Friday, March 20, 2015

Question for You As Week Ends: When Is a Provacateuse Just a Provocateuse and When Does She Become a Troll?

I'm full of questions as this work week ends. My question here: when is a troll a troll, and when is she just a provocateuse? Yesterday, in this National Catholic Reporter thread, a contributor characterizes an NCR regular she calls "Purgi" as "not a troll but sometimes a provacateuse, at least on LGBT subjects."

Today, that same contributor states in another thread discussing Pope Francis and women in light of Thomas Reese's article to which I responded earlier today,  

My guess is that the purpose of the comment (some of which is outrageous) is to shock. The author almost certainly knows that her views of the pope are not shared even by his critics and she is operating in her provocateuse mode. However, this comment, unlike some on LGBT issues, is not hateful and if people want to give her some jollies, it's harmless.

Here, the provocateuse is identified forthrightly as "hateful" (a strong word, indeed) in her commentary on "LGBT issues."

So I wonder, when does a provocateuse become more than just a provocateuse? If we admit that this person's commentary about "LGBT issues" (note: she's speaking about fellow human beings who are LGBT in those hateful comments, not just about "issues") is hateful, then why do we withhold the title "troll" from her or any other contributor to a Catholic dialogue space who routinely engages in hateful commentary targeting a minority community?

I ask this question in all seriousness, because I simply don't understand. As I said to Kathy English earlier this morning when she asked why I let "Purgi" take up so much of my mental energy, well, there she is, holding forth in Catholic discussion places, welcome in those discussion spaces, when I (and other LGBT Catholics) have been given strong signals that we are not welcome. I have personally not been made welcome in "liberal" Catholic dialogue spaces online when I have challenged Catholic heterosexism and sought to speak frankly out of my experience as a gay Catholic shoved to the margins.

Though I've stated this repeatedly, no one in any of those Catholic dialogue spaces has sought to make me welcome, to issue an invitation to me to participate in the dialogue of these Catholic discussion places, to tell me that my voice counts and is needed. The message that "liberal" Catholic dialogue communities online have given me echoes the one the church itself, in its leadership structures, has given me: I do not belong, am not wanted, and am unwelcome.

I'd like to think that someone persistently attacking members of a minority group with commentary that other members of a Catholic dialogue community recognize as hateful would be, well, admonished by those other members of that community for misrepresenting their Catholic faith as a foundation for hatred. I'd like to think that members of a Catholic dialogue community entertaining the notion that a hateful provocateuse is just old Purgi getting into her contrary mode again might consider it important to do everything in their power to reach out and bring into the community the people she's attacking in the name of their Catholic faith, while she's using a cowardly pseudonym to do so.

I'd like to think that my Catholic church might find room to welcome people who have been shoved by hateful teachings and attitudes outside the circle of community, while refusing to make excuses for and while actively countering those within the Catholic community who use Catholic teaching as the basis for such hateful marginalization.

But that's not where American Catholicism is, is it? Certainly not in its liberal mode, among contributors to discussion threads at places like NCR. "Purgi" has far more entrée there than the likes of me. 

And she's just a provocateuse, after all. Albeit it one who makes "hateful" comments about members of a minority community. In the name of the Catholic faith she and those who provide cover for her share.

The definition of an online troll is from Urban Dictionary.

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