By Ellie Silverman, Washington Post. Read the full article here.
CHARLOTTESVILLE — The jury in a federal courtroom listened as a longtime researcher of far-right movements parsed the style guide of the infamous neo-Nazi website, the Daily Stormer.
“The tone of the site should be light. Most people are not comfortable with material that comes across as vitriolic, raging, nonironic hatred. The unindoctrinated should not be able to tell if we are joking or not,” according to a guide section titled “Lulz” — an acronym for laugh out loud. Continuing with a derogatory term for Jews, it read, “This is obviously a ploy and I actually do want to gas k---s. But that’s neither here nor there.”
This evidence, introduced in an ongoing civil trial against organizers of the deadly 2017 Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, appeared to highlight a sinister strategy expert witness Pete Simi was trying to teach the jurors: the ways in which White supremacists employ humor to shield their calls for violence, in an effort to render them legally ambiguous.
As jurors consider the plaintiffs’ accusation that the rally organizers conspired to foment racial violence, they have been presented with a trove of evidence that includes messages laced with slurs, memes of using cars to run over protesters and calls for cracking skulls. Over the past four weeks, plaintiffs’ attorneys have tried to make their case by carefully breaking down the jokes and catch-phrases favored by far-right extremists, in an effort to teach jurors how to decode White supremacists’ secret vocabulary of hate.