What to do about trolls and other citizens of the web

February 21, 2008

Over at AN UNOFFICIAL COAST GUARD BLOG, we’ve had a series of comments posted by Eric N. Shine, a graduate of the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.

I’ve had a near impossible time figuring out what Mr. Shine’s grievance is. I’ve been reading various documents online, including some of Mr. Shine’s own postings, and I’m not sure I can peel back the onion to find the beginning.

On October 23, 2007, Mr. Shine attended a hearing before Walter J. Brudzinski, an administrative law judge with the Coast Guard. At page 137, I finally began to get to the core. Judge Brudzinski said, “These are issues concerning suspension and revocation of Coast Guard issued credentials.”

So, I’m guessing the crux of Mr. Shine’s rants is that his license has been or might be suspended or revoked. But getting to that through the assertions that Thad Allen in the anti-Christ and the Coast Guard is merely off on a jackbooted crusade is nearly impossible.

Why post here? Well, frankly, Mr. Shine’s postings are long and often off-topic. And I’m not sure what to do. I don’t want to say he sounded like Mel Gibson’s character in Conspiracy Theory… actually, I can’t, as Gibson’s character actually made sense. I don’t want to stifle his speech, but by the same token, do I need to allow him to do it where ever he wants to do it?

A shipmate of mine wrote me recently,

I spent some time last night going through the comments and my thought concerning Mr. Shine was, I can’t believe you are allowing this guy to continue posting. It really detracts from the conversation and drastically lowers the quality of the site.

“Detracts for the conversation” and “drastically lowers the quality of the site.” That pretty much says it all.

There’s a similar “thing” going on at the ISED-L list that I’ve previously mentioned. On the list, dedicated to educators in independent schools, a new poster has been posting merely the URL to a blog post of his. In the ensuing discussions, one commenter noted that the group ought not to feed the trolls… Trolls, you know those things that live under the bridge, will go away if you don’t acknowledge them.

But what damage will they do in the mean time?

Peter Klimon of Villa Park, IL posted a comment on Legal Warfare against Eric N. Shine, Merchant Marine whistleblower at the Los Angeles Independent Media Center website. Mr. Klimon wrote,

First a brief explanation of my background. Being a Vietnam veteran, an astute student of world history and getting on in my middle years in life I am a firm believer that conspiracy theories do exist. I have never bought into the government’s explanation of the 911 disaster and yes I firmly believe that the Bush administration at the very least was grossly negligent in their utter lack of any defense during the 911 attacks on the US. I am very confident that history will prove just how corrupt this administration is and hopeful with God permitting somehow they will be held accountable for their actions.

I have to admit that this story that Eric Shine is peddling all over the internet and the left wing progressive blogs has me boggled that there are so many people who actually believe the things this person is stating as facts.

Anyone who buys the “Eric Shine the Poor Tortured Whistleblower” story is extremely delusional. The average person with a reasonable amount of time to spend on Google and some basic research knowledge should be able to see that this guy is either insane or the smoothest internet conman I have yet to come across.

Having heard him speak quite a few times on some of the more obscure radio talk-show circuits I have to admit – to anyone who is not very knowledgeable about the various military services – he can be very convincing throwing out a veritable cornucopia of alleged facts and statements regarding his vaunted experience in the Merchant Marines. He has a good knack for weaving totally unrelated pieces of information (sometimes factual) into a somewhat coherent story that easily overwhelms the average listener.

But if you take his so called facts and start researching it you start realizing that everything he purports that the government is doing makes absolutely no common sense. One of his major claims is that the DHS is trying to convict him for being “depressed”? When pressed for details he always manages to start spouting completely nonsensical facts and then slowly tries to weave his story away from the initial question.

It’s quite amazing to see how he does this and even more amazing that anyone believes him when he does. Unfortunately I think that lately he is starting to hurt persons with legitimate complaints that need to be aired on progressive talk radio shows. I am especially concerned that one of the newer progressive radio shows – Nova M – radio has seen fit to give this guy airtime on a regular basis. They do not seem to realize that everytime they do this they degrade the credibility they have garnered as Air America’s heir apparent to progressive left radio. At times I wonder if maybe his real purpose is to do exactly that. Purposefully designed to make those of us on the left look like nut jobs!

Er, I don’t think Mr. Klimon is holding much back with that commentary.

Anyway, so I’m still not sure what do to. One thought is to enable the moderation feature on the blog and just nuke anything Mr. Shine posts. I offered him his own blog site on the domain; he’d be ltshine.cgblog.org, but he wasn’t interested.

What are your thoughts? Should we encourage Mr. Shine? Shut him down? Box him out? Ignore him? How would you handle it?