Message to Internet Venues: Stop the Internet Death Threats and Deliberate Attempts to Incite Violence


I’m going to do something that I said I would not do.

Less than 24 hours ago, I was involved in a behind-the-scenes discussion of the vile reactions to the Hobby Lobby decision that were taking place on the internet. I said — and I meant it — that I was not going to write about this trash.

The reason? Satan brought this beast to life, and I, for one, don’t want to feed it.

Now, I’m going to do a 180 and do that thing I said I wasn’t going to do. I am going to talk about the satanically-inspired things being said.

The reason?

I read a call for help from Jennifer Lahl, founder and president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. I have worked with Mrs Lahl on legislation. She is publicly involved in fighting commercial egg harvesting and surrogacy. Evidently, Mrs Lahl has been receiving what amount to death threats.

I’ve decided to write about these threats. I can’t let this go unchallenged.

There were, at least in some dirty little corners of the internet, comments directly inciting violence against Hobby Lobby. What I saw was one person after another calling for specific acts of violence.

I want to make this clear. These were calls to commit crimes of violence against this business. They were explicit and repetitive. They were direct calls to do violence with specific types of violence being named. Every action these commenters were calling for was both a felony in itself and potentially murderous to large numbers of people.

The threats directed against Jennifer Lahl were also explicit. In fact, they were even more explicit, naming the weapon and the method. They were implied death threats, made in graphic terms.

One thing I learned a long time ago is that you have to take people at their word about these things. Words precede actions. My advice to the police is that if anything happens in either of these situations you already have your “persons of interest.” Just look at the people making these threats.

Slander and personal excoriation have become so rife in our society that we no longer recognize them for what they are. We’ve gotten to the point that we think this kind of verbal debauch is normal. Are death threats and calls for violence against persons the downward trend toward a new normal?

I am writing this post to call on other bloggers and people who publish on the internet to accept that they are responsible for what they allow on their publications.

I am not talking about a random comment that got through by accident. I am referring to one call to commit violence, one death threat, after another. If your outlet has become a venue for issuing calls to commit crimes of devastating violence, you need to do something about it. 

Do not wait until a tragedy occurs and then make sanctimonious statements to the press to excuse yourself. Because if that happens, I, for one, won’t be buying it.

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  • hamiltonr

    It’s out there all over the internet Almario. No idea of the jurisdiction or anything else. The web vendor, however, has the full info.

  • Almario Javier

    Most police departments in major cities have High Tech units. Contact your local police station, which you can find in your Yellow Pages and they’ll direct you to them.

    • Manny


    • Fabio Paolo Barbieri

      Is that so? You are lucky. I recently was the target of a determined attempt to defraud me via the internet. I kept the fraudster talking while I tried to involve the British police (I live in London). They weren’t interested. So I ended the correspondence with the fraudster with an e-mail that began: “You are a filthy crook and a *** of a w****; and you are also a lot luckier than you deserve…”

  • Lark62

    I completely agree with Ms. Hamilton’s post. But this is not a “those other people are evil” situation. This is a human issue, and both religious and non-religious humans participate in this evil behavior.

    The threats of violence are wrong, but atheists are frequently on the receiving end. This is especially true when students stand up and say they want to attend school without praying to someone else’s god. Jessica Alquist of Rhode Island needed police protection due to explicit threats of rape and murder. Other people have found family pets killed.

    All of us have a responsibility to fight for civil public discussion. All of us need to defend not just those who say things we agree with, but those we think are wrong.

    • oregon nurse

      I think you misunderstand me to be speaking about all those who disagree with the decision. That is not what I said. There is a distinct difference about the kind of people I’m referring to.

      • abb3w

        I believe Lark’s point may be a point on the lines of Matthew 7:3-5. While there does seem to be a distinct difference, it’s not that they’re Satanists. Historically in the US, the disproportionate source of such threats is not the satanists and libertines; rather, it appears that some holier-than-thou “Christians” are disproportionately inclined to threaten and/or smite those they perceive as transgressors against propriety.

        Ms. Hamilton seems to be indicating those expressing an inclination this sort of behavior should not be given friendly harbor, regardless of whether they are aggressive against Christians or whether they are Christians aggressive against others.