July 12, 2017

SEE, THIS IS WHY CNN SHOULDN’T HAVE THREATENED TO DOX “HAN ASSHOLESOLO.” “How a Montana mom became the target of a neo-Nazi troll,” reports CNN. A Colorado real estate agent named Tanya Gersh was bombarded with threatening emails and phone calls, “after contacting tenants of a local building:”

Gersh says she was then called by the building’s owner, Sherry Spencer, the mother of white supremacist Richard Spencer.

Gersh says she warned Sherry Spencer about looming protests at the building in Whitefish, a Montana town of 7,300 where both women live.

Gersh says she advised Spencer to disavow the views of her son, including that the United States is a country for white people.

She says she offered to sell Spencer’s property as a way of defusing tensions in town. Gersh suggested Spencer donate money to a human rights group.

Sherry Spencer refused to speak to CNN when we reached her on the phone. Earlier, she wrote in a blog post that Gersh, a Realtor, had threatened her, saying protesters and media would turn up and drive down the building’s value if she didn’t sell.

That’s when, according to CNN, “DailyStormer.com, which spews neo-Nazi propaganda” went into full-on #hastanyalandedyet mode:

Andrew Anglin, the site’s founder, accused Gersh of extortion in a blog post. And he exhorted readers to send Gersh — whom he also identified as Jewish — enough messages to make a point.

“Let’s hit ’em up,” he posted. “Are y’all ready for an old-fashioned Troll Storm?”

He then told them: “(I)t’s that time.”

Obligatory reminder: it is never that time. And it shouldn’t be for CNN either, which makes their putting their mafia-like warning that “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change” into their piece on the now infamous “Han Asshole Solo” all the more abhorrent.

“Now, before we move on, someone is going to point out that the meme guy is kind of a jerk and said stuff that offends decent people,” as Kurt Schlichter wrote last week. “So? How is that the point? This is a multi-billion dollar media corporation using all its power to threaten an individual into not criticizing it. How is that ever okay? And don’t pretend for a minute this media extortion precedent gets limited to outlier Reddit guys. Normal Americans are next.”

But normal Americans have already gotten the full troll storm from the left. Just ask the owners of Indiana’s Memories Pizza, who had the mob from a 1930s Universal Frankenstein movie dropped onto them as a result of badthink in response to a hypothetical question by a local journalist. Or Elizabeth Lauten, the low-level Republican staffer who had the temerity to write on her Facebook page that Obama’s daughters should “try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play,” and ultimately quit her job, after social media was whipped into a frenzy by the DNC-MSM (including, of course, CNN):

Lauten apologized for her remarks last Friday, but the backlash continued to grow. She later made her apology statement “private” on Facebook after threatening messages were posted in the comments section.

Both ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today show devoted segments to the controversy on Sunday and Monday, according to Newsbusters. Meanwhile, the Smoking Gun reported that Lauten had been arrested for shoplifting when she was 17 years old, and photos of her drinking beer were posted on Twitter with the caption “Yes America. This is the person who told Sasha and Malia to have some class.”

Lauten has also allegedly received threatening phone calls. On Twitter, dozens of users called for her to “die,” “choke,” and “kill yourself.”

Or Justine Sacco, which brings us back to last week’s threatened doxxing by CNN:

This isn’t [senior CNN editor Andrew] Kaczynski’s first attempt at destroying a private citizen’s life. As a BuzzFeed reporter, he gained notoriety for publicizing a lame joke Tweeted by a 30-year-old PR director named Justine Sacco. As Sacco was boarding a plane from London to Cape Town, South Africa, she poked fun at many people’s poor understanding of the continent. Kaczynski decided the joke was racist and helped gin up a digital lynch mob while she was in the air for 11 hours sans internet. By the time Sacco landed, she was mobbed by reporters, was fired from her job, and had to go into hiding. [Update: Another link demonstrating Kaczynski’s role is here.]

If it’s wrong for an alt-right group to combine doxxing with intimidation – and it is – it’s also wrong for CNN to threaten the same tactics, knowing full well, as Kaczynski does, that outing Mr. AssholeSolo will send up the Batsignal for the Twitter mobs. Or as CNN contributor Mary Katharine Ham wrote yesterday at the Federalist,Going To The Mats For Free Speech Sometimes Means Letting Trolls Go Unpunished:”

HanA**holeSolo isn’t some great modern-day pamphleteer whom we should ensure at all costs can keep delivering us (and the president) hot memes from his den of racist sh*tposters. He’s not, and the fact that the White House finds inspiration in these corners of the Internet is newsworthy. Some of his other creations, including a a composite with Stars of David next to the Jewish CNN employees, are truly disgusting.

But media should be very careful about when they expose private citizens for the sin of political speech. They should be especially careful not to imply that content of political speech that crosses a big media entity is the reason for exposure. The media don’t owe every troll on the Internet his or her anonymity, but doing disproportionate warfare with them can endanger and chill the speech of others.

As Vox’s German Lopez put it simply, “The Internet is not proportional.”

“The problem here is that the internet is not proportional. People wouldn’t merely react to this guy making some offensive remarks on the internet by making some offensive remarks to him. They would react as the internet has reacted before to these kinds of situations — with potentially thousands of hateful messages, death threats, attempts to get him fired, and harassment not just against him but also his family. Lines would quickly be crossed.”

And it’s not just the Internet that’s not proportional. Media has shown an inability to gauge its coverage of the online speech of private citizens.

Bravo for CNN for reporting on Tanya Gersh – but their reasons for doing so appear to be more than a little self-serving. And in threatening “HanA**holeSolo” with doxxing – and with it, the implicit threat that they would the sturm und drang of social media down upon his life, they are yet the latest reminder that the left shouldn’t be surprised when the alt-right adopts the odious tactics they themselves popularized.