The Jury Talks Back


Terrorizing Ajit Pai, Net Neutrality, the Resistance, and SWATting

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 10:30 pm

The anti-Trump “Resistance” has aspects that are criminal and out of control, and the latest example is their treatment of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Noah Rothman had an excellent piece in Commentary Magazine today titled The Torment of Ajit Pai, about the disgusting treatment that Pai has received at the hands of the “Resistance.” So what is Pai’s crime? Deciding that the federal government might not be the best entity to put in charge of the new printing press known as the Internet. But because we call this “net neutrality,” a bunch of self-righteous millenials with a Trump-level understanding of policy have taken it upon themselves to terrorize the man and his family:

The so-called “Resistance” latched onto the net-neutrality issue early in the Trump presidency and went about expressing their opposition to the repeal of this regulation in the most contemptible fashion imaginable. HBO host John Oliver was among the first figures of mainstream cultural relevance to organize a campaign against this regulation, which he dubbed “Go FCC Yourself.” He encouraged his followers to bombard the FCC’s website with comments supporting the regulation, and that is precisely what they did. Those comments were peppered with claims that Pai was a pedophile, a “dirty, sneaky Indian” who should self-deport, and reminders that anonymous online hordes maintain the “power to murder Ajit Pai and his family.” Oliver was eventually compelled to release a video urging his followers to dial back the racism and death threats.

This episode would prove to be just the beginning of Pai’s ordeal. By May of last year, Pai’s tormentors began a campaign to ensure that the FCC chairman could enjoy no peace—not even in his own home. “Resistance” groups began distributing fliers and door hangers around Pai’s Arlington, Virginia neighborhood, featuring a black-and-white photo of Pai with his vital stats (height, weight, age, and professional background) and accusing him of selling the Internet out to corporations. “Have you seen this man?” the fliers read.

These demonstrators didn’t stop there. They began organizing “vigils” in Pai’s driveway—a tactic that net neutrality activists deployed in 2014 against then-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. They “come up to our front windows and take photographs of the inside of the house,” Pai told the Wall Street Journal. “My kids are 5 and 3. It’s not pleasant.”

“Is this really the world you want Annabelle and Alexander to inherit,” read a hand-made sign affixed to a lamppost outside Pai’s residence in November, making a point to emphasize the names of Pai’s two children. “They will come to know the truth: Dad murdered democracy in cold blood,” read another. The Pai family’s doorbell reportedly rang every half hour, according to National Journal’s Brendan Bordelon, with pizza deliveries that they had not ordered. “It was a little nerve-racking, especially for my wife who’s not involved in this space,” Pai told Fox News Channel. “Families,” he continued, “should remain out of it and stop harassing us at our homes.”

But it didn’t stop, and the threats to Pai’s safety have only become more credible. In December, ahead of the commission’s vote to formally nix the controversial 2015 regulation, a specific bomb threat forced the FCC to halt proceedings and clear the building. This week, Pai was forced to cancel a scheduled appearance at the Consumer Electronics Show after receiving credible death threats.

By the way, the fellow who left the FCC bomb threat was apparently Tyler Barriss, the same guy who evidently SWATted Andrew Finch in Kansas, leading to his death. Shortly before the bomb threat, Barriss tweeted on his @SWauTistic Twitter account: “Gonna evacuate the net neutrality meeting guys don’t be upset.” Moments later, the meeting was evacuated. I guess that wasn’t enough to get the FBI’s rear in gear. Maybe they could have saved Andrew Finch’s life. Instead, he boasted:

“l swatted FCC and MLG Dallas l’m not busted yet 😜” he tweeted. “if you can’t pull off a swat without getting busted you’re not a leet hacking God its that simple”

He’s now being extradited to Kansas, to be charged with . . . murder? Nope, “making a false alarm.” I think that’s absurd, and that it’s murder, but hey. What do I know?

Barriss’s actions are an extreme example, and they almost certainly motivated more by his psychopathic joy in disrupting people’s lives than by any political motive. But the millenials described in Rothman’s piece no doubt applauded Barriss’s actions. They couldn’t begin to give you a factually accurate explanation of why they think net neutrality is bad — but they love to disrupt the life of a guy they have determined is evil.

In this sense they are like the most enthusiastic Trumpers, who elevate the virtue of “hitting back” over any sense of morality, ethics, restraint, or proportion. I’m not talking about reluctant Trump voters, or people who don’t like him but think his administration has accomplished some good things. I’m talking about the Cernoviches and Posobiecs of the world: people who believe in outrageous behavior because they are imitating the excesses of the left.

I’m sorry to harsh your mellow in a post that you were enjoying about how the left is evil. But if you support these kind of tactics, as long as they are used in support of your preferred policy, you’re no better than the people Rothman describes.

Let’s see if we can get the “normals” together from all walks of life to oppose this kind of insanity, no matter the politics of the people who engage in it.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


  1. In this sense they are like the most enthusiastic Trumpers, who elevate the virtue of “hitting back” over any sense of morality, ethics, restraint, or proportion.

    Exactly, but both sides think they could never go too far because their causes are good.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/6/2018 @ 6:48 am

  2. I’ve been in Web Design and Development since the start of the internet back in 93 (and I ran bulletin boards for years prior to that) and I’m constantly amazed by the number of colleagues who absolutely froth at the mouth at the single mention of Pai’s name. These fools honestly believe the internet can’t be trusted in the hands of corporations, but that the government is the only entity that will promote “fairness.” Within their circles they view Pai as an evil dictator, portraying him as the earthly embodiment of the Prince of Darkness himself, and given the mental state and idiocy portrayed within the community I fear Pai and his family’s life aren’t simply being threatened but if something isn’t done they’ll be forfeit to one of these loons.

    Comment by Sean — 1/6/2018 @ 9:47 am

  3. That’s depressing. There is far too much desperation on both sides of almost every issue. IMO desperation leads people to do dangerous, hurtful, and even criminal things.

    Comment by DRJ — 1/6/2018 @ 9:59 am

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