Attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint this week on behalf of a Jewish woman in Whitefish, Montana, in which it accuses the publisher of a neo-Nazi website of turning “his horde of anti-Semitic fanatics loose” and coordinating a “terror campaign” against the real estate agent and her family. It’s an essential read because it details how racists like Andrew Anglin, the publisher of hate website The Daily Stormer, are allegedly using the Internet to provoke fear and gain influence.
It’s also repulsive. The level of anti-Semitic harassment (voicemails, phone calls, texts, emails, letters, e.g.) the plaintiff Tanya Gersh, her husband, and their 12-year-old son were exposed to—which was done on behalf of “alt-Right” leader Richard Spencer’s mother, as outlined in the lawsuit—is just plain sick.
Good on the SPLC for taking on this case. But it’s hard not to hope that one day some genius will actually address the systemic problem that enables this kind of ugliness. The Internet remains a wild place wherein just about anybody can be exposed to such harassment given the amount of information publicly available: most everybody is reachable. It would be nice to imagine a world in which a commitment to freedom of expression doesn’t mean accepting that innocent people will regularly be harassed and threatened—or, God forbid, worse.
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