ChristianForums case studdy: Gunny, trolling, and funding.

2006-11-09 05:00

Okay, time for another case study. Gunny. Gunny went by various names; Gunny, gunnysgt, GySgt, and others. (He changed his name away from GySgt after someone thought it meant Gay Sargeant.)

Gunny was a very active poster at CF, a member of staff, an active participant, and so on. He was also a major donator; at one point, when blessings were given for contributions, he had a ludicrously large number of blessings, because he was a financial contributor to CF.

Gunny was sometimes pretty cool, and sometimes viciously mean. It took a while for a pattern to emerge. When dealing with issues like substance abuse and recovery, he was one of the kindest and most patient people at CF. When dealing with atheists, he was heartless. After a number of complaints about flames, he settled on the solution of posting chunks of Scripture with no explanation, insisting that there was no personal commentary there, just the words of God. Of course, when someone picks “The fool says in his heart that there is no God” as a response, one might take it as suggesting something.

One day, Gunny was participating in a debate at IIDB about CF’s moderation, and he made an interesting claim:

Originally posted by GySgt

Interesting scenario.

An individual created two(2) identical user names and used the exact same dialogue generated by a slang translator. One of the user names was created at CF and one at IIDB.

The user name account lasted less than twenty-four (24) hours at IIDB. The user name account lasted just shy of seventy-two (72) hours at CF.

The user name account at IIDB was booted by negating entrance into forum (same script prior to original administration approval to post). No message regarding why user name account was getting the boot.

The user name account at CF was negated after two personal messages by administrative staff.

Interesting observations?

The user name account at IIDB received public objection by a professing Christian that migrated from CF.

(The very formalized language is typical of Gunny in many cases.)

Now, there’s just one problem: Back in the day, IIDB did not announce user bans, and there was no designator on banned accounts. There was no way for anyone but a given user to know that a user was banned, unless that user told people. More interestingly, a particular account matched this scenario: The account “2PAC”, posting racist garbage using the “jive” translator. The jive translator is fairly well-known. Sorry, “De JIBE translato’ be fairly well-knode.”

The user’s account page at IIDB has a link to browse his posts. A sample follows:

Hell yes- I hate dat fucking wite nig bullshit noise brace yourself foo’!

Anyway, a couple of people noticed that there was no way for anyone to easily confirm the claim that 2PAC had been banned, and that GySgt and 2PAC posted from the same IP address.

Gunny entered a hilarious series of histrionics in which he denied having confirmed anything, insisted that he owed no one any apologies, and so on, but generally stayed a little clear of actually admitting anything — not that this fooled anyone.

When this was brought to the attention of CF staff, they did exactly what you’d expect from the people who hounded Annabel Lee to the ends of the earth. They denied everything. They said it didn’t matter, that he was a Good Christian. And they pretended nothing had happened.

Eventually, some of them did become convinced, and Gunny’s habit of trolling and picking fights did result in a parting of the ways.

But, to this day, many of them remain vaguely convinced that somehow this didn’t really happen, because they couldn’t believe that a person who held the same beliefs they did about God could possibly have done something dishonest. The belief that Christians are always honest is a popular one, and the world is full of very sleazy companies that take full advantage of it by promoting Christian loans, even Christian legal services.

In and of itself, this might not be so bad; it’s perfectly reasonable to give people the benefit of the doubt, within reason.

What’s bad is that it speaks to a double standard. Militant conservatives are given the benefit of the doubt; people who might be sorta liberal are hunted to the ends of the earth. We can only wonder how much it mattered that he was a major financial supporter of the site. When I get around to the 2005-2006 stuff, there’s an interesting comparison with the abortion ads that now fund CF’s discussions. (Yes, ads for abortions, provided by Google ads.)

Peter Seebach

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