My Problem With Violentacrez, Reddit and Freedom of Speech


A child’s mangled body is staring back at me from my computer screen. I cannot see her face; simply what has been left of her body after she was run over by a train on its tracks.

On another webpage I see title after title of anonymous writers proclaiming their sexual desires and encounters with aunts and fathers.

I was afraid I would have to look at Reddit pages entitled r/chokeabitch, r/jailbait and r/Hitler, but to my relief they’ve recently been banned from the site.

The banning of these subreddits is a direct response to the controversy surrounding Michael Brutsch. With rosy cheeks and a meek smile, Brutsch looks like your average middle-aged Texas man with a 40-hour workweek behind a cubicle and a penchant for cats. He’s actually the man behind the Reddit username, “Violentacrez” (pronounced Violent-Acres), the infamous moderator known for his numerous subreddits posting gory, racist, violent, pedophilic, incestuous and misogynistic images and comments.

For years, Violentacrez has been posting his content anonymously. Despite his despicable content, Violentacrez has become one of Reddit’s most celebrated users by the sites’ administrators. Through starting various subreddits, Violentacrez climbed Reddit’s corporate ladder, eventually becoming a trusted and revered moderator. He proudly calls himself the “creepy uncle of Reddit” and in his Ask Me Anything page, the deranged troll has bragged of having sexual relations with his 19 year-old stepdaughter. Violentacrez’s latest website, r/Creepshots (now also banned), featured images of scantily-clad underage girls unknowingly being photographed in public.

Violentacrez’s disturbing subreddits have made headlines in the past. This September, a Georgia substitute teacher was fired after uploading pictures of his underage students onto Jailbait. Even Anderson Cooper shamed Violentacrez for his work, pointing out the vile subreddits on his show, “Anderson Cooper 360.”

But Violentacrez’s masked dance in the limelight has come to an end.

On Oct. 12, journalist Adrian Chen revealed Violentacrez’s real identity. Brutsch’s name and story of how he became a notorious, yet beloved Redditor was published in a scathing, nine-page long investigative report. Within 24 hours of the story being published, Brutsch was fired from his job as a programmer for a financial services company. Brutsch is now left with a disabled wife, no medical insurance, three-month’s salary in his bank account and a PayPal account where sympathetic fans can leave donations.

Seeing the gruesome images Violentacrez had posted on his subreddits made me sick. But hearing his defense and the arguments from his supporters left me in shock. As Brutsch pleaded to Chen over the phone not to reveal his identity, he said, “I do my job, go home watch TV, and go on the Internet. I just like riling people up in my spare time.”

I just like riling people up in my spare time…I just like riling people up in my spare time…(I’m repeating Brutsch’s quote in my head to see if I can make sense of it and perhaps find some compassion for him. But it’s just not working).

I wonder if Brutsch would feel the same way and post the same content on Reddit if he were an 18 year-old woman that’s experienced street harassment since the tender age of twelve.

Or if he would still find the humor in creating a subreddit entitled “Niggerjailbait” if Brutsch were a 60-something year old black man that grew up in Jim Crow South.

Brutsch has accomplished his goal of riling people up. But for what end? Does the Devil give you a pizza party for offending the most number of people with disgusting messages you publish on the Internet?

Brutsch even has the nerve to claim that he has the right to freedom of speech, as if that gives him impunity from all of the horrible images he has put out to the public. His supporters at Reddit have been chiming in as well, attacking Chen for disregarding Reddit’s culture of allowing users to post their content anonymously, and allowing them to say whatever they want.

Of course, Brutsch does in fact have freedom of speech. That said, I still have the freedom to call him a jerk. How could you justify creating spaces solely for glorifying demeaning, gratuitous images that only feed into the issues we face in racial and sexual politics? And how could you justify satisfying your perverted pleasures at the expense of innocent  and oblivious minors?

As much as Brutsch can try to convince himself that he did nothing wrong because the images he posted featured girls wearing clothing, he still invaded children’s privacy, using their bodies as commodities for shameless and brutal audience. It’s appalling that a man who has a raised a child of his own does not understand that.