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Preventing the "violent denial of diversity," and a petition for poison-free parks

Today, we're sitting down with members of Glitterpill, LLC, a company that focuses on threats to democracy and what founder Bjorn Ihler calls "the violent denial of diversity." We’ll look at how extreme beliefs work — across international boundaries, between the not-so-meaningful divide between online and real life, and in the many subtle spaces between acceptable politics and extreme beliefs.

We’ll also check in on a petition to ban harmful chemicals from Wilmington and New Hanover County parks.

Red pill or blue pill?

On this episode, we're taking a Glitterpill.

The name is a play on the red-pill meme, born from the Matrix movies and adopted by various strains of online extremism. Glitterpill, LLC aims to combat that extremism — and help stakeholders better understand the kinds of radicalization that lead to it.

Glitterpill was co-founded by Samantha Kutner and Bjorn Ihler.

Ihler, who joins us today, is an internationally renowned expert on counter-terrorism and preventing radicalization into violent extremism — and has helped advise some of our coverage in the past.

He joins us today, along with C.L. Murray, who has also worked with Bjorn with the Khalifa Institute. Murray is a UNCW lecturer and a researcher and data lead for Giltterpill — and you might recognizer her from last summer’s Newsroom, where we took a deep dive on the Proud Boys.

We'll also be talking to Evan Folds, a supervisor with the New Hanover Soil and Water Conservation District, to try and answer a loaded, but pretty important question: Why are we spraying poisons on playgrounds on purpose?

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Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.