No free passes anymore

Journalists are astonished to discover that the subjects of their investigations can and will strike back these days:

Seeking to shine some light into the dark world of Internet trolls, a journalist with Finland’s national broadcaster asked members of her audience to share their experience of encounters with Russia’s “troll army,” a raucous and often venomous force of online agitators.

The response was overwhelming, though not in the direction that the journalist, Jessikka Aro, had hoped.

As she expected, she received some feedback from people who had clashed with aggressively pro-Russian voices online. But she was taken aback, and shaken, by a vicious retaliatory campaign of harassment and insults against her and her work by those same pro-Russian voices.

“Everything in my life went to hell thanks to the trolls,” said Ms. Aro, a 35-year-old investigative reporter with the social media division of Finland’s state broadcaster, Yle Kioski….

The hardest blow, Ms. Aro said, came early this year when a Finnish-language news site,, which is based in Spain and mostly focuses on vilifying immigrants, dug up and published court records that showed she had been convicted of using illegal amphetamines in 2004. She had been fined 300 euros.

The website’s headline: “NATO’s information expert Jessikka Aro turned out to be a convicted drug dealer.” It also posted photographs of Ms. Aro dancing in a slinky outfit at a nightclub in Bangkok….

Ilja Janitskin, the founder and head of MVLehti, who is based in Barcelona, Spain, said in response to emailed questions that he had no connection with Russia other than his surname. His political views, he said, are closer to those of Donald J. Trump, not Mr. Putin.

He added that he had become interested in Ms. Aro only after she accused his website of “distributing Russian propaganda.”

I have zero sympathy for these idiots. For decades, they have been attacking, exposing, and attempting to publicly humiliate those their masters have told them to target. I’ve been the subject of more than a few hit pieces myself, everywhere from NPR and New Republic to the Guardian.

But now the Internet has leveled the playing field, so when someone lies about me, I can immediately set the record straight, or if I choose, launch an investigation into them. Notice how Aro is complaining about being the target of a man who only knew about her because she attacked him in the first place.

Shades of Scalzi and the SF-SJWs. Some people simply don’t understand that if you shoot at people, they will not only shoot back at you, but they have the option of continuing to do so long after you’d prefer a ceasefire. Remember, once you start something, you give up the ability to unilaterally decide that it’s over.