chattel slavery is evil. He trolls those who believe that salvation comes from grace alone through faith alone. He trolls those who believe that a victim’s height and intelligence should not be a factor in their abuse, a determining factor in whether or not they were asking for it. But no matter how much attention he garners for himself, whether it’s from trolling or sympathy garnering enterprises like the “Woe is me, people disagree with what I have to say” production of the ‘Free Speech Apocalype‘, he cannot fool God, even if he’s already fooled himself. Wilson has revealed himself, especially in light of recent events, to be an open pit, one who will lash out to protect himself with no concern of others. Wilson is a troll, one who hides under #Bridges, and it is high time for that bridge to come crumbling down on him.