During the last two years, the mainstream media have collectively published hundreds (perhaps thousands) of articles about Qanon. Not one mainstream article, to my knowledge, has had anything positive to say about Q or his followers. Most articles portray Q as a devious prankster or a group of internet trolls and his followers as delusional racists fanatically obsessed with seeing pedophiles jailed. Critics have become so obsessed with destroying Q that they sometimes overstep the law. And now one man is going to court over his hatred of Q and 8chan.

Fredrick Brennan is the founder of the internet message board 8chan where Qanon posts. Jim Watkins assumed ownership of 8chan in 2015 and Brennan stayed on as an employee after the transfer. In 2018, Brennan terminated his employment with Watkins over irreconcilable differences. The summer of 2019 brought a media blitz against Q and 8chan. After a series of mass shootings, the media made repeated accusations (some of which have proven to be false) that 8chan promoted hate speech and violent extremism. The media’s articles were weaponized in an attempt to pressure companies that provide tech service to 8chan to cancel their service agreements. On August 5th, the plan to deplatfom 8chan succeeded. Cloudflare withdrew its service to 8chan, leaving them open to DDoS attacks. The website has been offline ever since.

On September 5th, Jim Watkins testified before Congress and explained the measures he was taking to deal with messages that endorse violence. (People have asked if a copy of Jim’s testimony might be obtained through FOIA, but that is not possible. Congress is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. The release of the transcript is at the discretion of the committee, and at this time, they have not made it public). Fredrick Brennan took to Twitter on Septemeber 6th and 7th and attacked Watkins claiming, among other things, that he was going senile.

A month later, Brennan explained his motive for the attacks against Watkins and 8chan. He “has a vendetta with them.” (Brennan is also prone to posting tweets that are critical of Q and his followers.)

Defamation is the oral or written communication of a false statement about another that unjustly harms their reputation. Slander is spoken defamation. Libel is written defamation. In most jurisdictions, a case for defamation is based on two things: A false statement of fact, and malicious intent. In two tweets, Brennan made a false statement of fact (the claim that Watkins was going senile) and demonstrated maliciously intent (“I have a vendetta with them”). Watkins and Brennan live in the Philippines where defamation is a criminal matter. Watkins filed a criminal complaint with the local authorities. The complaint alleges that Brennan used the El Paso shooting spree to attack Watkinsโ€™ reputation and defame his character. (The full criminal complaint can be viewed here.)

Those who are connected to 8chan and those who support Q (including myself) have been defamed by internet trolls and the media for years and no one has pushed back. Watkins’ criminal complaint is a shot across the bow. A warning to all that false claims intended to harm us and silence our voices will not be tolerated. Though we greatly value freedom of speech and freedom of the press, both have limitations. Defamation should not be accepted by any community. When it is, bullies are emboldened to bring more attacks. The abusive tactics used by the press and social media companies are the reason why Devin Nunes filed lawsuits against Fusion GPS, McClatchy and Twitter. Nunes understands that until someone holds abusive people accountable for their behavior, the abuse will continue.

There are others in our community who probably have grounds for defamation lawsuits. The maker of Q Drops had their app pulled from the Apple store after NBC published an article by Ben Collins which made false statements about Q. The tone of the article made it clear that NBC’s intent was to get the app pulled from the Apple and Google stores. They intended to cause harm (defamation) to a legitimate business. Many of the claims the media make about Q are false and reporters know they are false. Making a statement of fact that you know or suspect is not true in an attempt to harm someone is the definition of defamation. (The maker of Q Alerts also had their app removed from the Apple store.)

Thinking that the first amendment allowed them to say anything they wanted, those who oppose Q and 8chan have had a good run with their libelous statements, but it seems the tide may have turned. Will they finally be held accountable? It will depend on how we, as a community, respond to their behavior.

(I have more articles in the works on this subject so stay tuned.)

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