How to Handle a Cell Tower Blog Troll

If you can handle a blog troll right and keep your sense of humor, you may be able to win the battle for public opinion!

After the success of the "No" vote on the July 31 cell tower ballot question, we thought the next steps in this process for our Get the Cell Out - Atlanta group would be fairly simple: 

1.  Advocate for the best quality school board members* who will not put other parents or taxpayers through the same nightmare we have endured for the past year. 

 *  Please take a quick moment to vote THIS TUESDAY, Aug. 21, in the DCSD Runoff.  If you want school board members who have publically opposed the current board's cell tower decisions and the lack of a transparent process, please vote for Jim McMahan in District 4 and Denise McGill in District 6.  Runoff elections are always tight so every vote really will count! 

2.  Support the federal bill HR. 6358, introduced and referred last week to the US House Energy and Commerce Committee. This is the first solid attempt at the national level to revamp the FCC Telecommunications Bill of 1996 to allow local zoning authorities to consider health factors when zoning for a cell tower. It would also call for warning labels and a national research program.

3.  Continue to reach out to the DeKalb County office of the CEO (burrell@burrellellis.com) and keep tabs on the leased spaces on 8 school campuses to ensure no construction begins without legal permits.

What we did NOT expect was a challenge to rope us back into more meaningless debate with a real life cell tower blog troll. But, that's exactly what we got when one of them apparently reared an ugly head and began making calls impersonating the husband of an elected official who has been supportive of our efforts. 

The Circular Logic of a Typical Blog Troll   

This recent walk down blogger memory lane gave us a big laugh as we recalled one of the best "rants" we have EVER read on the subject of cell towers. 

This reply came after hundreds of posts were made in a series of days in response to my first-ever Tucker Patch blog post, "." Finally, we think, "Dr. DeKalb" had taken all he could! 

From The Tucker Patch....  7:08 p.m. on Saturday, July 2, 2011

(edited briefly for content clarity)

Dr. DeKalb comments...

"And, just to make sure we are all following your logic, Neil... let me   summarize it for you...

1.  Towers emit radiation.

2.  Fear of tower radiation is ridiculous and should not be tolerated.

3.  Science should tell us that our phones (the ones that the adults carry around with them as they apparantly encircle the local house when they really should be at work) are far worse for us and our children unless we build more towers.

4.  We should not be afraid of towers at schools.

5.  Instead we should buy more phones and a bigger cell plan so that our children who currently do not carry phones, but will soon have a cell tower, will finally have the very thing (the phone) that you just said was the more dangerous of the two.

6.  Now, once we have the right amount of phones and towers, if that delicate state of balance will ever be something we can actually obtain, then we will rejoice because we will finally be permitted to fear them both equally.

7.  And, most importantly, there are other threats at school larger than a 150' cell tower that we should fear more even if we are not able to say exactly what those threats might be.  

8.  In addition, we should teach our children how to respond in these non-specific emergencies in a way that is contrary to the emergency procedures they practice at school. It will be beneficial to expect the children to behave as "first responders" rather than evacuating the building as they might be instructed to do in an emergency.

9.  And, while the cell tower radiation is the least thing to fear, we should be reassured that if it falls over or catches on fire that our children will, at the very least, be able to make a call for help. Ooops, that's right, they probably will not be able to make a call if the tower has fallen over, now will they??"

Blog Troll Remedies

Remember, if you are involved in a fight to keep a cell tower away from your home or school, do not let these "blog trolls" get the best of you. Blogs are still a great way to reach a large number of people with little or no money.

If you suspect a blog comment is from someone paid by the industry, the best thing to do is just try to call them out on their role and refuse to engage them in a tit for tat debate unless they will give you their real name and state their professional connection to the issue. If the industry bias is out in the open, then those who read the comments can take that aspect of the conversation into consideration.

Remember... When dealing with a blog troll, you will never, ever win them over to your side. But, if you are able to make it clear that they have a hidden agenda behind the things they are saying, you might win the battle for public opinion. 

In the exerpt above, we definitely think Dr. DeKalb got some "closure" in his hilarious post. We are thankful to him for his comments and for giving us a much needed laugh!

Hope you got a good laugh out of it, too!  (LOL!)

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This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Terry Funderburke August 18, 2012 at 11:38 AM
When you have worn a subject out so thoroughly you may attract all kinds of people. Copy and paste gets old.
Cheryl Miller August 18, 2012 at 06:02 PM
I disagree... no one has really addressed the issue of how to handle a situation where your blog is being attacked by people who are not truthful about who they are. The "trolls" can be very vicious as they are paid to discredit you. I was only trying to do the right thing by alerting my neighborhood so they could attend a meeting or sign a petition locally, but I was getting attacked for it. It was a very stressful time for me since I was new to blogging or the whole advocating to protect my neighborhood thing. I wanted other people who might be in the same boat to be able to read something that would tell them they are not alone, not crazy and should not give up. It is like a lesson in how to handle a bully as an adult and I am sure I am much better able to help my child now when she encounters such behavior at school. I hope anyone new to advocacy on any subject will read my original blog post from a year ago and the comments so they might see the pattern of the trolls and it will help them understand that it isn't personal and it isn't the true feelings of the "real" people out there.
Cheryl Miller August 18, 2012 at 06:08 PM
The Telecomm industry has been involved in all sorts of underhanded, but not illegal, practices like this and it takes away a lot of the freedom that ordinary citizens used to have with the ability to share ideas over the Internet. They also create fake grass roots groups, fake opposition groups, fake support groups - they pay everyone off and try to control the whole process. It's scary to think what they will do once they have a foothold in our public education system as well. As much as it may seem like beating a dead horse... think about how many times you are exposed to the advertising messages from the cell phone companies on a daily basis. I hope you will consider that overkill as well. The money, power and influence is next to impossible to stand up against.
Jim Kinney August 21, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Cheryl, your heart is in the right place but you really sound like a public school science victim. Please go take some high school physics classes and learn about radiation and then take some college biology and learn about radiation dangers that are real. Gamma radiation is dangerous. Our sun spits out vast amounts every second. Lucky for us that we have a magnetic field around the planet to divert that energy flow or this place would be sterile. Radiation in the wavelengths between 400nm and 700nm is visible light. It's radiation but not dangerous. UV, Ultra-Violet is harmful and is a shorter wavelength, therefore a higher energy, than visible light. There's a relationship between energy and wavelength of radiation - longer wavelengths have less energy. Energy is required to ionize atoms and molecules to form free radicals. Free radicals are dangerous. But ionization energies don't occur below the UV spectrum. Lower energy than visible light is infrared or heat. That can cause bond breaks in molecules and protein denaturing. It how we cook our food! At even lower energy level are microwaves. We use microwave ovens to heat food. This works by exciting the water molecules and making them literally wiggle to produce heat. That happens at 2.45GHz. Cell phone use lower frequencies, and lower energy levels closer to FM radio. There are plenty of reasons to not have the towers at the schools. Let's stop science ignorance from being one of them, please.
Cheryl Miller August 21, 2012 at 06:08 PM
If you are attempting to draw a correlation between my involvement in the cell tower issue and the inferior educational system in the state or even the intentionally underfunded science labs in DeKalb, then you will need to find a better train of logic, Jim as these things are not connected. What I find so astounding about your remarks is that, for a science guy who believes the best use of communication is to show off to others how much you know, you actually jumped to some pretty serious conclusions without justification and without facts by which to base your hypothesis. Not very scientific, Jim. I'm not impressed. This blog is about the moles that divert attention away from the topic at hand. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?
Jim Kinney August 21, 2012 at 06:59 PM
My apologies, Cheryl. I had to go back and reread about 200 posts from the original article to reorient myself on the names involved. I still see junk science as a weak argument against the towers. The same junk science from the "high voltage power lines cause cancer" scare from 10-15 years ago. To use that is to use fear. and that's fear based on ignorance. We're talking about schools so lets cut ignorance out of the picture. Please, please, PLEASE drop the junk science arguments. We all will have a bigger fight with science textbooks in about 2-3 years thanks to Texas so save your breath and study up on biology and evolution and critical thinking. All of us in the community have a part to play in making this a better place to live. I do what I can. If my persistent willingness to teach a bit of correct science in a public forum is seen as "showing off", you should see how I cook. :-)
Cheryl Miller August 26, 2012 at 03:24 PM
"Junk" science isn't even real. So, yes, it would be a weak argument against anything. I haven't used that term or anything remotely related to it in anything that I have said or written. I have only quoted extremely reputable sources and our own DeKalb County ordinances which were in place to protect citizens from exactly this type of neighborhood intrusion by big businesses seeking to undermind local control and exploit tax loopholes. What is "science" doing right now to protect our health when reputable medical professionals are warning us to take precautions? Do you wish to tell Dr. Keith Black, Chairman of Neurology, Cedars-Sianai Medical Center to go back and take his high school science classes over again? http://www.getthecelloutatl.com/#!/2012/03/cnn-warning-your-brain-exposed.html What is "science" in the U.S. doing by outright refusing to even study the possibility that non-thermal effects do exist when there is long-term exposure to RF radiation even at low levels? Why did the The US Government Accountability Office just this month have to recommended that the FCC formally reassess its limits for radio frequency exposure from cell phones if there are no legitimate concerns?
Neil September 06, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Msg 120906-01 To Jim Kinney: You are banging your head up against a stone wall when you try to use fundamental scientific principles to explain things about which ignorance, emotion, and politics are the primary drivers. These people think that you are trying to kill their kids and no amount of rational argument is going to get them to even try to understand scientific reality. Not only will they refuse to believe you but they will accuse you of all sorts of things that are not true; they will try to silence you; and there may even be threats of violence. I am the Neil against whom "Dr DeKalb's" rhetoric is directed. I will offer some comments on his diatribe but because there is a limit on the size of the comments people like me are allowed to make on this blog it may take more than one posting. "Dr DeKalb" accused me of saying things I never said and both he and Cheryl have accused me being a communications company shill. In a message to follow I will offer them the opportunity to put their money where their mouths are, and they will both back down, possibly by simply ignoring the challenge, but most probably with obfuscation. If you have read all the postings you may recall that I am a retired engineer who worked in an industry totally unrelated to communications and I have no relationship with any aspect of any electronic communications organization except that of a customer. To be continued on Msg 120906-02.
Neil September 06, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Msg 120906-02 To Jim Kinney: I am exactly who I say I am, a retired engineer who got involved with this issue because it came up in my local area and I was the only technically trained person in a leadership position in the local civic association. This is not my field of specialty so I had to do a lot of learning. I have tried to share what I have learned with many who are being driven by ignorance and the fear that ignorance promotes, but without much real success. One cannot explain scientifc principles using the sound byte approach that the fear mongers so successfully use, and the scientifically illiterate too often rarely have the attention span to hear more. Your reference to the junk science which the Tx BoE may indirectly impose on the schools in the US is a good one. If you would like to communicate privately with me please include an e-mail address in your next posting. The use of your full name and the inclusion of your picture suggests that you braver than I am. Maybe the people in Tucker are less prone to the nastiness I have experienced in my area because of my failed attempts to educate those who do not want ot be educated.
Hector Romero September 07, 2012 at 03:54 AM
Dear Neil, I would like to discuss this you. I should have written this message before the other one, but I didn't think to do so. My e-mail address is "dodger.fanatic@yahoo.com". Sorry for the tone of the other message.. Hector
Neil September 07, 2012 at 04:10 AM
Hector, Ask any question you want. I will use your e-mail address if the answer is too long. You do not have to apologize for your first question, and you did not have to remove it (if, indeed, it was you who removed it). It was a legitimate question. No, I would not want a cell tower near my home. They are ugly and having one nearby would reduce property values. Neil
Hector Romero September 07, 2012 at 04:17 AM
Would you want a cell tower on the roof of the school your children went to?
Neil September 07, 2012 at 04:29 AM
I would not care if my children went to a school with a cell tower on the roof. First off, cell towers radiate in a general horizontal direction so the point of highest radiation is not directly under the cell tower but some distance away, so if there was any danger, which there is not, it would not be at the school. This topic has already been discussed ad nauseum in the Patch and for us to do more here would be a waste of their space. I will send you an e-mail with more information.
Neil September 07, 2012 at 05:44 AM
It makes sense to take a hard look at cell phone radiation. Every legitimate agency tells us that if there is any danger it is from the cell phones themselves since the radiation exposure effect from the handsets, because of the distance factor, is typically three orders of magnitude (that is, about 1000 times) greater than the effect of the tower with which the phone is trying to connect, and as the system is starved for cell tower capacity the phones put out more and more to compensate. With the failure to install the much needed capacity brought on by the skyrocketing use of cell phones for so many purposes the cell phones, in their attempt to find tower capacity with which to connect, may be putting our more radiation than previously expected.
Neil September 07, 2012 at 06:55 AM
Now to answer "Dr DeKalb" using his numbering. 1. Yes, the antennas on cell towers emit radiation. 2. No. Fear of radiation from cell towers is not ridiculous. People whose businesses depend on fear of cell tower radiation have convinced unknowledgeable people to fear cell tower radiation, and activists who do not understand the science are unwittingly assisting in what is, in essence, a profit making scam. There is a tiny bit of evidence that does suggest that we need to be careful about the use of cell phones, that is, the handsets we hold close to our bodies, since the radiation effect from those handsets, because they are close to the body, is typically order of magnitude a thousand times that of the radiation effect from the tower with which the phone is connecting. 3. No. No UNLESS. The phones themselves will always be a much greater source of potential danger than the towers. The situation just worsens when the system is starved for cell antenna capacity. 4. Yes, we should not be afraid of towers any place where they are designed, built, maintained, and operated in accordance with applicable state and federal standards. 5. No. Cell phone use should be restricted to when it is absolutely necessary. We should never use a cell phone when a land line or some other wired device can be used. ......to be continued in Msg 120907-02
Neil September 07, 2012 at 07:19 AM
Msg 120907-02: continuing to answer "Dr DeKalb" 6. No. The phones will always be the greater potential source of radiation danger. It would be totally impractical to have enough tower capacity to be otherwise. 7. A properly designed, built, maintained, and operated cell tower of any height is no safety threat to anybody. Cell towers are ugly; they scare people and, thus, could lower propety values; but they are not a safety threat unless subjected to sabotage by anti-cell tower activists. Excessive or otherwise irresponsible cell phone use will always be the greater concern, as will many other unrelated things such the extra pollution caused by the increasing use of SUVs, the reduction in the amount of exercise children get because of all this electronic gadgetry they have, the obesity caused by eating too much and the wrong foods, and the growing dependence on unqualified people for technological information, advice, and decision making. 8. I have no idea about what "Dr DeKalb" is talking. 9. When legitimate technical arguments are not available sarcastic nonsense is one possible escape from reality. Unless subjected to anti-cell activist sabotage the likelihood of a cell tower collapsing or catching fire is no more than any other part of the school or any other structure, and less likely than some. If "Dr DeKalb," Cheryl Miller, or anybody else would like more information on this subject please feel free to contact me at kslatxpe@yahoo.com.
Neil September 08, 2012 at 12:16 AM
There are three general types of people who oppose cell towers without any legitimate techncial reason: those who are truly ignorant of the science, those who make money doing so, and those who do it to attract public attention. Some of the ignorant feel that anybody opposing them is trying to do them harm, and some of those are not adverse to violence to protect themselves. I do not disclose my identity as a safety measure. I have already had myself and my family threatened, and it is not a comfortable feeling. Those who are doing it for money and those who are doing it for public attention (although sometimes these are one in the same) are generally too smart to threaten violence, although they sometimes threaten something else, but it hard to tell the truly ignorant from those who have a calculated motive. Without any evidence whatsoever Cheryl has charged me with being a communications company shill. To prove her wrong, and make it meaningful, I propose a bet. If I am, indeed, what she has accused me of being, I will make a donation to her favorite charity; but if I am not, that is, if I am what I claim to be, she will make a donation to my favorite charity. We agree on the amount by negotiation. We then select a suitable person, perhaps a member of the clergy, to whom I fully but confidentially disclose who I am, who will then announce whether I am what I say I am or not, while keeping my identity secured.
Neil September 23, 2012 at 08:56 PM
It is easy to make false or unsubstantiated accusations if there are no consequences and that, I am afraid, is what has been done with the base posting here. The writer had no basis whatsoever to justify her claim that I was anything other than what I claimed to be, yet she persisted in making accusations she knew she could not in the slightest way show to be true. This is a not uncommon technique used by those whose primary purpose for writing is to see their names in print. That is why we see people like the writer who probably has no technical background pontificating on matters of technology about which she is terribly uniformed. It would be wise to seek information on matters of technology from people with the skills to understand the issues rather than from those simply looking for causes that they feel will resonate with a population unable to detect how unscientific their arguments are. These are matters that require information most people do not have. It took me about a year to learn enough to know that the war against cell phone system base stations was without scientific merit. Anytime anybody wants to learn more feel free to contact me at kslatxpe@yahoo.com.
Cheryl Miller September 27, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Legal definition: Cyberbullying is defined in legal glossaries as 1.) actions that use information and communication technologies to support deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior by an individual or group, that is intended to harm another or others. 2.) use of communication technologies for the intention of harming another person 3.) use of internet service and mobile technologies such as web pages and discussion groups as well as instant messaging or SMS text messaging with the intention of harming another person. Examples of what constitutes cyberbullying include communications that seek to intimidate, control, manipulate, put down, falsely discredit, or humiliate the recipient. The actions are deliberate, repeated, and hostile behavior intended to harm another. Cyberbullying has been defined by The National Crime Prevention Council: “when the Internet, cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person. A cyberbully may be a person whom the target knows or an online stranger. A cyberbully may be anonymous and may solicit involvement of other people online who do not even know the target.
Cheryl Miller September 27, 2012 at 01:04 AM
The practice of cyberbullying is not limited children and, while the behavior is identified by the same definition when practiced by adults, the distinction in age groups sometimes refers to the abuse as cyberstalking or cyberharassment when perpetrated by adults toward adults. Common tactics used by cyberstalkers are performed in public forums, social media or online information sites and are intended to threaten a victim's earnings, employment, reputation, or safety. Behaviors may include encouraging others to harass the victim and trying to affect a victim's online participation. Many cyberstalkers try to damage the reputation of their victim and turn other people against them. Cyberstalking may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass. A repeated pattern of such actions and harassment against a target by an adult constitutes cyberstalking. There are consequences of law in offline stalking and online stalking, and cyber-stalkers can be put in jail. Cyberstalking is a form of cyberbullying. Learn more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber-bullying
Jim Kinney September 27, 2012 at 12:02 PM
At first I thought that these were posts to the wrong article. But now I am very concerned that discussions of technical materials and science countering a deliberately misinformed general population is viewed as threatening. As all 3 lines of the legal definition include the concept "intent to harm", there is no cyberbullying going on in this discussion. There is an "intent to educate". It is well meaning, well worded and non-threatening in it's presentation. But as is understood in academia, beliefs are often more cherished than demonstrable evidence and thus harder to discuss. As soon as I can figure out how to turn off the "follow this article" feature on Patch, I will certainly disengage from this discussion. It appears the science people have an implied threat of legal action by the belief people. I actually do have better things to do than continually correct the misinformation spewed in fear in this discussion. Once again, this discussion strongly underscores the need for better science education in Georgia.
Neil September 30, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Although falsely accused of being a communications company shill I do not feel that I am the victim of bullying. Had I not been to the Norway exhibit at Epcot Center in Walt Disney World I wouldn't even have known what a troll is. (Yes, there are things that technical people don't know - lots of things - lots and lots of things.) I understand the baseless fear that has been generated mostly by people who themselves are fearful but in some part by people who are using fear to promote their self interest. This is a difficult matter which as Jim points out is only possible because of the inadequate science education not only in Georgia but all over the country. Unfortunately, not only is the anxiety created by the baseless fear harmful, but that baseless fear can lead to poor and potentially harmful decisions by people in authority. We have enough about which to worry in this dangerous society; let's focus on what is real.
Cheryl Miller October 02, 2012 at 05:20 PM
Well, in case you didn't shut off your time machines in the right decade, you are not allowed to pull my ponytails or kick dirt in my face either. Anyone who wants to follow our story, which continues to unfold to this day, please visit www.GETtheCELLoutATL.org. You can help vote for which outfit I should wear when I give the Superintendent a piece of my mind at the Tucker Parent Council tonight, Oct. 2, at 6 p.m. (just kidding about the outfit thing... that was just to make Neil and Jim hate losing to me even more!)
Neil October 05, 2012 at 12:15 PM
When ignorance triumphs we all lose: Jim, me, and everybody else, including, eventually, those in the affected community who promote the ignorance, whether they realize they are doing so or not. The US is, or used to be the world's technological leader. If we still are that lead is diminishing. If we have already lost the lead it is at least partly because the public chooses to allow technological matters to be determined by people without the wherewithal to make properly informed decisions on matters of technology. When those with PR skills are given precedence over those with scientific skills in technical matters the public loses, especially in the long term.
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