With courthouse violence on the rise, Men’s Rights activists continue to lionize the author of a terrorist manifesto urging men to burn down courthouses

Poster at a memorial for Tom Ball, an MRA who advocated burning down courthouses and police stations.

Poster at a memorial event for Tom Ball, an MRA who advocated burning down courthouses and police stations.

EDIT 6/15/13: Tom Ball’s manifesto is no longer posted on A Voice for Men, though it isn’t clear if this is a website glitch or a change in policy on AVFM’s part;  no announcement about taking it down has been made.

EDITED TO ADD: In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing, it seems even more important to reinterate that influential Men’s Rights website A Voice for Men continues to host, in its “activism” section no less, a terrorist manifesto literally calling for the firebombing of courthouses and police stations. Until and unless that manifesto is removed, and A Voice for Men apologizes for hosting it, I will be linking to this post every time I mention A Voice for Men.

There has been another courthouse shooting. On Monday morning, the father of a man due in court for a child support hearing pulled out a semiautomatic handgun and shot his son’s ex wife and a friend of hers as they entered the lobby of the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington Delaware. After an exchange of gunfire with police that left two officers wounded, 68-year old Thomas Matusiewicz took his own life. The two women Matusiewcz shot were pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital.

His son, David Matusiewcz, had earlier served time – an astonishingly short amount of time – for kidnapping his three girls and hiding out with them in Nicaragua for a year and a half. More details on the case here, here, and here; further news coverage here.

Unfortunately, despite increased security, violence in and around courthouses has been on the increase. There have been numerous courthouse shootings and other violent attacks across the country in recent months, from Texas to New York to Washington state. Sometimes the victims are family members; other times they’re prosecutors or judges.

A recent report published by the National Center for State Courts notes that

We live in a time when threats against judges and acts of violence in courthouses and courtrooms are occurring throughout the country with greater frequency than ever before. …  Individuals and groups have committed acts of violence in courthouses, often attempts to murder judicial officials, escape from custody, and disrupt or delay proceedings. Moreover, courthouses, which represent the ideals of democracy in American society, have become symbolic targets for antigovernment extremists and terrorists (domestic and international). …

In addition to shootings, bombings, and arson attacks, there have been knifings, assaults, failed bombing attempts, suicides, bomb plots, murder-for-hire conspiracies, and much more

While shootings tend to get the most media coverage, the report notes that “arson attacks, through the use of improvised incendiary devices, have increased in number and frequency.”

That’s why it’s so worrisome that A Voice for Men, the leading Men’s Rights site outside of Reddit’s Men’s Rights subreddit, continues to host a terrorist manifesto urging Men’s Rights activists to literally burn down courthouses and police stations, even if doing so means that people are killed.

The manifesto, which I have written about several times previously, was written by a troubled man (and an admitted child abuser) named Tom Ball, who burned himself to death on the steps of a courthouse in New Hampshire in hopes that his death would inspire a wave of arson against courthouses and police stations. Dictionary.com defines terrorism as “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.” And that is precisely what Ball’s manifesto advocates.

Here’s some of what he wrote, taken directly from the manifesto posted on AVFM. (I’ve put some of the more egregious passages in bold text.)

So boys, we need to start burning down police stations and courthouses. … the dirty deeds are being carried out by our local police, prosecutors and judges. These are the people we pay good money to protect us and our families. And what do we get for our tax money? Collaborators who are no different than the Vichy of France or the Quislings of Norway during the Second World War. All because they go along to get along. They are an embarrassment, the whole lot of them. And they need to be held accountable. So burn them out. …

You need to flatten them, like Wile E. Coyote. They need to be taught never to replace the rule of law. BURN-THEM-OUT!

Most of the police stations built in New England over the last 20 years are stone or brick. Fortunately, the roofs are still wood. The advantage of fire on the roof is that it is above the sprinklers. But even the sprinklers going off work to our advantage. There is no way they can work in a building with six inches of water. And I am certain we will disrupt their momentum once they start working out of a FEMA

At this point Ball’s manifesto is interrupted mid-sentence by  an “editor’s note” from the folks at AVFM:

Several paragraphs in this copy of Mr Ball’s original letter have been omitted. The omitted paragraphs contained detailed instructions on the manufacture and use of simple incendiary devices.

Yes, that’s right; Ball’s original manifesto included specific instructions for constructing effective Molotov cocktails, a pretty clear indication that there was nothing figurative about his calls to “burn them out,” and that Ball literally hoped that his death, and his manifesto, would encourage a wave of arson. Indeed, that it would be the start of a literal war of Men’s Rights Activists against the US government.

Ball made clear that this war, like all wars, would mean death for some people:

There will be some casualties in this war. Some killed, some wounded, some captured. Some of them will be theirs. Some of the casualties will be ours. …

I only managed to get the main door of the Cheshire County Courthouse in Keene, NH. I would appreciate it if some of you boys would finish the job for me. They harmed my children. The place is evil. So take it out.

AVFM doesn’t have this manifesto up as a historical curiousity. AVFM posts and comments have portrayed Ball as an Men’s Rights martyr, and the manifesto is listed in AVFM’s “activism” section. Apparently throwing Molotov cocktails through courthouse windows is a form of “activism.”

Now, the official stance of the AVFM crowd is that they don’t support such violence – that they’re just predicting that more of it will occur.

Site founder Paul Elam has written:

Thomas Ball represents a tragic, dysfunctional reaction to chronic, systemic abuse. There are many possible reactions. Some even worse than his. And while we cannot, must not, condone violence, we had better learn to expect it as long as an ideological war against men is allowed to make a battlefield in our justice system and within the heart of our own families.

Then why, Paul, do you feature his manifesto in your “activism” section, alongside a link to AVFM’s “Judicial Accountability Committee?” Why do you continue to lionize the man and treat him as a martyr?

In another post, Elam further explicated his most peculiar brand of “pacifism.” (Emphasis added.)

I am a pacifist. I do not advocate violence.  But I tell you this. The day I see one of these absolutely incredulous excuses for a judge dragged out of his courtroom into the street, beaten mercilessly, doused with gasoline and set afire by a father who just won’t take another moment of injustice, I will be the first to put on the pages of this website that what happened was a minor tragedy that pales by far in comparison to the systematic brutality and thuggery inflicted daily on American fathers by those courts and their police henchmen.

It would not even so much be a tragedy as the chickens coming home to roost. And it is certainly less of an indecency than the suicide of Tom Ball.

This is from a man who evidently considers himself some kind of 21st century Gandhi.

AVFM is not the only Men’s Rights site to lionize Ball; he’s been hailed by numerous MRAs, and his manifesto (in its entirely, including the Molotov cocktail portions) has been reposted all over the internet. Indeed, some MRAS have constructed an elaborate site memorializing him and his alleged heroism. A year after his death, Men’s Rights activists organized a “memorial” protest. He’s even been remembered in song.

Helen “Dr. Helen” Smith, a Men’s Rights advocate and sometime writer for the right wing PJMedia site, said this about his manifesto. (Emphasis added.)

His statement is not the ramblings of a madman, it is the mission of a warrior in some sense. He was fighting for his rights and for yours, if you are male. He was trying to bring some urgency to the male plight in this country, one that no one appreciates or cares about until they are engaged in the battle of the courts.

You can find more discussion and lionization of Ball by MRAs, Fathers’ Rights Activists and others here, here, here, here, here and here. A few minutes with Google will turn up numerous other examples.

Why do I continue to hammer on about Ball’s manifesto? Because so many in the Men’s Rights movement are motivated primarily by anger and hatred — of women, of feminists, and of those, like judges and police officers) that they see as feminist “quislings.” Because so many in the Men’s Rights movement – like the prolific writers and videomakers associated with AVFM – stoke this anger and hatred every chance they get.

It seems almost inevitable that at some point some especially angry and unbalanced Men’s Rights Activist will resort to violence – as MRAs like Elam have “predicted” again and again. (Indeed, we’re probably lucky that Ball did not choose to “take out” others before taking his own life.) This violence may well be directed against a judge or prosecutor or some other official seen as a feminist or feminist “collaborator.” When and if this violence occurs, no doubt the folks at AVFM will officially “lament” it – and then come up with elaborate explanations as to why it’s all really the fault of feminists. Indeed, in the posts of his I quoted above, Elam has already written what are in essence apologias for this violence, even before it has happened.

If the Men’s Rights movement wants to be seen as anything other than a hate group, MRAs need to stop lionizing the author of a terrorist manifesto, and they need to start criticizing those in their movement who make excuses for the violence that they so often warn us is inevitable.

About David Futrelle

I run the blog We Hunted the Mammoth, which tracks (and mocks) online misogyny. My writing has appeared in a wide variety of places, including Salon, Time.com, the Washington Post, the New York Times Book Review and Money magazine. I like cats.

Posted on February 12, 2013, in a voice for men, advocacy of violence, antifeminism, custody, domestic violence, grandiosity, hate, misogyny, MRA, not-quite-explicit threats, oppressed men, paranoia, paul elam, sympathy for murderers, terrorism, your time will come and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 254 Comments.

  1. Prehensile Potatoes is the name of my new tumblr.

  2. RE: Masculist Man

    Feminism is very misandric considering its goal is to destroy men.

    You say this, and yet two MRAs have told me flat-out that the MRM has nothing to offer me, while feminism does.

    Note that I remain undestroyed. People actually like me here.

  3. Actualy, MM, if you want to see racism, you could check this out:



    These are a couple of fairly prominent manosphere blogs just TODAY. There’s a whole wing of the manosphere that’s explicitly racist. Some of the most influential ideas amongst MRAs literally come from a white supremacist.

    Feminism has been trying to deal with racism — including the racism of white feminists — as an issue for decades. Many MRAs don’t even see their racism as a bug; for them it’s a feature.

  4. Oh, a new troll. This one is quite lame. His dialect is incredibly hard to decipher due to the froth coming from his mouth.

    “I throw down the guantlet,bitch.” Translation: “Mommy said my handwriting is pretty.”

    “Are you man enough to accept my challenge?” Translation: “I dare you! I double-dare you!”

    “I see clogia and pissandra don’t agree with me.” Translation: “Poop, pee, fart, piss. Tee hee!”

    “That’s cool because I hate feminists and as long as they hate me I’m doing my job.” Translation: “I broke my favorite toy and now I’m sad and angry.”

    “Feminazis,quit lying. You know you really love Brennan and stand by her. You’re just lying by playing damage control.” Liar, liar, pants on fire!”

    “And yes I laugh at you too because you and your movement are a joke,a dirty foul offensive joke but a joke nonetheless.” Translation: “Waaah wanna blah waah argle bargle waaah ice cream waaaah”

    “Speaking of jokes I glad pussy riot is locked up,they’re probably doing each other right now. I’ll bet every lesbian here (which is every female here) could join them. The only thing to get between you girls is a double headed dildo.” Translation: “Mommy, what’s a lesbian?”

    “Quit being castrating,misandric,false accuser excusing feminists.” Translation: “Shut up! You’re all mean old poopyheads!”

    Yes, it has become quite apparent from these translations that we’re dealing with a juvenile troll here. They are small and quite harmless, but cause one hell of a ruckus with their constant temper tantrums. Try to keep it down, MM, some of us need to sleep.

  5. No,it’s relevent because someone labeled us “racists” which is not the case. If you want to see racists then check this out

    The fact that one of your ideologues is non-white doesn’t make the MRM not generally bigoted against non-white people.

    Also, although it’s true that some feminists express racist attitudes, that doesn’t mean all do – in fact, racist feminists are dying out rather quickly with the advent of intersectionalist feminism among feminists.

    Now shoo!

  6. No,it’s relevent because someone labeled us “racists” which is not the case.

    I can’t be racist! I have POC friends bloggers!

    If you want to see racists then check this out

    Racism in the feminist movement: not news to anyone here. At least we’re willing to own it so we can, you know, fix it.

  7. You’re very disingenuous,Dave. First of all we have profiled women of all colors who have hurt men. Second,Matt Forney,while being right on some things is NOT an MRA. He even says he isn’t. Nice try.

  8. Emilydemoness,your whole movement is about racism as it always has been. Feminists look down on women of color. Just because you employ them and treat them like their less than human doesn’t make them your sisters.

  9. Rabidpidgeon,your post reminded me of Peggy HIll and her grasp of the Spanish language. Your so-called translation is way off mark. But then again so is your movement.

    Alidiotia,Prove we’re racists.

  10. You say this, and yet two MRAs have told me flat-out that the MRM has nothing to offer me, while feminism does.

    Why did they tell you that? What are the reasons?

  11. Rabidpidgeon

    Pidgin: “a simplified language that develops as a means of communication between two or more groups that do not have a language in common”

    Pigeon: any bird of the order Columbidae

    Pidgeon: not a word

    Thanks for the lol and the new nym, though.

  12. Valerie Solanis. Valerie Solanis. Valerie Solanis.

    Valerie fucking Solanis.

    I’m not excusing AVFM. In fact, I’m rather disgusted by their actions. But feminism’s no better. I have personally been in an argument with a feminist who insisted Solanis’ SCUM Manifesto was nothing but harmless satire, despite Val herself telling the cops that if they wanted to understand why she’d tried to murder three men, all thy had to do was read it.

    You can condemn AVFM’s actions, certainly, but for the sake of honesty, don’t act so shocked about it.

  13. Alex: No. Valerie Solanis isn’t comparable. And what are we supposed to be not shocked about… that the bastion of, “the human rights movement of the 21st Century” is advocating for destroying the system of justice? That this is what they think of as decent activism?

    Even if you could cite a reliable source for that quotation you impute to Solanis (since the Manifesto wasn’t published with her consent, and not until after she shot Warhol, which arose from a dispute over artwork, not feminism), that was more than 30 years ago, and she was never a major figure in feminism.

    AVfM claims to be at the center. So the central figures of your movement are advocating violence. That’s a fundamental distinction.

    Yes, Solanis was a feminist. Maybe she was sincere in what she wrote in S.C.U.M., but it was never embraced my mainstream feminism.

    So your false equivalence, is false; and by your saying feminism is just as bad, you are excusing AVfM. You are saying what they do is understandable, because, “reasons”.

  14. Know any mainstream feminists who embrace Solanis’s ideas or actions? Maybe some radfems do, but mainstream? Hardly.

    Not quite like the MRM, is it, where George Sodini, Thomas Ball and Marc Lepine are praised as heroes, and men are told to bash a woman’s head against the wall and make her clean up her own blood.

    Thing with the MRM is, it’s tiny, and there is no mainstream, or moderate, group. It’s all the Paul “fucking their shit up gives me an erection” Elams and John the Otters and WTF Prices. That’s it. There is no comparison with feminism in numbers, or actions (not that these keyboard warriors are noted for doing anything but cheering on violent men) or aims. You seen any feminists demanding that men should lose the vote, or all property rights, or the right to work, or have equal pay? Nor have I. Yet that’s what the MRM demands regarding women: they want us denied basic human rights, up to and including the right to life.

  15. Wait, feminism is inherently racist? Is that why my twitter feed includes a bunch of WoC discussing how feminism can be more intersectional?!

    Kitteh — given today, I’d actually bet TERFs do support it. I think I saw “kill all men (especially trans* women cuz they’re really men)” about a dozen times today.

  16. Thank you,Alex.

    Mainstream feminist groups have endorsed Solanas. Nice try at deflection feminazis too bad it failed.

  17. Oh Christ, another twit who thinks feminists had some kind of relationship to Solanas. Solanas never called herself a feminist, dunderhead. Also, you used the term “feminazis,” which says far too much about your shortcomings.

  18. Mainstream feminist groups have endorsed Solanas. Nice try at deflection feminazis too bad it failed.


  19. “Mainstream feminist groups have endorsed Solanas”

    kk which ones

  20. What’s that phrase again?

    Oh yeah:

    Citation Needed

  21. Also, just so we have a little perspective here, the SCUM manifesto is what, almost 50 years old? This is what you guys have to work with? Yeesh.

  22. What is up with these internet tough guys necroing dead threads to try to have the last word? And then their “last words” are so incredibly pathetic?

    Cowardly misogynists, every last one of them.😀

  23. Perhaps the “too cheap to pay for a dominatrix” theory applies to all of them. All that happens is they get laughed at and scorned.

  24. They should cut to the chase and just write LAST WORD.

  25. thebewilderness

    Yes yes adorable it, totes. Not only that we have been endorsing A Modest Proposal since 1729. Cuz yanno, SATIRE asshats.

  26. Rabidpidgeon? Ahaha, that was a pretty funny one actually. Certainly a lot different from “pissandra” and “Alidiotia”. Of course, proper spelling and grammar is misandry, since dudebros have so much more important stuff to think about. Like killing mammoths or beating up women or something equally noble.

    Either that, or you were going for the archaic form of the word, in which case I’ll just say: Stop. You’re embarrassing yourself.

    “[Y]our whole movement is about racism as it always has been.” Yeah, when the first feminists held their first, crucial meeting that would forever define feminism throughout the rest of history, they had a brainstorming session like this:

    “What should our movement be about?”
    “Social justice?”
    “Yeah, that sounds awesome. Could you be more specific?”
    “How about equality between genders? I mean, we don’t have the right to vote or anything, that sort of sucks.”
    “Okay, good one. What else?”
    “Women’s bodily autonomy? The right of the woman, who bears all the risks of pregnancy and childbirth, to decide whether to go through with it or not?”
    “That’s a great cause to fight for! I’ll write it down right away.”
    “Eventually, we could expand the movement to combat toxic masculinity that makes men do all sorts of harmful things to us and to each other as well.”
    “Hey, yeah! Like the belief that men should protect women who are too weak to protect themselves, when in reality it’s all about controlling women. That’s all kinds of silly, and it’s really hurting men as well. We’re doing great, girls. What else?”
    “Well, I heard gay people are not treated very well. It’s something to do with traditional gender roles, or God’s will, or some shit.”
    “Ugh, that’s horrible. Why would God care so much about that, anyway? And isn’t it up to him to judge, not the homophobic assholes of the world? You’re right, let’s add gay rights to the list. Anything else?”
    “The rights of trans* people?”
    “Now we’re talking. What’s the hostility towards them about, anyway? Is it the goddamn gender roles again, or are people just so fucking desperate to take away other people’s right to a happy and fulfilling life if it’s not a life they personally approve of? Suzy, you look into it. We should totally make this movement an academic field of study. So, is that all?”
    “The belief that humanity is divided into distinct biological groups called races and that members of a certain race share certain attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable, more desirable, inferior, or superior?*”

    *Okay, shamelessly copypasted from Wikipedia.

    “Nice try at deflection feminazis too bad it failed.” Translation: “Alex said so, so it must be true because Alex is the coolest kid in class! So there!”

    Okay, what are you, like eight? Also, punctuation. Learn it. Oh wait, don’t tell me, punctuation is misandry.

    As an aside, could you drop the V is for Vendetta thing? Alan Moore left it up to the reader to decide if V is a hero or a villain. You’re taking away all the ambiguity. Also, anarchism is about total equality between all people, not whiny arglebargling jerkwaddery. Learn the difference.

  27. OT but I have a serious love hate relationship with V. Like, the best thing he does is when he says it’s a new world, one that should be ruled by new people which excludes him. He’s got a serious case of “the ends never justify the means” (straight murder, maybe, fascists and all that, but torture? No.)

  28. Well, as I am a fairly hardcore pacifist*, the violence V uses is pretty much the only thing I disapprove of in his methods. *SPOILERS!* Of course, the psychological torture he uses on Evey is one of the BIG turnoffs for me. Even if it works. /*SPOILERS*

    In the upcoming Arkham Origins** Batman video game, I’m curious about how they’re going to handle Anarky. In the original comics he appeared in, even Batman admitted his goals were admirable, even if his methods were questionable. I could have lived without the libertarian bullshit of the later comics, though.

    *Hard to believe with all the rage I seem to be showing half of the time, I know.

    **Once that one comes out, I’m probably officially out of commission for a few weeks at least. Because Batman.

  29. Radical Parrot — what he does to Evey…*gag* and iirc, she’s 14 in the book! (And then the movie gets all love story, kill me now please) Simply murdering people who’re sending citizens to death camps…yeah that I can find justifiable, in a defense of others sort of way, but not the torture, no, never, do not cross go do not collect $200.

    I will give the series this — that scene at the end, with all those people in the masks fearless walking against armed military? How many times have we seen that lately? V is questionable, what he (and really the author) created…

    Yeah, V’s a real asshole sometimes, but I love the story (head canon is a mix of movie and book because she’s 14, I do not care what the movie says. Otoh, the order of things in the movie is less ick at points (eg how Evey ends up in the shadow gallery) and no Cockney rhyming slang, I had to read that guy aloud to make sense of it >.<

    Have fun with Batman!


  31. >>>Radical Parrot — what he does to Evey…*gag*

    Moore did say that V wasn’t a hero and that the point is that he’s as much a monster as his enemies (which is why he feels he can’t exist in the liberated world), but the fact is that due to the familiarity of the narrative structure it ends up with him being glorified as protagonist.

    Also, the ordeal of Evey is an exposition of the anarchist philosophy’s insistence that it is only direct experience with struggle that creates the revolutionary consciousness. Of course, taken literally as in this story, it leads to a monstrous praxis.

  32. Dave,you’re a liar but what else is new. We;ve shown that all women can be evil not just black women. Nice try,liar.

    This from Matt Forney;s website:

    I’ve been a long-time lurker in the manosphere and on MRA blogs. I agree with much of what they say, but I realized a while ago that I couldn’t in good conscience consider myself a supporter of men’s rights.

    If you stop lying you would have nothing to write about.

  33. You trolls, you really think you’re proving something by necroing threads, don’t you? Are you that pathecally desperate for the last word? Scared to comment in live threads? Feeble, whatever it is. But then that goes with the misogynist territory. Go tend to your rageboner, sonny. Nobody else is likely to.

  34. RE: Masculist Man

    We;ve shown that all women can be evil not just black women.


    Also, the “politically correct regime.” That’s fascinating.

    If you stop lying you would have nothing to write about.

    What’s he lying about?

  35. This from Matt Forney;s website:

    I’ve been a long-time lurker in the manosphere and on MRA blogs. I agree with much of what they say, but I realized a while ago that I couldn’t in good conscience consider myself a supporter of men’s rights.

    If you stop lying you would have nothing to write about.

    Are you actually trying to make yourselves look good? Matt Forney wrote an article about why domestic violence is “necessary.”

    Also, fuck off. You’re boring, tiresome, and full of shit. You have nothing of value to contribute.

  36. star101@gmail.com

    The Mens Rights Movement is a “Counter Terrrorism movement ” promoting human rights for men . Its not about hurting people or violence its about standing up for dignity without being paid for it.

  37. Star, did you even read the post?

  38. I like how star101 wants cookies for standing up for dignity “without being paid for it.” (A) A movement that stands up for male dignity while constantly denigrating female dignity is not admirable in any way, and (B) the fact you think it’s somehow significant that you’re not getting paid for it, also not admirable.

    Also not admirable? Necroing dead threads to try to get the last word.

  39. At least it wasn’t Masculist Man.

  40. Well, at least the scare quotes around “Counter Terrorism Movement” are appropriate.

  41. “Well, at least the scare quotes around “Counter Terrorism Movement” are appropriate.”


  42. While we’re here, it appears that the link to Thomas Ball’s manifesto has been removed from A Voice for Men’s Web site, hasn’t it? Is that a recent development? Anyone know the story behind that? Is there one?

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