Comedians and Internet trolls seem to have a peculiar relationship. While nobody relishes getting dumped on by some anonymous shithead on Twitter, Reddit, or anywhere else the subhuman roam, comedians are in the unique position to craft their art around troll fuel. Well respected and beloved comedians like Patton Oswalt and Marc Maron routinely engage with their trolls on Twitter, often to hilarious and devastating effect. But Maysoon Zayid, a comedian best known for speaking publicly about her cerebral palsy and Muslim heritage, is taking an altogether different approach: killing them with kindness, rather than vitriolic retaliation.
After her first-ever television appearance on Countdown with Keith Olberman in 2010, Zayid encountered a great deal of online bullying and hate, over everything you might imagine: her religion, her physical affliction, and her looks. But instead of lashing out, Zayid is trying to stake out higher ground, as she explained in a recent episode of In The Deep Shift with Jonah Elrod.
“People would tell me, ‘Why do you respond to these anonymous trolls? They have no effect on you, you’re bigger than that. And the reason I respond is because someone has to. Because if no one ever tells them, ‘Stop. Think about what you’re saying. Are you proud of this?’ then they will go after someone not as strong as me. And when they go after someone not as strong as me, that person might take their own life. And if there is anything I can do to make people stop with the hate and find something better to focus on, that’s my goal.”
While we love watching a good troll slaughtering on Comedy Twitter, Zayid is definitely making a valid (and valiant) point. We have to give her major kudos for choosing the much tougher road of compassion. Let’s hope that she manages to extinguish hate fire pockets from all around the Internet.