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Friday, May 12, 2006

Comment Type #15

THE MOLE

Many blogs and message boards are from a position of a strong opinion. Sports blogs will often back a certain team like Red Sox Chick, who clearly is a Red Sox fan. Political Blogs will have a political perspective such as the message board Democratic Underground which is radical left wing. On such a blog or message board, posters will tend to come down on one or another side of an issue, conservative vs liberal, Red Sox vs Yankees, etc.

In intelligence, the term for someone of the other side posing as a friend or operative on your side is a "mole;" someone who has burrowed deep into your operation and is privy to all your secrets and workings. A mole such as Aldrich Ames can cause a great deal of damage to an intelligence organization and its operatives.

The Mole Comment is a post that is written to appear to be for one side, but is by someone from the opposing side, and is done to discredit or smear a position. For example, a liberal might take what they believe to be the conservative position on a topic and post as if they were an arch conservative, with many Archie Bunker-like caricatured statements like "the poor should shut up and starve."

Moles are usually people so unfamiliar with the position they pretend to hold that they do a poor job of it, such as a pro-evolution person talking about how Intelligent Design advocates think the Grand Canyon was formed by the flood or that the earth is 6000 years old. Anyone who made even a cursory study of ID would recognize these are creationist and young-earth theories, and have nothing to do with Intelligent Design. Very often, opposition to a movement knows too little about that movement to properly articulate its position. As a result, an attempt to do so comes off as fake and forced.

There are some, however, who are more clever at it. These are able to post a Mole comment that can for a while at least fool many people as to their real position. Eventually, they all slip up, and can be known for who they really are.

EXAMPLE:

This poster claims to be a former liberal who in the Reagan years became conservative. He says he loves Ronald Reagan and is a "Reaganite conservative." He did so in the context of endless attacks on President Bush, mostly for immigration, but about other topics as well. Then he posted this:
Thank you George Bush for helping destroying my country. Who really gives a rat's rearend when the DOW rises and this only means the rich get very rich and the middle class gets screwed?
Which no Reagan conservative would even consider seriously. The DOW is an indicator of key stock market measures, and shows how well the market is doing overall - it has hit record heights recently. Decades ago, only the most wealthy would invest in stocks, but today it is common for middle class to do so, and every retirement account (such as 401(K) accounts) is invested in the stock market - so nearly every worker that has a job above minimum wage is affected by and benefits from a bull market in which stocks do well.

Moles are sometimes amusing, they can be obvious ones in which someone poses as a liberal posting as a conservative, or a Chevy fan posting as a Ford buyer. They can be unintentionally amusing when the person attempting a Mole post is so clueless about the real positions they are trying to mimic it becomes comedy. But overall, this kind of post is of little actual value in persuasion and all too often simply becomes cheap mockery and bitter sarcasm without rising to true satire. Ideally, satire mocks an issue so effectively and truthfully that it becomes a matter of shame to hold that position. I've yet to see a Mole comment that achieves this.

*UPDATE: Little Green Footballs has a similar category that is referred to as a "Moby," but is more specific. A mole refers to anyone posting as if they were another, a Moby is a leftist posting as a conservative specifically to discredit or ruin conservative appeal or credibility. Here is their definition from the LGF dictionary:
An insidious and specialized type of left-wing troll who visits blogs and impersonates a conservative for the purpose of either spreading false rumors intended to sow dissension among conservative voters, or who purposely posts inflammatory and offensive comments for the purpose of discrediting the blog in question. The term is derived from the name of the liberal musician Moby, who famously suggested in February of 2004 that left-wing activists engage in this type of subterfuge: "For example, you can go on all the pro-life chat rooms and say you're an outraged right-wing voter and that you know that George Bush drove an ex-girlfriend to an abortion clinic and paid for her to get an abortion. Then you go to an anti-immigration Web site chat room and ask, 'What's all this about George Bush proposing amnesty for illegal aliens?'" The strategy has been frequently attempted on LGF and elsewhere, but has not been nearly as effective as Moby envisioned, since false rumors are easily debunked by fact-checking minions, and cartoonishly extreme commenters often get immediately identified as mobys and banned from LGF.
Mobdy, then, is a sub-category of the Mole, a specific type of Mole.

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