“A tongue can accuse and carry bad news
The seeds of distrust it will sow
But unless you’ve made no mistakes in your life
Be careful of stones that you throw…
— Hank Williams, “Be Careful Of Stones That You Throw”
This is how this rolls: Somebody, somewhere, with an ax to grind digs up some stupid thing someone said or did years ago, clutches their pearls, sprawls out in a spectacular soccer flop and DEMANDS that Something Be Done. Usually that means they want to see somebody fired and/or publicly humiliated. And that desire summons the Outrage Trolls. The subject of the Outburst of Offense‐Taking duly apologizes and expresses regret, in hopes that this will keep the Outrage Trolls from further rending their flesh. The more self‐abasing the apology, the better — though there is no guarantee that it will satisfy the chorus baying for blood.
Here’s a recent one:
CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins has apologized for using gay slurs in tweets that resurfaced Sunday.
In the tweets, from 2011, Collins used the word “fag” in response to another tweet and also tweeted to another user that she didn’t know “if I wanna room with a lesbian.”
Collins tweeted Sunday night that the messages were sent while she was in college and that she regretted being “immature.”
“When I was in college, I used ignorant language in a few tweets to my friends,” Collins tweeted. “It was immature but it doesn’t represent the way I feel at all. I regret it and apologize.”
Apparently one of her current colleagues is “personally offended” by the seven‐year‐old tweets, which surely provided said colleague with a nice squirt of dopamine. Never mind that the offense was committed seven years ago, when the woman was 19. Do we really want to treat people as though their 19‐year‐old self is always in play? Really? Well, if you’re a ravenous Outrage Troll, the answer is… buuuuurrrrppp.
Sometimes it’s not what you say, but what you don’t say that sends you into the maw of the Outrage Trolls. Just ask Billy Bush, who lost his career in the wake of the Access Hollywood Tape — you know the one: Trump’s famous “grab ’em by the pussy” rap. I’m not going to bother with the usual obligatory disclaimers here: You either know where I’m coming from or you don’t.
Apparently, Bush should have called The Donald out — like that ever happens on these celebrity blowjob shows. Instead, he yukked along. The guy lost his job; his wife left him — his life basically imploded because, well, somebody had to pay and it wasn’t gonna be Trump. Here’s what he had to say earlier this week:
“I have an idea. Let’s stop tolerating this escalating war on flaws and the obliteration of people for things we all do. It’s fueled by an activist media and (anti) social media and it’s barbaric. We are humans and thus fallible. Let’s take better care of each other.”
Well, yeah. I mean, it’s hard for me to find myself in agreement with a feller who wears man‐Spanx, but… well… yeah.
Now, people do sometimes post ugly things on social media, and if they do it a lot and last time was last week or last month, yeah, it probably does reflect who they really are. Believe me, I’ve seen people serve up glimpses of their soul that ain’t too pretty. Thing is, it’s not hard to discern what’s a genuine “thing”and what’s ginned up BS created out of nearly nothing for no purpose but the sport of personal destruction and virtue signaling. Oh, yes, the signaling of virtue is an important part of this phenomenon. Outrage Trolls are quite keen to divert our gaze from their fundamental ugliness. “Calling out” sinners and Deviants From That Which Is Righteous is a great way to accomplish this goal — for one more day. Of course, Outrage Trolls are not picky about where they find a meal; a fellow troll will do in a pinch. So nobody’s really safe.
As a lifelong student of history, I can assure you that there ain’t NOBODY we count among the wise and the great who can withstand the kind of scrutiny promulgated by the stone‐throwers and Outrage Trolls. Every one of the men I profile in Warriors of the Wildlands was mightily flawed — sometimes fatally so. They were not necessarily good men, but they were good at being men. They were courageous and capable and they cut a big swath in a world that had no patience for lesser creatures picking over men’s underwear to examine the streaks.
Men who should know better have taken to abasing themselves in order to stay in the good graces of the Outrage Trolls — who, of course, simply swallow them and shit them out and move on to the next scrumptious morsel.
Astronaut Scott Kelly tweeted last week that:
“One of the greatest leaders of modern times, Sir Winston Churchill said, ‘in victory, magnanimity.’ I guess those days are over.”
Twitter hell to pay. I think he was criticizing the Republicans for spiking the football after the Kavanaugh confirmation, which you’d think… well, never mind. Poor old‐fashioned Scott didn’t realize that Winston Churchill is no longer a Great Man.
In a breathtaking act of Maoist self‐criticism, he sought to correct this stunning error:
It is wise to be wary of what you post on social media. I do not advocate for self‐censorship, but I do advocate for posting only what you are willing to own. Forever.
As for the Outrage Trolls, their hunger cannot be appeased. Self‐abasement or, worse, throwing others at their feet is unmanly and buys you nothing in the end. Perhaps the best that can be hoped for is that they linger too long in their debate over whom to eat first and how best to prepare them — and the sunlight catches them and they turn to stone.