An Ontario judge acquitted a Toronto man of criminally harassing a pair of activists on Twitter — and the decision brought out the worst in some people on social media.
On Friday, Judge Brent Knazan ruled that Gregory Alan Elliott had harassed Stephanie Guthrie and Heather Reilly using the social network, in what is believed to be the first criminal harassment trial involving Twitter in Canada.
But Knazan also didn't accept that Elliot's tweets could have reasonably made the activists fear for their safety.
Elliott's acquittal drew a flood of responses on social media.
Some expressed support for Guthrie:
I believe Steph Guthrie. If you want to fight me about it, go bananas.— ᕕ( ᐛ )ᕗ (@karenkho) January 22, 2016
Others supported the court's decision:
Thank goodness sanity prevailed in court! #StephGuthrie just seems like a horrible and mean person.— Morgasm Theory (@morgasmtheory) January 22, 2016
But plenty more comments crossed the line into nasty territory.
Many of them targeted blogger Anne Thériault, who has written about the case extensively.
Thériault tweeted the following after the verdict was handed down.
I have not talked/written about GAE for months and my mentions are already filled with threats and dick pics. What a victory for free speech— Anne Thériault (@anne_theriault) January 22, 2016
I'm not gonna share screen caps bc many of them mention one of the harassment victims and I don't want to draw more attention to her— Anne Thériault (@anne_theriault) January 22, 2016
A string of angry tweets followed:
@anne_theriault Haha!!? Suck it feminists!— Sunday Services (@SundayServices) January 22, 2016
@anne_theriault Fuck you— Sanket (@dezert_fox) January 22, 2016
But Thériault wasn't the only woman targeted after the verdict was announced.
After tweeting, "Regardless of how the courts decide, I believe the victims," feminist commentator Julie Lalonde set her account to private.
“It is so incredibly meta to be flooded with aggressive, hateful, harassing tweets as a result of the courts deciding that one man’s targeted campaign at women was not threatening," she told Buzzfeed.
Here are more comments that crossed the line into vulgarity, name-calling, and bullying after the harassment trial:
Who wore them better?January 5, 2016
So reading up on this Steph Guthrie person, whoever the fuck she is, and I'm glad Greg Elliot was found Not Guilty. Man, what a bitch she is— MWR ن (@nowhere_nh) January 22, 2016
Steph Guthrie tried to ruin a man's life over an internet argument. Fuck her and fuck anyone fighting against free speech.— Solidus was Right (@penguinman2) January 22, 2016
everyone on steph guthrie's side is even more hilariously stupid than I thought they would be
I am so glad greg elliott upset them— Dan (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧ ❤ (@dhmapplethorpe) January 22, 2016
Guess what feminists? Disagreement is not harassment, and Steph Guthrie lost because she DESERVED to lose. Fuck. You. #freedomoftweets— Anti-White Knight (@HolyMackerel72) January 22, 2016
Can't wait to see all the feminist douchebag articles on how Canadian courts are run by MRAs. #freedomoftweets— Rev. Templeton Jones (@TempletonTJones) January 22, 2016
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