Right-wing figures like Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham have spent the last month boosting the conspiracy theory that anyone opposed to anti-LGBTQ legislation is a “groomer” or a “pedophile.” This has already led to real-life protests, but on far-right forums like Patriots.win and Gab, there’s been a significant spike in ultra-violent rhetoric, with users posting threats against specific teachers, Disney employees, and lawmakers, according to a new report from public-interest research group Advance Democracy, Inc. which shared its findings exclusively with VICE News.
And now, these extremists are taking things a step further: They’re doxxing school officials and calling for their execution.
In March, a school nurse in Connecticut named Kathleen Cataford posted private details about an 11-year-old LGBTQ student in her care, claiming the child was on puberty blockers.
The story fed into the growing conservative narrative that schools are sexualizing or “grooming” children. Cataford’s post was picked up by conservative Christian magazine TownHall, which misreported that the school was giving students puberty blockers without their parents’ consent, despite the parents in question praising the school’s response to Cataford’s post.
On April 2, a link to the inaccurate TownHall report was posted on the far-right forum Patriots.win.
Unsurprisingly, on a forum that played a significant role in the planning, incitement, and coordination of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the post prompted outrage—and calls for violence.
“This stuff isn’t going to change at this point until there’s body bags,” one member wrote. “Straight to the woodchipper for them,” another replied.
“Fuck a woodchipper,” another wrote in response. “If some teacher did that to my kid, I’m going to go straight to them and literally beat them to an inch of their life.”
But then things escalated. An account called ProudKoreanAmerican clearly felt that posting threats online was just not enough, and posted the physical address of the superintendent of Cataford’s school district, Leslie Torres-Rodriguez, on five separate occasions. The account then called for her execution.
“The superintendent is supporting leftist grooming in her schools. She needs to be executed by our judicial system,” ProudAmericanKorean wrote.
The false allegations have resulted in myriad hostile, vulgar, and threatening emails and phone calls to officials in the Hartford Public Schools District, a spokesperson told VICE News.
Some of those threatening messages directly targeted Torres-Rodriguez, the spokesperson said, by referencing personally identifying information, adding that these messages are currently being investigated by the Hartford Police Department.
“We are taking the allegations and threats directed at our teachers and staff extremely seriously, and we hope that other members of the community will work with us to create the best possible environment for all children,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
(The address ProudKoreanAmerican posted was a house previously owned by Torres-Rodriguez, according to a review of public records, but she sold it in 2017 and currently lives at a different address.)
Now experts fear that these bizarre pedophilia claims and obsessions, which started on the fringe with QAnon and have now been fully adopted by mainstream Republican politicians and organizations like Fox News, will once again lead to real-world violence.
“Using this type of false and misleading rhetoric has consequences,” Daniel J. Jones, president of ADI, told VICE News. “We warned in early January 2020 that similar false conspiracy language around the 2020 election was spurring detailed discussions of attacking the U.S. Capitol. We now fear that we are going to see violent action—fueled by these false pedophilia claims— again.”
A review of ProudKoreanAmerican’s post on Patriots.win shows that they see “pedophiles” and “groomers” everywhere: in the media, in Congress, running Disney, and most of all, in schools.
“Kill these fucking pedos,” they wrote under a post in which Disney heiress Abigail Disney expressed support for repealing Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
ProudKoreanAmerican has also promoted the doxxing of other officials, including employees of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and a school counselor at Tabernacle Elementary School in North Carolina.
“Give us the counselor’s address. We will deal with it. We’re done letting these pedophiles live peacefully,” they wrote.
But this account is far from alone in making threats of violence.
Numerous users on Patriots.win are calling for “hangings,” with one user stating: “How is it fucking possible that a Texas 4th-grade teacher is bragging that 60% of her 4th-grade students have ‘come out’ and we haven’t constructed GALLOWS yet?”
These comments closely echo those made in the lead-up to the Capitol riot, when users on the forum discussed the best way of building gallows from which to hang members of Congress.
On April 5, a Gab user called “Josef Bosch” stated that “the only way [gender ideology indoctrination] stops is with rope. Lots and lots of rope.” Other users commented their agreement on this sentiment, sharing images of rope and calling for the “hanging of filthy jews from lamp posts.” As of April 8, 2022, this post had received 1,926 likes, 203 comments, and 794 reposts on Gab.
Such rhetoric is the result of a concerted campaign by conservative lawmakers and right-wing outlets like Fox News, which has ramped up its discussion of topics like grooming, pedophiles, and sex offenders in recent weeks.
The station ran 50 one-hour segments on pedophilia and sex offenders between March 6 and April 6, according to the ADI report. Collectively these segments were potentially seen by approximately 81.8 million households, according to Nielsen estimates.
And yet, despite this, the extremists on Patriots.win and Gab, view Fox News not as an ally, but as part of the problem, with one user calling it part of “an industrial-scale child-grooming operation.”
On Tuesday evening, ProudKoreanAmerican hinted that not only were they happy to call for the execution of school officials, they were also working within the school system to push forward their agenda:
“I’m writing the science and history curriculum for a major curriculum used by California and Oregon schools. Three of my leftist colleagues were just laid off,” the user wrote.
VICE News was unable to confirm the veracity of the claims made by ProudKoreanAmerican, but the account holder did give this response to questions sent by VICE News about his threats of violence and doxxing Torres-Rodriguez:
“Go fuck yourself, pedophile. You deserve to be executed for trying to sexualize kids as young as 4-5, pedophile. Yes, if someone is found guilty of grooming a child in the court of law, that person deserves to be executed, pedophile. You are an enemy of the republic, pedophile.”
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