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A prank by a group of online trolls, including several Australians, has whipped conservative US commentators into a lather over what they claimed was a gang of progressive “e-thugs” formed by the Democrats to smear the Tea Party movement. Beck, a popular conservative US political commentator who appears regularly on radio and TV, published the video on his website, triggering a firestorm of protest from armchair conservatives on blogs, forums and Twitter. In a 13 minute online conspiracy video, dubbed “Twittergate”, extreme right-wing US commentator Greg Howard – dubbed the “Glenn Beck of Twitter” – accused the Democrats of hiring online thugs to harass conservative Twitter users and goad them into making offensive comments, which are then used to smear the anti-Obama Tea Party movement.

“If Musims are forbidden from going through full body scanners, then install them at every single airport and door in America,” reads another of his tweets. “It could be anything from asking someone an inflammatory question to really really crude childish stuff … The reaction was music to the ears of one of the so-called e-thugs, Samuel Birbeck, 30, from Adelaide. As with many of the online debates between left- and right-leaning commentators, the war soon turned nasty and documents showing Howard’s apparent bankruptcy and accusations that he was behind on his child support payments were posted online. to making overtly racist comments towards them and getting a response that indicates they actually seriously hold those sorts of views.”

Looking at a sample of Howard’s tweets, which are read by almost 15,000 followers, it’s easy to see why he was targeted. He doesn’t know how to handle this type of attack.” “Democratic campaign funds are being used to front this,” Howard told Gawker.com. Howard also accuses Obama of being a homosexual and claims that it’s no surprise that a majority of serial killers are registered Republicans because “they are highly intelligent as a rule”. Budding comedian Birbeck, along with several other Australians, is part of a group of online trolls called the Beandog Militia, formed to annoy and embarrass conservative bigots who spew bile online. Birbeck said Howard had been in his group’s sights for some time but the group regularly goes after conservatives, having also been partly responsible for the firestorm of criticism against Family First’s Wendy Francis over her gay slurs on Twitter. “Only thing Obama has accomplished of any use is prove someone with high melanin content in their skin can be elected,” reads another. The crew released the conspiracy theory video and have even accused the Beandogs of embedding viruses in their Twitter avatars. “I think the best way to describe it is it’s a joke gone horribly right,” said Birbeck. Some of the Beandogs also spread lewd messages about Howard’s family, which have been reported to US authorities. In response, Howard and fellow conservative tweeters formed a group to take on the Beandogs, dubbed “the Wrecking Crew”. “You try and bait people into revealing their own stupidity and ignorance and then sit back and have a good laugh at them,” Birbeck explained in a phone interview. Offending blacks and Muslims is another of Howard’s favourite topics. “A person like Greg is quick to fire up and that’s also why he’s been such a wonderful target. But Birbeck argues it’s just “words on a screen” and the “threats” were just about having a laugh at the expense of the conservatives. I am twice the man he’ll ever be,” reads one. “I proudly compare myself with Obama.
Don’t feed the trolls … Beandog Militia member Sam Birbeck.