Freedom of Speech

Charlottesville White Nationalist Sues 'To Bring Civility Back,' Wins $5 in Damages From Woman Who Cursed Him Out

A woman screamed "fuck you" and "fuck you, asshole," at the white nationalist, in addition to calling him a "murderer" and a "crybaby."

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Justin Ide/REUTERS/Newscom

A white nationalist who helped organize last August's infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has won his lawsuit against a woman who cursed him out in public. He sued for $500, but a Charlottesville judge awarded him only $5 in damages.

Jason Kessler claimed that by shouting things like "fuck you" and "fuck you, asshole," and by calling him a "murderer" and a "crybaby," Donna Gasapo was inciting violence.

Gasapo allegedly said those things on March 16 outside Charlottesville General District Court, where DeAndre Harris was being tried for assault. Harris, who is African American, was beaten during the August rally, but he was on trial for (and later acquitted of) assaulting a white nationalist.

Kessler had been under fire since one of his protest's participants, James Alex Fields Jr., killed counterprotester Heather Heyer by hitting her with his car. (Fields now faces federal hate crime charges.) Kessler attended Harris' trial to cover it for a website, and Gasapo was enraged he would show his face. "Someone in our community was murdered," she later explained, according to the Charlottesville Daily Progress. "White supremacists stormed into our city. It doesn't sit well with me." She essentially admitted to yelling and cursing at him, and indeed, Kessler had video of her remarks, which he posted online.

Gasapo's attorney, Pam Starsia, argued her client's speech was protected by the First Amendment, but Kessler, who represented himself, claimed her words could have provoked violence—though not from a bystander. Instead, Kessler argued that Gasapo's words could have caused him to become violent. "There was a chance that I could respond violently and I don't want that to happen," he said in court. Kessler also claimed that by calling him a murderer in public, Gasapo damaged his character.

Kessler, who has not been shy regarding his white nationalist views, claimed in his lawsuit that he was suing Gasapo in order "to bring civility back to our community."

The Supreme Court ruled in 1943 that that the First Amendment does not protect "fighting words." And in this case, Judge Robert H. Downer Jr. ruled in favor of Kessler on Friday, saying Gasapo's words could have incited a violent response from Kessler.

At the same time, he only awarded Kessler $5 in damages. His logic was that not only is Kessler a public figure, but that by posting a video of Gasapo's remarks online, Kessler showed he wasn't particularly fearful of his character being damaged.

Kessler's victory was mainly symbolic, but Starsia finds it disturbing the judge ruled in his favor at all. "I think we should all be very concerned about what this ruling means in terms of opening up other frivolous harassment suits against members of our community who are expressing their opinions and their very real feelings of frustration, which we believe are protected by the First Amendment," she said after Friday's hearing, according to the Daily Progress. Gasapo may yet decide to appeal.

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93 responses to “Charlottesville White Nationalist Sues 'To Bring Civility Back,' Wins $5 in Damages From Woman Who Cursed Him Out

  1. Turns out the guy was a crybaby.

    1. Watch out or he’ll run and tell the government on you.

  2. Why use the word “allegedly” when a court of competent jurisdiction found as a question of fact that the incident did in fact occur?

    Journalism 101, meet Journalism 102…

    1. That was my thought too.

      Lesson 1: If you’re a journalist, you don’t provide cover for an infraction when the Defendant was actually found guilty.

      1. … Unless it fits your narrative.

  3. Does sound weird. If the judge said that publishing the video himself shows he wasn’t worried about what it said, then why award any damages? Is this like leaving a 2 cent tip?

  4. And in this case, Judge Robert H. Downer Jr. ruled in favor of Kessler on Friday, saying Gasapo’s words could have incited a violent response from Kessler.

    At the same time, he only awarded Kessler $5 in damages.

    This is how a judge tells you you’re an asshole.

    1. “This is how a judge tells you you’re an asshole.”

      This is how a judge tells both parties that they are assholes…?..

    2. Gasapo will be well compensated for this publicity stunt. The Judge tried to save face by letting both sides think they had a victory. But at the end of the day, Gasapo will reap the most benefits from this crap.

      1. Having lived in Charlottesville, i strongly suspect $5 won’t even cover Kessler’s parking for his day in court.

        1. I mixed up the names, Kessler, will be well compensated through publicity. Sorry.

        2. But it will pay for a night of camping right outside of Charlottesville.

  5. “I think we should all be very concerned about what this ruling means in terms of opening up other frivolous harassment suits against members of our community who are expressing their opinions and their very real feelings of frustration, which we believe are protected by the First Amendment,” she said after Friday’s hearing, according to the Daily Progress.

    Let’s guess whether or not she believes he has a First Amendment right to express his opinions and feelings just as much as she does.

    1. Survey Says?!?

      The correct answer is “No.”

  6. Kessler’s victory was mainly symbolic, but Starsia finds it disturbing the judge ruled in his favor at all.

    The judge was merely agreeing with Kessler’s assertion that he is the kind of whiny dick who might indeed punch someone for hurting his feelings.

    1. Your rights end where my feelings begin.

      1. That is the essence of “fighting words” doctrine, yes.

  7. Wow this is horrible. So basically any asshole can be as much as an asshole as they want, and if anyone calls them out they can sue for ‘incitement’. Hopefully this ruling will be quickly overturned.

    1. Seems like she was being an asshole, he called her out, and she got sued for incitement.

      Is that not what you meant?

      Hey, I think this hate speech thing is idiotic bullshit. But I LOVE the idiocy of this case. Show how fucking absurd all of this nonsense is.

      1. What does hate speech have to do with the fighting words doctrine?

        1. Both stupid ideas? The “fighting words doctrine” shouldn’t even be good law. Long past time for that ruling to be overturned

          1. Absolutely true, but it’s nothing new and to imply it has something to do with contemporary calls for hate speech seems inappropriate.

            1. Not really, it is a beachead called precedent from which anti-free speech advocates can mount an attack.

          2. The “fighting words doctrine” is one of the dumbest restrictions on free speech. It basically justifies initiation of aggression. I can’t think of a situation where reacting to someone’s words with a physical assault would be justified from a libertarian perspective. If someone does not have the self-control to react with violence to an insult, that person should not be rewarded for it, but rather penalized.

            1. “I’m going to kill you.”

              Presumably you meant outside of the concept of “true threat”?

              1. The words don’t matter here. It’s any actions the speaker takes towards accomplishing that end that may justify violence against him/her. Still a matter of self-defense against a viable and immediate threat. As much as I might want to punch someone in the face for talking shit; being the one to initiate violence would put me on the wrong side of the NAP.

      2. I hate all the idiocy of this for probably the same reasons you love it. There really is no part of this that I like. The court’s time was wasted with this frivolous suit. Asshole #1 was being an asshole while leading the march. Asshole #2 was being an asshole by getting in asshole #1’s face and shit talking. Asshole #1 was again an asshole for filing a frivolous civil suit because asshole #2 was an asshole. I might be on asshole #1’s side a little if the charge was harassment if #2 kept following him and keeping up the yelling. I don’t consider it a violation of free speech to call a man’s wife a whore to his face even if that is incitement (really, provocation). #1 is a crybaby (or crybully). #2 just seems like a common shitty person. I rule that they all, including the judge, are assholes and smell like shit.

  8. Should have sued the governor who told the police to stand down, so that a violent clash would occur and he could declare the march “unruly” and ban it.

    1. http://www.propublica.org/article/pol…..ottesville

      You may be a shitty civil libertarian if you pretend like the violence that occurred in Charlottesville was not anticipated instead of being orchestrated by government inaction

      1. Gotta fire up that voter base. How can the government save you if there is no crisis?

  9. For fucks sake Heyer died of a heart attack she wasn’t hit.

    1. Doesn’t fit the narrative.

    2. And if I was Fields’ Defense Attorney, I know who would be my first witness – the guy who bragged about chasing him with a rifle.

      http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2018/…..dly-crash/

      I think they are slow-walking his trial because they know they’ll never get a conviction on a major charge.

    3. Wat?

      “Heather Heyer’s cause of death was blunt force injury to the chest, according to the Central District Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Richmond.”

      https://tinyurl.com/y6vfgusl

      1. You’re doing it wrong. You have to defend white supremacist murderers to own the libs or something

        1. No thanks.

          That guy may be a bigot, but is really stupid either way Stupid enough that he may truly have been in fear for his life when antifa came after him.

    4. TIL there is an incredibly retarded conspiracy theory that the 32 year old woman who was run over by a car actually died of a heart attack, not being run over by a car

      1. It’s an amazing world, isn’t it.

    5. I’ve heard it both ways. Would she have died that day if he didn’t plow through a crowd of people with his car? Probably not. It’s possible that the driver didn’t hit her directly, but he is at least indirectly responsible for her death.

  10. A victory for the free speech defenders of the alt right!

    1. The alt-right sounds a lot like progressives when it comes to free speech.

        1. Cry baby white supremacists complain about “fighting words”. Isn’t that literally exactly what progressives complain about on college campuses? “Microagressions” and other made-up things?

          Not seeing how their position on free speech is all that different

          1. You realize I said “okay,” right?

            1. I like messing with you Reisenwitz

              1. Is there any confirmation Cathy L is Reisenwitz, or are you taking a page out of Simple Mikey’s playbook?

                1. I had no idea anyone else was saying that.

      1. Both progressives and alt-righters use membership in a group, whose bounds are determined via arbitrary and superficial measures, as the primary determining factor of an individual’s value, so it’s no surprise that there’s overlap in the end result – only the team membership is different.

        1. Progressives oppose the use of membership in a group to reduce a persons value.
          Progressives don’t pretend that there are groups that have been defined that face de facto and de jure discrimination.
          Everybody is covered by anti-discrimination laws.

          1. No, that’s not accurate.

          2. “Progressives oppose the use of membership in a group to reduce a persons value.”

            Progressives routinely use race, class, sex, and sexual preference as the only facts that matter about a person. Who are you kidding here?

            “Progressives don’t pretend that there are groups that have been defined that face de facto and de jure discrimination.”

            Considering that most progressives are just well-to-do whites they’d have a hard time making that argument. But, they accuse any and all differences between any group of people as a symptom of “institutional bigotry”.

            “Everybody is covered by anti-discrimination laws.”

            What? That is most assuredly not true.

            Happy is trying to push the case of “don’t believe your lying eyes or ears that tell you what progressives believe. Just trust my feelz”

            1. Entirely untrue, and that’s why conservatives are always so surprised when progressives don’t support minorities with regressive ideas. They love to parade the black conservatives (how much play did Kanye get at Reason?) and are surprised that they don’t get a free pass. They’re ALWAYS surprised when their straw men get knocked down.

              The point of anti-discrimination is NOT to judge based on race, religion, creed, etc.

              You can’t be discriminated against because of race. That includes black, white, asian, etc etc.
              You can’t be discriminated against because of gender. That means male, female, etc. Remember the guy who sued a baseball team because he didn’t get a mother’s day hat?

              1. “You can’t be discriminated against because of race. That includes black, white, asian, etc etc.
                You can’t be discriminated against because of gender. That means male, female, etc.”

                So we are just suppose to ignore their support for protected class status and hate speech laws?

                1. Everybody is a protected class. Everybody has a race, a gender, etc. Anti-discrimination laws tend to be written in a neutral manner to protect every class against discrimination.

                  Hate speech laws are probably not enforceable, unless written so specifically to be irrelevant.

      2. These days I understand being pro free speech is considered an “extreme right wing position”, so maybe not so much.

    2. Are you suggesting that the alt right shouldn’t have free speech?

      1. Does that…look like what I’m suggesting? Or perhaps I’m suggesting they’re not the defenders of free speech they claim to be?

        1. I wasn’t sure. That’s why I asked.

        2. I think the problem is that your original post doesn’t look like you’re suggesting anything, and that you’re just being snarky and hoping for a reaction. It’s one of the major problems with that kind of “debate” style.

          1. Okay, I’ll try to remember not to make any more sarcastic comments on the internet.

            1. Just dont be surprised when you come off as obtuse, like you did here. You got what you asked for.

              1. Go concern troll someone else, I’m obviously not the obtuse one.

                1. ob?tuse
                  ?b?t(y)o?os,?b?t(y)o?os/Submit
                  adjective
                  adjective: obtuse
                  1.
                  annoyingly insensitive or slow to understand.
                  “he wondered if the doctor was being deliberately obtuse”
                  synonyms: stupid, slow-witted, slow, dull-witted, unintelligent, ignorant, simpleminded, witless; More
                  insensitive, imperceptive, uncomprehending;
                  informaldim, dimwitted, dense, dumb, slow on the uptake, halfwitted, brain-dead, moronic, cretinous, thick, dopey, lamebrained, dumb-ass, dead from the neck up, boneheaded, chowderheaded
                  “he frustrated his teachers by pretending to be obtuse”
                  antonyms: clever, astute
                  difficult to understand.
                  “some of the lyrics are a bit obtuse”

                  The fact that you had to explain yourself proves that you are in fact the obtuse one, and ignorant of the several meanings of the word.

                  I’m sorry that your chosen use of sarcasm got you what you wanted and now you don’t like it.

                  1. What is Cathy being criticized for here? Not phrasing something to our liking?

                    1. See, now you’re being the other definition of obtuse.

                    2. In all seriousness, are you attempting to white knight for her? What don’t you understand from the posts? She chose sarcasm and complained repeatedly when it was made clear that the confusion was her fault.

                    3. “complained repeatedly”? Maybe next post a definition of “complain” that fits this claim.

                1. Yeah, like Cathy, they may not be aware of the multiple definitions.

  11. More like Gestapo. Am I right?

    1. It’s so hard to tell anymore.

        1. Your masturbation material is more frightening than that of Crusty or BUCS.

    2. Glad that wasn’t just me

      1. Me too. That’s what my brain went to when I first saw that name.

      2. There’s a reason it’s called low hanging fruit.

  12. “Someone in our community was murdered,” she later explained, according to the Charlottesville Daily Progress. “White supremacists stormed into our city. It doesn’t sit well with me.”

    But if you criticize an illegal for the actions of illegals, she’d call you a racist, rest assured.

    1. So she’d…use speech to fight speech?

      1. She is upset that he did the same, is she not?

        Both people are inbred morons,

        1. He fought speech with a lawsuit That’s not really the “same”.

    2. What relation does one immigrant have to another?

      These are people who organized together. They self selected into an organized group action.

  13. Kessler’s victory was mainly symbolic, but Starsia finds it disturbing the judge ruled in his favor at all. “I think we should all be very concerned about what this ruling means in terms of opening up other frivolous harassment suits against members of our community who are expressing their opinions and their very real feelings of frustration, which we believe are protected by the First Amendment,” she said after Friday’s hearing, according to the Daily Progress. Gasapo may yet decide to appeal.

    1. Does she not realize that, technically, he used his free speech rights and she didn’t like it and it led to all of this?

      1. She fought his speech with speech. Then he fought her speech with the state.

        1. If there was nothing to it he would have lost.

          1. What kind of logic is that? As if courts never get things wrong? His argument and the decision are garbage and anti-free speech. Not exactly surprising that Nazis aren’t the sincere free speech advocates they pretend to be at times.

            1. I feel no empathy for the Nazi. But if this what kills the move to limit free speech, i love it.

  14. Nothing says ‘civility’ like requiring the cops to tell you what you can say.

    1. Civility, what do it mean?

  15. He used their weapon against them.

    And won.

    That’s all this is about. He isn’t whining. He’s taking the weapon they forged, to destroy free speech, and is using it on them.

    1. Or maybe Nazis just don’t support free speech in the first place? It’s funny how the “reaping what they sow” never applies to fascists when their free speech rights are restricted.

      Also, fighting words isn’t a new or specifically leftist argument. Some of the key cases around the formation and limiting of this doctrine involved flag burning, a jacket saying “fuck the draft,” and people cursing at police officers.

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