Eric Clanton’s “Antifa” Defense

When charged with crimes, some consider themselves defendants while others hold themselves out as martyrs to the cause. Former Diablo College adjunct philosophy prof, Eric Clanton, is the poster boy of the martyr.

My name is Eric. I’m currently facing years of prison time as the result of accusations made in the most shockingly hateful parts of the internet. On April 19th I began being targeted by a dedicated swarm of internet trolls known for spewing racism, xenophobia, and misogyny onto the web. Suddenly a hit piece by Milo Yiannopolis caused the targeting to go viral. Several old social media photos were posted, online accounts hacked, addresses published, hundreds of calls to my employers, and countless threats of physical violence made against me, my coworkers, friends and many others. This harassment campaign is where the accusations against me originated.

That’s the view of life of the martyr. The retelling, however, isn’t quite accurate. He’s not facing prison time as a result of accusations, but as a result of hitting a guy on the head with a metal bike lock for being a Trump supporter at a Berkeley protest.

Clanton was dressed in black, his face hidden, the uniform of the Black Bloc Antifa, designed to conceal his identity as he engaged in violence against his ideological enemies. There was no threat of violence against him or anyone else. Rather, Clanton reached out from behind a girl to swing his lock, which struck a head filled with wrongthink.

Dealing with an unintelligible internet force smearing and threatening me online was not easy, and created stress to say the least, but I had every expectation that very few people would take them seriously, especially considering the character and credibility of their sources. However, five weeks later the Berkeley police smashed into two houses, held guns to peoples’ heads, handcuffed, verbally abused, and stole the belongings of over a dozen people including books and zines.

Clanton was identified as the coward in black by the “most shockingly hateful parts of the internet.” This apparently offended his sensibilities, whether because hiding behind his black mask when engaging in violence against someone for ideas he hated was his right as a fighter for his personal brand of justice or he just thought posing as a ninja meant he could get away with it. If the people who identify you are people you hate, that is far worse than anything you did because you are on the side of “justice” and they are hateful.

What’s the one thing Clanton does not claim? That he didn’t do it. Nowhere does he contend he was misidentified. Nowhere does he deny committing the crimes with which he’s charged. He was “smeared” with truth.

And then he’s martyred again by the police for arresting him in a fashion that failed to match his notion of how kindly he deserved to be treated, which proves the cops aren’t on the side of enforcing the law but . . . well:

This is just one example of the police doing everything in their power to facilitate and to legitimize the violence and the rhetoric of the so-called alt-right. They are also criminalizing protesters who stood up to neo-Nazis last summer, hundreds of J20 and standing rock defendants. All of this from a system that has perfected criminalization through centuries of racist policing. All of this moves in a strategy to further chill dissent, and to clamp down on resistance to the dangerous and aggressive growth of the exact kind of white supremacist violence that we saw this last weekend.

In a twisted world where beliefs of self-righteousness bear no connection with reality, people have wrapped themselves in a psychotic certainty that everyone who doesn’t passionately share their religion is evil and deserves to be violently harmed. Or worse. There is no remorse for the infliction of harm on others, as they are certain that they do so as some avenging angel in the name of justice, that they are fighting for goodness and that their enemies must be eradicated. Bear in mind, Clanton was a guy teaching students philosophy.

If this could be chalked up to one flaming nutjob, the prosecution of Eric Clanton would rid society of his violent conduct and tenuous grip on reality. But the mindset of otherwise educated and putatively well-intended people to believe that the other team is so fundmentally evil that violence against them is warranted, that they must be stopped by any means necessary, goes far beyond this one defendant.

Is the Antifa the “moral equivalent” of the Naxos? Hardly, but it’s the wrong question, and one uttered to deflect attention from what is happening on the street. When people believe that the righteousness of their cause entitles them to be the aggressor, to inflict violence on others, they are the danger to society regardless of whether their cause and rhetoric are dearer to our hearts than those of the other people.

No matter how horrible the beliefs of the people who revealed Eric Clanton’s identity behind his black mask, no matter how badly the police failed to match the expectation of respectfulness the smug Antifa demand, Clainton was just a violent thug hiding behind social justice rhetoric.

He doesn’t deny he was the cowardly punk who hit a guy with a bike lock because that violence was in furtherance of the cause.

Supporting me in this bizarre time is not only an act of care, but one of bravery and strength. Seeing that on display makes me feel our collective power. Thank you all for showing up and for all the diverse, creative, and intimate ways that support has materialized outside of court. Thank you especially to the close friends who have cared for me fearlessly and unfailingly.

Eric Clanton is a sick, violent person. That he engaged in wanton violence is bad enough. But he has supporters. He didn’t start out wanting to be a martyr, but to harm someone who didn’t believe his truth. But since he was caught, there is no other choice for an Eric Clanton. Isn’t it wonderful to be a martyr?

25 thoughts on “Eric Clanton’s “Antifa” Defense

  1. B. McLeod

    As he so ably demonstrated (and as many similarly inclined folks have shown in Phoenix), it isn’t only Nazis and white supremacists the “Antifa” are willing to attack. If Nazis and white supremacists and scary “alt-right” targets aren’t available to be beaten, anyone who supports the president or the Republican party will do. Roughly half the country deserves a beating, per these idiots.

    1. SHG Post author

      To the twisted binary mind, there are 63 million people in America who deserve a beating. Or perhaps to die, because they’re literally evil.

  2. wilbur

    Martyr? He’s no St. Lawrence.

    I see little difference between Antifa and Fa. Just two reprehensible sides of the same coin.

  3. JAV

    Should this Clanton guy say anything? CDL Twitter says to shut up, get a lawyer, and shut up some more.

  4. Jake

    Strange. Your normal posture on the subjects of criminal prosecution is typically the binary opposite of this post.

    Does he deny he did it? Perhaps not in the article referenced. But then again, does an innocent person (if he is innocent) need to deny he participated in a crime he did not participate in? Would you advise your client to discuss their guilt or innocence in the media? Does this particular crime give you such pause that you would not defend one of your clients, were they in this man’s shoes?

    Furthermore, hanging in the balance is the interesting question of whether or not anyone has any evidence beyond a video of a person (with a mask on) ‘walloping’ someone else over the head. Masks hold the magical property of hiding identities.

    1. SHG Post author

      Simple people view complex issues simplistically (which makes Mencken cry). An innocent person doesn’t *need* to deny it, but doesn’t put a screed on the internet about the horrible wrongfulness of everyone else either, yet omit any claim of innocence. Expressio unius est exclusio alterius. He chose to speak. His omission speaks for itself.

      Just because I’m a criminal defense lawyer (and yes, I would certainly defend him, although I would forbid him from posting insanely stupid trash like this on the internet) doesn’t mean I’m myopic and moronic. Indeed, a good lawyer is just the opposite, realizing the strengths of the prosecution and the failings of the defense. And recognizing stupidity wherever it shows its face.

  5. Mario Machado

    A person as disordered and passionate as Clanton wouldn’t think once before sending wrongthinkers — and their families for good measure, think of N. Korea’s “3 generations of punishment” — into a gulag or the ER, if he could. Paraphrasing C. Hitchens’ take on Pakistan, Clanton and members of his team are “humourless, paranoid, insecure, eager to take offence and suffering from self-righteousness, self-pity and self-hatred.” A very dangerous and toxic mix.

    It’s also disgraceful that he referred to Heather Heyer as his “comrade” in his statement, while appropriating her memory for his “struggle.” There really is no limit to Clanton’s derangement. Clanton used preemptive (and potentially lethal?) violence against a perceived enemy, not unlike when a member of the other team of lunatics decided to run over Heyer and others, unprompted.

  6. Shadow of a Doubt

    I just want to say that as someone who’s paternal family lived in Nazi Germany, both they and I applaud your valiant attempt to make “Naxos” mainstream.

  7. Grum

    SHG, Bill Bryson’s wonderful book “One Summer: America, 1927”, was an education that yours is a great nation somewhat hobbled by stupitity, Ours, on the other side of the pond, has its moments too.
    This is not going to go away soon, and I can only admire your attempts to stem the tide, despite the sisyphean goal. Mr Clanton is a fuckwit. I’m amazed that you bother to spend so much time to explain just why. I’ll be back tomorrow to read the next episodes; keep up the good work.
    TL;DR; Pres. Trump has driven lots of people insane.

    1. Scott Jacobs

      TL;DR; Pres. Trump has driven lots of people insane.

      He did no such thing. You suggest that this is somehow the doing of Trump.

      It is not.

      People have chosen to go insane because they do not agree with the outcome of a political process. That Trump’s election was the result they so revile does not make it Trump’s doing any more than a woman wearing a short skirt causes a man to rape her – the villain makes a choice and acts on it.

      Antifa and their ilk have chosen to become unhinged and to abandon whatever rational principles they might have once held. Don’t lay that at the feet of Trump. He doesn’t deserve to be assumed to have that much power.

      1. DaveL

        In Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven the protagonist, grieving the loss of the woman he loves, basically drives himself mad using the titular bird as a foil. He knows the stupid bird only ever says one thing, yet he insists on asking it deep existential questions as if it were some kind of prophet or demon.

        I see much the same dynamic going on here, except the Left is grieving the loss of an election rather than a lover, the bird is a peacock rather than a raven, there’s a lot less placid bust-sitting and a lot more sh*tting all over the place.

        1. Grum

          I should have said “The idea of Pres. Trump has driven lots of people insane”. Would have been clearer but IANAL. DaveL got it, but yours is still a valid point. Mea culpa.

  8. Grozer Compozer

    “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster…” Something tells me that this problem runs very deep right now. There are many in Eric’s camp who see absolutely nothing wrong with his actions and blame shifting. When I first mentioned this incident to some left leaning friends I would get, “the frustration is understandable” or “this is Trump’s fault.”

    What concerns me the most is that the demographic that loves guns and knows how to use them is running low on patience. There is very little chance for reconciliation when one side sees anyone who disagree with them politically (half the country) as evil Stormtroopers to be destroyed with no moral consequence. Kids these days…

    1. SHG Post author

      I twitted earlier today that I fear a shooting war is coming. Despite being armed in Charlottesville, the Naxos didn’t fire a bullet. Would the antifa be so restrained? I don’t think they would.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        One of the historical reasons for allowing concealed carry and disallowing open carry may have been projection, on the part of the people who (correctly) don’t trust themselves with guns. Someone with zero self-control and less imagination might find it impossible to believe that someone as wrong-headed as a Naxo could possibly do better in that department.

      2. Frank

        Civil war? One side has trillions of rounds of ammunition. The other side can’t figure out what bathroom to use. The “civil war” will be short.

        1. SHG Post author

          This isn’t just stupid, but deeply twisted. Regardless of who wins, you have no concern that kids, foolish or not, will be harmed?

      3. Jake

        “I twitted earlier today that I fear a shooting war is coming. Despite being armed in Charlottesville, the Naxos didn’t fire a bullet. Would the Antifa be so restrained? I don’t think they would.”

        Yet somehow the score at the end of the day was:

        Nazis: 1 kill, dozen wounded
        Antifa: Irritated the Nazis.

        I honestly can’t believe you are communicating in good faith on the subject of Charlottesville.

        Also, your assertion is absolutely false. There is a video of an alt-right protester brazenly firing a round towards Antifa protesters at the same event. [https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/25/us/charlottesville-protest-police.html]

        1. SHG Post author

          Yes, a video appeared after this post showing a Naxos firing a gun at the ground in the direction of a black man using a home-made torch. Had this been known at the time, I would have incorporated it in what I wrote. Since it wasn’t known, I didn’t. Your coming in after the fact to point out that my assertion is false is disingenuous.

          Was the car driven into protesters, killing Heather Heyer, a reflection of the group or one individual? Some claim it was part of a conspiracy, but then, like most conspiracy theories, it’s entirely dependent of assuming things that can’t be proved. Other argue that he was being surrounded by a phalanx of protesters and tried to get away. This, too, is a facile rationale. But what is clear is that the car happened after the march was over. Even the gunshot, which should have given rise to arrest, was aimed at the ground and harmed no one.

          But you have a tendency to cherry-pick allegations, wrap them in facile characterizations and absurd hyperbole, which makes you unpersuasive and unreliable. This only plays with people already inclined to hysterical beliefs, which is why no one finds your arguments credible or persuasive. Sorry, Jake, but when you choose to shriek like a crazy person, people treat you like a crazy person.

          1. Jake

            I agree and I withdraw the point on the gun. I didn’t take note of the dates.

            However, your assertion that, as a group, armed hillbillies marching under the Nazi flag will be more controlled than Antifa is still absurd without the gunplay. Why do I say absurd? Because of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. As individuals, or as a group, the right-wing extremists were far less controlled and their actions resulted in far more death and injury.

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