Curated Responses to Answer Online Trolls

responses to online trolls
Photo by Yan

When dealing with online trolls, you’ll find that they often use the same lines over and over again, often reading from the same playbook. They repeat their arguments, changing their tactics whenever someone is able to offer a reasonable response, and they seem to have a never-ending arsenal of “whatabout-isms” to throw into the conversation in order to derail you or get you to give up.

In order to make it as easy as possible to deal with trolls without having to think too hard, here are some simple cut-and-paste responses you can use to answer the most common arguments you may find. Feel free to bookmark this page, or copy it into your own document to add your own responses, links, and resources so you can have them on hand any time you need them.

Racist Trolls

Argument: I’m not racist.

Response: I’m sure you believe that. Saying ‘I’m not racist’ isn’t enough. You must actively practice anti-racism and be willing to admit, accept, and apologize for your unrealized racist behaviors. If you can’t understand why something you’ve said or done is racist, educate yourself further.

Argument: I don’t see color.

Response: By saying you don’t see color, you are blinding yourself to the reality of systemic racism. Color bias exists, and by trying to negate it, you are denying the lived experiences of entire groups of people. Instead of hiding your head in the sand, learn to talk about race out loud, and understand the societal issues that continue to be a problem. Educate yourself and others and do the work to be actively anti-racist.

Argument: All lives matter.

Response: Every life matters and should be protected from those that would do it harm. If you saw someone being attacked in the street, you would do whatever you could to help because that person is in danger at that exact moment. You wouldn’t walk by saying to yourself, ‘but what if someone else needs my help more?’ You know they need you right now.

Response: Go to any hospital emergency department and notice that everyone who comes in stops in triage, where their injuries are assessed. If one patient comes in with a broken arm and another comes in with a bullet in his chest, a decision is made as to whose injury is in more need of attention. Of course, both need help, but one is definitely more of an emergency. There will be time to fix a broken arm once you’ve made sure your gunshot victim doesn’t bleed out.

Response: A carrot is a vegetable. Does that mean an onion isn’t a vegetable? Does it mean a potato is not a vegetable? Does it make a carrot more important than any other vegetable?

No. Saying a carrot is a vegetable doesn’t take anything away from the rest of vegetable kind. It is simply stating a fact and reminding people of something they should already know but often forget.

Argument: What about black on black crime?

Response: Crime in general is usually committed against people we know or live near. It’s not a uniquely black problem. In fact, according to the FBI, while nearly 90% of black homicides were perpetrated by other black people, the same is true of white homicides, which were committed by white people 82% of the time. Similarly, crime is generally higher in poorer areas, whether the inhabitants are black or white, though systemic racial inequality keeps black people in poverty at worse levels than white people. Want to lower the rate of black on black crime? Try working on police reform so they stop targeting the most vulnerable in society – including poorer black citizens.

Argument: White privilege doesn’t exist. I have no privilege. My life is hard, too.

Response: White privilege doesn’t mean your life isn’t hard. It means that the color of your skin isn’t one of the things making your life harder.

Argument: I’m white, and I’ve had black people be racist toward me.

Response: No you haven’t. Racism against white people is not a thing. You may have experienced prejudice or discrimination, but racism is systemic and can only happen from a position of power, something that black people have never held over white people.

America First Trolls

Argument: Antifa are terrorists who hate America!

Response: Antifa stands for anti-fascist. America literally fought a war to fight fascists. Our country is SUPPOSED to be anti-fascist. If we are not saying that being anti-fascist is equal to terrorism, then we have become what we once despised, and our country is lost.

Argument: Defund the police protestors want to kill all police officers and watch America burn!

Response: Judging an organization by its most violent participants but NOT judging a police force by its most violent cops is the language of the oppressor.

Argument: Protesters are just rioters who want to loot and steal and destroy.

Response: Protesting is not rioting – they are two different things. Rioting is never the goal, and peaceful protesters denounce anyone who riots.

Argument: Everything I know is true. Everything you know is fake news and alternative facts.

Response: Alternative facts are not a thing that exists. Fake news is a buzzword for those who have been called out with proof they can’t dispute. If you can’t provide actual proof and valid sources for your claims, you shouldn’t be having this conversation.

Xenophobic Trolls

Xenophobia is defined as the “dislike of, or prejudice against, people from other countries.” The animosity and hate against them are based solely on their country or nationality of origin being somewhere not the local country. In the United States, it is often expressed against a person, whether citizen or immigrant, who is not Caucasian; the phobia is based on negative stereotypes against a particular culture or group of people.

Argument: All Muslims are terrorists.

Response: Every religion has extremists who carry out violent actions in the name of their god. You can also look into the history of any religion and find terrible acts from its past. But today, Islam has been associated with huge atrocities that have painted its followers with a harsh brush. The truth is that most Muslims denounce all acts of terrorism and live peaceful lives, often becoming victims of violence themselves.

Argument: All Mexicans are rapists, drug runners, and thieves.

Response: Mexico is a huge country, and it definitely has a problem with violent drug cartels in some places. But the vast majority of the population is filled with kind, family-oriented church-going people who are living the same kinds of lives like you or me.

Argument: They should have come here legally.

Response: Most immigrants come to America legally. In order to apply for asylum, the applicant has to be physically present in the US, so it literally does not matter how they get here. If you have a problem with the way things are done, don’t blame the immigrants, blame the US immigration rules.

Argument: This is America. We speak English!

Response: Actually, the USA doesn’t have an official language. While English has over 250 million native speakers, there are also MILLIONS of other people speaking several other languages as well. For example, there are 43 million native Spanish speakers, 3 million native Chinese speakers, almost 2 million Tagalog speakers, and millions of Vietnamese, French, and French Creole speakers.

Misogynist Trolls

Argument: Abortion is murder.

Response: Abortion is a medical procedure that is done for many reasons, all of which are valid. Sometimes it is done when a pregnancy is not viable. Sometimes it is done to prevent future suffering of the fetus. Sometimes it is done to protect the life of the mother. And sometimes it is done because the mental health of the mother is more important than continuing a pregnancy. Whatever the reason, abortion on a viable fetus is never done without extremely good reason, and it is never something a person would need to justify to anyone outside those involved in the actual process.

Argument: Insurance shouldn’t cover birth control.

Response: Insurance is there so that we can cover medical processes as well as prescription medication that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive. Birth control is a common medication that allows families to plan their lives, prevent unwanted pregnancies, prevent the need for abortion, and allow for financial planning. Not covering this important medication is ensuring that abortion rates rise, more families live in poverty, and welfare rates go up.

Argument: Rape wouldn’t happen if women just dressed more conservatively.

Response: And muggings wouldn’t happen if men didn’t carry wallets. Drownings wouldn’t happen if people didn’t go swimming. Home invasions wouldn’t happen if people just didn’t make their homes so welcoming.

Homophobic Trolls

Argument: Being gay is a choice.

Response: Is being straight a choice? Do you wake up every day and decide to be straight? Do you remind yourself not to be attracted to the same sex? Do you make a conscious decision as to who you want to love and find sexually stimulating? Or is it as natural to you as breathing? Did you simply grow up and at some point find yourself attracted to the opposite sex? Being gay is exactly the same, with the only difference being people like you who seem to think it is an active choice to reject your version of normal.

Argument: Why isn’t there a “Straight Pride” month?

Response: Being straight is the “default” in this world and no one blinks an eye at it. We uplift those who need it, not those who are already at the top.

Argument: All gay people are pedophiles.

Response: Homosexuality is a sexual orientation. Pedophilia is a mental illness. One has nothing to do with the other. Anyone of any sexual orientation (gay or straight) can be a pedophile.

Argument: Gay people just want to make everyone gay.

Response: Much like any straight person may have an attraction to someone that is not reciprocated, a gay person can have a crush on someone who isn’t gay. That doesn’t mean they will try to “turn” them. They are fully capable of understanding that the person doesn’t share their feelings and moving on.

Second Amendment Trolls

Be careful with how you handle these trolls. If you don’t know anything about guns and/or law, you may want to be extra sure of yourself when going toe to toe with these types of people. Don’t pretend you know about different types of weapons if you don’t. Don’t pretend to be an expert on The Constitution if you aren’t. The good news is that the person you’re engaging probably has no idea about the actual laws they are invoking either, so a little study on your part will go a long way when they are falling back on the same tired arguments.

Argument: Assault weapons aren’t a thing. Banning them won’t make a difference.

Response: This is true. Classifying a gun as an “assault weapon” is something people, who know nothing about guns, do. Talk about banning semi-automatic guns instead of made-up things like “assault weapons.”

Argument: Second Amendment guarantees my right to bear arms!

Response: Yes, but there are limitations. Bear in mind, the individual right to bear arms has only existed since the DC v Heller decision in 2008. Before that, the 2nd Amendment was never interpreted to mean that private citizens have a right to own guns. Sadly, though, it is now the law and (thanks to Scalia) the precedent for future court decisions. Despite this, even Scalia asserts there are limitations, including that permissible weapons should be those in common use at the time. He said that limitations should be made on “dangerous and unusual” weapons, per precedent in “United States vs Miller.” Semi-automatic firearms would definitely fall into the category of dangerous and unusual, considering their use in many mass shootings.

Argument: Taking guns from law-abiding citizens puts them in danger because criminals don’t follow the law, and we will be defenseless!

Response: By that logic, we should have no laws at all. Why set limits if criminals will simply ignore them? The truth is that when we outlaw things, it can and does work. After the Oklahoma City bombing, we restricted purchases of large quantities of ammonium nitrate fertilizer, and there hasn’t been a similar bombing since. We outlawed fully automatic weapons, rocket launchers, grenades, etc. last century, and we haven’t seen violence with those weapons. Most weapons used to commit crimes are purchased lawfully. Changing gun laws will help to reduce gun deaths.

Argument: People will find a way to kill. If not guns, they’ll use knives or baseball bats or cars.

Response: Yes. Plenty of incidents around the world involve the use of knives, blunt weapons, or vehicles to kill multiple people, but none are so dangerous or lethal as mass shootings.

Argument: We need armed security guards in every school.

Response: Columbine had armed security. It is not difficult to get the drop on a security guard if you shoot when they’re not expecting it and then keep going. Not only this but what makes you think a security guard won’t be the mass shooter? The Sutherland Springs, Texas church shooter was an Air Force veteran. The Pulse nightclub shooter was a security guard. Having guns at schools does not reduce danger, it adds more risk.

Argument: Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. [Or] It’s a mental health issue, not a gun issue.

Response: The US has the same rate of mental illness as other developed countries, but we are the only ones with this type of violence. Those with mental health issues are more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators. Being a murderer does not mean you are mentally ill, and it is rare to see a successful insanity defense if, and when, they go to trial. And if ‘people kill people,’ surely we should stop giving the people guns since it’s doubtful that sticking your finger in the air and yelling BANG would have the same effect.

Argument: Guns aren’t the problem. It’s a lack of God in people’s lives in today’s society.

Response: Crime overall has actually decreased in the last few decades. Things are getting better, not worse. As society has advanced, murder and violent crime rates have trended downward. However, mass shootings have remained steady because angry people have immediate access to guns.

Argument: We need guns to fight the government in case it becomes tyrannical.

Response: Your guns aren’t going to save you if your tyrannical government brings in its tanks, artillery, drones, fighter jets, bombs, and nuclear weapons.

Argument: Gun registrations make it easier for the government to disarm us.

Response: A registration is necessary to keep track of deadly weapons in case they are used in a crime. Or if a “law-abiding citizen” commits a crime that revokes their right to guns. With over 300 million privately owned guns in the USA, the government would have to do the same thing with or without a registry if they wanted to take everyone’s guns – go door to door to search and seize.

If you have other arguments you’d like to have responses for, please leave a comment and we’ll try to get them added. If you have responses you’d like us to consider adding, please feel free to reach out.

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