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Disagree or Troll?

Recently I had occasion to be part of a forum discussion. There is a podcast that listen that discusses various topics related to Linux and F/OSS. One of the hosts in particular tends to take a very elitist point of view towards computers and users and who should be ‘allowed’ to use them. He also has a very direct way of speaking that tends to come off poorly. For that reason he gets some forum posts and emails telling him what people think of him. He doesn’t like that.

The other week he got one such email from a listener. That day he decided to post it to the forum and make an example of this unsuspecting person. On and on he went saying that this is an example of what he gets on a regular basis. That he’s sick of people taking him to task for his opinions. That if people don’t like it don’t listen, etc etc. In the same post he declares that all mail to him is his to do with as he pleases. He posted the email and the persons name and email address for all to see.

So I responded to that. I said that it was a lousy thing to do to a person who was sending a private email and publicly disclose the contents of the mail and the name and address for not only those in the forums, but in the webcrawlers, spammers, etal.

His response was that he had a right to his opinion and freedom of speech was his right. That the show was his to do with as he pleases. People had no right to disagree with him as he had the show and they didn’t. He said that back in the day of the BBSs that no one dared talk back to the sysops. That if I wanted to be a troll and cause problems I should do it elsewhere.

The posts continued back and forth for a day. Other listeners were commenting as well. A few trying to turn the topic. Others taking my side of the discussion. Then when I went back the next day the entire thread had disappeared. So I started a thread asking what happened. The moderators said that the other post was ‘getting out of hand’ and it was better for all concerned that it was deleted rather than being allowed to continue. Throughout that thread I was basically told to let it go. That if I continued the new thread would be deleted as well. More censorship would ensue.

So the question becomes, if you question the hosts of a site are you necessarily a troll? Is it just easier for them to write off any disagreements as trollish behaviors?