JTA - Attorneys for neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin, who founded and runs the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, said his calls for a “troll storm” against a Montana Jewish woman are protected by free speech.
The motion to dismiss a lawsuit against Anglin filed Thursday in federal court also argued that the neo-Nazi memes and anti-Jewish slurs used by Anglin, who blogs on the website, are protected free speech and pose “no true threat” to Jewish people.
Tanya Gersh of Whitefish, Montana announced in April a lawsuit against Anglin for revealing her personal information and inflicting “emotional distress.” The lawsuit was filed on Gersh’s behalf by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Anglin launched a campaign in December against Gersh after Sherry Spencer of Whitefish, mother of another white supremacist, Richard Spencer, posted an article on Medium targeting Gersh, a real estate agent, over a real estate dispute. The next day, Anglin made a post for his subscribers titled “Jews Targeting Richard Spencer’s Mother for Harassment and Extortion – TAKE ACTION!”
Gersh claims that anonymous internet users harassed her family after Anglin revealed her home address and phone number, her husband’s business contact information and her son’s Twitter handle.
The suit accuses Anglin of invading Gersh’s privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and violating a Montana anti-intimidation law. The Daily Stormer created a campaign on WeSearchr to pay for Anglin’s legal expenses, raising more than $159,000 in donations from more than 2,000 contributors.
Anglin’s attorneys said in their filing that the messages against Gersh were “generally recognized anti-Semitic tropes, without actual harm reasonably to be construed,” according to the filing.
“And, even Nazi expression, no matter the psychic harm on Jewish residents, is nonetheless protected speech,” the motion says. “Thus, there was no true threat.”
The call for a “troll storm,” according to the attorneys is 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.”
Among the messages sent to Gersh’s private email, according to the Washington Post, are: “Ratfaced criminals who play with fire tend to get thrown in the oven;” “Merry Christmas, you Christ-killer;” “It’s time for you to take a one way ticket to tel aviv;” and “You have no idea what you are doing, six million are only the beginning.”
Gersh’s attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center have been unable to find Anglin in order to serve him with the lawsuit in a bid to force him to appear publicly in court. They have posted notices in local newspapers in Ohio, where his family lives, in order to fulfill the legal notice requirements for a lawsuit.