Another day, another neo-Nazi troglodyte arguing that hateful, downright scary and threatening speech is somehow protected under the First Amendment.
Andrew Anglin, the founder and publisher of the flaming landfill known as the Daily Stormer, is claiming that the “troll storm” that he encouraged against a Jewish woman in Montana starting last year is free speech and is demanding that the lawsuit filed against him be dismissed, according to CNN.
His lawyers are arguing that the issue between Anglin and Realtor Tanya Gersh is essentially a First Amendment one.
“The only thing [Anglin] did was call for people to speak, but people want to draw the line for speech they don’t like,” Marc Randazza, a First Amendment lawyer representing Anglin, told the network.
Of course, what Anglin and Randazza are attempting to dismiss as casual words is Anglin’s use of his website to encourage his grimy band of hate-mongers to contact Gersh through emails, social media, letters and phone calls and attack her—which many of them did, using anti-Semitic slurs and memes.
Gersh said that she and her family suffered through months of harassment because of Anglin, leading to a decline in Gersh’s physical and emotional health.
Some of the messages included edited-out images of her face on the gates of Auschwitz, the notorious Nazi death camp. In one voicemail, she heard the sound of gunshots. Letters were also sent to her home, where she lives with her husband and young son.
“You have no idea what you are doing, six million are only the beginning,” one message sent to her email reportedly read.
One individual photoshopped a picture of her son to make it look as if he were being “crushed by Nazi trucks,” and sent the child the image.
Gersh told CNN that the images and messages disturbed her so much that she contemplated fleeing the state because she was terrified for her and her family’s lives.
Gersh believes that simply calling Anglin and his crew “trolls” does not truly show the impact their actions have had.
“These are not trolls. They are terrorists,” she told CNN. “They are very harmful, they are very malicious and they are dangerous.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center is helping Gersh sue Anglin for “invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress and violations of Montana’s Anti-Intimidation act.”
Anglin’s lawyers, however, are attempting to dismiss the lawsuit.
“Even Nazi expression, no matter the psychic harm on Jewish residents, is nonetheless protected speech,” Anglin’s lawyers wrote in a motion. “Every word uttered by Mr. Anglin in this public dispute is protected by the First Amendment, no matter how many people find those views intolerable.”
Gersh’s unfortunate encounter with Anglin began after she spoke with Sherry Spencer, the mother of white nationalist fuccboi supreme Richard Spencer, about a mixed-use building that Sherry Spencer owned in the Montana city of Whitefish.
Gersh became a target for hate after contacting tenants of a building owned by Sherry Spencer, warning them about possible protests by a group over her son’s views.
When Sherry Spencer called to ask her advice, Gersh says, she advised her to sell the building and donate money to a human rights group as a way to defuse tensions. Gersh says she offered to help Spencer sell the property.
Sherry Spencer eventually accused Gersh in a public blog post of threatening her livelihood.
She wrote that Gersh told her protesters and media would turn up and drive down the building’s value if she didn’t sell.
That’s when Anglin stepped in, writing about the dispute in the Stormer starting in December 2016, according to the lawsuit (pdf), and accusing Gersh of “extortion.” He posted Gersh’s personal information and other ways to reach her on his website, and the rest goes as you know it.
Anglin’s attorneys argue, however, that he “specifically disclaims calling for threats or harassment,” instead calling it a “campaign of making our voices heard.”
Anglin’s attorneys also claimed that he was just doing what Gersh had already done to Sherry Spencer.
“Ms. Gersh was involved with planning a boycott and protest of Mrs. Spencer’s business. Thus, Ms. Gersh condones collective action to express a political opinion—so long as that political opinion is one that she favors,” Anglin’s attorneys wrote in the motion for dismissal. “In the face of that, there is no reason to foresee Ms. Gersh would not similarly condone others engaged in collective expression.”
According to CNN, Anglin said that losing the case could shut down his website and has started a defense fund, to which he has asked people to donate. Because some people are just awful, he has apparently been able to raise more than $150,000.
Read more at CNN.