Stephanie Guthrie vs Gregory Alan Elliott

War of the Hashtaggers

The Twitter feud between Gregory Alan Elliott and Stephanie Guthrie triggered a vicious gender war that ended in court. It all boiled down to one question: what constitutes criminal harassment in the age of social media?

| May 31, 2016

(Photographs: Guthrie by Pawel Dwulit; Elliott by Kevin Van Paassen/National Post)

Stephanie Guthrie and Gregory Alan Elliott met in person for the first time on April 18, 2012, at the Dundas West restaurant This End Up. Guthrie was a 20-something York graduate with Zooey Deschanel bangs, thick-framed glasses and a large tattoo of the Last Unicorn on her upper arm. During the day, she worked for CareerMash, a company that runs professional workshops for high school students. In her off hours, she spent much of her time on Twitter, where she posted about feminism under the handle @amirightfolks. Earlier in the year, Guthrie had co-founded an organization called WiTOPoli—short for Women in Toronto Politics—that hosted feminist talks.

Elliott, who was in his early 50s, was a freelance graphic designer and divorced dad of four adult sons with an ambitious side gig of his own. In Kensington Market, his street art covered practically every wall and lamppost—mostly, he painted smiling hearts and feel-good epigrams (“Honesty Is the Best Poetry”). He also devised something called “snoetry,” where he stamped his slogans into patches of snow. Like Guthrie, Elliott was often on Twitter—his handle was @greg_a_elliott and his bio read “Designer, poet, lover, friend.” He was bald and goateed, favouring chunky wool sweaters that gobbled at his jaw.

Guthrie and Elliott had followed each other on Twitter for a few months. They both subscribed to the hashtag #TOPoli for discussion of local politics and had occasionally tweeted at each other. When Guthrie was organizing a public talk for WiTOPoli, she put out a call for someone to design the poster, and Elliott offered his services. At This End Up, Elliott sketched out the poster he envisioned, and they made polite small talk. Guthrie later testified that she found him creepy: he leaned across the table into her personal space a little too deeply and a little too often. Over the course of the meal, he offered to drive her home three times. She declined. After they split the bill, he said he wanted to show her a poster he’d designed and asked her to follow him to his van while he retrieved it. She told him she wasn’t comfortable with that, so he went outside, got the poster, and gave it to Guthrie back in the restaurant. Then she walked back to her Brockton Village apartment.

Once she was home, Guthrie learned that another member of WiTOPoli had found a different designer and wrote to Elliott to let him know. The messages they exchanged were amicable: she told him he was awesome and signed her email “XO Steph,” while Elliott signed off with “Love Greg.”

The next time they saw each other would be nearly two years later, in criminal court.

Some people call Twitter the Wild West of the Internet. Since I signed up in 2010, I’ve come to think of it more as a Dantean hellscape. In the lower circles, you’ll find people with a socio-political cause, tweeting constantly to promote whatever ideology they endorse. Much of this has been fruitful: #blacklivesmatter raised awareness for a real-life movement, and the anti-rape demonstration SlutWalk was also organized on Twitter. But descend far enough and you’ll witness baroque scenes of digital violence: mobs of libertarians attacking radical gender theorists, disability advocates warring with men’s rights activists (or MRAs), gun nuts from Texas screaming at each other about the Second Amendment. The lingua franca is that of the demagogue: slogans, finger-wagging, jingoism.

In 2012, the Toronto feminist Twittersphere was a small but robust ecosystem, centred around the #WiTOPoli hashtag. A core group of users congregated there, venting about the portrayal of women in film and TV, gender politics in Rob Ford’s mayoralty, and online harassment, all in a distinctive millennial digital argot. Though I sometimes write about gender and agree with the WiTOPoli philosophy, I generally avoided this corner of Twitter. It was cliquish, and I bristled at the nuance-flattening phrases like “rape culture,” “victim blaming” and “tone policing.” The 140-character limit made it hard to avoid sloganeering.

It was within this circle that Steph Guthrie carved out her brand. As she gained popularity, her Twitter life and her professional life began to overlap. She hosted panel discussions on the dearth of women on city council and Take Back the Block parties in neighbourhoods where women had been sexually assaulted. Offline, she was an ambitious, clever and sincere fourth-wave feminist.

In 2012, Gregory Alan Elliott practically constituted his own Twittersphere—he posted up to 300 times a day. Around Kensington, where he was a regular fixture, people knew him as an eccentric artist with a soft voice and a perpetually bemused expression. But online, he was intense and volcanic. He bombarded #TOPoli with repetitive tweets. He quoted himself frequently and used hashtags so broad they lost all their meaning (#women, #love, #good, #evil). Many women on Twitter recall how he used to insert himself into political conversations to flirt with them—a practice known as “macktivism.”

After their dinner, Guthrie and Elliott interacted pleasantly online for a couple of months. Guthrie hosted a WiTOPoli event and tweeted a welcome message to Elliott, who attended with a female friend. Privately, though, she was uncomfortable with the attention Elliott was lavishing on her over Twitter. In June, after she broke her ankle, he offered to run errands for her, to come over to her apartment, to drive her to the airport, to bring her alcohol.

She knew he posted obsessively, and that obsession seemed to have focused on her—he was tweeting at her several times a day, inserting himself into conversations she was having with her friends, assuming a level of intimacy that wasn’t there. On June 28, Guthrie tweeted a picture from Instagram to her followers, declaring it “the prettiest.” Elliott immediately replied: “No, you’re the prettiest. How’s your ankle?”

A week later, their fragile friendship ended abruptly. Anita Sarkeesian, a York University graduate, had recently criticized sexist tropes in video games. She came under fire from MRAs, who congregate online to protest perceived misandry. In Toronto, there are men’s awareness groups at U of T and Ryerson, and men’s rights activists can sell out lecture halls. Four years ago, the American MRA hero Roosh V. released a YouTube video called “Toronto Sucks,” maligning Toronto women for being fat and having bad attitudes.

Bendilin Spurr, a 24-year-old man from Sault Ste. Marie, was so outraged by Sarkeesian’s criticism that he created a video game where users could assault her online. It was vile by any standards: each click functioned as a punch to the face, transforming an image of Sarkeesian into a mass of bruises and contusions and blood. When players clicked enough times, the screen turned entirely red.

When Guthrie learned of the game in July, she wanted to publicly shame Spurr—she discovered his Twitter profile and alerted her 600 followers. “So I found the Twitter account of that fuck listed as creator of the ‘punch a woman in the face’ game,” she tweeted on July 6. “Should I sic the Internet on him?” She then sent a tweet to the Sault Star account, linking them to Spurr’s handle: “Sault Ste. Marie employers, if you get a resumé from @Bendilin Spurr, he made a woman facepunching game.” It was what’s known online as a “dox”: publishing a social media user’s real identity in the hope of damaging the person’s offline life.

By that point, MRAs were tweeting on Spurr’s behalf, tagging Guthrie in their vitriolic messages. Immediately, Gregory Alan Elliott leapt into the fray. While he echoed Guthrie’s disgust for the game, he also chided her for calling out Spurr. “He’s got 11 followers. Why bring attention to the guy?” he tweeted at her. “Because I think the Sault Ste. Marie community should be aware there is a monster in their midst,” she replied.

Over the next few days, Elliott became increasingly irked by Guthrie’s tweets—and her dismissal of his opinions. “Guy makes a facepunch game, which offended you, and you want him *destroyed*. Wrong,” he wrote. “It’s revenge. If he kills himself because of your orchestrated attack.”

“If you think it’s revenge,” she tweeted back, “you’re not paying attention. I’ve had it with you.” On July 7, she blocked him, which prevented Elliott from being able to see her feed, and her from being able to see tweets he directed at her. He blocked her the same day.

By the next morning, he was trying to make nice. “Next step may be to unblock me and refollow?” he wrote. “Why punish me.” He included a smiley face at the end of this tweet, as well as a hashtag: #Love. Guthrie never saw it.

Over the next few weeks, the Spurr affair transformed Guthrie into a Twitter celebrity. She called it a “win,” insofar as it got people talking about online harassment and sexism. And talking they were: thousands of users around the world were discussing his game. Along with the praise, Guthrie was also receiving death threats from Spurr’s MRA supporters. “I will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it,” wrote a user with the handle @Super_Cool_Guy on July 9. “You’re fucking dead, kiddo.” Guthrie reported it to the police.

Throughout it all, Elliott kept tweeting about her. And even though she’d blocked him, Guthrie was as fixated on him as he was on her. In her tweets, she called Elliott a narcissist, a waste of carbon, a serial Twitter harasser. The more Elliott felt attacked, the angrier he became. “I know she thinks I’m a #misogynist, but I think she’s a #misandrist, so we’re both WRONG,” he tweeted on July 28.

Eventually, he recruited backup. Many MRAs are also gamers, and Elliott tweeted about Guthrie through the #videogames hashtag, stoking their anger. Guthrie, meanwhile, had a phalanx of Twitter feminists in her camp. After Elliott called her a bitch, one of her supporters speciously suggested his sons were probably rapists, because that’s the kind of men he would raise.

In early August, a group of around 20 women associated with WiTOPoli—including Guthrie, a computer software vendor named Heather Reilly and an activist called Paisley Rae—met at Rae’s downtown home to discuss online harassment. They talked a lot about Elliott, and made a plan to document his tweets and encourage other female Twitter users who were receiving unwanted messages from him to come forward. Soon after, several women tweeted warnings about Elliott.

What they saw as a public service, Elliott and his supporters saw as a criminal conspiracy. He believed Guthrie and her friends had agreed to fabricate evidence against him. He tweeted about them more than 40 times in August. His messages became focused on Guthrie’s feminist ideology, linked to the hashtags #fascistfeminists and #TwitterFascists. On August 22, he wrote, “Offered @amirightfolks an ‘anytime’ ride...and the nut-job thought I wanted sex? Fuck.”

While reporting this story, I spent an entire day reading Elliott’s tweets. By the time I was done, I was convinced that any reasonable woman would find the sheer volume of his tweets frightening. Then the next day, I read Guthrie’s tweets and groaned aloud. “Why are you antagonizing him?!” I wanted to scream at her. I sympathized with Guthrie, but I found myself questioning her behaviour, trying to make it fit into my own muddled gender politics. If I believed some of her tweets were counterproductive, was it victim blaming? I began to see the story less as a harassment case than a litmus test of how feminism operates online.

On September 9, Guthrie sent two tweets to Elliott directly, asking him to cease contact with her. He did not tweet at her or her supporters for months after that, but he did continue monitoring their feeds. One night in September, Guthrie’s friend Heather Reilly went to the Cadillac Lounge in Parkdale. “A whole lot of ugly at the Cadillac Lounge tonight,” Elliott tweeted. Reilly was afraid that Elliott was there, watching her (he wasn’t). A couple of days later, she reported him to Twitter. The company responded that Elliott had complied with their internal rules.

The battle kept escalating over the next few months, coming to a climax on November 15, when Guthrie hosted an online event at a think tank called the Academy of the Impossible; a hashtag, #AOTID, allowed users to attend virtually. As Guthrie spoke to attendees about harassment, Elliott posted 11 tweets to #AOTID, responding to Guthrie’s statements. He was finding new ways to remind her of his presence. “All of a sudden it hit me just how hard this person must be fixated on me,” she commented later. “Up until that point, I felt frustration, anger, exasperation. In this moment, I felt fear.”

The next day, Guthrie took action. She went to 14 Division with a printed packet of Elliott’s most offensive tweets to her, as well as the tweets she had sent indicating that she wanted him to stop (she left out some of her own belligerent posts). Guthrie emphasized the number of his messages, and the fact of him finding ways around the Twitter block to communicate with her after she asked him to cease contact.

Six days later, Elliott was arrested. A justice of the peace read the charge: criminal harassment of Guthrie contrary to Section 264 of the Criminal Code. He was held in the Don Jail—the Crown wanted to keep him indefinitely, but he was released on bail after three nights, under the condition that he refrain from using Twitter, a smartphone or a computer with Internet access. He was also banned from contacting Guthrie. Elliott had posted a grand total of 50,000 tweets in five years. His last one was directed toward Heather Reilly, whose handle is @ladysnarksalot: “Methinks the Lady doth snark too much.”

It’s hard not to feel sorry for Elliott at that moment: a middle-aged dad handcuffed and forced to sleep in the Don Jail over a bunch of angry tweets. A few days after he was arrested, Heather Reilly and Paisley Rae went to the police to press their own charges, on the grounds that Elliott had tormented them on Twitter after they had asked him to stop. Elliott was saddled with two more counts of criminal harassment (Rae’s charges were later dropped). He hired Chris Murphy, a family friend and former drug prosecutor, as his lawyer.

Detective Jeff Bangild, an investigator with the TPS, put a request out on social media asking anyone with information about Elliott’s Twitter behaviour to come forward. Five women filed official statements reporting that Elliott had harassed them online. Using Sysomos, a computer program that helps police gather online evidence, Bangild unearthed both parties’ tweets. It was a tedious and flawed undertaking. The software allows the police to access users’ timelines, but Bangild did not document every tweet; other users’ messages, which shaped Guthrie and Elliott’s interactions online, were left out of the search entirely.

In the year between the arrest and the beginning of the trial, Guthrie went on a media offensive. She gave interviews to the Star and the Globe. She was photographed drinking from a flask labelled “male tears.” And in September 2013, she gave a TEDx talk about online harassment. “I have a folder on my computer desktop called Death Threats,” she said. “A dominant wisdom that says ‘Don’t feed the trolls’ means that many misogynists and other bigots never have to face their critics. Because their critics are encouraged to shut up.” If Guthrie had entered the brouhaha as a victim of online harassment, she was now emerging as its foremost combatant. Her prescription for dealing with misogyny online—confront, document, warn others—slid tidily into the brand of assertive, digital-age feminism she had been building for years.

The TEDx video was posted to YouTube in November 2013. It generated thousands of vitriolic comments from Elliott supporters. “WOW What an ugly little cunt. Just looking at you makes me want to VOMIT, you disgusting little freak.” Response videos began to appear, calling Guthrie a troll, a misandrist, a feminazi. Deeper in the manosphere, bloggers, Reddit users and posters on MRA forums like A Voice for Men exchanged pro-Elliott messages.

None of this came from Elliott himself, who was complying with the Internet ban—a tall order for someone who had been tweeting 300 times per day. Without the Internet, he couldn’t update his website, promote his services as a graphic designer or execute projects using online software. Within a few months, he had lost a job with the City of Mississauga that had provided the bulk of his income for 15 years.

Twitter is a hotbed of harassment. Its text-based platform is uniquely suited to verbal assaults and doxxing. Its hashtags are conducive to mob mentality and public shaming. And it comes with virtually no accountability—many of its users operate anonymously. Over the past few years, the company has found itself in the difficult position of trying to rein in harassment without compromising freedom of speech, with limited success. In 2013, during the Gamergate scandal, an army of MRA gamers launched a vicious online attack against female developers; around the same time, Twitter introduced a “report abuse” function to deal with threats and targeted harassment. They later banned hate speech on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation, race and religion. “We suck at dealing with abuse and trolls on the platform,” wrote then–Twitter CEO Dick Costolo in an internal memo last year. “We’ve sucked at it for years.” That month, Twitter announced that it had tripled the staff devoted to combatting abuse.

I find it hard to believe this will make a difference. I’ve been attacked on the Internet for years—in response to a piece I wrote in which I revealed I’d had an abortion, commenters on a conservative blog said I was a murderer who was going to hell, and MRAs called me the C-word. But none of it rattled me like the first time I was harassed on Twitter. It was 2013, and a user I’d never encountered before jumped into my feed to tell me he was going to punch me in the throat. When I saw the message on my phone, I was so shocked I actually dropped it. It was the immediacy of the threat that scared me—I read the tweet right after he wrote it; he knew I was seeing it at the same moment. I checked his timeline and discovered a solid stream of misogynistic threats. I yelled back at him for a while, and then reported him to Twitter, attaching a screenshot of the threat. A response from Twitter personnel came weeks later, after the user had deleted both the threat and his more offensive tweets. Since he’d deleted them, the Twitter rep wrote, there was nothing they could do.

There is no specific legislation in place to deal with cyber-crimes in Canada. When Elliott was arrested, online harassment was held to the same standard as criminal harassment: it had to be unwanted, repeated communication, it had to make the complainant afraid for his or her safety, and that fear had to be reasonable. Elliott never made any threats, but the quantity and persistence of his tweets was enough grounds to prosecute him.

The case would set a legal precedent around online abuse, demonstrating that what happens on Twitter can constitute harassment. Other women had reported online harassment before, but it was hard to pinpoint their attackers. In Elliott, the Crown had a rare bird. The tweets were clearly attributable to Elliott and Guthrie. Both parties were Canadian. And most importantly, they’d met in person. If Elliott wanted to escalate to offline harassment or even violence, he could easily do so. According to the Crown, Guthrie had reason to be afraid.

The R. V. Elliott trial began on January 7, 2014, at Old City Hall, more than a year after Elliott was arrested. The first couple of days were largely spent explaining the conventions of Twitter to the judge, Brent Knazan, who seemed to know little about the platform. Nathan Dayler, a Toronto Police Service social media expert, defined tweeting, retweeting, blocking, hashtags and handles.

When the Crown attorney, Marnie Goldenberg, questioned Guthrie and Reilly, there were further digressions to explain Twitter lingo to the judge: “ZOMG,” “concern trolling,” the stuck-out-tongue emoji (:-P). The complainants testified that they had cause to feel afraid, and that the reason they’d spend so much time discussing Elliott in meetings and online was to warn other women about a legitimate threat. Goldenberg zeroed in on the night at the Cadillac Lounge, emphasizing Reilly’s fear that Elliott was nearby and ready to attack.

Chris Murphy’s task was to prove that the complainants weren’t genuinely afraid. They were tweeting about Elliott and including him in derogatory subtweets, he argued. They were organizing meetings about how to bring him in line. Murphy focused on determining Guthrie’s state of mind during the summer of 2012. “When you’re engaged in a back-and-forth conversation,” he says, “it’s very difficult for the objective observer to conclude that one person is afraid. There were numerous examples where they were just taunting Mr. Elliott to all their Twitter followers. You’re not afraid of the bear if you’re going up to the bear and poking it.”

The trial dragged on for more than a year and a half, into the summer of 2015. Sound travelled so poorly in the courtroom that the building managers shut off the air conditioning so testimony could be heard—it was more than 40 degrees. With the heat rising and no end in sight, tempers flared. Guthrie seemed particularly testy, rolling her eyes during cross-examination and answering questions with mumbled “mmm-hmms.” Her responses were so pointed they sounded like hashtags. When Murphy asked how she’d gone from “creeped out” to “afraid,” she exploded. “Feeling creeped out is a type of fear,” Guthrie snapped. “There is no perfect victim.”

Murphy posited that Elliott was not harassing Guthrie but expressing dissent to her, a politician in charge of WiTOPoli. He quoted an Elliott tweet in which he stated that rapists were mentally ill, and asked her if she agreed that was a valid point. She banged her fist on the stand and screamed at Murphy. “Are you kidding me?” she yelled. “I know lots of normal men who have raped. I have been raped by men you would call normal.” The next morning, Christie Blatchford published an editorial in the Post. “The Twitter trial is beginning to resemble Twitter itself,” she wrote. “The dialogue is shrill, some of the players are increasingly über-sensitive and derision is the name of the game.” Guthrie’s team accused Blatchford of victim blaming, while Elliott’s supporters took to the comments section, calling Guthrie a harpy and a misandrist.

By this point, the justice system had devoted hundreds of thousands of dollars to a case that kept veering out of control. In July 2015, Reilly temporarily locked her account, making her tweets inaccessible to the court. Knazan was mystified. “The physical evidence is actually changed because of the technological novelty of this case,” he marvelled. “It’s like writing in invisible ink or a photograph fading because the case took so long.”

The trial finally concluded in July. A month later, while Knazan was working on his judgment, he convened an unscheduled meeting in the courtroom. Only five other people were in attendance, including the Crown attorney, two court officers, Elliott, and one of his sons for moral support. Murphy called in on speakerphone. Knazan had realized that Goldenberg had accidentally changed her argument. Elliott had been charged with knowingly harassing the complainants. Later, in Goldenberg’s closing statements, she claimed that he had harassed them recklessly. It was a minor point that could cost the Crown its case, as Elliott could only be convicted under the original charges. Goldenberg argued that any inconsistency was pure human error. Eventually, Knazan amended the charges to include reckless harassment. It would be another six months before he delivered his verdict. “I’ve done murder inquiries in less time than this,” Murphy told me.

While Knazan deliberated, public sentiment about the trial devolved into ideological farce. Lauren Southern, a political science student at the University of the Fraser Valley and a member of the Libertarian Party of Canada, had been covering the trial for the right-wing website the Rebel, arguing that a guilty verdict would sound a death knell for freedom of expression in Canada. On November 21, 2015, she hosted a full-day live-streaming session on YouTube in support of Elliott. It was a digital-age version of a telethon, complete with performances—Southern sang Céline Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On,” and Cathy Young, a columnist for the libertarian magazine Reason, read Robin Hood–themed fan fiction. Southern hashtagged the event #freedomoftweets, and it went viral on Twitter among both MRA and libertarian users. A crowdfunding page was also set up to pay for Elliott’s legal expenses. All in, he raised more than $70,000.

Around the same time, a number of Guthrie supporters circulated a call on Twitter and Facebook to boycott the Kensington café I Deal Coffee, which was displaying Elliott’s artwork on the walls. When the owner refused to remove the paintings, a protester went into the café, bought a cup of organic, fair trade coffee and splashed it across a row of Elliott’s pieces. Natalia Jakubek, the café’s operations manager, started her own online fundraiser on Generosity for I Deal Coffee to supplement loss of sales from the boycott. “Please support I Deal Coffee keeping Kensington Market as crazy and unique as it is,” a supporter called C Man wrote in the petition. He had donated $20. “And that all starts with free expression.” After raising $130, the café’s fundraising campaign ended—the boycott hadn’t done much damage after all. “The next art show is up,” Jakubek wrote. “And the coffee flows sweet and fresh roasted as always.”

Knazan read his decision on January 22, 2016. The courtroom was so packed that some people had to sit on the floor, and Elliott supporters milled on the steps of Old City Hall. The verdict was 84 pages long, and it took Knazan four hours to read. When it was over, Knazan declared Elliott not guilty on all charges, and the room erupted in groans of defeat and squeals of glee.

Knazan concluded that while Elliott had indeed harassed the women, it was not reasonable for them to fear for their safety. He conceded that Elliott’s tweets were often offensive, but not of a violent or sexual nature. And Guthrie, he said, had engaged Elliott by participating in an online campaign to malign him, while Reilly’s testimony hadn’t indicated that she was fearful, just frustrated. Much of his decision was devoted to the question of whether or not Elliott’s tweeting on the #AOTID hashtag constituted an attempt to contact the women directly. Given the public nature of hashtags, he concluded, and the political content of the tweets, Elliott had been involved in legitimate debate. While Guthrie had created the hashtag, she did not have a right to control who used it.

Standing on the Old City Hall steps, surrounded by supporters, Elliott grinned, hugged his sons and told the press that he was planning to return to Twitter. Later that day, he sent out his first tweet in three years. “ ‘You can stand for something, but you can’t misunderstand for something.’ —Gregory Alan Elliott #freedomoftweet #thankyou #3years2months.” More than 1,400 supporters retweeted it.

It may be true that Guthrie and Reilly weren’t afraid of Elliott. And yet I’m not sure that diminishes the vileness of his harassment. Guthrie’s tweets and subtweets and interviews and talks and testimony made it clear that even if she wasn’t afraid, she was miserable, and unable to carry on with her online life. She was tormented by Elliott’s attempts to insert himself into her conversations. And the feeling of being ground down by persistent attacks is one that many Twitter users are familiar with.

Maybe the issue isn’t whether or not Elliott criminally harassed Guthrie, but why we’ve defined criminal harassment in such a way that it doesn’t account for other forms of stress that are equally punitive as fear. Elliott’s supporters made a big fuss over the idea that conviction might enshrine censorship online. If people are being run offline by persistent harassment, that’s censorship by other means.

In the dusty crevices of the Internet, artifacts of the Elliott-Guthrie debacle still remain. There is an image of a tombstone on the website where Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian once bloodied screens. Battles still rage in the comments section of Christie Blatchford’s Post columns about the trial and underneath Guthrie’s TEDx talk. Since the trial, Guthrie has been subjected to constant harassment on social media. Both she and Reilly took their accounts private, and Guthrie scrubbed the Internet of all direct contact information. She who lives by the tweet shall die by the tweet.

Elliott still owes tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills. He’s regaining some work, but the lucrative City of Mississauga contract is gone. “Make no mistake, my client’s life was ruined,” says Chris Murphy. For all his financial woes, Elliott has become something of a civil rights martyr among both the MRA and libertarian crowds. He is regularly cited as a hero of free speech, a man who was imprisoned for disagreeing with feminists. You can buy Greg Elliott T-shirts through his website, and he is planning to write a book.

Elliott continues to tweet constantly, now with an even narrower animus directed at women, feminists and so-called social justice warriors. If he wasn’t an MRA before, he certainly is now. He seems vindicated, and he enjoys the attention, but there’s a deeper anger in his tweets that wasn’t there in 2012. Last March, on International Women’s Day, Elliott addressed Guthrie for the first time since 2012, using her handle as a hashtag. “I hear ‘drinking male tears’ leads to ‘throwing urine at women.’ #amirightfolks,” he tweeted.

(Photographs: Guthrie by Pawel Dwulit; Elliott by Kevin Van Paassen/National Post)

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