Tag Archives: what is an internet troll?

When is a troll not a troll?

In 2013, I decided to start this blog as a response to Daniel Cassidy’s book How The Irish Invented Slang. My reasons for hating this book were numerous: I am a lover of the Irish language, and Cassidy’s idiotic book is stuffed full of fake Irish which has nothing to do with the genuine article; Cassidy was good at sliming and sucking up to well-connected people and he used these carefully-cultivated links to give an air of scholarship to a work that is no more scholarly than Erich von Daniken; Cassidy cultivated an image of radicalism, so that any attempt to tell the truth about Cassidy’s hoax has been attacked as an attempt to protect mysterious right-wing and Anglophile cliques in the world of linguistics. During my research on Cassidy, I also found out (from his sister) that he failed his degree at Cornell and that the only explanation for his ‘professorship’ at New College of California is straightforward and simple fraud.

Over the last five years of blogging, I have been criticised many times. On a number of occasions, I have been accused of being a troll. The last time I was accused of trolling was a couple of months ago, by Cassidy’s brother Michael.

So, I have been thinking recently about what a troll is and what a troll is not and I thought I would share these thoughts with my readers here. Firstly, let’s take a common definition of the term, such as the definition from Wikipedia:

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who starts quarrels or upsets people on the Internet to distract and sow discord by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalizing tangential discussion, whether for the troll’s amusement or a specific gain.

The first point that leaps out here is the bit about ‘in an online community’. CassidySlangScam is a blog established by me to tell the truth about Daniel Cassidy’s book, and also to provide information about genuine and not so genuine claims about Irish etymology made by people other than Cassidy. On those occasions where I have left messages on more public forums, I have never deliberately sought to cause offence. My primary aim here is to provide information, to counter the lies and the nonsense spread by Cassidy and his crony friends.

The problem seems to be that some people regard not agreeing with them as trolling. It isn’t. I am not primarily trying to upset people, though I really don’t care if I do upset people who deserve it. The fact is – and it is a fact – that Cassidy and his odious clique of hangers-on began this. They spread fake information, slandered genuine scholars, attacked anyone who disagreed with what was an obvious and demonstrable piece of dishonesty. There is a long list of ugly, misshapen and entirely bogus phrases in Cassidy’s book. In this blog, I have consistently challenged Cassidy’s defenders to provide genuine, objectively-verifiable evidence of any of his claims. None of them has ever done so. These people think they are special, better than the rest of us, just as Cassidy did. They think they have a right to have their ideas taken seriously, even when those ideas are pure invention and they are not prepared to defend them with proof.

They also like to pretend that Cassidy was an honest and well-intentioned man who just got it a bit wrong. This also flies in the face of all the evidence. This blog gives dozens of examples of this man’s dishonesty, pomposity, arrogance and bad faith. This man deserved no respect. He was not even deserving of my pity.

If anyone thinks I should be kinder about Cassidy (and presumably those who call me a troll are claiming that my attacks on Cassidy are unjustified), then they need to offer some proof that he wasn’t a liar. Nobody has ever provided any proof that Cassidy was anything other than a narcissist and a fake. Until they do, I’ll keep on telling the truth and saying that Cassidy and anyone who defends his hoax is a shameless liar.

After all, if they could disprove this blog and give evidence that Cassidy was right, wouldn’t that strengthen the case that I’m a troll? But if they think everyone should accept their beliefs without evidence, and that they have a right to come here and insult me and other critics of Cassidy without any attempt to argue rationally, isn’t that proof that they are the trolls?