It’s time for QAnon to be labeled a terrorist organization.

Photo by Cameron Smith on Unsplash

As the events of January 6th and Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol unfolded, you could hear reporters covering the event struggle with how to define the people perpetrating an act of insurrection. Are they protestors? Rioters? Terrorists? If you trace their motivations and who incited them to violence, you would have a hard time not identifying them as the agents of a terrorist movement.

Freedom of speech should be guarded at all costs, but your right to free speech ends at the incitement to violence. Now QAnon and all those who associate with deliberately spreading misinformation have blood on their hands. Those who encouraged or facilitated the spreading of lies and any incitement to storm the Capitol should be prosecuted as domestic terrorists and not merely protestors who smashed a few windows. The organizers, even if they did not jump the barricade, have at least some criminal liability too; we have prosecuted organizers on the left for less.

Unfortunately, we have ample mechanisms for labeling foreign terrorist organizations and nothing in place for domestic terrorism. If you’re a strong believer in free speech, that might remain the best choice so that as each side comes to power they don’t label their most vocal opponents terrorists. Still the press and most importantly, the U.S. Department of Justice, should draw a line and make clear that no political ideology can promote violent insurrection without consequence. It is one thing to protect the dissemination of bad opinions and dubious facts, but when that fog is used to deliberately misguide people to violent ends… the misguidance is a crime just as much as the violence.

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