Metro Times gained access to four private Facebook groups that can only be seen by approved members. The pages, which have a combined 400,000 members, are filled with paranoid, sexist, and grammar-challenged rants, with members encouraging violence and flouting the governors social-distancing orders.
On Sunday, after being contacted by Metro Times, Facebook removed one of the groups, Michigan United for Liberty, and deleted posts on others for violating the companys policy against inciting violence. Facebook announced last month that it will remove groups and events that encourage people to defy social-distancing measures. Facebook also is investigating the other groups.
We removed one group for violating our policies and will remove any other violations as we continue our review, a Facebook spokesperson tells Metro Times.
Assassinating Whitmer is a common theme among members of the groups. Dozens of people have called for her to be hanged.
We need a good old fashioned lynch mob to storm the Capitol, drag her tyrannical ass out onto the street and string her up as our forefathers would have, John Campbell Sr. wrote in a group called People of Michigan vs. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, which had nearly 9,000 members as of Monday morning.
Steve Doxsie had the same idea: Drag that tyrant governor out to the front lawn. Fit her for a noose.
Either President Trump sends in the troops or there is going to be a midnight lynching in Lansing soon, Michael Smith chimed in.
Others suggested she be shot, beaten, or beheaded.
Plain and simple she needs to eat lead and send a statement to the rest of the democrats that they are next, James Greena, of Fennville, wrote.
Chris Rozman said, She needs her ass beat. Most of these politicians need a good ass whooping. Just. Punch there lights out.
When someone suggested the guillotine, Thomas Michael Lamphere responded, Good ol fashioned bullets work better, but I like the enthusiasm.
Wonder how long till shes hit with a shotgun blast, Chris Parrish wrote.
Matthew Woodruff had another idea: Can we please just take up a collection for an assassin to put that woman from Michigan down, he asked.
We couldve taken over the capital last time if we wanted, Chris Coffey said. This was just a display. Next time wont be!
If she thinks the last protest was bad she hasn't seen anything yet, DonnaCookie Grady warned.
We havent had any bloodshed yet, but the populous is counting to three, and the other day was two, Dave Meisenheimer wrote in Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine, which has more than 385,000 members. Next comes watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants.
Gordon Chapman says hes going to the Thursday rally and hopes demonstrators are armed to the teeth.
Voting is too late we need to act now, Chapman said.
The potential for violence prompted some public officials, including Whitmer and Attorney General Dana Nessel, to promote banning firearms from the Capitol building.
There are legislators who are wearing bulletproof vests to go to work, Whitmer told ABC News last week. "No one should be intimidated by someone who's bringing in an assault rifle into their workplace.
At 11 a.m. Monday, the bipartisan Michigan State Capitol Commission plans to discuss a firearms ban. In a letter to the six-member commission, Nessel told the panel that it has the legal authority to ban guns from the Capitol.
Nessels support of the ban drew anger on another private Facebook page, Whitmer Recall Movement, which has more than 3,500 members.
We are sharpening a stick for you Dana, Pete Scudamore wrote.
DO you want me to bring the rope, shouldnt be too hard to find a good tree, Russell Kynn asked.
Nessels spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney says the attorney generals office will not tolerate threats.
We take every threat seriously and, of course, we are doing everything we can to minimize threats, Rossman-McKinney tells Metro Times.
In January, Metro Times chronicled another Facebook page that was rife with sexism, Islamophobia, and threats against Whitmer and other politicians.
Whitmer responded with a letter to Facebook.
"As a lawyer who respects the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression, I realize there is only so much purview media platforms have for the content posted by their users," Whitmer wrote. "However, better enforcement of Facebook's own community standards where 'attacks' are defined as, 'violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation' this election cycle is needed now more than ever. Mine is not a singular ask."
The private Facebook groups are a hub for far-fetched conspiracy theories and disinformation, reinforcing peoples fears and anger. For some, the states stay-at-home order is an unconstitutional plot by liberals to strip residents of their freedoms and steal the election from President Trump. Some insist the coronavirus is a hoax, and others believe its a manmade disease designed to enrich billionaires and force vaccines on the masses.
One of the most popular and influential conspiracies is featured in Plandemic, a 26-minute documentary-style video with ominous music that racked up millions of views in the past week. The video features a widely refuted researcher named Judy Mikovits, who spins a baseless tale about wealthy people intentionally spreading the coronavirus to boost vaccination rates. She also warns against wearing masks, saying they can exacerbate viral symptoms. Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram have been removing the video, saying the false claims pose a threat to public health.
Not surprisingly, many members of the groups say they will never wear a mask because they believe they are unsafe or represent tyranny.
Birbot Arvo suggested he would resort to violence if police approached him about wearing a mask.
Cop or not. You come at me strong about a mask and I will break your face, Arvo said.
Nathan Silver declared he will not submit to their cultural Marxism.
I refuse to wear one, wrote Rich T. Tyra II. They cause more problems than they prevent and its a sign of being silenced and submission and its training for the forced vaccinations.
To Melody DeCaire, wearing a mask is useless because the coronavirus isnt real.
theres no such thing as Covid, she insisted. Its radation [sic] poisoning coming from the 5g, referring to the conspiracy theory that5G towers cause the illness.
As it struggles to stem the spread of disinformation, Facebook has become the go-to platform for anti-government talking points.
In an April 20 interview with ABC News Good Morning America,Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that the stuff that people are saying that is false around a health emergency like this can be classified as harmful misinformation that has a risk of leading to imminent danger, and well take that content down.
When reached for comment, Facebook users who posted comments about violence said they were merely exercising their right to free speech.
Thomas Allan Morse, who wrote, Army 11 bravo vet here ready to rumble. Two to the chest one to the head, responded that he earned the right to exercise free speech because he served in the military.
Did you serve this country in the armed forces? Let alone ground combat? Morse asked Metro Times via Facebook Messenger. I earned my 1st ammendment (sic).
He declined to say whether he planned to attend Thursdays rally.
Sexism also is rampant among members of the private groups.
I'm dying here a woman talking strategy is like a man explaining what its like to go through menopause. PLEASE, Eric John Mayer said.
James Davis added, Men advanced civilization from the days of banging two rocks together. I dont doubt there are smart women out there. However, the smart women are busy doing things like having families, not corrupting themselves with power and ruining peoples lives.
Facebook users called Whitmer a Nazi, spawn of the devil, wicked witch, arrogant facist [sic] pig, Gestapo Gretchen, tyrant, Soros puppet, and baby killer tyrant.
For Patricia Folk, threats are the logical next step to regaining her freedoms.
I honestly believe that the only way that Congress and the Senate are going to start listening to We the People are threats, Folk wrote on one of the private pages. They no longer respect the voter, or the people they represent. Maybe a tarred and feathered election official, may wake them up.
- Freedom of speech according to the gospel of Koch - University World News - July 21st, 2021
- U.K. Free-Speech Bill a Sound Solution to Censorship - National Review - July 21st, 2021
- She Hates Biden. Some of Her Neighbors Hate the Way She Shows It. - The New York Times - July 21st, 2021
- Academic freedom must include the right to criticise employers - Times Higher Education (THE) - July 21st, 2021
- Proposed Polish Bill Further Restricts Media Freedoms in a Climate of Civil Rights Activism - The Organization for World Peace - July 21st, 2021
- Professors enjoy academic freedom, but it doesnt allow them to teach or say whatever they want in class - San Francisco Chronicle - July 21st, 2021
- Candace Owens backs the Freedom Phone thats designed to promote free speech in fight against Big Tech... - The US Sun - July 16th, 2021
- SCOTUS Gets It Right In 'Mahanoy' With Measured Response To Student Speech - Government, Public Sector - United States - Mondaq News Alerts - July 16th, 2021
- Is Gender Wokeism the New Religion of the West? - Heritage.org - July 16th, 2021
- Ghost of Section 66A - The Indian Express - July 16th, 2021
- Trump's Big Tech lawsuit: Freedom of speech vs. the First Amendment | TheHill - The Hill - July 10th, 2021
- Letters: is it free speech or hate speech? - The Guardian - July 10th, 2021
- The rise of a generation of censors: Law schools the latest battlement over free speech | TheHill - The Hill - July 10th, 2021
- OCMD Police Say Profanity-Laced Biden Flags On The Boardwalk Are Considered Freedom Of Speech - CBS Baltimore - July 10th, 2021
- North Carolina Public Universities Arent Preparing Students Well on Free Speech - National Review - July 10th, 2021
- Gwen Berry, 'The Star Spangled Banner' and free speech in the world of sports | Opinion - NorthJersey.com - July 10th, 2021
- North Carolina Finds That Banning Indoctrination Is Hard - The Atlantic - July 10th, 2021
- Section 230 Continues To Not Mean Whatever You Want It To - Above the Law - July 10th, 2021
- Does Trump have a legitimate First Amendment case? - The Fulcrum - July 10th, 2021
- Conservatives Are the Ones Attacking Free Speech at Universities - Jacobin magazine - June 28th, 2021
- Commentary: How 'freedom of speech' is weaponized to fight anti-racism - Johnson City Press (subscription) - June 23rd, 2021
- Selective Free Speech: Academics Discussing Race Face the Real Cancel Culture Byline Times - Byline Times - June 23rd, 2021
- Celebrating the most American of freedoms | Ken Paulson - Wisconsin Newspaper Association - June 23rd, 2021
- Higher ed access, speech on campus bill moves on for House review - Ohio Capital Journal - June 23rd, 2021
- LGBTQ+ Need Not Apply - The Regulatory Review - June 23rd, 2021
- Ending hate speech starts with all of us - SC Times - June 13th, 2021
- If Critical Race Theory Is Banned, Are Teachers Protected by the First Amendment? - Education Week - June 13th, 2021
- Free speech and the culture wars The Justice Gap - thejusticegap.com - June 13th, 2021
- Free speech matters for all at UCL, and so does disruptive thinking - Jewish News - June 13th, 2021
- Twitter needs India and Nigeria to grow. It's running into trouble in both - KCTV Kansas City - June 13th, 2021
- Monday Morning Thoughts: Has the ACLU Lost Its Way in Protecting Speech They Hate? - The Peoples Vanguard of Davis - June 13th, 2021
- The free speech law will make university debate harder, not easier - The Guardian - May 24th, 2021
- 'Tool for censorship': Newly effective regulation could curb free speech in Indonesia - Jakarta Post - May 24th, 2021
- 'Attempt to 'murder' freedom of speech': Cong on Twitter India office searches - Hindustan Times - May 24th, 2021
- JIM SPENCE: Abertay University vagina row is no joke the free speech Stasi are threatening to silence us all - The Courier - May 24th, 2021
- What is the First Amendment? US right to free speech explained, after Prince Harry says its bonkers - iNews - May 20th, 2021
- The New Campus Free Speech Bill What Universities Need To Know And Need To Do - Consumer Protection - UK - Mondaq News Alerts - May 20th, 2021
- The Government is in a mess with its free speech bill it has already sabotaged its own legal definition - iNews - May 20th, 2021
- The new Campus Free Speech Bill - what universities need to know and need to do - Lexology - May 20th, 2021
- Cutting costs and cultivating free speech will put higher education on the right path | TheHill - The Hill - May 20th, 2021
- Academics And Officials Have Questioned The Evidence Behind Gavin Williamson's Excessive University Free Speech Bill - PoliticsHome - May 20th, 2021
- Letters to the Editor: May 20-26, 2021 - Blaine Northern Light - May 20th, 2021
- Federal lawsuit targets Georgia voting law, citing threat to voting, speech rights - Online Athens - May 20th, 2021
- Culture wars, identity politics and free speech: Rod Liddle and Peter Tatchell in conversation - Spectator.co.uk - May 20th, 2021
- Argumentative Essays on Importance of Freedom of Speech ... - May 9th, 2021
- Does Freedom of Speech Exist - Emerging Media - Loyola ... - May 9th, 2021
- Opinion: The past year has underscored the need for vigilance in defending the First Amendment - Poynter - May 9th, 2021
- Big Tech and freedom of speech | News, Sports, Jobs - The Sentinel - Lewistown Sentinel - April 23rd, 2021
- House Bill 22 Raises Concerns for Police Reform Efforts and Freedom of Speech - WKSU News - April 23rd, 2021
- The Supreme Court Justices Are Set to Hear Two Very Different Free Speech Cases What You Should Know - Law & Crime - April 23rd, 2021
- The Russell Group's statement of principles on universities protecting freedom of speech - FE News - April 23rd, 2021
- Should satire be protected as free speech? - Aliran - April 23rd, 2021
- James Acaster Never Wants to Make an Audience Member Cry Again - Vulture - April 23rd, 2021
- Wave of New 'Anti-Riot' Legislation Threatens Free Speech - The Daily Beast - April 19th, 2021
- A Festival takes on the complicated topic of Freedom of Speech in the U.S. and France - Frenchly - April 19th, 2021
- Historic Figures Who Recognized That Speech Is Freedom's First Line of Defense | Lawrence W. Reed - Foundation for Economic Education - April 19th, 2021
- My Turn: What does a paper owe its readers? - The Recorder - April 19th, 2021
- Analyzing the Recent Sixth Circuits Extension of Academic Freedom Protection to a College - Justia Verdict - April 19th, 2021
- Does Daniel Andrews have new bars on free speech coming? - The Spectator Australia - April 19th, 2021
- Lessons on Free Speech from the Soviet Union - kvor - March 31st, 2021
- When Neville Chamberlain tried to 'no-platform' the Yorkshire Post - The Conversation UK - March 31st, 2021
- The precedent of free speech on campus | The Record - The Record - March 21st, 2021
- Intermediary Liability and Why Free Speech in Software Matters - The Wire - March 21st, 2021
- A look back at a conversation with Carl Hiaasen on free speech - WMFE - March 21st, 2021
- Holmes' defense of Freedom of Speech | Columnists | willistonherald.com - Williston Daily Herald - March 18th, 2021
- My Turn: Our biggest threats to free speech - Concord Monitor - February 14th, 2021
- Q&A: Sociologist with Specialty in Right-Wing Movements on Free Speech and the First Amendment | Newsroom - UC Merced University News - February 14th, 2021
- Gavin Williamson set to appoint free speech champion with power to fine universities - iNews - February 14th, 2021
- Letters: The limits of free speech and the dangers of violence and insurrection - The Advocate - February 14th, 2021
- Free Speech Arguments Against Trump's Impeachment Dishonor The First Amendment - People For the American Way - February 6th, 2021
- The Wall Street Journal Misreads Section 230 and the First Amendment - Lawfare - February 6th, 2021
- After Thomas furore, Bar says to balance free speech and fair trial - Free Malaysia Today - February 6th, 2021
- Reggie Jackson blasts Curt Schilling over Hall controversy: Freedom of speech got you freed out of the Hall of Fame - The Boston Globe - February 2nd, 2021
- Opinion: What the Biden Administration Can Expect To Meet in Court - Prescott eNews - February 2nd, 2021
- Academics should put freedom of speech in the context of other values (opinion) - Inside Higher Ed - January 29th, 2021
- Forum: Freedom of speech should be exercised with responsibility - The Straits Times - January 29th, 2021
- Free Speech and the Question of Race - Los Angeles Review of Books - lareviewofbooks - lareviewofbooks - January 29th, 2021
- Free speech and the responsibilities of social media companies: When should political speech lose its protection? - ABC News - January 29th, 2021
- Does Freedom of Speech Exist in Cryptocurrency Communities? - hackernoon.com - January 29th, 2021
- Absolute Freedom to Tweet? Employers (and the NLRA) May Have Something to Say About It - Lexology - January 29th, 2021