In October 2012, the angry wingnuts of We Are Change Victoria invited a neo-Nazi sympathizer to speak at their rally. I came with some friends to picket from a safe distance. Then this happened.
Here’s the full story of that epic day.
The wingnut claimed that these photos belong to him, and also that taking photos in public is libel and terrorism. So began The Wingnut Lawsuit of 2013, which charted whole new frontiers of stupid.
Update July 2016: The Wingnut Lawsuit is in limbo again
In summer 2015, I succeeded in tossing Elson’s most ridiculous claims, including blasphemous libel, pain and suffering, and criminal harassment. The judge also explained to him why the courts were not going to arrest me. (Keep in mind this self-described Libertarian Freeman is suing me over Facebook posts.)
In September 2015 Elson lashed out with some new demands and got another thirty-minute scolding. Since then, he has skulked off to some other town, and it seems he has come to the attention of the police there.
I know I promised to post a judge’s ruling on this case, but it may never got to trial. So these comedy highlights will have to do. Sometimes that’s how it goes.
Three years ago in Victoria, this self-proclaimed Freeman with a hard-on for swastikas and stalking women activists filed an incoherent mess of a libel suit against me. It was terribly dramatic, coming after three months of trying to frighten me with threats, blackmail demands and physical intimidation.
Ryan Elson served his legal notice in person with great glee in January 2013, and he’s been filing hundred-page affidavits accusing me of imaginary crimes (terrorism! mass murder! feminism!) that somehow leave the impression he is barking mad.
In short, Elson doesn’t have a chance.
His libel claim is doomed because he himself published the material he was complaining about. Not just once or twice – Elson distributed copies of my article Hate Mail from Haters everywhere he could. He posted screen-captures and pdfs on his website and spammed the links and photos everywhere.
Apparently, dudebro wants the whole world to know how his feelings got hurt, and how I brutally oppressed him with my opinion that racist bullshit is racist, and bullshit.
Elson doesn’t deny that what I said is true. Truth is a great defense to libel. So is fair comment.
Elson is trying to get an injunction to shut down this blog and ban me from publishing. I’m defending myself. I got the court to dismiss his attempts, and he’s gotten a few harsh judgey lectures as a bonus. But he doesn’t care about the law – he’s just using the court to harass me. I know, the judge knows it, and the armed sheriffs who are there to watch him know it. The sheriffs are there since the first time Elson lunged at me screaming in the courthouse. The second time, they had the pleasure of hauling him out of the courtroom by his collar.
I’m making light of it now, but the dude put me through a lot of hassle. In January 2014, someone – probably Elson – tried to hack my email account. He succeeded in hacking a friend’s account in June. (We know it was him because his unique cyberstalker IP address was captured in the login records. Yep, he’s an absolute genius.)
In October, he – or someone else – launched a DDOS cyber-attack on my website. Then someone – probably Elson – made a 911 call to the West Shore RCMP and made it appear it was from my cell phone. An RCMP officer called me at 2 am responding to a serious crime in progress. I said, “What? I didn’t call you,” and the officer said OK and hung up. Then I sat bolt upright in bed and tried to figure out what had happened.
Elson doesn’t know where I live. Which is very fortunate. If he had my address, I might have woken up at 2 am to cops breaking down my door and pointing guns at me.
Elson and his gang have called the police on me half a dozen times – about things like making fun of them on Facebook. (Yes, really!)
Back in October 2012, I created a Facebook event to counterprotest a neo-Nazi his group had booked to speak at a rally. Elson tried to have me arrested before, during, and after the rally. (He didn’t succeed.)
Of course, the dude’s shenanigans at the counterprotest are comedy gold. Read about it here.
In the months that followed, Elson and his little gang tried to stalk and intimidate me. He threatened blackmail if I didn’t submit to his demands. He called me out as a race traitor on Stormfront, a world-wide white supremacist web forum.
But the high point of the year came at the Victoria Anarchist Bookfair in September. Members of Elson’s We Are Change gang were hanging out at the park next door to the gym the bookfair was renting. The group included Elson’s buddy Greg Hill, who had just filed an affidavit accusing me of oppressing him with my feminist blog as part of the effort to ban me from publishing.
Hill decided it would be a good idea to come inside and confront me. He found me sitting behind a table, up against a wall, and cornered me there. Hill put his hands on the table and leaned in close. He’s a big dude. I’m a tiny woman. I don’t know what he was planning to do next. Whatever it was, he didn’t get the chance.
I stood up, took a deep breath and shouted the place down. I don’t know where that voice came from (well OK, yes I do) but it hit that gymnasium like a bomb going off. The rafters shook. Hundreds of people stopped what they were doing and stared as I laid into the dude.
I said his name, I said a bunch of things. I called him a woman-hater. I pointed at him and bellowed: “This is what a white supremacist looks like.” Everyone was stunned. Hill actually staggered back a couple paces from the force of the blast.
Up until that moment, every time the dudes provoked me, I had kept my cool. Something snapped.
A half dozen young women – bookfair volunteers – swooped in and circled around Hill. “It’s time for you to go,” they chirped. “Time for you to go now. Come with us, you’re going to leave now.”
Hill stammered: “You can’t make me leave … This isn’t democratic … None of it is true … ” but he allowed the women to lead him out the door. By all reports, he was shaking and in tears by the time he rejoined his buddies outside.
I didn’t witness that part. I was laughing my ass off. These assholes had tried to terrorize me for months, and it felt GREAT to demonstrate how completely they had failed.
Outside, Elson’s buddy Josh Steffler, the dude who had invited the neo-Nazi speaker the year before, tried to charge into the gym and challenge everyone inside to a fight. He was restrained and persuaded to fuck off out the door.
Meanwhile, Hill was in the parking lot phoning 911. (Yes, really!) A squad car arrived and an officer took stock of the angry wackos squaring off against my friends who were blocking the gym doors. The cop told the wingnuts, “You better leave.” They went off, sputtering threats.
The VicPD didn’t take a report or investigate this incident (or any of the other complaints the angry dudes made). Their refusal made Elson go apeshit with rage at the VicPD on Twitter. But that did not help, for some reason.
(By the way – is it normal for manly, rugged Libertarians to call the police every time their feelings are hurt? I don’t think it is normal. But what do I know? Maybe a right-wing dude’s hurt feelings really are a crime against humanity.)
What an interesting year it turned out to be! Mind you, those are just the highlights. Don’t get me started on all the dull and ungrammatical threats of rape and death and so on.
I’m very happy to report the idiot has (apparently) given up. He’s also stopped stealing my photos and claiming they are his. He’s quit trying to blackmail me. And I got a crash course in self-represented litigation, for cheap!
The best part of this year has been finding empowerment, inspiration, and solidarity in our communities. We launched Anti-Racist Action Victoria and made a bunch of rock-solid new friends. We created the Peacekeepers to defend people who are threatened with physical violence. The wingnuts hate this SO MUCH. But they are cowards; they generally won’t approach a group that’s ready for them.
I also learned that some of my former friends want to defend swastikas (because they are free speech, and calling people “racist” is not) and some believe white dudes as a class are oppressed by feminists. Goodbye and good riddance!
I am tremendously grateful for the support and solidarity we’ve found this year. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to bullies. I’m there for anyone else who’s going through a similar fight.
Thank you for keeping the spirit!
Video: Ryan Elson complains to the Human Rights Commission about an imaginary future “genocide” against white men.
Hate Mail from Haters (the story that started it all)
More about the angry wingnuts of Victoria
Bonus: How to Oppress Men (coming soon in print!)