Defense attorneys make silly arguments all the time, in their efforts to secure the minimum possible sentence for their convicted clients. Samuel Ansell was trying to keep Nolan Brewer out of jail, after Mr Brewer, 21, had pleaded guilty to conspiring to violate the civil rights of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla, a Jewish synagogue in Carmel, Indiana. Mr Ansell claimed in his pre-sentencing memo to Federal District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt that Mr Brewer was led around by the nose heavily influenced by his wife, Kiyomi Brewer, who was only 17 at the time, and should not be sentenced to prison, but receive only probation. Prison, Mr Ansell wrote, would only exacerbate the prejudice that led the Brewers on their vandalistic romp.

And this is where The Washington Post decided to wade into the mud.

Brewer’s case has found its way to the national spotlight since the ruling not because of discourse over the length of his sentence — but because of a name Ansell mentioned in his sentencing memo: conservative commentator and Daily Wire editor in chief Ben Shapiro.

Ansell argued that Brewer’s radicalization was heavily influenced by what his wife, who was 17 at the time of the crime, had been reading online. “According to Nolan, she began with rightwing yet mainstream views such as those presented on Fox News,” Ansell’s sentencing memo said. “She then moved on to writings by Ben Shapiro and articles on Breitbart News which bridged the gap to the notorious white supremacist and anti-Semitic propaganda site Stormfront.”

Nolan Brewer “bought into the propaganda,” Ansell wrote.

I’ll forego commenting on what kind of ‘man’ decides to throw his own wife under the bus to avoid responsibility for his own actions.

Ben Shapiro is an observant, Orthodox Jew. One would think it pretty stupid to blame an Orthodox Jew for inspiring shallow thinkers like the Brewers into vandalizing a synagogue, but somehow that (apparently) did not occur to Mr Ansell.

Shapiro is a leading conservative voice among millennials, a Harvard Law graduate with millions of social media followers. He has criticized President Trump but upholds many of the same views as the conservatives who support the president do — including outlawing abortion, repealing the Affordable Care Act and cutting taxes for the wealthy. He previously worked for Breitbart News.

This case is not the first time that Shapiro’s name has been cited by those accused of hate-motivated crimes.

In the month before Alexandre Bissonnette attacked a Quebec City mosque in 2017, killing six people and injuring 19, he visited Shapiro’s Twitter feed 93 times, according to evidence presented at Bissonnette’s sentencing hearing.

Shapiro, in an interview with Fox News last year, rejected the insinuated connection, saying:

“Now I have 1.4 million Twitter followers so I guess the idea from the left is that if somebody sees enough of my tweets they’re inevitably going to become a terrorist. Weird that I don’t have a spate of enormous terrorism across the country thanks to my Twitter followers.”

There’s more at the Post’s original.

The article is published as a straight news piece, but it has some underlying themes, themes which are not straight news.

  • If you read what Mr Shapiro, Daily Wire and Mr Shapiro’s previous publisher, Breitbart News — which was founded by and owned by other Jews — you may be radicalized into anti-Semitic views;
  • If you read Mr Shapiro, Daily Wire and Breitbart, you may be seduced into reading Stormfront, because those sources are a form of ‘gateway drug’ into reading  white supremacist sources;
  • “(R)ightwing yet mainstream views such as those presented on Fox News” lead to “writings by Ben Shapiro and articles on Breitbart News which (bridge) the gap to notorious white supremacist and anti-Semitic propaganda site(s like) Stormfront.”
  • Because Mr Shapiro “upholds many of the same views as the conservatives who support the president do,” the conservatives who have many of the same views as President Trump must be either on the road to white supremacist views or already hold them;
  • Because some people have read Mr Shapiro and Breitbart and Daily Wire have also read Stormfront, it is better to not read Mr Shapiro, Daily Wire and Breitbart; and
  • Because Mr Shapiro is an Orthodox Jew, he must keep his views to himself, or other Jews may be assaulted because of the ‘gateway drug’ nature of his conservatism.

Those themes are hardly logically consistent, given the anti-Semitic views of some — not all — white supremacists, the notion that people who listen to Jews with conservative political opinions may become anti-Semitic is almost preposterous; the anti-Semites dismiss the views of Jews as irrelevant and ungodly.

But the underlying theme is a united one: simply watching Fox News could turn you into a Nazi!

Don’t write, Mr Shapiro, and if you do write, people shouldn’t read what you write!

What other conclusions should we draw from the Post’s article?  The story about what Mr Brewer’s attorney wrote in his pre-sentencing memo is really not newsworthy; pre-sentencing memos never are, unless they make some outrageous claim. The editors of The Washington Post apparently saw Mr Ansell’s silly memo as a vehicle for attacking Mr Shapiro specifically and trashing conservative views in general. Without those themes, the Post would never have wasted the space on this story.
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