The rise of President Donald Trump brought a number of repugnant elements of American society out of the shadows — but they can’t run from the law. This past week, U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen ruled against Andrew Anglin, who maintains the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer, asserting that the First Amendment does not give him the right to orchestrate targeted harassment against someone he dislikes. (What a wild concept, right?)
Anglin had sought to have a suit against him dismissed on those grounds. The Southern Poverty Law Center brought the suit on behalf of Montana real estate agent Tanya Gersh, who is Jewish. After Gersh consulted with Sherry Spencer — prominent white supremacist Richard Spencer’s mother — about the sale of a building she owns in Whitefish, Montana, Spencer claimed that Gersh had sought to coerce her into selling the building and separating herself from her son. The original consultations came after a protest against white supremacy was in the works for Whitefish following Richard pronouncing “Heil Trump!” at a D.C. event.
In response, Anglin called for a campaign of harassment against Gersh, and to that end, he published her personal contact information and that of her husband, 12 year old son, and some friends. In all, the targets faced over 700 violent messages, many of which referenced the Holocaust and a number of which consisted solely of the sound of gunshots.
Gersh has notified law enforcement of the harassment, but no criminal charges have yet been filed. The Southern Poverty Law Center brought a civil suit on her behalf seeking damages — and ultimately, to curtail Anglin’s activities.
SPLC lawyer David Dinnelli asserted:
‘He should be assured that if we end up with a judgment, we will go to the ends of the earth to collect, so that he doesn’t do this again and can no longer publish.’
Anglin has been sued before, but the success of those efforts has varied in part because he’s not made himself available. He’s gone so off the grid that he could be overseas at this point. His last known address is in Ohio from two years ago.
His site has been thwarted alongside its owner’s changing living situation, having been kicked off mainstream hosting services after its repugnant response to a weekend of violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one demonstrator against white supremacy dead. The Daily Stormer mocked the victim, Heather Heyer.
You’d hope that there would be a clear national government push against such behavior, but Judge Christensen’s ruling is an exception to the norm of government responses in the Trump era. After the Charlottesville violence, Trump had to be goaded into specifically condemning white nationalists. On plenty of other occasions, he’s offered their ideology direct support, asserting, for instance, that immigration poses some kind of inherent threat to Western civilization.
Trump has, on other occasions, offered policy support for white nationalist agendas through means like his long sought wall along the border of the United States and Mexico and his other attempts to curtail immigration.
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