Daily Stormer's 'Troll Storm' Of Jewish Woman To Cost Neo-Nazi $14 Million. My, Isn't That Sad.
Once upon a time, in December of 2016, neo-Nazi edgelord Andrew Anglin put a post up on his website, The Daily Stormer, titled "Jews targeting Richard Spencer's mother for harassment and extortion - TAKE ACTION!"
The "action" he demanded was to harass Tanya Gersh, a Jewish real estate agent in Whitefish, Montana, who was involved with a protest in front of a building owned by Richard Spencer's mother, and who encouraged her to repudiate her son's gross views, consider selling her property, and get the hell out of Dodge.
In the post, Anglin included Gersh's phone number, email address and physical address, telling his obedient legion of loser white supremacists to "troll storm" her.
And so they did. By the next morning, Gersh and her family were inundated with horrifying threats through every conceivable mode of communication. It continued and continued, every day, until in April of 2017, she decided she had enough. (Even now the harassment continues.) Represented by lawyers from the Southern Poverty Law Center, Gersh filed a harassment suit against Andrew Anglin.
In December 2017, Anglin's attorneys filed a motion claiming that the charge should be dismissed because the harassment didn't constitute a real threat, on account of the fact that threatening Jewish people into ovens and other horrific comments were "generally recognized anti-Semitic tropes, without actual harm reasonably to be construed," and they were instead just contributing to the marketplace of ideas by tweeting a picture of an oven at her son with the caption "psst kid, there's a free Xbox One inside this oven."
No, really, they said "marketplace of ideas." In reference to threatening to throw people in ovens.
[The] motion to dismiss marks Anglin's most substantive defense so far. It argues that Anglin's calls for a "troll storm" were protected by the First Amendment — free speech "made on a website to spur others to express their opinions to Plaintiff and her associates" and "to contribute more speech to the marketplace of ideas."
Astonishingly, that did not work. Anglin then failed to show up for his court appearances and his lawyers withdrew from the case.
On Monday, Magistrate Judge Jeremiah C. Lynch found in favor of Gersh, and recommended (magistrate judges make recommendations to district judges) that Anglin be ordered to pay Gersh $4 million in compensatory damage and $10 million in punitive damages. That's $14 million in total, one million dollars for each of the 14 words Anglin loves so dearly.
Anglin also still owes comedian Dean Obeidallah $4 million for having accused him of plotting the May 2017 terror attack that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England.
Unfortunately, it is pretty unlikely that either Gersh or Obeidallah will ever actually see much of that money. For one, Anglin almost definitely doesn't have it. For another, he is currently living "underground" and claims to be out of the country and no longer a US citizen (though he voted in 2016 from Krasnodar, Russia, checking the box "I am a U.S. citizen residing outside the United States, and my return is not certain"). However, his father lives in Ohio and is in charge of his financials, so there is a possibility that his assets could still be seized.
Wherever he is, Anglin is fucked. The Daily Stormer has been entirely banned from the the regular internet and is only available on the dark web, meaning that it's far less accessible than it was when it surged in popularity during Trump's 2016 campaign. He can't come back to the US, he has almost no way to make money in a way that allows him to continue to be a public figure of any kind. This is quite likely the last that any of us will hear of him, and thank goodness for that.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Previously, she was a Senior Staff Writer at Death & Taxes, and Assistant Editor at The Frisky (RIP). Currently, she writes for Wonkette, Friendly Atheist, Quartz and other sites. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse