[N]o student has ever demanded that my classes include a trigger warning or asked for a safe space. But my colleagues and I have been given much more reason to worry about the ideological agendas of elected officials and politically appointed governing boards....Trawling is the right word there, by the way. The image is of fishing with a net. You might think, isn't it trolling?
Faculty members conducting research on social or environmental issues that does not align with views of the party controlling the State Legislature may prefer to keep their heads down rather than speak out...
On both private and public campuses, instructors who discuss race, gender, class, reproductive rights, elections or even just politics can find themselves subjected to attack by conservative groups like Media Trackers or Professor Watchlist. Faculty members in public institutions also have to worry about the possibility of having their email searched via Freedom of Information law requests. The ultimate audience for such trawling is lawmakers, who set the rules for public institutions....
I got distracted from the topic of this post into the distinction between the 2 verbs, trawl and troll. Trawling is done with a net. The literal meaning is fishing with a net, and we may used the fishing-with-a-net metaphor when speaking about searching documents.
Troll, the verb, has a lot of meanings. I could lose the rest of the morning in the OED entry on this word (just the verb, not the noun). But one of the meanings really is about fishing, and it's why you stumble over the question whether the right word is trawling or trolling in the context seen above.
To troll in fishing is to fish with a running line. That's used figuratively too. But the image is of some bait dragged along to attract the some being that may succumb to the temptation to bite. That's not how a net works. I'd rather be trolled than trawled.
The oldest appearance of troll in this sense has God using this fishing method:
1606 S. Gardiner Bk. Angling 28 Consider how God by his Preachers trowleth for thee.That makes me think of Jesus saying to his disciples, "I will make you fishers of men." He meant by trolling of course. Not trawling!
I invite you to say what I've heard you say before: Althouse is trolling us!