Today, in the Men’s Rights subreddit, we find Demonspawn, a long-time fixture in Reddit’s MRA circles, getting dozens of upvotes for a comment in which he advocates murdering family court judges and other government officials:
Demonspawn is responding to a post from Robert Franklin on Fathers and Families about Dan Brewington, “[a]n Indiana man fac[ing] five years in prison because he criticized the judge and the custody evaluator in his divorce and custody case.”
Or at least that’s how Franklin wants to frame the issue. While conceding that Brewington “often used intemperate language” on his blog, Franklin downplays what seems to have been a relentless four-year harassment campaign from the troubled father. According to a report on the case on the Eagle Country Online website:
[P]rosecutors argued that Brewington took his postings beyond being critical of the court system. They became personal against anybody who became involved with his case.
“This was sick revenge dragging my wife and kids into the matter,” Humphrey said during his testimony. “I don’t know of many cases where a subject has more clearly expressed his intent to do harm.” …
Brewington … called [custody evaluator Edward] Connor a child molester and prostitute in his “Internet rampage,” contacted the Children’s Home of Northern Kentucky where Conner is involved as a board member, and sending mass e-mails to Connor’s colleagues and legal professional around the area. …
Connor’s wife, Dr. Sara Jones-Connor, reaffirmed what her husband shared with the judge.
“For over four years we have dealt with his attacks on a daily basis,” Jones-Conner said.
And Franklin leaves out the most serious of the accusations against Brewington: that he threatened to murder the judge.
Brewington’s cellmate at the Dearborn County Law Enforcement Center for two-and-a-half months, Joseph McCaleb, had sent a letter to jail officials on September 25 after being concerned with what he heard from Brewington.
“He talked about following (Judge Humphrey) home, shooting him, and dumping him in the river,” McCaleb said of Brewington’s alleged “detailed and thought out” plan.
I should note that after testifying that Brewington’s threats seemed serious, McCaleb later concluded that they weren’t; and Judge Brian Hill did not take his testimony into consideration when sentencing Brewington.
Was Brewington’s sentence fair? I don’t know. But Franklin’s posting was misleading, to say the least, if not dishonest. And while a few people raised questions about it, no one on the Men’s Rights subreddit bothered to spend the two minutes on Google that would have turned up the story I’ve been quoting from, instead relying entirely on Franklin’s, er, incomplete account.
Whether or not Brewington’s threats were sincere, Franklin’s post had Demonspawn and many others on the Men’s Rights subreddit thinking violent thoughts themselves. Here are some more selections from the discussion there. Note that every single violent comment I quote below got upvotes from the regulars.
Here, Boss_Money invokes the memory of Tom Ball, who killed himself in hopes that his dramatic suicide would encourage other MRAs to start firebombing courthouses and police stations:
Later in that same thread, coldacid suggests that suicide is a much less effective strategy than murder:
Anxdiety, meanwhile, shares his fantasies of violent “retribution.”
Boss_Monkey returns with a miniature manifesto for armed revolution:
And whats_up_doc suggests that violence may be the only solution:
The Men’s Rights subreddit is by and large the most “moderate” of all the major Men’s Rights forums online. But this is the language, and the thinking, of a hate movement. Anyone who really cares about improving life for men needs to call this kind of thing out, and make clear that it is completely unacceptable in any rights movement worthy of the name.