The founder of the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer argues that the “troll storm” against Jewish women is freedom of expression –

The founder of the neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer argues that the “troll storm” against Jewish women is freedom of expression



The founder of a popular neo-Nazi website that was sued after calling its readers and followers to "troll storm", a Jewish real estate agent in Montana, argues that his actions are protected by freedom of expression.

Andrew Anglin, founder of the Daily Stormer, has asked a federal court in Montana to dismiss a lawsuit that Tanya Gersh filed against him last spring. In court records filed last week, Anglin's lawyers said the First Amendment "is blind to the point of view" and that the Constitution protects Anglin's right to express his view on Gersh, "no matter how many people consider intolerable. those points of view. "

If a local business were polluting the environment, any publisher could gather their readers to write to that business in protest, "his legal team, led by First Amendment lawyer Marc Randazza, wrote in court reports requesting dismissal of the lawsuit. "If a local business discriminated against black clients, the NAACP can encourage its members to send mail. And, conversely, the KKK can ask its members to send protest letters to an establishment that treats all races equally. "

Gersh, of Whitefish, Mont., Sued Anglin in April in the US District Court. The complaint details many of the more than 700 anti-Semitic and hateful messages, including threats from death, for Gersh, his family, friends and colleagues Some samples of emails sent to his personal and work accounts:

"Criminals who play with fire tend to be thrown into the oven"

"Merry Christmas, murderer Christ "

" Useless "- k -."

"It's time for me to take a one-way ticket to Tel Aviv."

"He has no idea what he's doing, six million are just the beginning."

In one email, "Death to Tanya" was repeated more than 30 times followed by: "This message came from 'Satan your King'."

[The man behind the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website is being sued by one of his ‘troll storm’ targets]

They also sent threatening messages to their family. One photoshopped an image of his young son to make it look like he was being "crushed by the Nazi trucks", and sent him the image.

The deluge of messages began after Gersh, who was involved with a local organization called "Love Lives Here," spoke with Sherry Spencer, the mother of white nationalist and leader of the right-wing Richard Spencer.

Sherry Spencer, owner of a mixed-use building in Whitefish, wrote in a Medium article published in mid-December that Gersh had urged her to sell her property and warned her that protesters would appear outside her building if she did not. toward. He also said that Gersh presented "conditions," including one that demands that she publicly denounce her son's views and make a donation to a human rights organization.

However, Gersh questions Spencer's explanation of the phone call. She said she was simply trying to help the Spencer, who do not share her son's extreme beliefs, when she suggested a plan to sell the property that had become a possible target for the protesters. The complaint also says that Spencer asked Gersh what to do and asked if she would be willing to be his Real Estate Agent.

The Daily Stormer began its "troll storm" campaign against Gersh on the same day the Medium article was published. [19659003] "There are only 6,000 Jews in the entire state of Montana, however, they are 100% of the people who try to silence Richard Spencer by harbading his mother, so, then, let's hit Em Up. Are you ready to an old Troll Storm? "wrote Anglin.

Anglin's lawyers argued that his articles do not constitute a "real threat" of violence against Gersh. Although there were death threats, they said that they did not come directly from Anglin, but from third parties. The lawyers added that Anglin included disclaimers urging their readers to avoid threats of violence.

"Political hyperbole is not a threat … Third party statements are generally recognized anti-Semitic tropes, with no real harm reasonably interpreted," the lawyers wrote. "And, even the Nazi expression, regardless of the psychic damage in the Jewish residents, is, nonetheless, protected speech."

[Nazi sympathizer profiled by the New York Times says he lost his job and — soon — his home]

The lawyers argued further that, although the speech in question is unpopular, prohibiting it would create a dangerous precedent for the rights of the first amendments of defense organizations.

"The messages were supposedly received from a highly disadvantaged group: neo-Nazis, and this gives some melody to the siren's censor song: after all, who cares about the Nazis?" Wrote the lawyers . "But that is not the proof of our Constitution, if we reject speech because it comes from an unorthodox group, we violate the very foundations of our notions of freedom." The Nazis are "heterodox" in the United States. , the rule of law must rule "

The Gersh lawsuit, which seeks compensatory and punitive damages, alleged invasion of privacy, willfully inflicting emotional distress and violation of Montana's anti-bullying act. Gersh is represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly ruled that hate speech, no matter how intolerant or intolerant, is freedom of expression.

The higher court did so in 1969, when it determined a state law that prohibits public speech advocating illegal activities violates the constitutional rights of a Ku Klux Klan leader. He did it again in 1992, when the judges found that a city ordinance prohibiting the display of symbols that provoke anger towards someone based on race, religion and other factors is unconstitutional. And again in 2011, when the court ruled in favor of members of the church who were demonstrating and carrying signs with homophobic insults at the funeral of a soldier.

In Montana, however, the supreme court had previously held that "freedom of expression does not include the right to cause substantial emotional distress by harbadment or intimidation."

Gersh said the consequences of the campaign against her go beyond the simple impact of receiving hate messages.

[GoDaddy — then Google — ban neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer for disparaging Charlottesville victim]

"Overnight, they stole my life," he said in an earlier interview with The Washington Post.

He said he could not do his job because the threats against him put the properties of his potential clients at risk.

"Hate people is one thing," he said. "This is a form of terrorism."

According to the complaint, Gersh has experienced panic attacks. His doctor had prescribed antidepressants, Valium and acupuncture. She also started trauma therapy twice a week.

Gersh "lies in tears almost every night, wakes up crying almost every morning, is easily frightened, feels anxiety and discomfort in crowded places, has had problems leaving home and fears" Last summer, the site Anglin was evicted from his home on the Internet after a violent white nationalist rally attracted new attention to hate speech in the United States. The web hosting company GoDaddy announced in August that it will no longer host the site, after Anglin disparaged a protester who was killed at the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

Anglin characterized Heather Heyer as a "drain" in society "and insulted his appearance." Heyer, 32, died after a car allegedly driven by a Nazi sympathizer crashed into a crowd of counter-demonstrators.

] Abby Ohlheiser, Avi Selk and Katie Mettler contributed to this report.

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