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I am outraged.  I don’t know why this story isn’t getting wider coverage.  A new Southern Poverty Law Center report shows that:

Nearly 100 people in the last five years have been murdered by active users of the leading racist website, Stormfront, according to a report released today by the SPLC’s Intelligence Project.
You read that right, 20 people a year are being murdered by white supremacists who congregate at a skinhead website.  A site that is populated by deluded losers who spend their days bitching about the direction this country is going.  Wallowing in rage and self-pity, they have taken up arms in increasing numbers since the election of our first black President, blaming all their personal troubles on the failure of this country’s government to protect white folks.  [And please, DON’T visit that site, not even out of curiosity – every click represents dollars to its founder. You can learn more about the history of this violent site and its founder here.]  

Racism is the bastard child of intolerance and insecurity.  The irreversible progress that this country has demonstrated in legal and social status for blacks, gays, Hispanics, women, religious minorities, and other protected groups, and which continues to grow by the day, just drives these idiots over the edge.  Launched in 1995, the Stormfront site has grown from 5000 registered losers in 2002 to over 280,000 today.  Other similar sites have also proliferated.

Who are these people?  The report talks about that.

Racist online forums serve as a birthing den for self-described “lone wolves” by feeding their rage. Investigators find that most offenders openly advocate their ideology online, often obsessively posting on racist forums and blogs for hours every day, while absorbing the hatred around them. The typical visitor attracted to Stormfront is a frustrated, unemployed, white adult male living with his mother or an estranged spouse or girlfriend. She is the sole provider in the household.
Apparently they sit around all day, unemployed, living off their mothers and girlfriends, feeding off each other’s anger and hatred.  And then in fits of brainless violence, many of them decide to go out and kill someone, anyone, often their families, usually random victims at some symbolic center that focuses their rage, in a misguided effort to show the world the logic and justice of their worldview.

Some of the world’s worst mass killers have fueled their rage at this website.  

Stormfront users have included Wade Michael Page, who shot to death six people before killing himself at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin in 2012; Richard Andrew Poplawski, who murdered three Pittsburgh police officers in 2009; and Anders Behring Breivik, who bombed a government building in Norway, killing eight people, and then massacred 69 people, most of them teenagers, at a summer camp in 2011.
The First Amendment guarantees all Americans the right to make outrageous statements, to vent their anger using language offensive to rational people.  By encouraging open dialog and exchange of ideas, however odious, the First Amendment makes this country stronger.  But when the exchange of ideas becomes incitement to violence, when speech leads directly and demonstrably to the racially motivated murder of innocent people, justice demands accountability.

And a big h/t to Morris Dees and the SPLC for the work they have done over the years fighting intolerance, tracking hate groups, working with law enforcement to prevent tragedies and racial injustice.  Their website offers lots of good information and tips on dealing with hatred and intolerance in your community.  They can always use your support.

7:47 AM PT: Update:  First of all, my apologies to the other diarists chaunceydevega and Vetwife who already discussed the Stormfront website and its impact on the many victims of hate crimes.  I encourage everyone to visit those diaries to get a more complete picture of the story.  I would like to leave my diary up because it brings more attention to the case, and adds perhaps a different perspective.

I also want to expand on the issue of free speech that is raised by this story and by many of the commenters.  There is, as we all know, a fine line between free speech and criminal behavior.  I do not advocate silencing reprehensible speech, but I do advocate assigning responsibility when hate speech leads to violence.  The SPLC has pioneered the technique of using the courts to bring damage claims against racist fomenters, even if they did not pull the triggers.  If you are not familiar with the SPLC's cases, I encourage you to read about the successful court actions that essentially brought down the racist empires of WAR leader Tom Metzger (http://www.splcenter.org/...) and KKK Wizard Ron Edwards (http://www.splcenter.org/...).  Perhaps a similar action could be brought against Stormfront.

That brings me to the Stormfront response.  It seems disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that advocating white supremacy and fomenting racial hatred can be separated from the actions of the white supremacists and race haters who commit criminal acts.  Don Black's response indicates that he is very aware of the legal consequences of inciting criminal behavior, so his defense should be taken with a large grain of self-serving salt.  If a connection can be proven between the postings on a site like Stormfront and the victims of a hate crime in a criminal or civil court, then I would be first in line to advocate for bringing them to justice.

And I want to reiterate that the SPLC has been on the front lines of this battle for many decades.  They need and deserve the support of all right-thinking Americans on both sides of the aisle.

Originally posted to liberaldad2 on Fri Apr 18, 2014 at 12:18 AM PDT.

Also republished by Black Kos community, White Privilege Working Group, LatinoKos, Barriers and Bridges, and Inherent Human Rights.

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