The alt-right is still buzzing with outrage over the arrest of ex-Marine John Rivello by the FBI last week for sending a Tweet to a Jewish journalist. Rivello called himself Jew Goldstein on Twitter.
How the FBI found the time to investigate a Tweet aimed at a Jewish journalist is unclear. They have no time to investigate most of the death threats aimed at President Trump and his family. But Trump isn’t a Jew. He’s lower on the totem pole since he’s a gentile.
On December 16, 2016, Vanity Fair contributing editor Kurt Eichenwald had just done one of the weirdest interviews of the year with Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson — with props no less — when he received a tweet from a user named @Jew_Goldstein. It consisted of a single animated GIF with a rapidly flashing strobe effect. The text on the image read “YOU DESERVE A SEIZURE FOR YOUR POSTS.” The very next tweet from Eichenwald’s account, purportedly sent by his wife, informed @Jew_Goldstein that he “caused a seizure” and that the incident would be reported to the police.
The use of the strobe effect was no accident. Eichenwald is known to suffer from epilepsy, a “chronic disorder” marked by “recurrent, unprovoked seizures.” According to the Epilepsy Foundation, approximately 3% of people with epilepsy have seizures triggered by photosensitivity. Eichenwald had made it clear to people that he is part of that 3%, which is why he has been targeted by trolls with flashing images before.
Shortly thereafter, the Twitter account for @Jew_Goldstein was suspended for targeted harassment, but not before dozens of other racist trolls joined in the game, sending seizure-inducing GIFs and mocking Eichenwald’s condition. After he recovered, Eichenwald lawyered up, initially demanding Twitter release the user information for @Jew_Goldstein in order to proceed with a civil suit.
However, today, it appears that will now be unnecessary. After a three month investigation, the FBI arrested 29-year-old Marylander and ex-Marine John Rayne Rivello in connection with the assault on Eichenwald.
There has been a massive outpouring of support for Jew Goldstein since his arrest. A legal defense fund has been set up for Jew Goldstein as part of that support.
With all the screeching over Rivello having done “nothing wrong” and this being a “free speech” issue, it makes one wonder why these alt-right trolls are so concerned over one anti-Semite who was arrested for doing something stupid and criminal. But in a way it makes sense. Shitposting is what these folks do, and as Becky Barnes said, this could “redefine ‘trolling’ and what it means to troll online.” After all, Rivello stands to face tangible consequences for his disturbing actions. For many on the alt-right, that could be a worrisome trend indeed.
The arrest of Jew Goldstein is intended to have a chilling effect on free speech. The trial promises to be a real test of tolerance for the legal system. As far as anyone knows, Kurt Eichenwald was not treated for a seizure. He’s probably hoaxing. Even if not, how can the prosecution expect to prove that a Tweet caused a seizure?