“It only takes one”.
In Rupert Quaintance’s August trial, this phrase was repeated by all the witnesses. “It only takes one”, they said, describing their terror as they realised that a person who’d made violent threats against them and their children from afar had actually travelled thousands of miles, presumably to make good on his word. Maybe he was bluffing…but maybe he wasn’t. And the witnesses understood that they couldn’t take chances when it came to their and their families’ lives.
We pointed out the same thing last December, when an unhinged conspiracy theorist decided to “investigate” claims of a paedophile ring being run out of a popular Washington pizza restaurant. And by “investigate” we mean bring guns, fire shots (which fortunately did not injure anyone), and terrorise the patrons of the restaurant, including children enjoying pizza with their parents. Edgar Welch was only one of many “Pizzagate” fanatics, but he took his obsession just that one step too far, and is serving four years in prison as a result.
Lane Davis: Stabbed father in chest ‘for calling him a Nazi’
And now the internet is buzzing about Lane Davis, a 33-year-old right-wing conspiracy theorist, frequent Reddit contributor, and writer/researcher for Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannapoulos.
Mr Davis, who is unemployed and lived with his parents on an island in Washington state, stands accused of having murdered his 73-year-old father for calling him a Nazi. He has denied the charge, and is currently in jail, with bail set at US$1 million.
According to Buzzfeed,
Court documents state that Davis’s mother called police at 3:37 p.m. on July 14 on Samish Island, Washington, saying that her son was “out of control.” When police arrived at their house, she called again and said Davis had stabbed his father and the father had died. …
Davis told detectives that he and his father had gotten into an argument and that his father “called him a Nazi” and wanted to kick him out of the house, according to court documents. Davis confessed to stabbing his father in the chest.
Davis was a frequent contributor to Reddit under the name Seattle4Truth, and his page is still active. His last contribution to the forum site, made in r/thedonald, was reposting a tweet by Paul Joseph Watson, an editor at InfoWars.
Brandy Zadrozny of The Daily Beast, who broke the story on Wednesday, said that on the afternoon of Charles Lane’s murder,
Lane’s parents, Catherine and Charles Davis—Charles was known as Chuck to his friends—were used to their 33-year-old son’s outbursts. They had become so frequent that Charles had started recording the tirades on his phone. But that afternoon, they were tired of Lane’s screaming, wanted him to leave, and told him as much. Instead, Lane chased his parents around their home, spitting in his father’s face while screaming that he wasn’t threatening to kill them, but “pedophiles who were taking over the country.”
[PLEASE NOTE: The following screenshots contain graphic descriptions of violence. Please avoid if this would be disturbing to you.]
Lane Davis had been immersed in various standard conspiracy theories—vaccines, 9/11 was an inside job, and so forth. He was also involved in GamerGate, a campaign of online harassment against female video game designers and males who supported them.
Starting in the summer of 1994 with a jilted man’s allegations that his ex-girlfriend, a games designer, had engaged in infidelity in order to win favourable reviews for her game, GamerGate grew into a massive online hate war which included doxing, rape threats, death threats, stalking, and defamation. (As an aside, GamerGate was EC’s first exposure to online harassment at this level, and it proved an interesting and educational introduction to the tactics which would later be used by the Hoaxtead mobsters.)
Ms Zadnozny notes,
Lane’s position in the GamerGate controversy is puzzling. Though initially a supporter of the movement, internal fighting over credit for his research led Lane to disavow his former colleagues. By the summer of 2015, he had defected to an anti-GamerGate group. The change in loyalty didn’t seem to affect his tactics, however. In addition to his behind-the-scenes “digging” for the cause, Lane would call the employers of women game developers and their allies, in an attempt to get them fired.
London musician Joshua Idehen was one of his targets. Idehen said Lane sent an email to his manager, his agent, and to a charity he worked with, and alleged he was involved with pedophilia.
It was via GamerGate that Lane Davis connected with Milo Yiannopoulos, who’d risen to prominence amongst the GG yobs; Mr Yiannopoulos took Mr Davis on as one of his 44 unpaid “interns”, a fancy word for “researcher and ghostwriter”.
However, it was when he joined the even-further-right RalphRetort.com, headed by yet another GamerGate graduate, Ethan Ralph, that Lane Davis started earning his own headlines. Still no money, but lots of headlines. When news of the murder of Mr Davis’ father reached the RalphRetort, they immediately scrubbed all evidence of Mr Davis from their site.
Ms Zadnozny writes, “Since the news of Lane’s crime, the site has, in colorful language, distanced itself from Lane, and rejected the notion that the alt-right could have either indoctrinated Lane or given safe haven for his violent ideas”. We should point out here that Ethan Ralph is currently in prison, serving an eight-month sentence for assaulting a police officer.
In a podcast about the murder, troofer Jack “FoxDie” Pierce warned his listeners:
Some people out there that are looking into this deep-level conspiracy level thing, PizzaGate or whatever. You may be on to something What I can tell you from experience is don’t let it consume you. …
But when you spend so much time trying to dig into information and trying to understand things around you, you do get enveloped by it, it does bother you and you do change… You do get too deep and some people go crazy from it, temporarily or forever, but that’s just a risk of going into these dangerous sort of fields.
We’re not trying to claim here that all, or even most conspiracy theorists are prone to uncontrolled outbursts of rage and violence as a result of their fascination with shape-shifting lizard people or a fictitious world-wide paedophile conspiracy.
However, it does seem that the simmering anger, resentment, and paranoia that characterise many of those in the “truth” community online has the potential to overwhelm some people’s psyches. People like Lane Davis, who seem to revel in the implicit violence of online “causes” like GamerGate, the alt-right and/or neo-Nazi movement, or yes, the world of conspiracy-believers, can become so filled with the belief that they are fighting some sort of holy war that they commit unspeakable, irrevocable acts of violence…even against those they love.
And what about would be troofer-warriors, such as those in the Hoaxtead mob, who’ve never even met the people they vilify? Conceivably, it could be even easier for one of them to decide to strike out violently against those they believe might be paedophiles.
None have done this so far.
Most probably wouldn’t.
But it only takes one.