While debating the Meredith Kercher murder case on discussion boards and in comments sections, I came to believe that most pro-guilt, anti-Knox posters were arguing in bad faith. Rather, they are propagandists using a variety of tools: lies, half-truths, misconceptions, smears, innuendo, deflection, whataboutism, projection, bogus moral indignation, appeal to authority, and, of course, trolling. In propaganda warfare, trolling is indispensable to provoke, to abuse, to infuriate, to exasperate, to drag the opponent into senseless, exhausting altercations.
Multiple identities (“sock puppets”) and anonymity are also essential to a serious Net hate campaign. The pro-guilt camp has even uploaded a “wiki” on the case – a compendium of spin (debunked here) – without providing a single real name behind it. This is quite different from the Injustice Anywhere campaign which grew out of the Perugian case: here’s the list of its directors, and there are other prominent supporters like John Douglas, Jim Clemente, Greg Hampikian, Doug Bremner, etc.
Projection is a particularly curious phenomenon. The pro-guilt clique have been extremely active in the social media, making sure to poison every public forum on the Net. Yet the “guilters” keep referring, mantra-like, to a “Knox PR supertanker”, although the role of Gogerty Marriott, a boutique next-door Seattle PR firm, has mostly been to regulate media access to the Knox family – an important but limited assignment.
As far as forums and comments are concerned, Putinist propaganda works much the same, only on a grander scale. Take The Guardian‘s comments section. Skeptical as I am about the paper’s leftist enthusiasms, its virtual pages are not commonly tinged with tabloid nastiness, unlike The Telegraph‘s and The Times‘. The Guardian has its own cadre of resident nutters but they tend to be predictable – broadly leftist, concerned about human rights, environmentally sensitive, anti-Israel and anti-American.
But when the paper published pieces on Pussy Riot and the Arctic 30, something happened to the usual crowd…